Nigella, I have tried and tried to make a perfect brownie but mine always turn out like a chocolate cake. Please help my husband and children love brownies and I'd like to make one that actually tastes like a brownie. What type of chocolate do you use in your brownies and how do you get the top shiny?
Brownies should be fairly dense and slightly squidgy and there are a few steps you can take to ensure this. Firstly the chocolate should generally be of good quality, such as a dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids (for the US good quality bittersweet is generally 62% cocoa solids). Also when making the brownies, recipes which tend to cream the butter and sugar together will give a more cake-like and airy texture so try to pick recipe where the butter, sugar and chocolate are melted together. The 'doneness' of a brownie is probably the most important – too much cooking and they will become crumby and cake-like, too little and they will be raw in the centre. The high level of sugar in most brownie recipes also means a crust forms on the top of the brownie very quickly, making it harder to judge how well-done the brownie is.
As all ovens bake slightly differently it is important to check brownies early, as under baked ones can always be cooked a little longer but once a brownie is over baked then there is no going back. Check the brownie about 5 minutes before the end of the baking time in your recipe and give the tin (pan) a shake. If the centre of the brownie still trembles slightly then bake it for another 2-3 minutes and test again. If there is no wobbliness then stick a cake tester or wooden skewer into the centre of the brownie – if there is raw batter on it then bake for another 2 minutes and test again, but if there are a few damp crumbs clinging to the skewer then the brownies should be just right.