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Tue Feb 4, 2014, 01:45 AM

Brownie bakers? I have a few questions.

I made some cocoa brownies, last night, but I wanted to increase the cacao content, so I tweaked the recipe.

The original recipe calls for a cup and a half of cocoa powder and eight ounces of melted butter. I didn't increase the amount of cocoa powder but I reduced the melted butter to four ounces and added in a melted three and a half ounce 70% cacao dark chocolate bar. Also, instead of two teaspoons of vanilla, I used one teaspoon of vanilla and one teaspoon of orange extract.

I baked them for 50 minutes, at 300 degrees, in an eight by eight inch pan. The top had a perfect, light crust and the insides were fudgy and delicious. But they were so gooey that cutting them into separate servings was almost impossible.

So...

Would you change the recipe to make the brownies less gooey? Or would you bake them in a mini muffin pan? If the latter, is there a trick to keeping the brownies from sticking to the little cupcake liners? Also, how would you adjust the time and temperature? My oven is electric, if that makes a difference.

Thanks for your help!!!

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Response to Fridays Child (Original post)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 01:51 AM

1. Let me know when you're ready to add catnip to the recipe and I'll be back to this thread.



However, since there are more experienced "bakers" on DU, I'm certain that they will be glad to assist.

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Response to Fridays Child (Original post)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 01:54 AM

2. Making substitutions

with the ratio of fat to dry ingredients always yields edible if unpredictable results. Tossing orange extract in with the vanilla was about as far as you should have gone because you ended up with too much fat and too little dry stuff and molten brownies.

Being really careful of substitutions in baking was one of the first lessons I learned the hard way. Following the recipe is the only way to guarantee the results you want.

Here is a list of permissible substitutions http://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html although even they aren't foolproof.



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Response to Warpy (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 02:24 AM

4. After looking through that list...

...I'm thinking of going back to two teaspoons of vanilla and figuring out how to get coffee into the mix, instead. I want to keep the melted dark chocolate, so I might add a tablespoon of flour, as TygrBright suggested. The original recipe calls for only a half a cup of flour so I'll have to be careful not to overdo it.

Now, how to get coffee into the batter. Hmmm.

Thanks!

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Response to Fridays Child (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 05:59 AM

7. If you want to add coffee flavor, then put in a teaspoon or two of instant coffee powder

I'm a fan of King Arthur's Espresso Powder for baking.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 5, 2014, 01:52 AM

10. I'll look for that one. Thanks!

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Response to Fridays Child (Original post)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 02:11 AM

3. Dairy butter "absorbs" more easily and thoroughly into dry ingredients than cocoa butter.

It's why pastry works so well. Dairy butter just gets sucked right into the flour. Cocoa butter (the matrix for chocolate in bar forms, and the reason it melts) is not so easily absorbed by flour, cocoa powder, etc.

You might experiment with adding a touch more flour to the recipe-- a tablespoon or two at a time until you get a better texture.

That's the only thing I can think of.

helpfully,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 02:25 AM

5. Thank you! I'll try adding a lttle extra flour.

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Response to Fridays Child (Original post)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 04:07 AM

6. A cup and a half is a huge amount of cocoa for a batch of brownies

Most recipes call for a half cup or less. I don't think you need to add more.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 5, 2014, 01:55 AM

11. I agree.

I'm going to keep experimenting with the melted 70% cacao chocolate bars but add no more cocoa powder. And I love pairing orange with dark chocolate but I'm also going to experiment with coffee as an alternative flavor combination.

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Response to Fridays Child (Original post)

Tue Feb 4, 2014, 09:19 AM

8. IMO, to make better brownies with more intense cacao flavor, use better cocoa powder

For brownies, I prefer dutch process, and some of the best in the world comes from Valrhona. There are other brands which are really good as well. This stuff can be quite expensive, so I recommend tweaking your recipe with a cheaper cocoa powder to get the texture where you want it, then use better powder. If you use better powder, order in smaller quantities that you plan on using within a few months, keep it well sealed and in a cool spot in the kitchen. This is the one I'm currently using:

http://www.amazon.com/Valrhona-Cocoa-Powder-8-82-Box/dp/B00B0CM3FC

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 5, 2014, 01:51 AM

9. Great advice, experimenting with less expensive cocoa...

...to get the texture right. I think TygrBright is correct that I should adjust the flour upward, in small increments.

And thanks for the link. Right now, I'm using Trader Joe's brand powdered cocoa. It's okay but probably not premium.

What do you think of substituting a melted 70% cacao chocolate bar for half of the butter? The flavor was amazing and I didn't really mind the gooey factor. But presentation-wise, cutting the brownies into servings was a mess. I'm considering using a mini-muffin pan, so the temp might need to be reduced and/or the baking time decreased.

Also, in your opinion, to add coffee flavor would you use coffee extract or experiment with instant espresso crystals--Medaglia D'Oro, for example?

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Response to Fridays Child (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 5, 2014, 03:04 AM

12. Baking chocolate is basically cocoa powder and cocoa butter

If it's semi-sweet or bittersweet then sugar has been added. Most of the chocolate flavor comes from the cocoa powder. So if you want more chocolate flavor, add more cocoa powder and the better powder you use, the more intense the flavor will be. By adding chocolate bar you are effectively adding more cocoa powder and more fat from the cocoa butter, so cutting the butter makes sense. How much of each you'd need I couldn't say because I haven't made it that way. What i can say is that a 70% chocolate bar like Ghirardelli has 20g of fat and if you are using a whole stick of butter and cutting that in half you are cutting out about 56g of fat as a whole stick has 113g. If they are turning out gooey it could be that they are undercooked. The toothpick test is probably the best way to judge doneness as the internal temperature at which the batter sets will depend on the sugar content in the recipe.

I'm not a big fan of coffee extracts or instant coffee, but I haven't tried them all. I've heard some of the newer instant coffees that are now on the market are better, but I haven't tried them. When I want to add coffee flavor for culinary purposes, I use espresso, but I have the advantage of a real espresso machine.

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