If you’re new to baking you may think that simply cooking brownies for the advised time in the recipe is all it takes to know if brownies are done, but seasoned bakers will know there’s a lot more to it than that.
There is a range of factors that can affect how long it takes brownies to cook, such as the size of the pan you use, and whether your oven is cooking at the right temperature. Instead of relying on the clock, you can tell if brownies are done using the toothpick method or by inserting a digital thermometer into the brownies.
The type of texture you want from your brownies will have different indications on your testing methods, which we will explain in more detail below.
Everyone has their own preference on how they like their brownies. Some of us favor the lighter, more cake-like brownies, while some of us prefer the fudgy brownies that have an almost gooey center. You can use these tried and tested methods to decipher when your brownies are cooked exactly how you like them.
The Toothpick Test
The toothpick test is an age-old method of figuring out whether your cakes or brownies are properly cooked. This involves using a small wooden toothpick or cocktail stick and prodding it into the brownie after it has come out of the oven.
After the toothpick has been pulled out of the brownie, you will need to assess the state of the toothpick to understand whether the brownie is fully cooked, or whether it needs to go back into the oven for longer. The type of brownies you want is going to define what you are looking for on the toothpick.
Cakey brownies are brownies that have a cake-like texture. They will be quite light and airy and moist without being wet. These are the driest types of brownies, so when you use the toothpick test to determine if the brownie is cooked, you’re looking for similar signs that you’d look for when baking a cake.
To do this, take a clean toothpick or cocktail stick and poke it an inch or two into the middle of the brownie, and pull it straight back out. For a cake-like texture, the toothpick should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs stuck to it. If the toothpick comes out with any wet batter on it, then it isn’t cooked enough and needs to go back into the oven. Check on it every few minutes and repeat the toothpick test until it comes out clean. This will tell you that the brownie is cooked to a cakey texture.
Fudgy brownies are those which are moist and firm. They shouldn’t be crumbly like a cakey brownie, and they certainly shouldn’t be dry. To test if these types of brownies are done, you can insert a clean toothpick or cocktail stick into the baked brownie and pull it straight back out.
For perfectly cooked fudge brownies you want the stick to have some moist, sticky crumbs attached to it. If the toothpick comes out clean, then the brownie is overcooked. If the toothpick comes out with wet batter all over it, then the brownie needs longer in the oven. Put it back in the oven for a minute at a time, repeating the toothpick test after each additional minute until you get the results you want.
Gooey brownies are considered by some people to be undercooked brownies. They have a super fudgy, sticky, and moist texture, and they should be a little gooey when you bite into them. It can be tricky to detect if these types of brownies are fully cooked using the toothpick method, but once you know what you’re looking for this will be easier. After dipping your toothpick into the brownie, you want it to be covered in sticky chocolate.
A clean toothpick means it’s overcooked, and a toothpick with a few crumbs means you’ve gone too far and reached fudgy consistency. If the toothpick is covered in wet batter, then it needs longer to cook. But how can you tell the difference between wet, uncooked batter, and cooked gooey brownie mix?
Well the key here is to check the appearance of the brownie on your toothpick. Uncooked brownie batter will be glossy, but once cooked it will take on a more dull, flat appearance. You’ll need to look closely at the toothpick to detect if your gooey brownies are done, or if they need a little while longer in the oven.
The Temperature Test
For the temperature test, you’ll need a digital thermometer. This is a much more accurate way of testing brownies to see if they are done compared with the toothpick test, but not everyone has a digital thermometer.
For cake-like brownies the internal temperature should be 210°F. This will give you light and fluffy brownies that have a similar texture to a sponge cake.
To get your brownies to reach that fudgy consistency that’s halfway between cake-like and gooey, the internal temperature when cooked should be between 165 and 170°F.
For gooey brownies, the internal temperature of your bake should reach around 150°F. They won’t set until they reach a minimum of 144°F, so at this point they should have set just enough to be suitable for slicing yet still undercooked enough to have a gooey bite.
If you want super gooey brownies, you can let them finish cooking at a lower temperature than this, but they need to reach at least 136°F to be considered to be safe to eat.
Tips for Knowing When Brownies are Done
Don’t rely on timing
Never assume your brownies are done by following the time advice on the recipe. This is a guideline because ovens may cook at different speeds and temperatures. If a recipe advises a range of cooking times, always check on the brownies at the minimum time, and continue to check on them every minute or two after this until you are happy with them.
Check the edges
One way to know if cake-like brownies are done is to look at the edge of the pan. When these types of brownies are fully cooked, they will start to lift away from the sides of the pan.
The size of your pan can affect the amount of time it takes for brownies to cook. A larger tray will mean your brownie batter is spread more thinly, and therefore it will cook more quickly. In a smaller tray, the batter will be deeper, and so these brownies will require longer in the oven.
Watch out for chips
The toothpick test is great for getting a feel of how the texture inside your brownie is looking, but watch out for chocolate chips! If your toothpick is pushed into a melted chip and comes out covered all gooey and brown, then you may mistake this for uncooked batter and put the brownie back in the oven. If your brownie has chocolate chips in, dip toothpicks in a few different places to get a more precise picture.