I need CHEWY brownies!
January 21, 2019 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Hello! I keep trying brownie recipes in an attempt to recreate my ideal brownie, as remembered from my youth. I haven’t found it yet and I’m getting tired of the wrong brownies. Please help! Specifics inside.

Okay, as it says in the title, my perfect brownie is chewy. Not cakey, not fudgy, chewy. Like, with a toothsomeness throughout the whole brownie. The edges (which are the best part, and I have an all-edge brownie pan because of it) are even chewier, but not super crisp or dried out. The top is that crackly brownie thing that sometimes happens. NO ganache, frosting, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Just chewy brownies.

I’ve heard that the only way to get this is with a box, so I got a box of Girardelli brownie mix and tried that and they weren’t right. Not chewy enough, no crackly top. Granted, I may have underbaked them slightly, because the box said DO NOT OVERBAKE! BROWNIES WILL APPEAR UNDERDONE and I believed them. But it didn’t really seem like another 5 or 10 minutes would have turned them into what I wanted.

So, is there a recipe out there that gives me my perfect brownies? Or a box mix that you know works? Should I just not stress about the overbaking thing and leave them in for longer?

posted by Weeping_angel to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I made chocolate crinkles this past holiday season and they kind of had an amazing chewy brownie consistency that everyone seemed to agree on. I used a William Sonoma recipe and threw in a 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.
posted by amanda at 2:20 PM on January 21, 2019

Response by poster: (I feel compelled to say that I am a pretty darn good baker, and can handle much more difficult things, but for some reason, chewy brownies elude me. I’ve made some pretty amazing fudgy brownies, if that’s your thing, but sadly, it’s not my thing.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:22 PM on January 21, 2019

Have you tried adding toffee? My friend makes awesome brownies, and they have like half a bag of toffee chips in them. (Then she dumps the rest of the bag on top.)

As I recall, they’re pretty chewy. But maybe that flavor isn’t what you want. They never cook 100% through, either. They stay pretty ... I can’t find another word for moist. So I’m saying moist. They stay pretty moist. Sorry.
posted by greermahoney at 2:35 PM on January 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I LOVE moist, chewy brownies and I swear by the recipe on the Baker’s chocolate box. The boxed Trader Joe’s brownie mix is also really good. And yes, not over baking is the key.
posted by bookmammal at 2:36 PM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

According to a 2010 Cook's Illustrated article (sorry, it's behind a paywall, but here's a link for subscribers):
The secret to a brownie's chewy texture boils down to one thing: fat—specifically the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. By using both butter (a predominantly saturated fat) and vegetable oil (an unsaturated fat) in approximately a 1:3 ratio, we are able to produce a satisfying chew in our brownies.
A blog called The Little Kitchen posted the accompanying recipe from that article (although I would say that her pictures look underdone compared to the original) if you want to try it.

Like all CI recipes it is very particular but there isn't anything about it that's challenging to someone with basic baking skills. A couple other notes from the article are that it recommends a metal pan (and they approve of the all-edge pan you mentioned) and that it calls particular attention to the cooling process; brownies that are cut too soon won't have the right texture. I would also try a higher protein flour; I don't know what you have available in your area but here in the northeast US that might be something like King Arthur as opposed to Gold Medal.
posted by bcwinters at 2:38 PM on January 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

My family usually makes the brownie recipe from an older Fanny Farmer cookbook (the Harvard variation at the bottom, with only 1 egg), and it regularly produces that crackly brownie top. (I focused on that that part of the description, as the difference between fudgey and chewy isn't very clear in my mind).

I have had some problems more recently with over cooking and having them go hard, but that's probably me (and my unreliable oven); my mother never has this problem. My mother also uses cocoa (3 tablespoons) rather than unsweetened chocolate, so you could play with that.
posted by jb at 2:39 PM on January 21, 2019

While I'm not much of a baker and so can't personally vouch for it, this web page lists a few helpful tips along with a recipe for making chewy (vs. fudgy or cakey) brownies, including:

- use cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate
- use mix of saturated and unsaturated fats
- add an extra egg yolk
- use a minimum of baking soda/baking powder
- add a bit of cornstarch
- use a metal pan rather than a glass one
- chill brownies in the fridge after baking
(also mentions using brown sugar instead of white)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:41 PM on January 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

I make them from scratch with really good cocoa (Penzeys.) Mine come out chewy. Do you use extra-large eggs by any chance? I've observed that too much egg seems to lead to cakey brownies. When I make a double batch of brownies I only use the amount of egg for the single recipe (I do use extra-large.) Try less egg, or smaller egg?
posted by tomboko at 2:44 PM on January 21, 2019

BoingBoing had a couple of articles on this very topic. Epicurious video here. Alton Brown redid his brownies here. King Arthur Flour enplanes the secret to cracklie tops.
posted by Marky at 2:47 PM on January 21, 2019

I came across this guide from Handle the Heat recently when I too was feeling intent on making my own personal Brownie Without Flaw. Cocoa powder and egg yolk seem to be the top tricks for chewiness, but the whole guide is worth a browse. Good luck!

On preview, looks like I agree with Greg_Ace!
posted by youarenothere at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2019

The old school Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge brownie mix should get you these results (it works for me). Another one that works for me is the Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies. Even the picture on the box is right.
posted by vivzan at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I accidentally made wonderfully chewy brownies when I subbed in olive oil into my usual Mark Bittman cocoa powder brownies.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:01 PM on January 21, 2019

Response by poster: jb, I’ll try to explain the difference between chewy and fudgy (at least to me). You know how, when you get a really good bagel that’s been boiled like they’re supposed to be, it’s got more of a chewy toothsomeness to it than a mass market grocery store excuse for a bagel? Not to say I want the brownies to have a bagel texture, but good bagel:grocery store bagel::perfect brownie:most brownies. When I say fudgy, I mean something like this recipe from Food52 (which are delicious if you like that sort of thing and I highly recommend them) where the texture is more like the baked good version of a truffle.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Omg I almost asked this exact same question and never did! There was a bakery I loved who made the best chewy brownies and I'm dying to know how they did it! The texture was definitely chewy and drier than what people tend to call a chewy brownie, which to me always seems to actually mean fudgy or moist. I want a brownie you can bend without breaking. I think more flour, dry cocoa (not chocolate), a longer baking time, and refrigeration all sound promising. Can't wait to see the other suggestions!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:10 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe that's the key in my crinkles that I mentioned above - cocoa powder.
posted by amanda at 3:12 PM on January 21, 2019

I am also unclear on the difference between "chewy" and "fudgy", so I googled it and found this. OP - if you agree with their description of "chewy", there are some tips in there for how to attain it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Smitten Kitchen's cocoa brownies hit the spot for me, and it's a dead simple recipe to boot.
posted by impishoptimist at 3:14 PM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I will say this: If you want brownies that are essentially just some-how-solidified batter, this vegan recipe fits the bill. I made them last Friday and they are very moist/fudgy.

Indeed, probably too moist/fudgy and they probably could use extra flour or something. But as I prefer the soft inside brownies over the hard edge ones, I don't mind. (These brownies essentially have no hard edges.)
posted by Fortran at 3:44 PM on January 21, 2019

The classic Joy of Cooking recipe, Brownies Cockaigne, is what you're looking for. So easy, simple ingredients (butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar, vanilla), chewy, and a crackly top.
posted by Dolley at 3:54 PM on January 21, 2019

Okay I originally got this from King Arthur Flour but I have no idea which recipe it was of the many on their site. It is super chewy (I do the brownies in one of those edge pans because I love chewy edge/corner brownies with all my heart, I really do recommend them):

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour (sometimes I use their white wheat flour so I can pretend they are healthy)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Mix it all up. Put it in the greased pan. 325 degrees, 45-50 minutes.

I need to make some brownies.
posted by acanthous at 3:59 PM on January 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

You went too fancy with your box mix. You want a box of Betty Crocker (or similar), follow the directions on the back (no healthy substitutions) and your all edges brownie tray. Maybe you’ll disagree with my assessment but it will cost you about $2-3 and five minutes of mixing to find out.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:23 PM on January 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

And let them sit overnight, uncovered.
posted by LaBellaStella at 5:26 PM on January 21, 2019

I always make the chewy version from Fine Cooking. Google finecooking chewy brownies. I can't link from my phone.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2019

I just made some from a pouch of the Betty Crocker mix and they are chewy. This is the pouch, not the box, although I agree that the super basic box mixes are also good.
posted by cabingirl at 6:00 PM on January 21, 2019

Mark Bittman's brownie recipe is the only one I trust. Definitely chewy, so delicious, and they're gone so quick I have to make two batches.
posted by Pademelon at 6:23 PM on January 21, 2019

I just ate this box mix: Glutino Double Chocolate, and it was OMG chewy with a nostalgic box brownie flavor; couldn't tell it wasn't wheat flour. I put a bunch of shaved chocolate bar and nut flakes on the top for extra yum.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 6:45 PM on January 21, 2019

I just made acanthous' recipe and got some seriously delicious, chewy edges. It doesn't have a shiny top without chocolate chips, so I'd try adding some in for it per Markie's comment.

I would avoid the Smitten Kitchen brownies. They're on the fudgy/cakey side of the spectrum and I've never been as happy with them as these. Thanks acanthous!
posted by marfa, texas at 7:06 PM on January 21, 2019

You can get a crackly crust on top of your brownie by beating the eggs for a really long time, until they're foamy, before incorporating them into the batter. It makes for a meringue-y effect and the top forms a nice crust.

Chew comes from gluten. Use a brownie recipe that has water in addition to the fats and at least a cup of flour and mix it for a while. Water bouncing around with flour encourages gluten production. Usually something you want to avoid when baking (which is why flourless cakes are a thing, why you're usually supposed to fold flour in at the end, and why that vodka pie crust recipe is a thing) but if you WANT chewy, gluten is how you get it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:40 PM on January 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Don't know if you want to give the Ghiradelli ones another shot, but the *triple chocolate* boxed ones from Costco are WAY better than the ones in grocery stores. I bake them maybe two minutes short of the box directions in my convection oven, rotation halfway through. Crackly top and totally nom. Just make sure you put enough oil in when you grease the pan.
posted by dancinglamb at 8:58 PM on January 21, 2019

Pancake Princess has a brownie bake off here, where Handle the Heat's brownies, and Sally's Baking Addiction brownies are noted as being chewy. I can't vouch for Handle the Heat, never tried that recipe, but I can absolutely vouch for the SBA recipe. Beautifully crackly top, super easy to make (no beating of eggs or using a stand mixer), chewy when baked enough. Last time I made them I accidentally underbaked them, though the edges were still pretty tasty/chewy. If you have a lot of chocolate chips in the batter (I won't say too much because there is no such thing to me) it makes it way harder to judge done-ness, so I'd go easy the first time, and not put the 1.5 cups in she suggests.
posted by BeeJiddy at 9:19 PM on January 21, 2019

Ghirhardelli is too fancy. Try Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines! I'm not a baker but I think you probably need more sugar and less fat (so cheaper ingredients) to get the chewy texture (which I also love).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:21 AM on January 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love the corner as well, and they taste even better if you use real butter and grease the pan liberally.
posted by theora55 at 7:11 AM on January 22, 2019

Seconding Betty Crocker here. My son's favorite (even with unlimited access to grandma's fudgy, chocolately, cakey brownies). Very low risk try on your part anyway, ~$2 :)
posted by LKWorking at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2019

I usually get this same effect/result from Betty/Duncan boxes by adding a little more oil than it calls for, and baking longer than it calls for.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2019

Some ideas here that might help you tinker.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2019

Fwiw, every gluten free brownie I've had has been chewy. The different flours used in GF baking lend themselves to heavier, denser results, so that's an option to try. Literally any GF box brownie mix would be worth a try.
posted by purple_bird at 1:17 PM on January 22, 2019

I made acanthous' recipe on Sunday evening in my brownie edge pan, and have been sampling daily. Leaving them uncovered, I think the sweet spot for the texture you're looking for was days 4-5.
posted by ferociouskitty at 1:49 PM on January 26, 2019

I just finished making acanthous' recipe (thank you!), and I think they're super chewy right out of the oven, but I now must confess I don't think I've ever had chewy brownies before. I thought I knew what you meant by chewy before I had these; I didn't. I've made lots of different brands of boxed brownies growing up, and this recipe has a totally different texture than any of them. Very chewy, and delicious! I used a glass baking dish. Next time I'll make it with salted butter, because I like chocolate and salt together. Yum yum!
posted by the liquid oxygen at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

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