Everything you need to know to make the ultimate chocolate brownies
Back in 2013 I went to an excellent event for the launch of a strained yoghurt brand, Chobani (read that post here) who launched in the UK and then promptly disappeared from our shelves (come back Cho!). They were keen to promote the use of their yoghurt as a replacement for some of the fats in recipes – butter, oil, sour cream, mayo etc.
Armed with this knowledge I played around and came up with my ultimate brownie recipe. I use 0% fat Greek yoghurt which works perfectly. Brownies are an indulgent treat, but I have managed to cut out 50% of the butter and actually add more deliciousness!
The top is delicately crisp. Inside they are lovely and damp but they actually hold together a bit better than before. The ultimate brownie for me is the Muddee from More? The Artisan Bakery (yes, my favourite brownie has a name!). I have to say- this is up there with the Muddee.
Top tips for making the best ever chocolate brownie
Food processor v stand mixer or hand held beater
I always make my brownies in the food processor. It is the only time I use it for baking because you don’t need to be too concerned with knocking out air. Also, I am convinced that there is magic happening in a processor which makes the top crispy. But don’t let that put you off – if you have a stand mixer, use that with the paddle. If you have a hand held electric whisk, use that.
The brownie tray
My go-to brownie tray is 20cm x 30cm. This is the one I based my recipes and cooking times on. This gives me 12 good sized brownies or 24 bite sized ones.
I have a slightly different one which is 20cm x 35cm. This is shallower and needs a couple of minutes less. Same number as above but not as chunky.
I also have a 20cm x 20cm baking dish which I sometimes use. This is deeper so I have to cook for longer and keep an eye on it to make sure the top doesn’t dry out. I can get 9 or 12 out of this depending on what shape I go with when cutting them. They are smaller but deeper.
The point is, you don’t need a specific tray, but make sure you tweak the cooking times to reflect what you have them in.
Also, line the tray. There is no fun to be had in picking off baked on chocolate when you could be eating it! My tray came with an insert which gives you 16 perfectly sized morsels. But it is such a pain to clean that I have only ever used it once! Which brings me to my next point…
All ovens are different. I have to use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature I tell you is the actual temp, because my oven is old and prone to running hot. Brownies need to be cooked just right: under cooked and they are gooey and messy instead of fudgey. Over cooked and they are dry and sorry. So start checking them at around 30-35 minutes and don’t be afraid to deviate from the suggested cooking time a few minutes either way.
An oven thermometer is a good investment actually. It is cheap and an easy way to work out what is going on if food is coming out burned or raw! I use this type of one which does the job for very little money.
Cutting your brownies
I know it is hard, but let them cool. Leave them in the baking tray for 10-15 minutes. If you try and move them straight away, you risk them falling apart. When you do move them, put them, still on the paper, onto a cooling rack and leave them to go cold.
When you are ready to cut, use a serrated knife. My big bread knife does the job perfectly. I find that a smooth knife, no matter how sharp, pulls through and gets messy. I read years ago about cutting your brownies with a plastic knife. Now, we are all trying to reduce our single use plastic, but if you have one in the house, try it – it works!
Now you are armed with all this knowledge, go on and give them a go!
Get this right, and you will never buy another brownie again! This is the ultimate chocolate brownie recipe and my 'mother' recipes to lots more!
- 80 g 0% fat Greek/ strained yoghurt
- 280 g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
- 125 g unsalted butter chopped into small pieces
- 3 medium/large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g dark soft brown sugar
- 80 g plain / all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- splash cold espresso
- 150 g chocolate chips optional
Bring your ingredients to room temperature, line your brownie tray and preheat oven to 170c
Melt the butter and chocolate – either in a bain marie or in a bowl over some barely simmering water. set aside to cool for five minutes.
In a food processor, mix the sugar, eggs, yoghurt and pinch of vanilla salt until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and butter and mix again. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until just mixed.
The mixture needs to be a dropping consistency so judge how much of the cold coffee to add – I added just under half an espresso cup. Do it little by little as you can't undo what you add! Give one final pulse to mix.
Mix the chocolate chips if you are using them with a spoon – don't use the processor or you will blitz them. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and smooth over the top.
Cook for 35-45 minutes until just cooked through. A cocktail stick will come out almost clean. Cool on a rack and cut when cold. Cut into 12 pieces or 24 bite-sized morsels!
If you don’t want to use coffee, use milk instead. I always use skimmed milk but whatever you have to hand will be fine.
My brownie tray is 20cm x 35cm. If yours is smaller but deeper, cook a little longer. If it is shallower, reduce the time by a couple of minutes.
But wait, there are more flavours waiting to be discovered!
Once you are armed with this ‘mother’ recipe the world is your oyster. You can start adding new flavour combinations, toppings and more.
- Maple bacon brownies. Sweet and salty, these are a taste sensation!
- Creme egg brownie bites. These are so OTT that I recommend you cut them small!
- Spiced fig brownies
- Hazelnut Ferrero Roche brownies. The ambassador would love these!
- Pumpkin spice brownies. The taste of autumn!
- Gluten free cherry bakewell brownies
- Marmalade brownies
- brownie-based cheesecake
- Orange crunch brownies
- Rose and raspberry brownies. One of my favourites. This is a classic flavour combination
- Nutty brownies
- Uncle Joe’s Mintball brownies. A Wigan-made sweetie based treat