I have been asked back to the theater of food at this years Latitude festival to help answer the age old question is “expensive” chocolate really worth the extra investment?
i thought id do a little back ground into the how to and why of Brownies
A chocolate brownie is a square, baked, chocolate dessert. Brownies come in a variety of forms and may be either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density.
They may include nuts, frosting, cream cheese, chocolate chips, or other ingredients
Folklore says careless cook in the USA forgot to put baking powder in the chocolate cake batter recipe.
Since this time there are almost as many brownie recipes as there are cooks.
The first person we know of to publish a recipe for "brownies" in a cookbook we think was Fanny Farmer, who adapted her cookie recipe to be baked in a rectangular tin, in the 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.
But: that recipe didn’t have chocolate! Farmer had made a Blondie
However, the first known recipe for chocolate brownies was published in the 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue. .
Its classified as a bar cookie and is thought to derive its name from the brown colour of the cookie.
The How to and why of Brownies
Chewy cakey or fudgy, how do you like yours? like cookies, brownies can be any one of these, so baking brownies and cookies need some careful measurement, we can change the final appearance and texture, just by adjusting the amount of each ingredient. these ingredients to make our brownies cakier, fudgier or chewier are simply Chocolate, butter, sugar and flour.
Fudgier with a dense chocolate texture
Chocolate: The fudgy texture of your brownie is increased by the cocoa butter in your chocolate so more chocolate will result in a fudgier brownie.
Butter and sugar: Melt and mix, melting the butter before adding the sugar stops air bubbles forming and making your brownie fluffy. So, don’t cream your butter and sugar, gently melt your butter on the stove with your sugar instead.
Flour: When flour is mixed with wet ingredients it forms gluten. Gluten is what makes baking tall and crunchy, which is the exact opposite of what you want in a fudgy brownie, so keep the flour to a minimum.
A little less chocolate, a little less butter, but more flour makes a taller, cakier brownie -- that bakes faster than the fudgy one.
Chocolate: Chocolate is full of cocoa butter which will weigh your batter down. If you want a lovely light cakey brownie ration your chocolate so the batter can rise.
Butter and sugar: To create a light brownie you need to get some air bubbles into the batter. You can do this by softening your butter instead of melting it and then whisking the sugar in. The sugar will forge little holes in the butter which trap air and leave your brownie feeling lighter.
Flour: While you want your brownie to be cakey, you don’t want it to be crunchy like a cookie. You have creamed the butter and sugar giving you some air bubbles in the mixture so your brownie will be fluffy.
The gluten formed by flour can turn this cakey into crunchy fold don’t beat.
Important to note:
the sugar doesn’t just provide sweetness, it also affects the texture. Some brownie recipes call for a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar.
There are three main categories of chocolate on the market that most people are familiar with.
These three types of chocolate are dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. The different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of cocoa (cocoa mass and/or cocoa butter) and sugar. Most chocolate will also contain a few other ingredients for flavour (like milk ingredients, vanilla and/or other natural/artificial flavours) or for stability and texture (lecithins, for example). The quality of these chocolates varies greatly from one brand to another.
In many countries, the labelling of chocolate is regulated, meaning the naming conventions guarantee a certain cocoa content, percent sugar, emulsifying agents, etc.
Expensive chocolate vs cheap chocolate:
is “expensive” chocolate really worth the investment?
In general, cheaper chocolates are mass-produced from a mixture of beans.
At lower price points, the manufactured chocolate probably contains fewer cocoa solids and more additives (sugar, dairy, etc).
They could contain modified vegetable fats (possibly hydrogenated). Cheaper chocolate sometime lack depth of flavour and can be too sweet and even waxy.
On the other hand, there are reputable brands that produce chocolates in a bean-to-bar approach from specific cocoa beans selected for flavour and often produced in smaller batches.
Many higher end chocolates are made from single-origin beans, meaning the cocoa beans from a specific region are selected to produce the chocolate.
These chocolates have more character and different flavour profiles. Taste a chocolate from Saint-Domingue and compare it to a chocolate from Mexico or Ecuador, and you will notice a huge difference in flavour and aroma.
Companies like Marou, Pump street, Duffy redstar and Bullion work closely with the farmers and producers to ensure safe practices, improved quality, traceability, and sustainability