If You Love Boxed Brownies, This Chewy Brownie Recipe Will Blow You Away (2024)

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Recipe Review

Grace Elkus

Grace Elkus

Grace Elkus was the Deputy Food Director at Kitchn, where she wrote a monthly vegetarian recipe column called Tonight We Veg. She received her culinary arts diploma from The Natural Gourmet Institute.


published Nov 4, 2022

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If You Love Boxed Brownies, This Chewy Brownie Recipe Will Blow You Away (1)

Cook’s Illustrated’s website is jam-packed with helpful content for home cooks, from equipment reviews to family dinner solutions. But it’s their baking recipes that I turn to the most. Knowing they’ve tested every possible technique and ingredient gives me confidence that my dessert will turn out impeccably.

For this reason, I couldn’t wait to try their chewy brownie recipe. To come up with their perfect chewy brownie formula, Cook’s Illustrated began by studying the amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats in boxed brownie mixes. From there, they determined that a 1:3 ratio of butter to vegetable oil is the best way to mimic a boxed brownie’s chew. (As a big fan of Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, I was excited by this approach.)

Their recipe also replaces some of the oil with egg yolks to minimize greasiness, calls on unsweetened chocolate for the strongest chocolate flavor, and includes bittersweet chunks to add gooey pockets of chocolate in every bite. Needless to say, I had high hopes for this scientifically-backed recipe. Here’s what happened when I gave it a go.

Get the recipe: Chewy Brownies

How to Make Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies

You’ll begin by adjusting the oven rack to the lowest position (something I’ve never done before to bake brownies) and heat the oven to 350°F. You’ll then make a foil sling using their very detailed instructions. Coat with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (I used Divine), 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional but recommended), and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water. Add 2 ounces finely chopped unsweetened chocolate (Cook’s Illustrated recommends Scharffen Berger; I used Ghirardelli) and whisk until melted.

Whisk in 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, followed by 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, then use a rubber spatula to fold in 1 3/4 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Finally, fold in 1/2-inch pieces of bittersweet chocolate (Cook’s Illustrated recommends Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate L-60-40NV or Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar; I used the latter).

Pour the batter into the pan (it’s pretty loose, so there’s no need to smooth the top), and bake until a toothpick “inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.” Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 1 1/2 hours, then lift the brownies from the pan and let cool for another hour. (According to the recipe, letting the brownies cool completely maximizes their chewiness, so don’t rush this step). Cut into 2-inch squares.

My Honest Review of Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies

I won’t lie: I didn’t have the best first impression of these brownies. Although crackly in the center, the perimeter of my brownies was more dull than shiny —and when I attempted to lift them from the foil, they were stuck.

But once I was able to slice into them —and more importantly, bite into them —I forgot all about their slightly concerning appearance. Each square was the perfect size and thickness, and I loved the chocolate chunks. Rather than melting into gooey pockets as described, the chunks had a snappy texture that provided a welcome contrast to the decadent brownie.

The chocolate flavor was present but not overpowering, and the sweetness was spot-on. The best part, of course, is that they were undeniably chewy. Rich, yes, but gooey, no — which meant I could eat the whole thing without feeling sick. If anything, they leaned more chewy-cakey than chewy-fudgy, but not in a bad way — I promise!

Although this isn’t a five-minute, one-bowl recipe, it’s also far from complicated. (Honestly, the hardest part was making the foil sling!). I appreciated the level of detail included, especially the point about where to insert the toothpick when checking for doneness. I’ve always found it nearly impossible to determine when brownies are done cooking, and this tip helped significantly.

3 Tips for Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies

  1. Use nonstick foil (or try greased parchment). Despite the fact that I greased my foil with nonstick cooking spray, my brownies still stuck. After reading through the comments, it seems I’m not alone. To ensure you don’t have the same issue, I’d use nonstick foil —or try greased parchment paper instead.
  2. For sweeter brownies, try milk chocolate chunks. Most people will find these brownies plenty sweet, but if you’re a sucker for milk chocolate, I think it would be right at home here. Simply swap in chopped milk chocolate for the bittersweet.
  3. Make a brownie sundae. The lofty, chewy nature of these brownies makes them the perfect base for an ice cream sundae. Trust me — you’ll thank me later!

Overall rating: 10/10

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Recipe Review

If You Love Boxed Brownies, This Chewy Brownie Recipe Will Blow You Away (2024)


How do you make box brownies chewy? ›

For the fudgiest brownie possible, swap all of the recommended water for milk — the extra fat will thicken the batter. If you'd prefer to mix the two for a still-chewy brownie that isn't overly chewy, add an equal milk-to-water ratio to brownie mix.

What does it mean when your brownies are chewy? ›

Recipes for chewy brownies use more flour than those for fudgy brownies, which results in a more structured, chewy bite and less dense texture.

What makes a brownie chewy vs cakey? ›

The recipes for Ultimate Chewy Brownies and Ultimate Fudgy Brownies are very similar. They both have about double the amount of butter, flour and sugar than the cakey brownies. This provides the richness and gooey structure in the brownie. The preparation method for the denser brownies is also very different.

What happens if I use milk instead of water in brownie mix? ›

One change is to use milk or heavy cream instead of water. This change will make brownies more moist and gooey since milk is more fatty and flavorful than water. A second change is to use butter instead of oil. For similar reasons to using milk, butter adds a rich and more decadent quality to the batter.

How do you keep brownies soft and chewy? ›

Using airtight wrappings (including using plastic wrap right against the brownies) is key to keeping your brownies fresh, whether you're keeping them at room temperature for short-term storage, or planning to freeze them so you can have a fresh brownie ready whenever you need it.

What is the difference between chewy and fudgy brownies? ›

The chewy brownie (center in the photo) is likely the one you know and love. It has—you guessed it—a thick and chewy outer crust with a rich chocolate center. A fudgy brownie (far left in the photo) is slightly underbaked and is very gooey and dense. It is for true chocoholics.

How do you know when chewy brownies are done? ›

To test for doneness with a toothpick, insert a toothpick into the center of the brownies and pull it back out. For fudgy brownies, you'll want to see some moist crumbs attached to the toothpick when you pull it back out. If it looks like it's covered in brownie batter, the brownies will need to bake a bit longer.

What happens if you put too much butter in brownies? ›

Whether you use butter, margarine, or vegetable oil, putting too much in your brownie batter causes it to be greasy. Don't worry, you're not alone. Many people fall into this trap when trying to substitute butter with oil.

What happens if you add too much flour to brownies? ›

Too much flour? Go back to your edges - if they're not burnt, look a good colour (similar to the centre) but the brownie is too cakey and dry throughout, the recipe probably included too much flour.

What is the number 1 brownie mix? ›

Given my personal baking criteria, Pillsbury's mix is my top pick because it yielded thick, fluffy brownies that were moist and had a nice chocolate flavor. They baked off evenly, weren't overly sweet, and had a shiny crackled crust and tender edges that didn't dry out.

What is a brownie fairy? ›

brownie, in English and Scottish folklore, a small, industrious fairy or hobgoblin believed to inhabit houses and barns. Rarely seen, he was often heard at night, cleaning and doing housework; he also sometimes mischievously disarranged rooms.

What does adding an extra egg to brownie mix do? ›

If you opt to add more eggs, say double the amount, something interesting happens. Even though you are adding more moisture, the air bubbles that you catch in the extra eggs add volume, which decreases the density of your final product. This makes your brownies rise and gives them a much more cake-like texture.

Is it better to use milk or water in brownie mix? ›

Most brownie mixes call for water. While water does the job, you can add some extra flavor and moisture by mixing some of that water with something richer, like milk. If you want to swap it out completely, be prepared for a more chewy and fudge-like brownie from the extra fat.

What does adding milk instead of water do to cake? ›

Milk's fat and protein add tenderness, structure, and flavor to a cake — all great attributes you want in your baking!

How to make boxed brownie mix better? ›

Use Milk Instead of Water

Replace it with a richer, more flavorful liquid, such as milk, buttermilk or coconut milk. The extra fat from the milk will turn a normal box of brownies into a moist and gooey treat.

What makes a brownie more fudgy? ›

Fudgy brownies have a higher fat-to-flour ratio than cakey ones. So add more fat—in this case, butter and chocolate. A cakey batch has more flour and relies on baking powder for leavening. The amount of sugar and eggs does not change whether you're going fudgy or cakey.

How do you make brownies that don't get hard? ›

Brownies need to be little under-baked, the batter should slightly stick to the toothpick when inserted. Brownies cook even after they are taken out of the oven, this makes sure they remain perfectly fudgy and don't dry out.

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