Brownies & slices

Brownies & slices

By
Margaret Fulton
Contains
18 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742706306
Photographer
Vanessa Levis

Hints & tips

Brownies are American – an impossibly moreish cross between a cake and a biscuit. They are either fudgy or cakey, depending on their ingredients. The fudgy type is very moist and dense. The cake brownie is light and airy.

Slices (also known as bars or bar cookies) are made as a slab and then cut into squares or fingers. They are quick and easy to make, so are good for nervous or novice bakers. Both brownies and slices keep well in an airtight container, and carry well in lunchboxes.

Brownies

The classic brownie has just a few ingredients – butter, sugar, chocolate, eggs and flour. Melting the butter rather than creaming it with sugar gives a denser, fudgy brownie. Dark chocolate is the standard, and either white or brown sugar may be used, or a mixture of both. The darker the sugar, the deeper the molasses flavour. It’s a matter of personal taste, so use what you prefer.

Cake-like brownies contain less butter and more flour than fudgy brownies, as well a raising agent to make them softer and lighter. Often the butter is creamed with the sugar rather than melted with the chocolate.

Chewy brownies can get their texture from the addition of extra sugar or an extra egg (or even two) and a combination of different types of chocolate. Sometimes cocoa powder is added to intensify the flavour and thicken the texture, and give a rich, chocolatey, chewy result.

Blondies have a cake-like texture and are a kind of butterscotch bar, made with brown sugar, butter, nuts, eggs, and sometimes white chocolate.

Making brownies

Always use the tin size specified in the recipe. Baking in an oversized tin will make thin, dry brownies, while baking in an undersized tin may result in the centre brownies not being quite cooked. If the tin is too large, divide it with a piece of foil folded to the required size,turning up the edge, and fill the empty space with dried beans to keep the folded piece firm.

Use light-coloured, shiny tins,which conduct heat evenly. Glass or dark-coloured ones can cause the edges to over-bake.

Always grease the tin thoroughly or line it with baking paper that has been cut larger than the size of the tin so that the edges hang over two opposite sides, allowing the brownie to be easily lifted out once cooked.

Most brownie recipes start with melting butter and chocolate together. This can be done in a double boiler or a small bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water. Or, if you’re using a heavy pan, you can place the butter and chocolate directly over a low heat. Be sure to stir constantly. Butter and chocolate can also be melted together in a microwave oven on medium, stopping the power and stirring the mixture every 20 seconds.

Avoid over-mixing the ingredients as this can cause brownies to become tough. Mix wet and dry ingredients just long enough to combine them.

For fudge-style brownies remove the tin from the oven when the sides have shrunk slightly away from the edges of the tin. The centre will still be slightly soft, but will firm during cooling.

Cake-style brownies are cooked when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out a few moist crumbs attached to it.

Brownies will be easier to cut if they are completely cooled. Have a jug of hot water at hand, dip a sharp knife into it, wipe the knife, then cut across the tin in an up-and-down sawing motion. Re-dip and wipe the knife between cuts.

Reducing the fat content

Brownies aren’t a low-fat treat. Apart from the sometimes large amounts of butter, there’s the cocoa butter in the chocolate itself, as well as the fat in the eggs. If you want less fat in your brownie, look for recipes that use cocoa powder instead of chocolate, or that have some chocolate but also use cocoa to top up the chocolate flavour and help reduce kilojoules and fat. ‘Dutch-process’ cocoa has the smoothest, mildest and richest flavour.

Storing brownies

To store the brownies, either cover the tin completely with foil or remove the cut pieces from the tin and place in an airtight container. They will keep this way in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

If you want to freeze brownies after they’ve been cut, wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap, then in foil, and place together in an airtight freezer bag. Or, you can wrap the whole brownie ‘block’ tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Place in a large airtight freezer bag and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature.

Slices

Slices consist of a pastry or biscuit-like base then a filling and/or topping. If the slice has more than one layer, allow each to cool completely (unless the recipe specifies otherwise) before adding the next layer.

Making slices

Use light-coloured, shiny tins,which conduct heat evenly. Glass or dark-coloured ones can cause the edges to over-bake.

Always grease the tin thoroughly or line it with baking paper that has been cut larger than the size of the tin so that the edges hang over two opposite sides, allowing the slice to be easily lifted out once cooked.

Press the base mixture into the tin with your hands, smoothing it so that it is flat and level. Alternatively, a pastry base can be rolled out between two pieces of baking paper then transferred to the tin. Any cracks that form can be pushed together with the fingers.

For best results, cook the slice on the middle rack in the centre of the oven. If cooking two slices at the same time, swap their positions on the racks about halfway through the cooking time. If the top begins to over-brown during baking, cover it loosely with a piece of foil.

If icing the slice, allow it to cool completely first.

When cutting slices, first leave the slab to cool. For clean edges, wipe the blade of the knife with a damp cloth between cuts. To cut chocolate-topped slices, dip the blade of the knife in hot water then wipe it; repeat between slices. If cutting a slice while it is still in the tin, remove a corner piece first using a small palette knife, then it will be easier to remove the other pieces cleanly.

Storing slices

For immediate use store slices in the tin in which they were baked, cutting the cooked mixture into bars or squares and covering with foil. Most slices can be stored in their tin or in an airtight container, or in the fridge in warmer weather, for up to a week.

For longer storage put cut slices in a sealable plastic bag (separating the layers with baking paper) and freeze until required. Thaw at room temperature. If you wrap and freeze slice portions individually, they can be placed frozen in a lunchbox, and will have thawed by lunchtime.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again