Brownies are an American chocolate dessert made very much like cake, although with slightly different ingredients. They appear to have originated in the late 1880s, either through a happy baking mistake or through calculated work. Unlike cakes, they are not leavened with baking powder, so they are denser and heavier. They are also served in cut squares or bars and are often presented without icing, although they may be served with whipped cream or ice cream.
There are three basic types of brownies. The first has a cakey texture, with a more flaky crumb. Fudgy ones are incredibly dense, much closer to chocolate fudge than cake, while chewy varieties have a rich, chewy texture that falls somewhere in the middle. The texture is determined by the ratio of chocolate, butter, sugar, and flour in the recipe.
Typically, ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chunks are added to the dessert to provide extra flavor and texture. Brownies can also be made without chocolate, in a version known as blondies, or they can be marbled with a chocolate and vanilla batter. For an extra rich treat, bakers add things like cream cheese. Most people have a favorite version, ranging from lightweight cakey ones to intensely dark fudge versions.
The following recipe will yield a batch of dense, chewy brownies. Like other, similar recipes, these can dry out if they are not carefully monitored through the baking process. Cooks should be aware that desserts baked in metal pans will cook more quickly than those in glass.
Bakers can start by melting 5 ounces (142 grams) of chocolate in a double boiler on medium heat along with 8 tablespoons (113.4 grams) of butter. The ingredients should be stirred with a heat-resistant spatula to prevent burning, and removed from the heat when completely melted. After it's cooled slightly, the baker can stir in 2 cups (450 g) of sugar and set the mixture aside. Next, the baker should whisk two large eggs together with 2 teaspoons (9.8 ml) of vanilla and 0.25 teaspoon (1.5 g) salt. The chocolate mixture can be added to the eggs when it has cooled, followed by 1 cup (125 g) of flour. If the baker wants to add things like fruit and nuts, they should be chopped finely and no more than 1 cup (around 125 g, depending on the actual items) added.
The mixture can be added to a greased 9 by 13 inch (23 by 33 centimeters) baking pan, and with the top smoothed out. The cooks should put it in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C), and bake it for 35 - 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few small, moist crumbs. The brownies should be taken out of the oven and placed onto a rack to cool. When they have cooled enough to handle, the sides can be loosened with a thin knife and the pan flipped onto a metal rack to cool all the way before the bars are cut, packaged in an airtight container, or simply eaten.