Gooey Centre, Crackly Top – Bake the Best Brownies

Words: Crush

A gooey centre, crackly top, slightly fudgy texture, intensely chocolaty – that’s our idea of the perfect brownie. If you’re gasping in agreement, but can never to get it just right, we’ve got some tips to help you bake the best brownies.

Use Good Quality Chocolate

Any good bake starts with quality ingredients. That doesn’t mean that you have to get the most expensive flour or vanilla extract, but when it comes to the main ingredient, that’s where you might want to splurge a little more. In this case, that ingredient is chocolate. Opt for good-quality chocolate, preferably dark or bittersweet, as it provides a more intense chocolate flavour compared to milk chocolate. Cheap chocolate can sometimes lead to bland taste and odd texture – you might want to spare yourself the disappointment.

Opt for good-quality chocolate, preferably dark or bittersweet.

When those spontaneous brownie cravings hit, cocoa powder could be the more convenient option – it’s shelf-stable and most home bakers often have it ready in their pantry. But you also want to ensure that your cocoa powder is good quality for an intense chocolate flavour.

Try these cocoa-licious Peanut Butter Swirl Chocolate Brownies

Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

Another ingredient essential to making the perfect brownies is butter. You want to go with unsalted butter for richness and moisture. Different brands of salted butter contain varying amounts of salt, which can affect the overall flavour of the brownies. By using unsalted butter, you have complete control over the salt content, ensuring a balanced and consistent flavour profile. If you want a salted chocolate brownie, creating the ideal sweet-salty balance is easier if added separately in the batter or adding a ganache and sprinkling it with sea salt after the brownies are baked.

Mix the Batter Just Enough

Mixing the brownie batter just until combined is essential for a gooey texture. Overmixing creates stronger gluten structures in the batter, resulting in a denser brownie. Gently fold the ingredients together until no streaks of flour remain. This ensures that the brownies are soft and fudgy, not tough or dry, which you definitely don’t want!

Ooey Gooey Centre

A gooey centre is a hallmark of a perfectly baked brownie – to each their own, of course – the moist texture should contrast with the slightly firmer edges. If you agree, then achieving the perfect balance of ingredients is crucial. Too much flour can lead to a dry, cakey brownie, while too little can result in a flat, overly gooey mess.

Mixing the brownie batter just until combined is essential…

The ideal ratio for a gooey centre typically uses a higher ratio of fats (butter) to flour and a careful balance of other ingredients. A common ratio for achieving a gooey centre is around 1:1 or slightly higher for fats to flour. The higher fat content ensures that the brownies remain moist and soft, with a fudgy texture in the middle.

A Crackly Top

If you want the best brownies, then you need a crackly top. It provides a satisfying crunch and a hint of caramelisation, which complements the soft, gooey centre. A crackly top signifies a well-baked brownie, indicating that it has been baked at the right temperature for the optimal amount of time.

For a crackly brownie crust, whip the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy; this will help create air pockets in the batter, leading to the formation of the crackly crust during baking. Additionally, using the right baking pan and oven temperature is crucial. Metal baking pans, especially the aluminium types, are ideal; they distribute heat evenly throughout the batter, allowing for uniform baking and consistent browning.

 A crackly top also signifies a well-baked brownie.

Another important element in the formation of the crackly top is the sugar content in the brownie batter. As the brownies bake, the moisture in the batter evaporates, leaving behind concentrated sugar on the surface. The sugar crystals on the surface of the brownies become dehydrated and form a thin, brittle crust. This will also solidify if the brownies are given enough time to cool once removed from the oven.

For the best brownies with a crackly top, try these Decadent Chocolate Chilli Brownies.

Don’t Overbake

One of the biggest mistakes in brownie baking is overbaking. Pull the brownies out of the oven when they’re slightly underdone in the centre. A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, not completely clean. The residual heat will continue to cook them as they cool, resulting in the best brownies with a gooey centre and a crackly top.

Cool It!

Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan before slicing them into squares. This allows them to set properly and develop that signature crackly top. Cutting into hot brownies can cause them to collapse and lose their gooey texture. Patience is key here; the wait is well worth it for the ultimate brownie indulgence.

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