All About Chocolate - Part 2
Yesterday I wrote all about where chocolate comes from, how it is made and the differences between bittersweet chocolate and semi sweet chocolate. I also look at dark chocolate, white chocolate and ask, "Does chocolate really taste sweet?" - See All About Chocolate Part 1
To Temper or Not to Temper
There is no need to temper chocolate that is going to be used in a recipe. Melting it is sufficient. The goal of tempering is to get the cocoa butter to crystallize in its most stable form, and, since it melts at body temperature anyway, tempering would be a waste of time in a batter that will go in the oven at temperatures well in excess of 98F!
The time to temper is when you want the chocolate to stand on its own"”either as a coating for truffles or molded candies or for decoration. Tempering is not difficult, but it can be a little fussy. There are many excellent resources on the web that can walk you through the process.
If you want to make candy but do not want to go through the trouble of tempering the chocolate, you can use chocolate coatings. These can be found in craft stores or grocery stores. In my opinion, these products do not taste very good, partly because of the substitution of other fats for cocoa butter.
You can make your own, good tasting coating chocolate using this simple formula: chocolate and a neutral oil together in a 10 to 1 ratio. So, for ten ounces of chocolate, you'll need 1 ounce of vegetable oil.
For 5 ounces, you'll need ½ ounce (1 tablespoon). The addition of the vegetable fat will allow the chocolate to firm up and maintain a sheen without needing to be tempered.
Chocolate Brownies Recipe
For the Brownies made with unsweetened chocolate
- 8 ounce unsweetened chocolate squares
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Brownies Made with Semisweet Chocolate
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- To make either version of the brownies, melt together the chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth and then cool.
- Whisk in the sugar by hand, followed by the eggs, one at a time.
- Stir in the vanilla and then the flour. You can add toasted nuts as well, if you'd like.
- Pour into a greased and lined pan (8" x 8" for thicker brownies and 9"x 13" for thinner brownies) and bake at 325°F until done.
I enjoyed reading this and will try your recipes. Being a bit of a health nut, I don't make cakes very often. Can you let me know if I should stir very lightly or mix thoroughly (how long)?
Delicious recipe. I tried the version with unsweetened chocolate. Do the two result in a similar brownie? If baked in a 9x13 pan, how long do you recommend baking? I baked mine for about 45 minutes and am not sure if I should have taken them out sooner. They are very rich, but more of a fluffy brownie. Can you recommend a variation that would result in a more dense brownie (less fluffy). Thanks for sharing!
Hi Lauren, great questions so I asked my friend Chef Jenni for some answers and here is what she had to say,
I would like to double this recipe using a 9x13 pan, any suggestions?
You can bake them in a 9X13 pan and just have thinner brownies. If you want to double the recipe, you can certainly do so. Just multiply everything x2. Reduce oven temp by about 25F and increase baking time accordingly. You'll just have to check for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the center of the cake every few minutes. I wish I could be more specific than that, but baking-until-done is a pretty subjective thing and everybody's ovens are different. If you find that the top of the brownies are over-browning, simply tent the pan with some aluminum foil.
Thanks Jenni and for those of you who donâ€™t know Chef Jenni, please read my interview with a pastry chef and visit her web site Pastry Chef Online. - RG
Love the recipe! I like the approach, and I like how you are teaching us more about brownie theory here as well as the recipe itself. I like the simple instruction... Thanks again; I'm excited to taste how they turn out!
Hi Kyle, let me know how it works out for you. - RG
They're working out great for me... been liking the semi-sweet recipe, and adding a bit of artisan 100% cacao in substitute for some of the semisweet. This recipe is quite a good base for my experimenting. I wanted to ask... do you by chance have a variation of the recipe for 34% (cocoa butter, i think) white chocolate brownies?
Let me see what I can come up with or maybe another visitor may have some ideas - RG
you know you've made them right if they slide out of your mixing bowl into the brownie pan in one gooey lump.
I did the unsweetened recipe. It came out sooooooo good! I give a ten, among the best brownies I've ever had. Thank you!
I made these brownies and they tasted delicious. I have one question..I used waxed paper to line my 9x13 pan..up the sides too..I also greased the paper with margerine. I let them cool totally,but found it very hard to cut them in sections without it sticking to the knife. Should I have put them in the fridge to cool till cold?..any help would be appreciated!..they tasted great!
Sticking to knife? Just use one of the plastic knives you get with takeout. Or buy a clear plastic(?) brownie spatula that you can use to cut and serve.
@Sharon For me, part of the joy of a good brownie is how sticky/gooey it is! Chilling and using a hot knife for cutting will certainly cut down on the brownies sticking to your knife. Also, I would suggest using parchment over waxed paper to line your pans as the wax ends up melting into the outer layer of your brownies. I'm glad you enjoyed them and that the flavor was to your liking!
I've also found that cutting brownies with a pizza cutter sprayed with pan spray works really well!
Thank you for the recipe and better understanding of chocolate and making them with unsweetened vs. semi-sweet chocolate!
How long do you think it would take for baking in altitude? Not that high, around 6000 ft.
I had to adjust a bit...I used 3 squares of semi sweet chocolate and then added a half cup of semisweet chips into batter. Eight would have been too much even for me. I used an 8x8 pan and it worked out fine, baked at 325 for 22 minutes. Nice texture. Next time I'll use salted butter and skip adding the salt.
I just bought the Unsweetened Chocolate in the box. How come the brownie recipe is no longer on the box? I hope the above recipe is the same as before.
Love, love, love this recipe. So simple, no fuss, easy (compared to many other recipes) — but most importantly, delicious! It’s my ideal brownie.
G. Stephen Jones
Su Beecher, glad you enjoyed it.