4 Levels of Brownies: Amateur to Food Scientist

How do you like your brownies? Gooey? Cakey? We challenged chefs of three different levels - an amateur, a home cook and a professional chef - to make their versions of the brownie. And then we brought in a food scientist to review their work. Which brownie was the best? Check out the professional's recipe here on the ICE blog: https://www.ice.edu/blog/bourbon-salted-caramel-brownie-recipe

Released on 12/21/2018

Transcript

00:00
[scrape]
00:01
[egg cracks]
00:02
[squish]
00:03
[upbeat music]
00:04
Hi, I'm Ada.
00:06
I'm a level one chef.
00:07
I'm Anthony, and I'm a level two chef.
00:09
[laughs] I think I need like, a child size.
00:12
I'm Alisa, I've been a professional pastry chef
00:14
for over 20 years.
00:16
[upbeat music]
00:19
[splatter]
00:20
My brownies are a little bit cakey,
00:21
they're just right.
00:23
I like my brownies halfway between cakey and fudgey,
00:26
I probably make this recipe once or twice a month.
00:29
I like a fudgey brownie.
00:30
This brownie recipe I learned back in pastry school,
00:33
and I've been perfecting it every since.
00:35
[drumbeats]
00:38
[pings]
00:42
Gonna start making brownies.
00:44
I am gonna start with my dry ingredients,
00:47
the half a cup of flour.
00:48
Flour.
00:49
Just regular all-purpose flour.
00:51
[scraping]
00:52
I always weigh my ingredients.
00:54
That way, you can always make sure every recipe
00:57
is consistent every time you make it.
01:00
I just put too much flour in [chuckles].
01:04
And then, cup of sugar.
01:06
I'm using granulated sugar.
01:07
So I use a regular granulated white sugar,
01:10
and also a dark brown sugar,
01:12
'cause that will give an extra rich flavor to my brownies.
01:15
I use melted butter because it's already in liquid form.
01:20
We're gonna add room temperature butter,
01:22
it's just much easier to incorporate
01:23
if it's room temperature.
01:25
When I choose my butter, I wanna make sure
01:27
that there are no additives in it.
01:29
I'm using a pure butter, and organic is always the best.
01:33
And I'm just using my fork to mix,
01:36
so you just think of how many calories
01:38
you're burning right now when you're doing this
01:40
and then you can eat all of this yourself
01:43
and it evens itself out. [laughs]
01:45
Creaming together the butter and sugar helps
01:48
get that cakiness going.
01:49
[mixer whirs]
01:51
So, you're done creaming when it's nice
01:52
and well-mixed together but the butter's
01:54
also fluffy and kinda sticky.
01:56
[egg cracks]
01:57
[mixer whirs]
01:58
While my sugars are incorporating,
01:59
I crack my eggs into a bowl.
02:01
It's really important that you crack
02:03
your eggs into a bowl first,
02:04
not directly into your mixture,
02:06
'cause you never know if little pieces
02:08
of shell will get inside.
02:09
[egg cracks]
02:11
[dramatic music]
02:12
That wouldn't be good.
02:13
One nice little touch I like to add
02:14
is a little bit of almond flavor to my brownies,
02:17
so we're gonna use an ounce of Amaretto liqueur.
02:20
[sniffs] Ah, that smells good.
02:22
[mixer whirs]
02:24
Now I'm going to add the three-fourths cocoa powder.
02:27
Cocoa powder.
02:28
Use the best cocoa powder you can find.
02:30
This smells so good.
02:33
I don't pack it or fluff it or anything else,
02:35
I just scoop it in and then level it off.
02:38
I prefer to use chocolate rather than cocoa powder.
02:41
Cocoa powder sometimes can leave a granular taste.
02:44
I'm just going to melt some delicious chocolate
02:47
and high quality butter over a bain-marie.
02:50
I wanna make almost like a chocolate syrup.
02:53
This will give a really nice texture to my brownie.
02:56
♪ La! ♪
02:57
Love makes the ideal brownie.
03:00
But also a good mixture.
03:02
If you look at the consistency, it's nice and smooth.
03:06
Now we're gonna mix these together.
03:08
I'm using a hand mixer because I don't wanna sit here
03:10
for 30 minutes and work up a nice sweat.
03:12
I'm using a paddle attachment rather than a whisk,
03:14
because I don't wanna whisk in any extra air.
03:17
You have to do it like this.
03:20
Like your life depends on it.
03:22
Alright.
03:24
Very chocolatey.
03:25
One of the best combinations are brownies and caramel.
03:28
So I've decided to make bourbon salted caramel.
03:32
I'm just starting with sugar, right into the pan.
03:36
Dah!
03:37
I'm at about 160 degrees and
03:39
it's turning a nice amber color,
03:41
and I'm going to add butter, some heavy cream,
03:45
I add the bourbon right into the mixture,
03:47
the bourbon adds a nice complex flavor
03:50
and some notes of nuttiness to the caramel.
03:53
I'm gonna stick it into the freezer for at least an hour,
03:55
but I have one last step.
03:57
Homemade whipped cream is one of
03:58
the easiest things you can make,
04:00
it has three ingredients,
04:01
heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract,
04:04
and you whip it in a chilled bowl.
04:05
[mixer whirs]
04:07
[Alisa hums]
04:08
[mixer whirs]
04:11
I know it looks curdled, but it's not [laughs].
04:14
Alright, this is some assembly required.
04:16
Before we put the batter in, I'm gonna grease the pan.
04:19
I like to treat my butter like a crayon sometimes.
04:22
I'm just gonna make sure that every little nook and cranny
04:24
is covered by that butter.
04:26
I'm putting into a pan lined with parchment,
04:29
that's been buttered so it won't stick.
04:31
Also gonna add just a pinch of flour to coat the butter,
04:34
and then we're gonna roll it around.
04:35
I think this just helps everything come out at the end,
04:38
like, so that nothing sticks to the sides.
04:40
I'm gonna put half of the batter into the pan first.
04:43
I'm just gonna make it even.
04:46
Sometimes you'll see people have baked their brownies
04:49
and it's really uneven, and that's usually because
04:51
they don't use an offset spatula to smooth it out
04:55
and put the batter in all areas of the pan.
04:58
This is my other little special trick and treat.
05:01
I like to put the chocolate chips right
05:02
in the middle of the brownie.
05:04
Maybe two handfuls.
05:05
Eh, maybe a little bit more.
05:07
You get a chip and you get a chip.
05:08
They melt down and that's where you get
05:10
a little bit more of that fudginess.
05:11
Finish it up with the last half.
05:13
I'm going to layer the caramel right on top.
05:18
And I'll show you a special trick.
05:20
So now I'm just using my butter knife,
05:22
and I'm swirling the caramel into the brownie batter.
05:27
I mean, if there's a little left over on the spoon,
05:28
that's not a bad thing.
05:29
Eh.
05:30
Now I'm gonna back this for 20 to 25 minutes
05:32
at 325 degrees.
05:34
350 degrees for 20 minutes.
05:36
45 minutes at 350 degrees.
05:41
[ping]
05:42
Alright, looks good, looks good.
05:45
[drums crash]
05:47
I'm excited about this.
05:48
[drums crash]
05:49
[Alisa] They look and smell delicious.
05:53
[drums crash]
05:54
When can we dig in?
05:55
It's alive!
05:56
I am the queen of brownies, I just am.
05:59
Oh boy, this is, this is stuck [laughs].
06:02
We're gonna top it with sliced almonds.
06:04
I like a lot of almonds.
06:05
And some confectioners' sugar.
06:07
It's more for looks than anything else.
06:08
Uh [laughs] this is not coming off.
06:12
[upbeat music]
06:18
Bon appetit! [laughs]
06:20
[upbeat music]
06:25
Very very excited with what I've done here,
06:28
I mean [laughs] that wasn't what I meant.
06:31
You have cakey layers on the bottom and the top,
06:33
you got that nice fudginess in the middle
06:35
when those chocolate chips are all melted down,
06:37
it's awesome.
06:38
You can smell the combination of the caramel
06:40
with the chocolate and the fresh whipped cream.
06:43
[Anthony] Alright, let's cut off a bite and try it.
06:47
[Ada] Mm.
06:48
Oh, come on.
06:49
This is a good brownie, I mean, wow.
06:52
Nice work.
06:52
That's amazing.
06:54
Me.
06:55
[click]
06:56
Now that we've seen levels one, two and three,
06:57
it's clear that there's a lot of variability
06:59
when it comes to brownies.
07:01
Let's talk about what makes each one unique.
07:03
[drumbeats]
07:06
Let's talk about chocolate.
07:07
The form of chocolate that you use is gonna make
07:09
a difference as to whether you end up with
07:11
a chewy brownie or a more fudgey brownie.
07:14
I like my brownies really fudgey.
07:16
My brownies are a little bit cakey.
07:18
For a chewy brownie, you're gonna go with cocoa powder.
07:20
Cocoa powder is processed from the roasted cocoa beans
07:24
after the cocoa butter has been removed.
07:26
It's pressed into disks, and then it's pulverized
07:29
and you end up with cocoa powder.
07:31
Most cocoa powders go through a Dutch processing,
07:33
where we add an alkali, and that raises the pH
07:36
so it's less acidic.
07:38
As you raise the pH, some of the compounds
07:41
in the chocolate form pigments that don't have
07:43
a lot of taste to it, so you get a really dark, rich color,
07:47
with a more mild flavor.
07:49
You might think of an Oreo cookie.
07:51
It's almost black in color, it's highly alkalized,
07:54
and it has a really mild, soft chocolate flavor.
07:58
If you want a fudgey brownie,
07:59
you use melted dark chocolate, like Alisa did.
08:02
That has all of the cocoa butter, it's gonna give you
08:05
a nice silky, dense brownie.
08:06
It's already in liquid form, so you don't need
08:09
to incorporate as much air when you're mixing.
08:11
This will make a really nice, fudgey texture.
08:14
Unlike cocoa powder, which is going to need
08:17
mixing and hydration in order to work in your brownie.
08:21
This takes a lot of arm work.
08:23
Anthony did a combination of the two,
08:25
he used cocoa powder but then he added
08:27
a layer of chocolate chips in between the batter,
08:29
so he had this middle section that was pretty fudgey.
08:33
Kind of an unexpected treat, while you're biting into it.
08:35
[tap]
08:36
The flavor profile of these brownies ranged
08:39
from simple to complex.
08:40
Ada's was a really simple flavor profile,
08:42
nothing but chocolate.
08:44
It's a brownie, it's gonna be eaten.
08:46
Anthony did something different,
08:47
he added an almond liqueur.
08:49
I think it just kinda kicks it up a notch.
08:50
Which is a really nice complementary flavor
08:53
to the chocolate.
08:53
He also added almonds on top, which really bolstered
08:56
that almond flavor and added a nice textural component.
09:00
I might have the whole thing just for myself.
09:01
Alisa topped her brownies with a bourbon-infused caramel.
09:04
Similar to the almonds, the bourbon adds a nutty flavor,
09:07
and it also has some notes of butterscotch
09:09
which emphasizes the caramel.
09:11
It's going to be fantastic.
09:13
Caramelization is a really interesting
09:14
and complex non-enzymatic reaction
09:17
of sucrose, which is white sugar,
09:19
breaking down into its component of fructose and glucose,
09:23
which is very, very sweet.
09:25
White sugar by itself has just a sweet note.
09:28
As you increase the temperature, you lose water,
09:30
and you increase the browning compounds
09:33
that are expressed in the caramel.
09:35
I'm at about 160 degrees, and it's turning
09:38
a nice amber color.
09:39
And you get these really complex,
09:41
beautiful roasted, toasty flavors.
09:44
Ooh, I wanna have some more!
09:46
You can make caramel with just white sugar and heat,
09:49
but when you add the heavy cream and the butter
09:51
it controls crystallization.
09:53
You don't want any granularity or crystallization
09:55
in your caramel, you want it to be smooth and silky.
09:58
No-one wants a clumpy brownie.
10:00
[tap]
10:02
When baking the brownies, Ada used a glass dish,
10:04
while Anthony and Alisa used metal.
10:06
Metal's a good conductor of heat,
10:08
it heats very fast and you'll get
10:09
a nice crispy edge to your brownies.
10:11
Anthony greased and floured his pan.
10:13
This is different than Ada, who just greased her pan.
10:16
I don't know what's going on!
10:18
When you add flour to the pan,
10:19
the flour acts like a nuclei, where the batter
10:23
can kind of grab onto the flour
10:24
and creep up the edges of the dish.
10:27
This results in a thicker brownie on the sides.
10:29
I'm kind of an edge guy myself.
10:31
Perfect.
10:33
I am the queen of brownies.
10:34
Doesn't it look so pretty?
10:35
Smells delicious!
10:38
There's a lot that goes into baking brownies,
10:40
so next time you make them, I hope you consider
10:42
all of these things so you get the perfect brownie for you.
10:45
See you later!
10:46
[upbeat music]