How To: Cut Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

So you’ve baked a batch of brownies, thought they looked amazing, sliced them and ended up with…

Mushed up pieces that ressembled squares rather than actual nicely cut slabs. Like these:

brownies

Brownies that I baked in 2011. Sad and uncrisp.

Oh well – you and your lucky friends and family eat them all anyway. However, if the appearance of them irked you, perhaps this article may come like a knight in shining armour to your kitchen to rescue your beautiful brownie slab before they face the kitchen knife.

This is a particularly common problem if you, like me, love chewy moist brownies rather than the firmer cake-y variety. I have baked many a batch of brownies in my lifetime and today I thought I’d share with you my personal experiences with them and how I finally got my act together and learned how to cut brownies properly. It’s really not that difficult.  All it takes is some patience and planning. Yes – I said patience and brownies in the same paragraph. It’s okay – you can get through this!

Still reading? Great!

Chocolate Brownies In Progress

Alright, let’s start with baking the brownies! This happens to be my favourite brownie recipe of all time – moist, fudgy, extremely chocolate-y and extremely simple to make. I managed to get a few sequential photos (Hurrah! Gave myself a pat on the back for remembering). In case you’re wondering, the chocolate I’ve used is Lindt Dark Bittersweet Picolli 58% – I bought a 2.5kg bag so that’s going to be the chocolate of choice for the foreseeable future!

Homemade Brownies

Chocolate Brownies 2

Ingredients

125g butter, melted
250g caster sugar
20g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
125g dark chocolate, chopped
60g nuts of choice (walnuts in my case), chopped
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced). Line a 7×7 inch tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place all ingredients listed into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour into prepared tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until centre is still slightly unset but sides are firm.
  4. Put into refrigeration to chill for at least 2-3 hours before slicing.

Important Note: Do not overbake – the point of this recipe is that it produces a fudgy chewy brownie rather than a hard firm one.

Alright. You have brownies now. Let’s get onto the slicing and subsequently, the eating! Listed below are my personal tips – I hope they are helpful to you.

Top 5 Tips on Cutting Brownies

1. Chill Brownies For At Least 2-3 Hours Before Cutting

I know – you want to eat the brownies right now. But chilling the brownies is an essential step if you would like crisp, sharp cuts as it firms up the brownies enough to not buckle under the knife. Leaving it in the fridge will suffice but for really, really sharp cuts, the freezer is a great option too. However, it can get it a little too firm so you might have to keep an eye on it if you choose that route.

2. Ensure Knife is at 90° Angle to Brownie Surface

Before making any cuts, make sure that the knife is as close to 90° as you can. This is to ensure that you get beautiful cuts that are at exact right angles, rather than creating undercuts or tapers. You will notice that I got a little too eager and unintentionally tapered the edge of the top brownie in the photograph at the top of this blog post. To ensure this doesn’t happen to your brownie, line the knife up carefully.

3. Use a Serrated Knife

I have experimented with a few knives and have concluded that a serrated knife creates the best and cleanest cut. In case you were wondering what knife I use, I have a Wusthof Classic Bread Knife which has served me well over the years. In case you were wondering even more – my 2011 brownie and the cover photo were cut with the exact same knife, which suggests that perhaps the other steps in this write up are more crucial.

4. Use Sawing Action When Cutting

Ensure that you use a gentle sawing motion when cutting the brownie – this ensures that the serrated edge of the knife does not leave an unsightly wavy indentation on the surface of your brownie. I also like to slide the blade backwards at the end of the cutting motion right against the brownie surface to kinda smooth of the edges when I finish the slice.

5. Clean The Knife After Each Cut

After each cut, you will notice that the knife would have picked up some crumbs or gooey bits (especially with moister brownies). Wipe them off with a paper towel and rinse the knife under hot water and dry off before making the next cut. This will eliminate crumbs from sticking onto the top of the brownie or the next cutting surface.

And there you have it! Please comment if you have any other tips that you would like to share with everyone.

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How To: Make Bumble Bees

I have finally gotten round to making a tutorial! A video would probably be better but for now sequential photos will have to do – I’m already very proud of the fact that I didn’t miss any crucial steps the way I usually do. Baby steps!

I have actually made these bees  before in the past (Bee Lime Tart) but never made an actual step by step thing on it. Anyway, here they are on my Daisy Bee Cupcakes! Please refer to my Daisy Tutorial if you are interested to learn how to make the flower too.

Bumble Bee Tutorial

Supplies required

Floral wire, medium gauge
Sugarpaste
Black edible ink pen
Yellow and black gel food colouring
Pink lustre dust
Cotton buds
Fine sable brush

Method

  1. Tint some sugarpaste with the yellow food colouring and roll into teardrop shapes approximately 1.5cm long.
  2. Wrap the floral wire around a pen or cylindrical object to shape it into a spiral.
  3. Dampen the end of the wire and insert into the sugarpaste teardrop shape. Leave for at least 12 hours to dry and firm up before moving onto the next stage.
  4. Using a black edible food pen or black food colouring and a brush, paint stripes onto the body of the bee.
  5. Pinch a very small amount of white sugarpaste and roll it in between your fingers. Use the tip of the brush to dampen the surface of the eye area of the body and then stick the white sugarpaste on.
  6. Roll some small amount of sugarpaste into a ball and flatten into a teardrop shape to form the wings. Dampen the top of the bee and place the wings on, making sure they take on a curved shape. Leave to dry.
  7. To finish the bee off, swab a very small amount of lustre dust onto the bee’s cheeks using a cotton bud. Then, using the black edible ink pen, draw in the features as desired.

The most fun part of this project is definitely the features as it gives the bees some character. It is not too difficult either, just a little time consuming due to the wait in between drying times. Hope some of you find it helpful!

 

How To: Melt Chocolate Using A Microwave

Very often, I see tutorials online outlining the method of melting chocolate using a double boiler. That is a perfectly good way to melt chocolate but I find it quite time consuming and a hassle. This is how I melt chocolate for all of my projects, which I have found to be the easiest and quickest. I also melt butter in the same way.

  1. Put required amount of chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds.
  2. Take it out and give it a good stir. This distributes the heat and prevents the chocolate from burning. Microwave again for 20 seconds.
  3. Repeat Step 2 until all chocolate is melted. It is now ready for use.
  4. If using chocolate for piping, pour chocolate into a disposable piping bag with no tip. Snip off the required amount (smaller for fine work, larger for flooding) and use. If chocolate sets, pop entire bag into the microwave for another 10-20 seconds and the chocolate will melt again for immediate use. This saves the hassle of having to remove the hardened chocolate from the bag and having to start from Step 1 all over again.

Hope this was useful!