Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Went Wrong with My Brownies?

Every so often, I have a kitchen disaster that really makes me mad. And when that disaster is baking related, it's even worse (hello, Dough-Nots!). Well last night wasn't a good one, because for the first time in a long time, I had a great big baking FAIL.

Bill asked me to bake something for him last night, and of course I was excited to do so. I haven't done a ton of baking over the last couple weeks and there are lots of recipes I wanted to try, one being espresso brownies. Unofrtunately, they didn't go as planned.

After 27 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, I took them out, inserted a toothpick in the middle, shook the pan to double-check that they were set, and allowed them to cool. When I lifted the foil out of the pan and cut off a corner to taste them, they were still gooey inside. (And not yummy, chocolate-y gooey, just super undercooked gooey.) Thinking I could save them, I turned the oven back on and put them back in. It took almost 20 minutes, with periodic checking, before they seemed to be cooked all the way through and I took them out again.

When they cooled and I tried to serve them, the edges (at least the ones that hadn't burnt) were delicious. But the center still wasn't completely cooked through! The only thing I can imagine went wrong is that I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks for baking instead of real butter. But I often use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter for baking, and I've never had a problem like this.

If, after looking at the recipe, you have any idea where I might have gone wrong, please, please let me know. Or if you also think it was the butter, maybe I'll just have to try them again (with real butter this time!). This is the second batch of brownies I've ruined (the last was almost a year ago and it was so traumatic that I hadn't attempted brownies since!). I refuse to fail at them again. What good am I if I don't have basic brownies in my repertoire?!

Espresso Brownies
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
2 teaspoons vanilla

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a alrge bowl, combine eggs, sugar, espresso powder, coffee liqueur, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top appears set and dry. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into bars and serve.


  1. What kind of baking pan are you using? I had an insulated cookie sheet and it caused me to have to add extra baking time. I've had good luck baking brownies in my stoneware bar plate.

    Personally, I'm a purist when it comes to baking, so I always stick with real butter.

  2. Steph, that is a very good point. I didn't think of that. I used a dark non-stick pan ... although if I remember correctly, I baked my last failed brownies in a glass Pyrex dish. So maybe that doesn't explain it. Anyway, I'm going to give the stoneware a try!

  3. I've had the exact same thing happen with brownies out the box! And seven layer bars too (although those actually seemed to "settle" after sitting around for a day). I'm always paranoid that I'm gonna burn them, and end up taking them out too early, even though I'm baking them probably longer than what the instructions say. I use the disposable tin baking pans. I thought it was just me being the novice I am.. maybe there is something more to it!