Best ever brownies....?

I have decided that brownies are my nemesis. For a start, I don't even really like them that much! But also, I'm just not really comfortable baking things that I can't use the trusty skewer test on. Undercooked food is one of my issues - I'm sure that nobody wants to eat things that aren't cooked properly, but I can get a bit unhinged about it. I think most of my cakes end up being overdone because I have to blast them a bit longer "just to be safe..."

So you can see why something containing eggs that is actually meant to be a bit squidgy could be a bit of a problem for me. But I had some eggs that needed using and my cousin coming to stay and I thought that brownies would be the perfect thing to have in a tin to be offered alongside cups of tea.

I picked a 'best ever brownies' recipe from a BBC Good Food book, thinking, well they're the best ever, so they've got to be good right?

200g butter
200g plain chocolate
175g dark muscovado sugar
140g caster sugar
4 eggs
50g ground almonds
50g plain flour

1. Preheat oven to 180c, and grease/line a 20cm/8in square tin.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a pan and then stir in the sugar.
3. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then stir in the eggs until even. Stir in the almonds and flour then pour into the tin.
4. Bake for 30-35 mins or until just cooked through in the middle.

Erm, I'm sorry, but no. Just cooked through in the middle? What does that even mean? How are you meant to know? After 30-35 mins, it was still wobbling all over the place and so I hurled it back in, red mist descending, still none the wiser about how long I was meant to give it. After a very long while I just annoyed and just took them out, thinking they weren't going to get eaten anyway so I might aswell just save myself the electric bill. I left them to cool and then tried to cut them into nice perfect squares like the picture in the book, but they were just so squidgy I thought all hope must be lost. Along with my temper.

So I let my anger loose on the brownies and had a bit of a stab away at them, venting my frustrations and thinking I might aswell get something out of it at least...

...until Mike dared to try a bit (with me half cringing at the thought of him being ill and half in awe at his bravery) and declared them "actually quite nice". And then I felt a bit stupid, so we managed to salvage some half decent looking ones from around the edges.

They didn't look great, so we made brownie sundae desserts out of them with ice cream, marshmallows and chocolate sauce and they actually were quite nice! They were quite squidgy and fudgy in the middle and stuck to your teeth a bit, but they were OK. And nobody died from food poisoning, which is always a good thing.

So I'm not sure if I'll be making brownies again because I don't think I can handle the stress. So can anyone tell me, what a perfectly cooked brownie is meant to look like? And if you have a failsafe brownie recipe, I would love to hear it, try and tempt me out of brownie retirement!


  1. Oh no don't go into brownie retirement! Although I know what you mean, you want fudgy squidgyness but not uncooked, but certainly not overcooked and dry. I'm glad you managed to transform them into a yummy sundae.

    The best brownie recipe I've tried so far is the frosted brownie recipe from Hummingbird Bakery "Cake Days" although I'm tempted to try Mary Berry's recipe too.

  2. I think the thing with cooking brownies if you think of it like cooking a regular cake, they will never seem 'done' and will end up over-baked.

    My skewer test for brownies is if it comes out with liquid on it's not done, if it comes out completely clean it's overdone, but if it has a few damp crumbs on it's probably just right.

    The one on my blog called 'quest for the perfect brownie' are probably the best I've tried, although they were better second time round when I swapped the milk chocolate chips for dark cherry chocolate.

    Good luck and don't give up!

  3. Hiya Kim!

    I agree with Jo- please postpone retirement for a second attempt! But I do know exactly what you mean about recipes that don't have the 'clean skewer' test!

    My failsafe, works-every-time Brownie recipe is Nigel Slater's- I've posted about it here:

    There are a couple of suggestions at the bottom of the post about checking when they are done!

    I hope that helps and also very glad to hear the rescue attempts in the form of Sundaes were a success!

    Look forward to hearing how you get on!

  4. Haha what are you like! The Hummingbird recipe for brownies is my fav so far - I just left them in the oven the time it said in the book & trusted that it would be OK. And it was the best they have ever come out. The brownie sundaes sound yum :) Did Mike eat a full one?!!

  5. Can't say I am a brownie baking pro by any stretch of the imagination but generally I stick to the rule that they are done when the top looks 'crinkly'. Not sure if that helps or not. Brownie Sundaes are one or my fave ways to use up the outside bits too.

  6. A good brownie just has to be gooey and squidgy, so maybe they just aren't for you. I've made many brownies over the years and I'm not sure I can pick out a best one - I'm still working on it! But Pam Corbin's one from Cakes is pretty damn good.

  7. I'm a bit late to comment here but just wanted to say it's funny seeing what other people's nemeses are - I've always found brownies pretty foolproof but perhaps I've been working from a good recipe from the start? (It's a friend's own adapted one - let me know of you want it!) I always cook until it has a good crust on the top, and I DO do the skewer test on them, they can still be gooey. My baking nemeses? The Victoria Sponge and the Blueberry Muffin - argh!!!


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