Fudgy or Cakey? These Glorious Brownies Are Both

All thanks to steam.

October 21, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

We've teamed up with Miele to streamline your weeknight dinner routine with smart, delicious recipes the whole family will want to dig in to. Here, food writer and recipe developer Posie (Harwood) Brien shares the secret to her favorite brownie recipe: steam!

When it comes to my dessert cravings, I tend to gravitate toward something warm and freshly baked, like a soft, tender cake or a chewy cookie. But whipping up a dessert isn’t always in the cards—I don’t always have the time (or the foresight) to plan anything very involved, especially if I’m already prepping and making dinner.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make a dessert that has freshly baked coziness and convenience in one. Enter: brownies.

Brownies are relatively quick and pretty foolproof–they don’t require much attention or finesse, and absolutely no babysitting. But since they usually fall somewhere on the spectrum from fudgy to cakey, I’ve always struggled to find one that strikes just the right balance between the two.

These glorious brownies steam to fudgy-cakey perfection in Miele's Combi-Steam Oven. Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

It turns out that there’s an unexpected method for achieving just that: steaming. If you’ve never thought to steam a baked good before, consider this steamed brown bread or mantou (Chinese steamed buns). Steaming yields a moist and tender crumb, and when used with brownie batter, it creates a squidgy, fudgy brownie that also manages to be fluffy and cake-like. All in one!

Steaming is particularly simple if you have a steam oven, like the Miele Combi-Steam Oven, but you can absolutely use a basic stovetop method (a steamer basket set into a pot of simmering water).

Just pop your batter-filled pan into the steam oven and let it do its thing while you carry on making dinner or folding the laundry or living life. Once you let the brownies cool, you'll slather them with an absolutely dreamy peanut butter frosting.

Can you skip the frosting? Yes. Should you? No. Its salty-sweet flavor and whipped, creamy texture is a very good foil to the richness of the chocolate. But if you're not a peanut butter fan, not to worry. This recipe welcomes all manner of creative riffs and tweaks. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Make ’em extra minty: Add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the brownie batter and top with peppermint frosting (like this one). Use crushed peppermint candy in the frosting for a pop of pink or spirulina powder for an all-natural green hue.
  • Go fruit forward: Swirl 1/2 cup of raspberry jam into the batter after you pour it into the pan. Mix 1 cup of crushed freeze-dried raspberries into a batch of basic vanilla buttercream for the frosting.
  • Bring on the campfire vibes: Swap 1/4 cup of the flour in the recipe for 1/4 cup of finely crushed graham crackers. Once baked, top with a layer of marshmallows and pop it under the broiler for a minute or two (watch carefully!) until they turn a toasty golden brown.

No matter which direction you take, these are the kind of brownies that make weeknights (and any night) a little bit brighter.

What's your favorite brownie recipe? Tell us in the comments!

These fudgy-meets-chewy brownies come together in a cinch with our partner Miele's Combi-Steam Oven. This streamlined, high-tech kitchen appliance not only gives you expertly steamed results at the touch of a button, but also has all the functions (and then some) of a traditional oven.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Megan
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Megan October 23, 2020
The article says these can be made on the stovetop using a steamer basket but doesn’t give any directions on how to do this. Tho I wish I had the Miele steamer oven, alas, I do not. Can stovetop directions be provided please?
Author Comment
Posie (. October 23, 2020
If you click on the recipe, you'll find full stovetop instructions in step 5!