As a professional baker, I spend my days baking dozens of different pastries and confections. I make cakes and cheesecakes; custards and caramels; shortbreads and sweet breads. But my favorite thing to bake might just be the simplest. In my personal opinion, nothing can beat a pan of hot, fudgy brownies.
Surrounded by countless racks of baked goods to snack on, I'll almost always choose brownies. There's just something about a brownie that satisfies all my cravings: Dense and rich, but somehow still light; intensely chocolatey with just a touch of salt. After a few years in the industry, brownies are the baked good that I'll keep coming back to. So naturally, I made it my mission to find the perfect brownie recipe.
Over the years, I've tested countless brownie recipes, only to discover a shocking secret: When it comes to brownies, it's really not about the recipe at all. Heck, you could make your brownies from a boxed mix and they might taste just as good as the homemade ones. That's because with brownies, it's all about the technique.
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer
There are a few cardinal rules to baking brownies that I've picked up over the years. The first: Unplug that stand mixer. I always mix my brownie batter by hand, which prevents you from over-mixing and developing the gluten (leaving you with dry, cakey brownies). The second: Use high quality chocolate. Chocolate should be the predominant flavor in your brownies, so pick a chocolate you'd want to eat all on its own. When using cocoa powder, I like to use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, which has a complex, deep flavor (and doesn't break the bank).
But today, I'm bringing you a nugget of brownie wisdom that will result in the fudgiest batch ever. You may have heard about pan-banging cookies—a technique that involves slamming the pan of just-baked cookies down on the countertop, encouraging them to spread. This step results in cookies with crisp, lacy edges and a soft, tender center—which happens to be exactly what we're after with brownies, too. As it turns out, pan-banging brownies can have an equally glorious effect.
The process is simple. After you've baked a pan of brownies, remove them from the oven and slam the pan down on the countertop. Banging the pan on the counter compresses the brownies, causing the center to sink slightly and resulting in an extra-fudgy interior. The edges will stay crispy while the center is nice and soft. Plus, this technique encourages the top of the brownies to crack—a sure sign of a good batch.
Next time you bake a batch of brownies, whether they're from scratch or from a box, try this brownie hack and let us know what you think.