Suzi’s Blog

Brownie Styles: Fudgy, Chewy, and Cakey

wc-IMG_8566

Last week I posted a review of a brownie book, Best-Ever Brownies, and gave you a recipe for a cake brownie pictured above. If you were ever confused, because brownie texture and taste seem to vary so much, your confusion will be clarified here.

Brownies come in three basic styles. The fudgy ones that seem undercooked, that you have a tough time cutting and getting out of the pan, and that stick to your teeth. I stopped eating them when I got braces and though the braces are long gone, I just never went back to fudgy.

There are the chewy brownies, which I think most of us favor. It’s definitely not a cake and it is certainly “chewy” with a moist texture, but it will not stick to your braces.

And then there are the cakey brownies. I don’t think of those as my first choice, but the cake brownies we made last week were divine. Thing is, I find them not just cakey: I find them to be almost but not quite cake. They tend to have a high chocolate component, so they aren’t in fact cake, and they are rich enough to enable you to serve them without frosting. If you were going to frost any brownie, it would be the cake ones.

How do you make a brownie be fudgy or chewy or cakey? It’s in the ingredients and the relative proportions and how they are assembled. The list below gives you some general guidelines. The big differentiator is the butter. If it is melted, then the brownie is going to fudgy or chewy. Which one? Well, that will depend on the relative amounts of sugar and flour. Less flour and more sugar get you closer to the fudge candy that fudgy brownies all seem to strive to be when the grow up.

If you are creaming the butter with your sugar, and the sugar is granulated, then you are on safe, cake grounds.

I suggest you search around and find a good recipe for each kind of brownie. You already have a great cake recipe in that link provided here. Actually, what I will do is seek out the best fudgy and chewy recipes I can find [and test!]. I’ll blog those recipes, too, and put links into this post as I update it. So, bookmark this post.

I need a little time for research. Lots and lots of research.

  • Fudgy

Chews, dense, moist, gooey in the dead center, and no crumb

Melted butter, extra sugar, less flour

Unsweetened chocolate

  • Chewy

Moist, chewy but solid with a little crumb

Melted butter, but often brown sugar, more flour

Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Less baking time to keep the batter moist and thus chewy

  • Cakey

Moist crumb, cake-interior with soft texture

Butter creamed with sugar

Leavening agents like baking powder or soda

Bittersweet chocolate

Lastly, remember, if using cocoa powder, you’ll need additional fat, that is butter, to compensate for the fats found in all chocolates, even unsweetened.

Pork Meatballs with Toasted Pignoli and Golden Raisins

wc-IMG_8558

Want to start a debate among foodies? You don’t have to go to politics or religion. For spirited conversation, you need to ask about where to find the best meatballs. Family recipes, especially Italian family recipes, are endowed with pride. And it is not unusual for someone to say their family's version is the best, easily the best. It’s not a wise thing to challenge that claim, for it will be mightily defended. And with good reason. These recipes have been honed and perfected by woman and men who do display meatball passion.

In the end, it’s both wise politics and excellent culinary sense to admit that there can be more than one best.

Famed butcher Pat La Frieda says in his book Meat that these are the best meatballs in the world. He eats them sizzling hot out of the pan. No sauce, no pasta. Just the meatballs. And the next day, you “slice and sandwich.”

I showed this recipe to Suzen and she smiled, read it carefully, and announced, “I’m going to use pistachios.” It was a small adjustment and I’m now convinced that Suzen’s meatballs are the best in the world.

We did have leftovers and Suzen shared them with her Cooking by the Book staff the next day. People raved. Again, no sauce, no pasta. Just warm meatballs, which were proclaimed to be the best. We did, out of culinary honesty, mention Pat's name.

It’s rare to come across a recipe that is both the best and perfect but this is surely it. If you crave a wonderful meatball treat, this is the one you should indulge.


Pork Meatballs with Toasted Pignoli and Golden Raisins

Yield: about 36 meatballs

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup pine nuts
  • 2 pounds chopped (ground) pork
  • 1 ⅓ cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup Italian-Style Breadcrumbs
  • 6 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 ¾ cups) or half pecorino, half Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
  • 3 ounces aged provolone cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a medium skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until golden brown all over, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate so they don’t continue cooking, and set them aside to cool to room temperature.

Put the pork in a large bowl. Add the pine nuts, raisins, breadcrumbs, pecorino, provolone, parsley, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gently work the ingredients together with your fingertips. Don’t overwork the meat or press it together, or your meatballs will be tough and heavy. Roll the meat into 36 balls (about 2 ½ ounces each, a little bigger than golf balls).

Lay the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Let the meatballs cool slightly before removing them from the pan.

Source: Meat by Pat La Frieda [Atria Books, 2014]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-55mm Macro Lens, f/4.5 at 1/50th second, ISO-2500

 

 

 

 

Manchego, Chorizo and Paprika Bread from Patricia Wells

wc-IMG_8517

As you know, when Patricia Wells speaks, we should all listen. From her wonderful website comes that bread pictured above. It’s Manchego, Chorizo and Paprika Bread. Suzen was patrolling the web, looking at her favorite sites and discovered this recipe. She baked it in a flash and our loaf appear above.

Patricia asks that her recipe not be reproduced without permission, so we are not writing it down here. Instead, below is the link to this recipe on her website. Peak at that website, by the way, and you’ll be sure to make it one of your favorites.

This bread is ideal as an appetizer base. Top with a lively cream cheese and then frost with some veggies or pickled peppers to fashion a complex and adored appetizer.

Here’s your link:

http://www.patriciawells.com/blog/2014/6/11/taste-of-the-week-manchego-chorizo-and-paprika-bread