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Our Essential Brownie Guide

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There are two types of people in the world
There are as many types of brownies in the world as there are people
There are a heck of a lot of brownie recipes out there, and you might already have one you're comfortable with.

...But has that ever stopped you for looking for more?

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Whether you're on the lookout for a brownie recipe to call your own—to memorize and tweak and weave into family lore—or you've already got one in your wheelhouse but you're playing the field, we've got a recipe for you:

If you want the classics:


Basic Fudgy Brownies
Basic Fudgy Brownies

Crackly on the top, fudgy in the center, with just a liiiiiiiiittle bit of chew, these just-right brownies are made from an equal mix of butter and oil and get their chocolate flavor from semisweet chocolate (not cocoa powder).

Super Fudgy Brownies
Super Fudgy Brownies

These are, as the name implies, for hardcore fudgy fans, and they're made from butter instead of oil and cocoa powder and chopped semisweet chocolate. Mix in cocoa nibs if you want a bitter zing.

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies
Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies

When you don't have any chocolate in your house, fear not. Alice Medrich's Genius recipe gets its flavor from cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) alone! You're only 40 strokes with a wooden spoon away from brownies with soft middles and shiny, candy-like tops.

Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies
Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies

And, by riffing on Alice Medrich's recipe, Phyllis Grant created a gooier, fancier version. Press chocolate chips into the center of each cupcake-shaped brownie to create a molten center, then underbake them so that the edges are set by the insides are still jiggly.


Mollie's Brownies
Mollie's Brownies

These have more flour (1 1/2 cups) than the other classic recipes listed here, which yields a brownie with a cakier—but still moist and tender—crumb.

As the story in the headnote goes, the recipe's author Phoenix Helix made batches of several different famous brownies and gave one of each to her husband: "Mollie’s won hands down. I thought, 'How is this possible? The others have more chocolate, more butter, more ingredients, or more steps, yet somehow less flavor.’"

If you want an extra layer of chocolate (in the form of frosting):

Magic Espresso Brownies
Magic Espresso Brownies

ChefJune's recipe, which graces the cover of Baking, makes a half-sheet pan-worth of rich, truffle-like brownies spiked with espresso powder and chopped nuts. They're good enough to eat on their own, but even better if you frost them with a coffee-and-Cognac chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Buttermilk-Frosted Brownies
Chocolate Buttermilk-Frosted Brownies

Just how much chocolate can you handle? This classic recipe from Baker's Chocolate for one-bowl brownies is made even more intensely chocolatey with a tangy, sweet chocolate buttermilk frosting.

Maya's Chocolate Fudge Sheet Cake
Maya's Chocolate Fudge Sheet Cake

Okay, so this is really a cake. But it's dense and rich enough that you just might mistake it for a brownie. (It's also gluten-free, but you wouldn't know that from tasting it, either!)

If you're all about the "stuff":

Add crushed peppermint candies; salted peanut butter caramel; dried cherries and dates, candied orange peel, and plenty of nuts, for a nod to fruitcake; or graham cracker crumbs and chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Chocolate Mint Brownies by Posie (Harwood) Brien

Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies

Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies by Teresa Floyd

Fruitcake-Inspired Brownies

Fruitcake-Inspired Brownies by JessicaBakes

No-Bake Triple Chocolate Brownies

No-Bake Triple Chocolate Brownies by Faith Durand

If you want just a little bit of brownie:

Then make them a layer of a grander, taller, more-involved dessert: ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cakes, or cheesecake-topped bars.

Saltine Cracker Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich

Saltine Cracker Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich by Mandy @ Lady and pups

Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake by Yossy Arefi

Chocolate-Date Cake Topped with Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Chocolate-Date Cake Topped with Roasted Banana Ice Cream by Sarah Jampel

Cheesecake-Topped Brownies

Cheesecake-Topped Brownies by Posie (Harwood) Brien

If you really just want to be eating fudge...

Then call an ace an ace and go straight for the chocolate—skipping flour altogether. Pour a glass of milk and make chewier, boardwalk-style fudge, or go for slightly more adult ultrasmooth truffles and a glass of red wine.

Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate Fudge
Alice's House Truffles 4.0
Alice's House Truffles 4.0

If you consider blondies to be brownies, too:

Are blondies brownies? Does God exist? Does life have a purpose?

Skip these hard questions and get to baking. Blondies are less in-your-face intense as their chocolate-based counterparts, but they have a buttery, caramelly richness all their own. Try a version with a warm savoriness from brown butter or a heavy hit from 4 teaspoons (!) of vanilla extract. Or, go really crazy and add miso paste and butterscotch chips or coconut flour, dried cherries, and dark chocolate.

Brown Butter Blondies

Brown Butter Blondies by Phyllis Grant

Cook's Illustrated's Blondies

Cook's Illustrated's Blondies by Genius Recipes

Miso Butterscotch Bars

Miso Butterscotch Bars by Aliwaks

Blondies -- Gluten-Free and Completely Delicious

Blondies -- Gluten-Free and Completely Delicious by nishis

If you're looking for a different sort of edible treat:

The pot is optional. The chocolate is not.

Mario Batali's Double-Chocolate Pot Brownies
Mario Batali's Double-Chocolate Pot Brownies
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Dessert, Bake