“How much chocolate can you put in a brownie before it’s too much chocolate?”
We asked ourselves that question years ago—and then went to work to solve it. Batch after batch, we added more chocolate until we had a ridiculous amount of chocolate—over 3/4 pound. We were using really good chocolate.
The brownies still tasted good to us, even great. But then, we’re chocoholics. We had a cooking class that night so we passed the brownies around the class.
“How many feel these brownies have too much chocolate?” we asked. Three or four hands went up.
“How many think they are just right?” The rest of the class raised their hands.
When we asked how many felt like they didn’t have enough chocolate, several hands went up.
Everyone’s tastes are different. Merri Ann can handle almost bitter chocolate. Me, I want mine sweet. But I love a lot of chocolate.
Brownies come in a spectrum. Some have more chocolate. Some are sweeter. Some are more cake-like. The differences may seem subtle but there is an amazing array of brownies. You have to find the brownies that you and your family like best.
The Quality of the Chocolate
No matter your tastes, the brownies are no better than the chocolate. A cheap, poor quality chocolate always results in a mediocre brownie.
We use and sell a lot of cocoa. So of course, distributors and producers send us cocoa to try. We make two things with it: brownies and hot cocoa. But at the same time, we make brownies and cocoa with our proven brands, the ones we sell every day. If the new isn’t at least as good as the proven, we’re not interested. Some of the cocoas are just plain nasty. After all these trials, we still only sell three cocoas.
We have never found a cocoa that we liked that didn’t have at least 14-16% cocoa butter. Of the three we sell, one has 14-16% and the other two have 22-24%. Most cocoas in the other stores are 8-10%. They’re watered down.
But Back to the Brownies
It’s a combination of eggs and sugar that makes brownies dense and moist. Relatively little flour is used. (We use bread flour because it makes the brownies chewier.) So the anatomy of a good brownie is really good chocolate and lots of eggs and enough to sugar to reach the desired sweetness.
If you have a recipe that is too cake-like and you would like to make it denser, reduce the flour and add an egg. Likewise if your brownies are bitter (bad chocolate), you can mask that bitterness with more sugar.
- We sell a dessert brownie. It’s more cake-like (no more than it has to be though) so that you can get pretty cuts for more formal desserts.
- Uncle Bob’s Extra Moist and Chewy Brownies are made with Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa with 22-24% cocoa butter. These are good, dark brownies that are moderately sweet and smooth. The mix calls for eggs.
- Seriously Fudgy Brownies are just a little milder and very fudgy and chewy. The eggs are in the mix so you just add water—very quick and convenient and you don’t have the expense of the eggs.
- Southern Style Thick and Chewy Brownies are over an inch thick and not quite as sweet. If you want a thick, very chocolate brownie, try these. Again, the eggs are in the mix. These come with and without pecans.
And about those ultimate chocolate brownies we talked about–we’re working on the mix. Sometimes our projects don’t work out and we can’t get it good enough. But I’m betting on the test kitchen. Watch for a very, very dark chocolate brownie mix.
How to Make Fudge Sauce with Cocoa
It’s easy. Be sure to mix the cocoa and granulated sugar together before cooking to eliminate any lumps and make a smooth sauce.
Quality cocoa is critical to this recipe. We used Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa with three times the cocoa butter of most store brands. See the review of this cocoa below. Get Ramstadt Breda Cocoa.
We made this both with 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup cocoa. Both work. Of course you get a little deeper flavor with 3/4 cup cocoa.
As with other hot fudge sauces, this thickens as it cools. You can rewarm it in the microwave. You can also thin your sauce with additional cream.
- Mix the cocoa and sugar together in a small bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave.
- Add the cocoa and sugar mixture to a small saucepan. Add the melted butter and cream. Heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the ganache starts to bubble. Remove from the heat.
- Let the ganache cool until it reaches the desired consistency. Thin with additional cream if necessary.
How to Make Banana Pie Whipped Cream
It’s easy to make this whipped cream. Substitute banana flavor for vanilla. For starters, use one teaspoon of flavor for two cups of whipping cream. If you want more flavor, add more but be careful not to add too much.
Use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
We usually add two or three tablespoons of meringue power to each batch as a stabilizer. This amount of stabilizer will keep the whipped cream from melting at room temperature for several hours.
Whipped cream can be rewhipped as necessary.
Dennis Weaver has burnt food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.
He loves to help people bake and shares his vast collection of cooking and baking knowledge on his blog as well as in his E-books and Magazines.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.