Best Fudgy Brownies

This is my favorite super fudgy brownie recipe. The brownies are fudgy, moist, chewy and have a shiny crackly surface. And the best part is, it’s an easy one-bowl recipe! I’m also sharing tips for cutting brownies, achieving the shiny surface, and variations on this recipe for thicker, cakier or fudgier brownies.

close-up photo of a stack of brownies

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing my favorite brownie recipe along with all the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way for making brownies. I also share several variations of this recipe because I know brownies can be a divisive topic and some are team fudgy, team chewy or team cakey.

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These are my ideal brownies. They are everything I loved from box mix brownies but in a made-from-scratch recipe. They are super fudgy, moist, with a slight chewiness in the center and they have a thin crackly shiny top.

overhead photo of brownies on a cutting board

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of brownie recipes but never found “the one.” So a few weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to figure it out. It took many trials and lessons learned along the way, but I’m thrilled that I have finally found my ultimate brownie recipe.

Shiny Crackly Surface

  • The key to creating that thin, crackly shiny surface is how you incorporate the sugar.
  • For this recipe, the sugar is melted into the butter twice. The first time it is added to the melted butter. When mixed in, the mixture will become thick and the sugar will still be almost solid.
  • You then melt the butter-sugar mixture a second time, allowing more of the sugar to melt into the butter. As you’re stirring you will even see that the mixture look a little shiny and glossy.
  • When your batter is fully mixed, it will still have a glossy finish.
  • If you do not want to do this with a microwave, you can also melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. You would follow the same steps: melt the butter first, stir in sugar, melt again without boiling and whisk together again until smooth and glossy.

Best Way to Cut Brownies

Cleanly and easily slicing brownies has always been difficult for me, especially brownies that are super fudgy and or not completely cooled. For the majority of brownies once they are fully cooled, using a simple plastic knife is an easy and clean way to slice up brownies.

But for super fudgy brownies or brownies that are still warm, the secret is to use a warm sharp blade. I usually use a kitchen chopping knife. Run the knife under hot water to heat it up (or dip it into a bowl of hot water), wipe the blade dry and then make one swift slice into your brownies. They should cut straight through with minimal crumbs. If your brownies are extra fudgy, some of the brownie batter will cling to the knife but the hot blade will keep the amount to a minimum. You then dip the blade in hot water again, wipe it clean, and cut again. You need to wipe the blade clean each time before the next cut.

This is my favorite way to slice brownies. No more brownies falling apart. I get perfectly cut square brownies every time.

Dutch Process Cocoa versus Natural Cocoa Powder

This brownie recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder for its chocolate base. There are two kinds of baking cocoa powder: Dutch process and natural. I highly recommend you use Dutch process for this recipe.

Dutch process is a little harder to find. You likely won’t find it at your local Vons, Ralphs, Krogers or Albertsons. However, it is sold at Whole Foods, Amazon and specialty stores like William Sonoma or Sur La Table. Dutch process cocoa will be labeled “dutch process” or “cocoa processed with alkali,” “alkalized.”

Dutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkalizing agent, neutralizing some of its acidity and giving it a milder taste. Since this recipe relies heavily on the cocoa powder, I use dutch process cocoa because it has a smoother, less bitter taste. Natural cocoa can be quite bitter and since we are using a lot of cocoa powder in this recipe, using natural cocoa will make the brownies have a more bitter taste.

Chopped Chocolate Versus Chocolate Chips

I added chopped chocolate to the batter and on top so that there are melted chocolate pieces mixed in. Most recipes call for chocolate chips and you can certainly use chocolate chips as well.

The reason for using chopped chocolate is because it melts better. Chocolate chips are designed to not melt in the oven, otherwise your chocolate chip cookies would be a melty mess. But regular chocolate or baking chocolate bars will melt when baked.

I usually use bittersweet baking chocolate bars or premium European dark chocolate bars (around 70% dark).

Additional Baking Tips

  • I prefer to bake brownies in a light metal nonstick pan. Darker metal pans tend to cook the brownies edges too soon and glass pans tend to cook the brownies slower.
  • I grease the interior of the baking pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper, with the paper coming up two of the sides of the pan. This makes it easy to remove the entire brownie batch once it is fully baked, so that you can slice them on a cutting board rather than attempting to slice them in the pan.
  • Bake the brownies in the middle of your oven to prevent the top or bottom from getting too hot.
  • Make sure your eggs are room temperature. Using cold eggs will harden the butter and make the batter too thick.
  • You will need to pour the batter into prepared pan as soon as it is done mixing. You do not want to set this aside for later as the brownie batter will become too thick and hard.
  • Because these brownies are so fudgy, when a toothpick is inserted, it should not come out clean. The brownies are done when the surface has developed the crackly thin layer and the middle is no longer jiggly.
  • Make sure you let the brownies cool and set for 30 minutes before slicing.

Brownie Variations

  • To make a larger batch, you can double the ingredients and bake in an 8-inch by 12-inch baking pan. Baking time may vary but I would start checking around 20 minutes. It can also be done in a 9 inch by 13-inch pan, but the brownies will be thinner.
  • These brownies can be made in a 9-inch x 9-inch pan but they will be thinner. Baking time will also be less.
  • If you like thicker cakier brownies, add an additional 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.
  • If you like even fudgier moist and barely set brownies, skip the baking powder and reduce the baking time by a few minutes.

Best Fudgy Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 pieces

These brownies are my ideal brownies. Ultra fudgy, slightly chewy, with a shiny crackly top. And they are an easy one bowl recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/8 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the interior of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in microwave. When butter is fully melted, add in the sugar.

  3. Whisk sugar until it is fully incorporated. The mixture should look thick and grainy. Place bowl back into the microwave and heat for about 40 seconds. The butter should be hot and liquid but you don't want it to be bubbling. 

  4. Whisk the sugar and butter together so that it is uniform. You should notice it come together into a thin, smooth paste and the top should have a glossy finish.

  5. Add in cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, vanilla. Whisk until everything is evenly incorporated. 

  6. Add in eggs and whisk until batter is smooth. 

  7. Add in flour and gently whisk until flour is just incorporated. The batter should look glossy. You do not want to overmix once flour is added because it will add too much air and make the brownies cakey.

  8. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chopped chocolate. Your batter should be very thick.

  9. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Smooth and even out with spatula. Sprinkle remaining chocolate over surface.

  10. Bake brownies for about 20-25 minutes, until surface is no longer wet and center is no longer jiggly. Because the brownies are so fudgy, the toothpick test will not come out clean. Allow brownies to set for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes:

  • I recommend using Dutch process cocoa. Dutch process cocoa likely won't be at your local Vons, Ralphs, Krogers or Albertsons. However, it is sold at Whole Foods, Amazon and specialty stores like William Sonoma or Sur La Table. Dutch process cocoa will be labeled "Dutch process" or “cocoa processed with alkali,” “alkalized."
  • I used this cocoa powder.*
  • Dutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkalizing agent, neutralizing some of its acidity and giving it a milder taste. Using natural cocoa will make the brownies have a more bitter taste.
  • I added chopped chocolate to the batter and on top so that there are melted chocolate pieces mixed in. You can use chocolate chips instead but know that chocolate chips will not melt as much as chopped chocolate bars.
  • I prefer to bake brownies in a light metal nonstick pan. Darker metal pans tend to cook the brownies edges too soon and glass pans tend to cook the brownies slower.
  • I grease the interior of the baking pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper, with the paper coming up two of the sides of the pan. This makes it easy to remove the entire brownie batched once it is fully baked, so that you can slice them on a cutting board rather than attempting to slice them in the pan.
  • Bake the brownies in the middle of your oven to prevent the top or bottom from getting too hot.
  • Make sure your eggs are room temperature. Using cold eggs will harden the butter and make the batter too thick.
  • You will need to pour the batter into prepared pan as soon as it is done mixing. You do not want to set this aside for later as the brownie batter will become too thick and hard.

Shiny Crackly Surface

  • The key to creating that thin, crackly shiny surface is how you incorporate the sugar, which is why the sugar is melted into the butter twice.
  • If you do not want to do this with a microwave, you can also melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. You would follow the same steps: melt the butter first, stir in sugar, melt again without boiling and whisk together again until smooth and glossy.

Best Way to Cut Brownies

For super fudgy brownies or brownies that are still warm, the secret is to use a warm sharp blade. I usually use a kitchen chopping knife. Run the knife under hot water to heat it up (or dip it into a bowl of hot water), wipe the blade dry and then make one swift slice into your brownies. They should cut straight through with minimal crumbs. If your brownies are extra fudgy, some of the brownie batter will cling to the knife but the hot blade will keep the amount to a minimum. You then dip the blade in hot water again, wipe it clean, and cut again. You need to wipe the blade clean each time before the next cut.

Brownie Variations

  • To make a larger batch, you can double the ingredients and bake in an 8 inch by 12 inch baking pan. Baking time may vary but I would start checking around 20 minutes. It can also be done in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan, but the brownies will be thinner.
  • These brownies can be made in a 9 inch x 9 inch pan but they will be thinner. Baking time will also be less.
  • If you like thicker cakier brownies, add an additional 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.
  • If you like even fudgier moist and barely set brownies, skip the baking powder and reduce the baking time by a few minutes.

*Some of the product links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

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