Brownies are a thing of beauty, simple to make, easy to eat, full of flavour and loved by all the family.
There are so many delicious variations on this iconic American treat, so explore all my best brownie recipes and find your favourite to fall in love with.
All about brownies
So what, exactly, is a brownie? This classic chocolatey American tray bake is prepared from a batter, and the end result has a soft fudgy consistency on the inside with a papery crust. The essential ingredients are butter, flour, egg, sugar and chocolate or cocoa.
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The earliest known recipes appeared in the 1890s in the USA. It is widely accepted that they originated at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, when Bertha Palmer, wife of the proprietor, requested a convenient small cake to put in packed lunches for a group of ladies attending the 1893 Columbian World’s Exposition.
The classic one bowl cocoa brownie
The simple cocoa brownie is the foundation of all the variations you can think of.
One bowl, one spoon and no need for a mixer this small batch brownie is fast to make and perfect for those who bake for one or two. But of course it is easily doubled for when you need more brownies!
It is easy to make and needs only standard store cupboard ingredients. This means you can always rustle them up in a hurry for unexpected guests.
One Bowl Cocoa Brownies
Perhaps the biggest difference between a brownie method and a conventional cake is that you melt the butter. With a higher proportion of butter in the recipe, it is important to get everything really well combined before you bake, and this helps. I do the melting in a jug in the microwave and then make the batter in the jug.
Perfect this recipe and there is really no end to the variations you can enjoy. And it really couldn’t be any easier.
Brownies are ideal for packed lunches, with no icing or mess, but a dryish exterior and moist, fudgy centre that results from a higher fat to flour ratio than that of traditional cakes. However, there is more to them than a plain snack. Serve them warm from the oven with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of sauce and you have a delicious dessert that’s hard to beat.
Why make brownies?
The first, most obvious reason to make any sort of brownie is that the taste and texture are delicious. Without that, there’s no reason to bake any sweet treat. In addition to that, there’s Bertha Palmer’s excellent original brief. A good cake that lends itself to being finger food with no mess is a very fine thing.
Brownies are portable, easy to eat without a plate and easy to make in small or large batches. They lend themselves beautifully to packed lunches, supper time snacks, and feeding a crowd.
The mess-free, fuss-free qualities of brownies go further than that, however. A good brownie recipe creates very little mess in the kitchen. In fact, most of my brownie recipes need only one bowl or jug and one spoon or fork to make the batter. This keeps the washing up to an absolute minimum.
The recipes are as simple as can be, with very little work for anyone in the kitchen. It’s easy to see why brownies are such a winner. The simple cocoa brownie is the classic, but there are so many twists. You can add all sorts of nuts, fruit and favourite flavours for variations on the theme.
I’ve gathered my favourite brownie recipes here for you to explore and find your favourites.
Favourite flavoured brownies
These use my base recipe levelled up with your favourite sweet spreads for delicious treats.
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Delicious Easter brownies with the added joy of classic creme and mini eggs!
Christmas brownie recipes
Bored with Christmas cake? Try these chocolatey treats for an original spin on Christmas cheer.
Even more brownies
Yes mayonnaise really works in a brownie recipe! When you think about it, it makes perfect sense, as it is made from eggs and oil.
Are brownies cakes?
You wouldn’t think it could be an issue, nor that it really matters what you call them. Surely brownies are just brownies?
Nevertheless, there seems to be a remarkable number of column inches online devoted to whether brownies are cakes or biscuits or something else entirely. In particular, many American writers are adamant that brownies are not cakes.
When you consider that this is a sweet chocolate bake made from a soft batter, you may think otherwise. Like any cake, brownies will become dry when stale, while biscuits (or cookies, if you prefer) start out crisp and go soggy when they are past their best.
British law takes the view that all of this adds up to a cake, and for tax purposes at least, brownies are legally cakes in the UK.
I prefer to stick to my original position. A brownie is a brownie and it tastes great. That’s all I need to know!