Are Brownies Just Square Cakes Or So Much More?

Are Brownies Just Square Cakes Or So Much More? featured image

Imagine this: You take a bite out of a brownie, marvelling at the chocolatey goodness that can be contained in a humble square-shaped bar, when curiosity takes over and the following questions strike you. 

How do I know what I’m eating isn’t a chocolate cake? 
What are the differences between brownies and chocolate cakes? 
Should I go for the corner piece or the middle piece?

Today, we present you some answers to the questions you may never have had about this iconic dessert, and introduce delicious renditions you can currently order from home bakers.

How to make the perfect brownie?

Let’s start from scratch! The difference between brownies and chocolate cakes essentially lies in the ingredients used. Both desserts contain flour, sugar, eggs and butter, but in varying quantities. Most noticeably, brownies lack leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder. This creates one of the clearest distinctions between the two desserts: texture. 

Cakes, whether they are airy and soft, or moist and crumbly, are generally fluffy and soft all around and rise while baking. Brownies, due to the lack of leavening agents, do not rise while baking. This creates a dense, fudgy center and a crispier exterior.

Appearance and Taste

The first brownies go as far back as the late 19th century. Originating from Chicago in 1893, this dessert was made at the Palmer House Hotel at the request of the hotel owner’s wife, Bertha Palmer. The brownie was specially made for the Colombian Exposition World’s Fair. Its appearance as a palm-sized square-shaped bar was intended to make it a convenient, handheld dessert for visitors. 

Presently, most iterations of the brownie still maintain this iconic form and chocolate flavour. Some popular add-ons in the batter include nuts and chocolate chips which intensify or change the flavour and texture. While it seems hard to imagine a brownie without the chocolate, many versions of this dessert without its signature flavour have since been established. 

One of the Brownie’s better known off-shoots is the Blondie, a vanilla flavoured dessert that is similarly a square-shaped bar in appearance and fudgy in texture. As the name suggests, the Blondie is distinguished by its pale golden colour.

Brownies from home bakers

For the brownie enthusiasts among us, it’s still possible to order the original recipe brownies at the Palmer House Hotel where it was invented! We can dream all we want about getting our hands on the Chicago originals; in the meantime, we can satisfy our brownie cravings right here at home. Let us look at these five home bakers who are serving up a variety of delicious brownies.
Classic brownies

These ones are for those searching for a delicious, straightforward, classic brownie. This dessert from @brainbakes is everything a brownie should be, generous with the chocolate, soft and fudgy on the inside with crispier edges for more bite and texture. Most importantly, this brownie is sure to satisfy any cravings for chocolate desserts! They are currently selling their brownies in 500g and a generous 1kg portion, in case you’re worried about the family ravishing all the good stuff before you get to savour any.

Chocolate varieties

These brownies are prepared with slight changes to the classic recipe and flavour profile to suit your specific preferences.
For those who like to indulge in extra chocolatey and fudgy brownies, @bakesbyvan currently sells double chocolate chip brownies in addition to their original fudge brownies. Their brownies have diced almonds tossed in for a hint of crunch that pairs beautifully with the moist dessert.

If you’d pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate any day, why not give @houseofsoong’s classic brownies a try? Their brownies embody the iconic texture and look, but they also contain flavours enhanced by top quality chocolate, creating a sublime dessert with hints of acidity and bitter notes. Their Classic 59 brownie is semi-sweet and flavoured with Valrhona Ariana Noire, while their Classic 70 brownie is bitter-sweet and flavoured with Valrhona Guanaja.

Another fan favorite for dark chocolate brownies is @cookiecrumblessg’s sea salt chocolate brownie. This would be the perfect brownie for you, especially if you have savoury taste buds like mine. They only use dark chocolate couverture, melted with a mix of premium French butter. All to give you at perfect mouth-feel. Topped off with the highly premium Maldon artisanal Sea Salt flakes and an extra scatter of chocolate chips for good measure.

Fruity flavours

In addition to their original brownies, @susie_sweets_savouries also sells brownies with raisin and cranberry add-ons. Raisins and chocolates are a winning combination, all the better to experience it through beautifully baked brownies. Raisins and cranberries add texture to this dense dessert and their candied sweet-sour flavour complements the creamy chocolate, creating a refreshing interpretation of this dessert that’s sure to please.

Something special

For those searching for something new, these home bakers have crafted these brownies with unconventional ingredients for delicious new renditions. @houseofsoong created an aptly named ‘Dad Bod Brownie’ to commemorate Father’s Day this year. This brownie is distinguished by a layer of Guinness dark chocolate fudge that adds a rich, malty flavour.

But if you’re a fan of sweeter flavours, these brownies from @cocoafields‘s really take it up a notch. Taking inspiration from popular chocolate flavour combinations, these brownies are filled with melted cores that make for an even more indulgent dessert. Their catalogue of flavours (and beautifully presented Brownies!) includes Salted Caramel (sea salt double chocolate caramel core), Speculoo (crunchy cookie butter core), Campfire (roasted marshmallow white chocolate core) and last but not least, Go Nuts (assorted nuts with Nutella core). Fret not if you’re spoilt for choice, a box set that includes one of each of these flavours is available for purchase!

Up for some oozy surprises? Then you got to try the blackout brownie series from @dangobakes! These rich and fudgy brownies are made with 70% couverture chocolate and will leave you wanting more. These brownies are going for $20 for a box of 6 brownies, consisting of the (1) Nutella Blackout Brownies, which are generously filled with Nutella and topped with roasted hazelnuts, (2) Lotus Biscoff Blackout Brownie, filled with lotus biscoff filling which compliments the dark brownie base beautifully, and (3) Salted Caramel Blackout Brownies, filled with homemade salted caramel that has a little ‘chew’ to it and finished with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Finally, the stuffed Blackout Brownies from @shirley_confectionery are generously filled with gooey goodness and are made with 70% extra dark chocolate and ultra Dutch dark cocoa powder! These brownies with fillings are available in 5 flavours, namely, Sea Salt Nutella, Oreo,  Peanut Butter, Lotus Biscoff and Double Chocolate. Our personal favourite? The Sea Salt Nutella. Who knew the ocean could like heaven.

Score some Brownie Points today

We hope that we’ve helped you learn a little about this dessert’s origins, and what makes it so delicious and well-loved! From the home baker brownies presented here we see faithful re-creations of the classic recipe, to new innovative takes. What’s certain is that among our home bakers there’s bound to be something for everyone and a brownie for every craving and occasion. Do check out the home bakers mentioned in this article and lend them your support!

Also, it doesnt matter whether you take the corner or center piece! Try and let us know if there is a difference. 🙂