December 19, 2012
Brownies, like most baked goods, seem to inspire lively debate. Cakey or fudgy? Iced or plain? With nuts or without? My feelings? As long as it's a brownie, please pass it to me! I love them all.* I even love the pale cousin of the brownie, the blondie. But today I want to talk about fudgy brownies.
My recipe makes a 9-by-13-inch pan of fudgy, gluten-free brownies with a thin, crackled top. (This crisp layer comes from the granulated sugar.) Since no baking soda or baking powder is present, the brownies get a slight lift from creaming the butter and sugar. However, this lift is really slight, and although the brownies will puff up in the oven, they sink down to a dense, fudgy texture as they cool.
For this recipe, I use cocoa powder and not melted chocolate. After many tests, I found that the added step of having to melt chocolate just didn't add enough of a "chocolate wow!" to the baked brownies to warrant using it.
Either natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder works well in this recipe. The brownie in the photo was made using Dutch-process cocoa. This cocoa makes for a really dark brownie with a smooth, rich chocolate flavor. Honestly, each time I make this recipe with Dutch-process cocoa powder, I am reminded a little of boxed gluten-filled brownie mixes. The texture and color are very similar. (I think the flavor is better, but that might just be my homemade-bias.) When made with natural cocoa powder, the color of the brownies will be lighter—they almost resemble milk chocolate—and the flavor will be a bit less intense. Since both cocoa powders work and produce really great results, I just use whatever I have on hand.
* Well, I love all the ones I can eat. I'm nut allergic and gluten-free. As long as I can eat the brownie safely, please pass it along!