Questions for Lisa Yockelson: How To Melt Chocolate and Make Fudgy Brownies

We're excited to have Lisa Yockelson as a guest expert this week, answering your questions on baking with chocolate. Lisa is the author of the rich chocolate encyclopedia ChocolateChocolate, a treasure trove of chocolate recipes and tips.

Here's the first of several reader questions for Lisa, and it's a two-for-one. Read Lisa's great answer below.

Q: I am looking for a fudgy brownie recipe. I have tried too many recipes that taste like cake. I want fudgy brownies - not cakey brownies. What should I look for in a recipe to give me fudgy brownies?

Also, what is your preferred method of melting chocolate for baking?

A: There are several factors to consider in the search for a fudgy brownie batter:
1.) using tepid melted butter and chocolate
2.) a reasonably small amount of leavening (such as baking powder) for just a gentle, low-key lift
3.) a reduced amount of flour
4.) enough eggs to provide a creamy/dense structure, and,
5.) a procedure that calls for a gentle, reasonably quick mix of ingredients rather than protracted beating, which creates volume and lessens the possibility of moist density indicative of fudgy brownies.

All chocolate destined for melting should be chopped, but the methods described by many experts vary from this point on. I use a heavy enameled carst iron saucepan set over very low heat, melt the chocolate about two-thirds of the way, remove the saucepan from the heat, then allow the residual heat do the rest of the melting--easy! When both chocolate and butter are used together in the melted state, I make a "cushion" of the butter by mashing it on the bottom of the saucepan, then sprinkle the chocolate on top, set over low heat, and wait a few minutes before begin stirring the two ingredients together with a heatproof spatula.

PS: I LOVE brownies.

Thank you Lisa!

(Image credits: ChocolateChocolate cover photo and author photo both by Ben Fink. Cover design by Vertigo Design, NYC.)