How to make brownies with shiny crust: the surprising secret ingredient

Inquiring bakers want to know: what’s the secret to making brownies with shiny crust?

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 2

Some brownies have a dull, matte-brown crust.

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 9

And some brownies have a a mere glimmer of satiny sheen.

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 3

But some brownies have an ethereally delicate top crust, a series of whorls and ridges that shatter with every bite, showering lighter-than-air chocolate flakes onto plate and counter.

How do you attain this elegant/attractive crust? I discovered the answer, but not before baking multiple batches of brownies over a couple of days.

Oh, the trials and torture we go through for you, dear reader! Suffice it to say, my neighbors – plus the car repair guys down the street, AND my pals at Titcomb’s Bookshop – are very happy right now.

Without further ado, here’s my secret to brownies with shiny crust.

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 4

Chocolate chips.

I start the shiny crust quest with our Fudge Brownies recipe, which makes a reliably shiny crust every time.

Wanting to discover the science behind the shine, I Google “brownies with shiny crust.” And come upon several sources in agreement with one another: shiny crust is the result of dissolved sugar and egg migrating to the brownies’ surface as they bake, where the sugar melts and becomes shiny; and the egg white joins the sugar to form a very thin, delicate layer of meringue.

Thus the successful brownie’s signature shiny/delicate/flaky top crust.

Some bakers say the key to making brownies with shiny crust is dissolving the sugar in melted butter before adding; others call for several minutes of beating, to make sure sugar and egg are fully combined.

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 10

So I devise a series of tests.

I won’t bore you with their exact nature; suffice it to say they’re a combination of hot melted butter vs. cold butter; 5 minutes of beating vs. no beating at all; and adding the eggs at different points in the process.

I do the tests. It takes a good day and a half. And guess what?

EVERY BATCH OF BROWNIES I MAKE HAS A DULL CRUST.

So, back to square one. I re-read my original recipe, a recipe I’ve made upwards of 100 times. Why are my brownies suddenly dull as dishwater?

Wait a minute. Could it be…? The final ingredient in the recipe is “2 cups chocolate chips.” I’d been leaving the chips out, to save money. Could the chocolate chips lend just enough additional fat and sugar to the batter to produce that elusive shiny crust?

Once more into the fray. I follow the recipe exactly, mixing eggs with cocoa, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and espresso powder as I heat the butter and sugar; then adding the hot mixture to the eggs along with the flour.

I divide the batter in half: chocolate chips in one half, none in the other. Spoon the batter into two pans. Bake. Apprehensively peek into the oven. PLEASE let me get some closure here…

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 8

Eureka! No chips on the left: dull crust. Chips on the right: shiny crust.

I feel obliged to do one more test. Does length of beating – or heating butter with sugar – have any effect on crust? Or is it strictly the chips?

Our Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies recipe is a simple stir-together affair, no beating involved. And while it uses melted butter, there’s no attempt to dissolve the sugar.

Will adding chips to a different recipe make brownies with shiny crust?

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 7

Yes indeed.

While not as pronounced, the chips definitely add shine to that top crust, don’t they? And I suspect heating the butter with the sugar, and beating the batter, would produce even more shine.

Are chocolate chips the answer, or will melting solid chocolate into the batter work just as well? What if you simply increase the sugar and butter – will that work?

These are tests for another day. I urge you to try your own experiments around brownies with shiny crust, and report your results here (in comments, below).

In the meantime, though –

How to make brownies with a shiny crust - 6

Shine on!

.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Corinne

    Interesting! The shiny crust recipe I use calls for a tablespoon or two of corn syrup, so I had always thought that was the secret. So, because that is a liquified sugar, it must do it’s meringue forming easier. I don’t mind trying out chocolate chips next time!

    Reply
    1. Patricia

      Hershey’s syrup has always given me the shiny top, I always add it to my brownies, sometimes there are chocolate chips as well but Hershey syrup always makes an appearance in my brownies I just adjust the recipe to fit it in.

    2. MollyJane

      I’m sure corn syrup would do the same thing, albeit much less healthy. I’ve always thought it was more sugar/sweetness that does that, hence the corn syrup would work.

    3. Linda Coker

      My brownies always have a shiny crust and I have never used chips or corn syrup.

    4. Elise Kranc

      My brownies are always shiny on top. I start by creaming the eggs and sugar until very light and next adding either melted butter or oil.

    5. The Baker's Hotline

      We think that’s the secret, Carrie! Adding chocolate chips always seems to do the trick when it comes to making brownies with a shiny crust. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Bob

    Last week I read that placing the uncooked pan of brownies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes dries out the top surface and creates the shine. I tried it, but it didn’t work for me. Your thoughts?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Bob,
      I haven’t seen this technique before. I guess we’ll have to add this to our next testing list. ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Too true, Barbara! Or maybe Magnum, Pi(e)? Wait, I know! Daredevil Dogs! I think she’d rock the red suit. ~ MJ

    2. Alice

      Me too!! I really enjoy all of PJ’s posts. I loved the reality check of “I hadn’t been adding chocolate chips- in order to save money” too. Made me smile to know that even King Arthur is human/has a budget! 🙂

  3. vicki

    I always wondered about this – thank you for your extensive research — and entertaining blog post.

    Reply
  4. John Inman

    I baked commmercialy for 14 years ;I always added oil,or melted butter at the end ad not too much stirring then

    Reply
  5. Bethie T

    I cannot find Dutch process cocoa in Canada and am wondering if using plain old Fry’s or Hershey cocoa will make a huge difference. Next time I am in the States, I will pick some up, but only if it is an essential ingredient.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Bethie, can you get Hershey’s Special Dark? That works fine. Not sure about natural; I suspect, with so little leavening, that that would work, as well. I say give it a try – I don’t think there’s any such thing as a “bad” brownie! PJH

    2. John Jung

      I have called Hershey’s and they say that their Hershey’s Special Dark is a Dutch Process.
      JJ

    3. Michelle

      Bethie, I’m in the same boat so curious to know how yours turn out with the Fry’s or regular Hershey’s. Seems like I could only find Hershey’s (just the regular kind) at Costco in Montreal area and haven’t tried Fry’s at all yet.

    4. Lotta

      Order Cacao Barry Extra Brute from Amazon. It’s a rich, lovely, Dutch processed cocoa.

    5. Voopcake

      Bethie, I live in Canada too. Fry’s cocoa IS Dutch-processed. It doesn’t say that on the label, but check the ingredients. It contains sodium carbonate.

  6. Mm

    Ooh, this is truly a delicious quest, and delightful reading. Could it be, too, that this recipe makes brownies with an almost candy-like layer on the bottom? I’ll enjoy trying it – many times.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Well, I haven’t noticed a candy-like layer; but that might come from slight underbaking. Give it a try, and let us know – I’m sure you’ll get something delicious, one way or another. 🙂 PJH

  7. Lynne

    I’ve made my mom’s tried and true family recipe since I was tall enough to turn the oven on (umm 40+ years?!) and it always has a shiny crust! No chocolate chips were ever used. Hmmm.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lynne, very interesting! Sounds like there may be more than one road to a shiny crust. Barb@KAF

    2. Valerie

      Don’t leave us in suspense, Lynne. What’s YOUR secret? Does your mom’s recipe use corn syrup too?

    3. Anne Doyle

      I’ve used the Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate brownie recipes for years – no chocolate chips, but the recipe does require mixing sugar and eggs with melted butter… always has a shiny crust!

    4. Cheryl

      My very old recipe calls for melting the butter, mixing in the cocoa well then beating in the sugar. Eggs beaten well next, then the dry ingredients.

    5. Sue F

      Lynne, could you please post your recipe? My grandmothers was the same, and unfortunately I have lost it. 🙁

    6. Chris

      Same here. Mom’s recipe has shiny crust every time. No corn syrup. No chips. It does use unsweetened chocolate instead of cocoa powder though.

  8. JennieBartlett

    Long ago I stopped using butter in my brownies to cut down on cholesterol. Making sure the sure the fat and eggs are well blended, my brownies taste good and have a crackly, shiny crust.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, I’m sure the brownies would bake and taste fine, but I’m not sure if replacing the butter with oil would have an effect on the shiny crust. I’m guessing no, but let us know. Barb@KAF

    2. Vivian

      Probably better to substitute margarine or butter flavored shortening than oil. My favorite brownie recipe melts butter with sugar and chocolate chips before adding the dry ingredients. The brownies are moist and chewy, and always that beautiful crackly shiny crust. 🙂

    3. Pamela G.

      Oh you poor poor thing! I thought having to give up wheat (well…gluten really) was a such a trial in life, I can’t imagine not being able to have butter. I’ve said all along the only thing worse dietary-wise than having to give up wheat would be having to give up any diary items. Several years before I was born my great-grandparents sold the diary they operated delivering milk and ice cream. Over the years my great-grandmother (Memaw) had learned to cook using LOTS of milk in many different ways. This was so the extra milk that day didn’t go to waste. Although, even though the dairy was gone they still always kept the same milk-using habits. These two WONDERFUL people became my babysitters while my folks both worked full time (this was back in the 60s) and needless to say, I learned their eating and cooking habits. We all use it (WHOLE milk, none of this low fat nonsense) on EVERYTHING, including my dad who was raised in the same house with these two, his grandparents. I do a tremendous amount of baking and cake decorating both for friends and family and some for customers. You don’t even want to know the amount of butter, cream cheese and buttermilk, etc. I go through. Let’s face it, margarine just isn’t the same thing however, if its some sort of food allergy or intolerance some people, like you, don’t have a choice in life. Speaking of choices in life, talk about irony…..basically, all the paternal relatives were BIG milk users. I honestly believe my paternal grandmother had ice cream EVERY day of her life if it were obtainable. (believe it or not though she did NOT like and WOULD not eat plain vanilla ice cream, it had to have something else on it). But back to the irony. Of ALL people, my dad married my mother, a girl who was raised on a farm in the 40s and 50s where they drank their milk straight from the cow before it went off to be pasteurized and homogenized (or whatever it is they do to it) and therefore it tasted like whatever the cow ate that day. This can be pretty darn nasty at time. Consequently, my mother did NOT like milk, barely touches it even here 55 years later. I have NEVER, in my 53 years, seen my mother drink a glass of milk. She puts the smallest amount of milk possible even on cereal to make it edible even though all the milk now comes from the supermarket. It was interesting at times having these two polar opposites with their milk habits at times. Everything my dad and I put milk on, my mom will use Cool-Whip or whipped topping of some sort. One good thing though, it just goes to show you can ALWAYS find compromise in true love, they both love ice cream!

    4. Diana

      I’ve used melted coconut oil with great success (both refined and unrefined, although the unrefined has the slightest hint of coconut flavor).

    5. Alicia

      Hi Linda – years ago I started using well chilled EARTH BALANCE as a butter substitute and it tastes great as well as keeps the baked items so close to the correct flavor and consistency. It’s a non-dairy Vegan oil based spread (including: canola, soybean, flax, olive and palm oils).

    6. Joy P.

      For Linda, who cannot use butter. I have a little pamplet, dated 1956, entitled “Fancy Cookies, Festive Candies, Delicious Goodies for Giving”. It was published by Corn Products Refining Company and distributed through KARO and Mazola Corn Oil distributers. This is their recipe for “Rich Fudge Brownies”. I believe it has the bonus shiny crust, too!
      1 C. sugar 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
      ¼ C. MAZOLA oil* ½ C. chopped nuts
      2 eggs ⅔ C. sifted cake flour
      ½ teaspoon vanilla ¼ teaspoon salt
      Combine sugar and Mazola. Add eggs; beat until light and smooth. Stir in vanilla, me
      ted chocolate and nuts. Sift cake flour and salt; add gradually to chocolate mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn into greased pan ( 8 x 8 x 2 inches). Bake in moderate oven (350* F.) 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 9 large or 16 small brownie squares.
      Please note, I have used Canola Oil in this recipe for the past 30 years.
      Would love to know if you like them!

  9. Karen

    How crucial to the recipe is the espresso powder? I would be inclined to purchase it, however my best friend, who frequently makes brownies a lot for her husband and youngest son would not. I’ve been wanting to share the KAF recipe with her but figured she wouldn’t try it for lack of that ingredient.

    Thanks for all your posts. I really enjoy the blog. Now if only I had more time to read all the posts and bake all the things!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor but you can certainly make the brownies without it. So go ahead and share – I’m sure she’ll love it. And yeah – if only there were 30 hours in a day (especially Saturday and Sunday), right? 🙂 PJH

  10. Lynne

    I’ve made my mom’s tried and true family recipe since I was tall enough to turn the oven on (umm 40+ years?!) and it always has a shiny crust! No chocolate chips were ever used. Hmmm.
    After looking at the KA recipe I believe the addition of baking powder (not in my recipe) might be the variable factor.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lynne, I don’t think baking powder is the variable since our recipe does have baking powder and both your mom’s and ours yield a shiny crust. Curiouser and curiouser. Barb@KAF

    2. sharyn rothgarn

      Never thought about the “shiny” part. I always have a shiny crust. I use a recipe from a great old Vermont restaurant–The Bakery Lane Soup Bowl, which was located on the Otter Creek in Middlebury.
      It’s a quick and easy recipe and it’s prepared in a pot on the stove. Butter and chocolate are melted together first, then sugar, (eggs and rest of ingredients are added off heat). I usually use cocoa powder, because I always have that on hand.

    3. MaryJane Robbins

      See, you were getting the Holy Grail of crusts all along and didn’t even know it! ~ MJ

  11. Sally Doran

    Always shiny brownies with thin meringue crust:
    2 eggs
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1teaspoon vanilla
    1/3 cup shortening
    2 1ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
    3/4 cup flour
    1 cup nuts
    Melt chocolate with shortening.
    Beat eggs. Stir I sugar, salt and vanilla.
    Stir two mixtures together and stir in flour and nuts.
    Bake in 8″ square pan with parchment lined bottom for 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thanks, Sally – I think it’s the melted chocolate that does it here, just as the chocolate chips (which melt in the batter) do it in our recipe. Appreciate you sharing this recipe – I’m printing it out. PJH

    2. Joani

      Just tried this recipe and it did not come out shiny. I used a dark pan…….think that could be the difference??

    3. PJ Hamel, post author

      No, the dark pan shouldn’t have made a difference. I think perhaps your batter wasn’t hot enough? Were the chips completely melted when you poured the batter into the pan? You could always try, try again… I’m sure the brownies were delicious, even if not shiny! PJH

    4. Vicki

      You ask, PJ, if the chips were melted. Do you want them melted? That would be good. I don’t like to put chocolate chips in mine because that makes them too sweet for me, but I might be able to handle them if the chocolate chips pretty much melted in. Elusive crackly crust!

  12. Denise

    They (shiny ones) look fabulous! 😉 I wish I wasn’t allergic to chocolate. 🙁 Do you have a white chocolate version of these? Keep up the wonderful work!

    Reply
    1. Denise

      Thank you so much! I’ll definitely give these a try. I love KAF’s website, its the best and everybody is so helpful! 🙂

  13. Michelle

    Isn’t that amazing! You didn’t alter mixing techniques, just adding chips into the batter, WOW! Now I know that any recipe for brownies without chips in the batter won’t have that shiny top. Thanks for that info.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Well, Michelle, it’s not quite THAT simple; you can also achieve the shiny crust by using melted chocolate of any kind (unsweetened, etc.) And I’m sure there are recipes that don’t use melted chocolate, but still get that shiny crust. This is just one way of getting there – and I hope you try it ASAP! PJH

  14. Debbie

    My shiny crust recipe calls for whipping the eggs with the sugar until light and then adding the melted sugar and chocolate so I always thought that was the trick. Now I know it’s the chocolate mints/chips added at the end! I do love food science.

    Reply
  15. James Calhoun

    Wanting to bake brownies last week to feed the local monks and having not made them for several years turned to KAF. Following your experiments and what I did in the recipe can confirm the results of the brownies did indeed have a wonderful shine. Not only shine, many positive comments from others at the gathering. Thank you, MaryJane, for sharing the secret of the shine…

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      James, we’re glad to hear these brownies were a shiny hit at the gathering! Barb@KAF

  16. Stephanie

    Thanks, I’m going to try them. The good news is that the mistakes are never wasted. Hard to find someone who will refuse a nonshiney brownie around here unless very overbaked and hard!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      And even brownies like that are good with ice cream on them, Stephanie! Barb@KAF

  17. Lin

    I will try melting the butter in the sugar AND adding chocolate chips. I think I see winning brownies in my future!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I think we’ll have to be judges, so when will you be dropping off our samples? 😉 ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Carol,
      That’s one we didn’t get to test this round, so we don’t have any data to share. If you do give it a try, please let us know how it goes. ~ MJ

  18. Lynne

    When I first made brownies, I was told adding a little hot water would make the top shine, I have not tried it, as the definition of a little when I asked around varied from a tsp to 3 tbs!

    Reply
  19. Cat

    Another one who really enjoys your knowledgeably frank and cheerful “tone of voice”!

    I do have one request….any chance you could option your recipes to be measured in weight – grams – as well as volume, please? Many of us aren’t in the US, and lbs and pints differ in different parts of the world, just to make it more confusing for the hapless baker. Grams and mils are universal, thank goodness. Many thanks!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Cat,
      Our recipes published after 2008 will all have volume, ounces and grams as choices, just click the bullet point for the one you wish to view and print. We’ll be adding grams to our weights chart soon, too. ~ MJ

    2. Cat

      Thank you, Mary jane (: I made brownies after posting this afternoon, and whipped eggs and sugar first, and it defintely gives a crispier flakier crust than previous efforts.

  20. beth sammons

    My favorite recipe calls for melted but slightly cooled butter and I mix wet ingredients separate and make sure the dry ingredients are completely combined and just enough stirring to just combine. I use black cocoa, dutch cocoa and dark chocolate chips for the most amazing fudgy brownies ever.

    Reply
  21. Mari

    Shiny or not, I just love anything chocolate! I must ask, though, if you thought of trying the boxed brownie mixes in your experiments? They come out shiny. I know this is KAF and we’re all into recipes from scratch but it’s interesting to note that boxed mixes produce shine and I’d like to know what their secret is! I also note that chocolate chips and boxed mixes both have higher concentrations of fat and I wonder if that has something to do with shine.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mari, that’s a very good point! I wonder if all mixes yield a shiny crust? This could get complicated. Barb@KAF

    2. amy

      No, not all have a shiny crust. The bottom of the barrel brands don’t always have it.

  22. Mary Ann Newell

    Never thought about a dull crust.
    Mine has always been shiny.
    I use my high school Home Ec. recipe, from 60 years ago.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      A classic recipe just can’t be beat, can it? One of my favorite brownie recipes came from the elementary school here in town, too. ~ MJ

    2. Susie

      Very interesting blog. I guess I never try to achieve a shiny crust on my brownies because I always frost them with chocolate fudgy frosting. 🙂

  23. Leslie B.

    Here’s the recipe I’ve used for decades that has an incredibly shiny, crackly crust.

    BEACON HILL BROWNIES from the back of a box of Bakers Chocolate in the 80’s

    Set oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 inch pan.

    8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
    8 oz. butter (2 sticks)
    5 large eggs
    3 cups sugar
    1 Tbs. vanilla
    1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
    2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional, but good)

    Melt chocolate and butter in 3 qt. saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.

    Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at HIGH speed for 10 minutes. Cover mixer with a towel at first.

    At low speed, blend in melted butter/chocolate mixture.

    Add flour, beating on low just enough to stir in.

    Mix in nuts, if using. Pour into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake.

    Cool in pan before cutting. Makes lots of fudgy brownies with a very shiny crust.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Leslie, thanks for sharing your recipe! This seems to further mystify the causes of a shiny crust. Perhaps further experiments will be necessary. Barb@KAF

    2. Mona

      Leslie b…I am looking for a thick brownie..this recipe sounds great. How high is the brownie that results ? Thank you

  24. denise

    Just baked a two blueberry pies. One browned in spots rather than the entire crust ant the other browned more evenly but the inside edge almost was “popped” off by the filling bubbling out. What am I doing wrong

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Denise,
      This would be a good question to email to our bakers hotline team so that we can ask questions more easily than in comment form. We look forward to hearing from you. ~ MJ

    2. Dorothy M

      Just a thought – maybe your oven needs to be calibrated as it eventually gets hot and cold spots. This is usually noticed more with baking that cooking. To test, put a tray of cookies in the oven to bake and you can clearly see if one area browns more than another. Also, I think it’s important to always rotate at the halfway point.

  25. Sarah Chude

    I thought it was the corn syrup also… many brands of chocolate chips have corn syrup. Shirley Corriher in her CookWise/BakeWise cookbooks talks about the chemistry involved.

    Reply
  26. Leah

    Another baking ‘mystery’ resolved. Whereas most of us just keep wondering about these issues, PJ, you jump in and start testing to find answers. I for one, am quite happy you do. Thanks for continuing to inform and entertain us with this often lengthy (for you) process; I appreciate your efforts. Keep ’em coming . . .
    Leah

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      All in favor of sending PJ out to Area 51 and Loch Ness, raise your hands! 😉 ~ MJ

  27. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez Petrópolis RJ Brazil

    Sometimes i dont use those standardized chocolate chips shaped clasically like drops. Instead i use crushed chocolate bars specially those crispy ones who gives a shine top. But only with classical chips the best effect is acquired. And it confirms the assertive of PJ about The chocolate chips as the secret ingredient. Nice post!!!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ricardo, thanks for sharing your own brownie baking experiences! Barb@KAF

  28. Jean

    Love the light sense of humor from all. Actually, even with a dull top the brownies quickly disappear. I absolutely agree though… a shiny top is much more appealing, and I am quite willing to try many recipes to accomplish this task.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jean, I’m confident this recipe will yield a shiny crust, but I’m sure your family wouldn’t object to further experimentation! Barb@KAF

  29. Linda Bibbo

    I just made a pan of your Best Fudge Brownies about a week ago. I used mini chocolate chips and I could almost see my reflection in the crust of my brownies. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the crust was shiny. I like to use the mini chips because I feel the distribution is better in both brownies and cookies. You are always assured that you will get that creamy bite of chocolate in every bite! By the way, the brownies were a big hit with everyone who had one!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, thanks for sharing your mini chip tip! Glad these brownies were a hit! Barb@KAF

  30. Marcia

    You guys just crack me up! I too love the tone of this article. It makes me giggle because details like that never would have crossed my mind to focus on. As long as I’ve ever made homemade brownies, I get a dull top, no matter the recipe. Only time I’ve gotten shiny tops were from box mixes, so I brushed it off as a difference of scratch vs boxed. But now that there’s a few ideas rolling around and a few theories yet to try, I’m going to have to give shiny brownies a go. I now have a very favorite fudgy brownie recipe that would just be devine with chips added… 🙂

    By the way, KAF has become my first stop for recipes and information, love you guys!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your kind words, Marcia! Glad we could give you a laugh and get some ideas and theories rolling around. Barb@KAF

  31. susieQ22

    Sitting here on a cold, rainy afternoon in Upstate NY and I am reading all kinds of hints and tips about shiny fudgey brownies!!! Is this heaven or what? Needless to say, the KAF recipe will be making an appearance in this house ASAP!!! Thank you all for a great read!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Susie, even when brownies don’t shine, they’re earning a place in my dessert stash… one of my favorite recipes, for sure! I hope you try these soon – PJH

  32. Gloria Holden

    We like a more cake-like brownie rather than a fudge-like one. How do I change a recipe to get that result?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Gloria, I suggest you start with a brownie recipe that says it yields cakey results – that would be your best bet. Typically, cakey brownies have more baking powder and more eggs than fudgy brownies; so if you want to experiment, that would be how to start. FYI, we have a recipe for cakey brownies in our Cookie Companion cookbook – you might want to check that out at your local library sometime. Good luck in your quest – PJH

  33. Vicki

    It really does not make any difference if they are dull or shiny when they are topped with a delicious fudgy frosting!

    Reply
  34. Linda Z.

    This is especially interesting to me, because last year I went on a “quest” for a shiny crust on brownies as well. I didn’t get a true shiny crust until I tried KAF’s fudge brownies recipe and now I’m known for them! I’m only 18 so I’ve made the KAF fudge brownies many many less times than PJ has, but I’ve made all sorts of variations from cookies and cream brownies (with Oreo pieces) to toffee bit brownies. In fact, I think I’ve only made them with chocolate chips once, and I still get a shiny crust every time.
    Personally I don’t like things too sweet (which is why I don’t like box mixes), so I realized the problem with me is that I cut down on the sugar for every recipe. Once I started using the full amount of sugar for the brownies, I’ve gotten a shiny crust even when I add non-chocolate things like nuts to my brownies. I will admit that I now realize I get a better, flakier sugar crust when I use add-ins that involve chocolate, but till now the KAF recipe has always been my secret to never having a dull brownie top again. Why did PJ, the person who wrote the blog post that I discovered this recipe from, get a dull top then?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Why indeed? The result astonished me, Linda, for sure. Same batter, divided in half, chips added to half, baked side by side – and you saw the results. Seeing is believing – that’s what happened. So I could only conclude it was the chips. Any baking scientists out there want to posit another theory? Sounds like you’re well on your way to a career as a food scientist yourself – good luck! PJH

  35. bonnie

    I say if your brownies come out with a matte finish – just frost em with a nice fudgy icing…no one will complain !!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Bonnie, there are seldom complaints about brownies, are there? You’ve got that absolutely right. 🙂 PJH

  36. Ann

    I’ve always made my brownies with melted Crisco and they are shiny and beautiful. Every time I experiment with a different recipe, my husband says, don’t do it! He loves the original recipe.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Ann, there are many paths to the same wonderful result, that’s for sure. Do what works for you – and your husband – and everyone will be happy! 🙂 PJH

  37. SSH

    I too have always had a shiny crust and have used the recipe on the baker’s chocolate box, although it’s no longer titled “beacon hill”. If memory serves, it’s something like “One Bowl” Brownies because you melt the butter and the chocolate in one dish (either dish in the microwave or pot on the stove) and add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl/pot. And I thought it was 4 eggs.

    I assumed it was the melting of both chocolate and butter together that made for a shiny, cracked crust.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      I think it’s the melted chocolate (as well as the at least partial melting of the sugar) that pushes brownies towards shiny crust; it seems a lot of people are saying that melted chocolate does the trick for them, and when I use chips in this recipe, they melt. I’m so happy we’re all learning from one another here… PJH

  38. Beth

    Interesting that King Arthur’s own Fudgy Brownie recipe says it’s beating the sugar into the melted butter that makes the shiny crust. I’ve made that recipe twice and have been less than thrilled. The shiny crust photo was one reason I decided to try them. The first time they were inedible — intense chocolate flavor but chalky dry. The second time was better, but still not as good as my most basic recipe — just more expensive to make.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sorry you’re not a fan of that particular recipe, Beth; it’s my go-to brownie recipe. To each his own, right? No baking police, I always say… 🙂 PJH

  39. Nicole

    Would this still work if you melted the chocolate chips before adding them to the batter (if you wanted a smooth textured brownie)?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Nicole, if you add the chips to the hot batter (hot from the melted butter/sugar) immediately, they’ll melt as you mix them in; no chips apparent in the final product. But sure, you can also melt the chocolate ahead of time, just to make sure. PJH

  40. Margie

    Growing up in the 1960’s our homemade brownies always had a shiny crust, and there were no chocolate chips involved. We usually added nuts, and probably used shortening, definitely not butter. The recipe in the 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook says to “bake until top has a dull crust.”

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Margie, it’s interesting how expectations change, isn’t it? Betty was after a dull crust – as a sign of doneness. I’m wondering if shortening’s pure fat helped give your brownies a shiny crust? So many potential tests, so little time! PJH

  41. Christieleigh

    I work in a production bakery where all we make is brownies and blondies. We spray the top of every batch of brownies with a light coating of whole milk before baking. When we forget to do it we notice a difference in the crust.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      That’s really interesting, Christie – maybe it’s those milk sugars at work? I’ll absolutely have to try that sometime, thanks! PJH

  42. Nicole

    Would this still work if you melted the chocolate chips before adding them to the batter (if you prefer a smooth textured brownie)?
    Thanks

    Reply
  43. Julie-Elise Burroughs

    I have religiously used the recipe for “The Best Fudge Brownies Ever” which was on the back of the KAF all-purpose flour bag for a while. Anyway, in the recipe, it specifically says to “melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just till it’s hot, but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the butter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.”

    The recipe calls for 2 cups of chocolate chips – I typically use Ghirardelli and they are amazing every single time… Haven’t tired the recipe without the chocolate chips, but I suspect it would still look shiny. Regardless, this is the best brownie recipe EVER!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Julie-Elise, that’s the recipe I tested. And surprisingly – without the chocolate chips, the crust wasn’t shiny! So it may just be this particular recipe, but it isn’t solely melting the sugar in the hot butter that does the trick… PJH

  44. Maureen

    I had never wondered or even particularly noticed brownies with shiny or dull tops. As long as there were no nuts or frosting and they were good & fudgy, I was happy. Now you’re “forcing” me to make a batch of brownies to test this. My poor, long-suffering husband and I will just have to “offer it up”, as my mother used to say. 😀

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Maureen, I’m sure he won’t suffer as he offers it up, either… thanks for “offering it up” on his behalf! PJH

  45. Ann McGuire

    Having worked at a food company that made brownie mixes, I can tell you that it is the sugar being dissolved in the fat that gives the top you are looking for. Using a finely ground sugar and beating thoroughly will give you the desired crust. I have often made brownies from a mix and achieved the desired top crust without ever using chocolate chips.

    Reply
  46. Sabrina

    My recipe calls for melting chocolate chips and a good quality chocolate together (about 70/30) with the butter. Mix sugar and eggs with vanilla. Add melted chocolate and butter. Then flour and baking powder. Shiny crust every time.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      That’s an interesting mix of chocolates, I’d like to explore that more myself. ~ MJ

  47. Aidan

    I’m skeptical…I use an old recipe from Nick Malgieri, and they always come out shiny…and I never put chocolate in that isn’t melted first.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Aidan, the heat of the hot butter in this recipe melts the chips, so effectively, they ARE melted chocolate. So we’re doing the same thing as you. Cheers – PJH

  48. Jean

    How can you keep the edges of brownies from over cooking? Mine always get too hard around the edges.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Check your oven to ensure it’s not running too hot, Jean. You can also tent the pan with foil towards the end of baking to keep those edges from drying out. ~ MJ

  49. Linda

    I bake brownies about three times a week, gluten free as I have celiac disease. For the shiniest top, beat the eggs first then add regular granulated sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved and your arm is tired.

    By the way, when I use an egg substitute or coconut sugar, the top is never shiny. Not a complaint. It’s the perfect excuse for a glossy ganache.

    What a delicious post, PJ!

    Reply
  50. Nancy Anderson

    I’ve used the Fanny Farmer Cookbook brownie recipe and my mom has used her old recipe. They are not quite the same, but they both have melted butter and they both have shiny tops. Both of us and all three of my sons have won blue ribbons at our hometown area summer fairs! Mine is less dry than mom’s, but don’t tell her I said that!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      The price of our silence is one pan full of brownies. Meet us at midnight under the old pine tree to make pay up. 😉 ~ MJ

  51. Amy Cape

    I love the King Arthur Fudge Brownie recipe, and have made it about 100 times. At first I would get the shiny crust once in a while, but never consistently. I couldn’t seem to get the butter/sugar mixture the right temperature to dissolve the sugar. I finally hit upon a solution: After measuring the sugar called for in the recipe, I pour it into my blender and blend for a few minutes on high speed. The resulting “superfine” sugar dissolves in the melted butter almost instantly. Ever since I began doing this my brownies have had a shiny, flaky crust every time!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Wow, that’s really interesting, Amy. Thanks for sharing that great tip. ~ MJ

  52. Sandi

    i use a very old recipe that calls for melting butter with sugar and a small amount of water just to boiling and then stirring in 12 oz chocolate chips (off heat) until they melt. Shiny crust–and a 9×13 inch pan of brownies that are yummy and economical.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      The water is an interesting touch, I’m thinking it’s maybe to help keep the chocolate from seizing? ~ MJ

  53. Janice

    my brownies have always come out decadent and with a shiny crust…… perhaps the oven temp varied…..that makes a huge difference even if its off 10 degrees or 25 degrees….I am a baker’s daughter and when I moved to Italy for a few years I had to convert my recipes to using metric system.. the flours were all different….once I carefully measured and converted I wrote everything down! 🙂

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      That’s the key right there, Janice. So many times we don’t write things down and then realize we don’t know how we got such a great result! ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Brownie points for sharing the love, Yvonne, and xoxo right back at ya! ~ MJ

  54. Brenda

    I use your unsweetened baking chocolate – melted rather than cocoa AND add I cup slightly melted chocolate chips loosely folded in before putting in the pan – shiny top every time!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      hee, hee, we’re going to have to request a test sample I think, Brenda! ~ MJ

  55. faryna

    Hi! Since the secret is having the choc chip melting that will produce the shiny crust, do you think that reducing the amount of sugar has any effect in this? Or perhaps altenatively replace the castor with brown sugar instead? Would live to hear from u soon. Tq

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      There are so many different factors to explore, we hope folks will keep weighing in with their discoveries and experiences here so definitely keep checking the comments to see what others have to say. ~ MJ

  56. Jen Kubeck

    My go-to recipe was always “Brownies Cockaigne” from the 1974 edition of The Joy of Cooking. They always came out with the shiny top.

    The secret is using real chocolate, not necessarily chocolate chips. In Brownies Cockaigne, the chocolate is baking chocolate, which is melted together with butter, then allowed to cool.

    This is then folded into the eggs, sugar, and vanilla, which have been beaten very well, as if making meringues. The flour follows.

    More recent editions of the Joy of Cooking changed the recipe, keeping the same ingredients, but turning it into a one-bowl mixture where everything is dumped in and stirred together. I maintain that following the technique from the 1974 edition produces the very best results – a moist brownie, with a shiny top that crackles when you bite into it.

    Interestingly, the 1974 edition makes the statement that for a chewy brownie, you should bake the batter in a 13 x 9 pan, and for a cake-like one, in an 8 x 8. As I love chewy brownies, I’ve never tried the 8 x 8 to see if it worked!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Well, Jen, I think you *must* try those brownies in a different pan. You know, for science. 😉 ~ MJ

  57. Ursula

    Hmm, our “house” scratch brownies are always shiny topped. I use the Baker’s Chocolate One Bowl recipe, which is always right on their baking chocolate packages: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/bakers-one-bowl-brownies-54515.aspx.

    I like it because it’s quick and efficient and the results taste great thanks to using real butter and vanilla. But our results and Leslie B’s make me think shiny crusts have something to do with using chocolate vs cocoa (be it whole chips or melted baking chocolate). Very interesting.

    For science’s sake, this is exactly how I follow the BCOB recipe. First I melt chocolate pieces and butter together in glass bowl in micro until butter melts, then I use a wooden spoon to stir/let sit/stir etc for chocolate to melt entirely–while I get my other ingredients together. You never want it nuked too hot to risk burning the chocolate or cooking the eggs in a later step. Next in is sugar. The beauty of the recipe is that the volume of sugar reduces the heat of the mixture, and the now granular texture makes incorporation of the eggs thorough. Then vanilla and a generous pinch or two of coffee (instant or Starbucks Via powdered) get stirred in, then the flour is added, then optional walnuts or pecans and I use a spatula to turn the whole thing into a buttered foil-lined pan.

    It occurs to me as I write that when I’ve done my sister’s variation (add a handful each of oatmeal and chocolate chips to any brownie recipe) to these scratch brownies, they are NOT shiny topped. As a matter of fact, she usually does this to packaged mix brownies to “keep them honest” and when I’ve had those at her place they are not shiny either. (But they do taste better than un-hacked regular supermarket mix brownies.) Someone had pointed out that mix brownies are usually shiny. Despite her addition of chocolate chips, maybe the oats are absorbing the shiny meringue that both the BCOB recipe and mix brownies would otherwise have?

    And I wonder about the espresso powder/instant coffee/Via factor as well!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Thanks so much for sharing your methods and observations. The mystery indeed continues. ~ MJ

  58. Melinda J. Ayers

    We always use cocoa powder mixed with dry ingredients and additional melted butter (Mom’s substitutions in the 1952 Better Crocker cook book). Don’t need a mixer. Beat eggs and sugar, add warm melted butter, stir in dry ingredients, pour in pans and bake. No chocolate chips. Do use nuts, though. Crust is always shiny. Is it mixing technique? Maybe, because I cannot feel grains of sugar between my fingertips on pinch test. The mystery deepens.

    Reply
  59. Nancy Lyon

    I appreciate King Arthur’s passion for baking. The science behind baking continues to fascinate me. Thank you for taking the time to experiment on behalf of all of us who love to bake.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      We love to try new things too, and see just “why” things happen. ~ MJ

  60. gwenn melis

    My mom’s brownies always had a shiny crust. She melted the “shortening” and chocolate together. Then stirred the rest of the ingredients in. Her recipe came from one of the original Betty Crocker cookbooks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Gwenn, I think it’s the melted chocolate that does it – which explains why melting the chocolate first, as well as letting the chips melt in the hot batter, both work. Are you still making your mom’s brownies? I love how we carry on these baking traditions, don’t you? PJH

  61. Timmy

    There was a time in my life where I made brownies every day. The recipe would stay the same (made with good quality chocolate chunks), but the result would vary. It’s a fudgy recipe that uses melted chocolate in addition to the cocoa. The emulsification of the recipe depended on a few factors: the chocolate couldn’t be hot when mixing into the egg-sugar mixture, and the sugar is ALWAYS dissolved in the eggs before anything happens. I usually mix them together and let them sit while the chocolate is melting and cooling slightly, mixing periodically to help the sugar dissolve. I have heard from other sources that the fact that it’s white sugar (not brown) is a key factor, so I assume it’s the culprit in general.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Timmy, thanks for sharing your experiences and shiny crust theory! Barb@KAF

  62. Melissa

    My favorite brownie recipe (The Baked Brownie) calls for chopped dark chocolate, and it always comes out with a beautiful shiny top. Mmm now you’ve put in me in the mood for some brownies!

    Reply
  63. Bridget

    Mine always have a shiny top. I use the recipe that was on the Droste can years ago. No chips, and no baking powder or baking soda, which I consider a sin: you’re making cake, not brownies.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Bridget, thanks for sharing your own brownie baking experiences! Barb@KAF

  64. Kalisa

    Hm, I’ve never noticed if my brownies are dull or shiny on top. I’ll have to take note next time I bake a batch! Like many others here all that matters to me and the hungry hordes is that they taste good. I use Smitten Kitchen’s (great recipe blog) “classic brownie” recipe and I have started using chocolate chips because I am cheap. Turns out just great each time, even if I commit the sin of over baking them.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kalisa, thanks for your comments! If the hungry hordes enjoy your brownies, you’re obviously doing something right! Barb@KAF

  65. Gracie

    I’m so glad I saw this post. I made a batch of my brownie recipe and I had to leave and didn’t leave a note for anyone at home to bake the brownies. I got home and the brownies had solidified and looked like fudge. I decided I would bake them and they were shiny when they came out. But they are always shiny when they come out. My recipe uses a combination of chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate.

    Reply
  66. Lily

    I use the Baker’s One Bowl Brownie recipe, which melts the chocolate with butter. I always ad a bag of chocolate chips at the end. The crust is always shiny.

    Reply
  67. Irene in T.O.

    The Brownies Cockaigne from Joy of Cooking has you melt the butter and chocolate. I then add all brown sugar to the saucepan, and eggs when the pot cools down enough to touch. I add 10% less flour and I bake to somewhere between chewy and gooey. My brownies always have the shiny top.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      There it is again, that melted chocolate… Thanks for sharing, Irene – as always, it’s good to see your name here. PJH

  68. Pamela G.

    I had to laugh when I began to read the comments on this article. The first thing I thought about as I moved along through it is who is actually EATING all these brownies, dull OR shiny, you keep baking? To be honest, while I like brownies, its not the first baked good I turn to when I want something sweet and now……some of you better sit down first …….I’m not really a chocolate fan. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate chocolate, but I can easily live without it every day in my life, ESPECIALLY chocolate chips. (if I must have chips I’ll take white chocolate anyday over regular chocolate) I won’t even begin to try and understand WHY people are putting chocolate chips in EVERY blessed thing out there. It seems to be one of the latest “it” ingredients the past couple of years. I see them (whole and unmelted) in pancakes, bread (this makes me cringe), pies, cakes, fudge, cheesecakes, donuts, ice cream, popcorn, tarts, biscotti, muffins, cupcakes, sweet rolls, dip, cannolis, cheeseball, even French toast (Ewww) and of course, every bar cookie and regular cookie known to be invented by mankind. You get the idea. What’s the funniest thing about this entire article is that for the rest of my life, well…..at least years anyway, I won’t be able to look at a pan of SHINY brownies ever the same way again. I have to admit, the shiny ones ARE more attractive which most likely makes them more appealing or more appetizing and why, consciously or even unconsciously, many people seem to like them more. For me, I want them WARM (best scenario), gooey, and especially WITH walnuts or at least some other nut in them. I saw comments here today where folks, just like my brother, who is another one of those non-walnut in the brownies people, also baffles me about all of you. I’m like Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I like contrasting textures and temperatures in my food when I can. I’m one of those who like a spoonful of hot oatmeal and cold milk or a chewy brownie and crunchy walnuts in the same bite. I look forward to reading about THE final solution when its eventually discovered of what truly does makes that holy grail in the brownie world, a shiny top layer!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Pamela, thanks for sharing here. I agree about Ina Garten – she’s one of my favorite authors. And, like you, I also look forward to a “final soultion” – if one ever comes to be! 🙂 PJH

  69. Philip

    Hmm an interesting read. I use half dark brown sugar and half white sugar in recipe. Then always 1 and one half times the amount of chocolate called for in any recipe. Then instead of one teaspoon vanilla extract always a tablespoon or more. Shiny crust? I get it every time, but I always cover the brownie with chocolate chips or mini chunks, so this melts on top of the crust while the brownie is still hot. Then I spread the is melted chocolate evenly over the top of the brownie. I find this “frosting” seal keeps the brownie from drying out as quickly as I lived at 6400 feet. But then I also like adding slightly rehydrated red cherries and toasted chopped hazel nuts to the mix before baking. Some grated citrus zest along with the dried coffee crystals is also another way to flavor the batter. Time to make another batch of brownies. My finished products from others times are posted on my flickr blog under chocoyum.

    Reply
  70. megan

    Hi!
    Linda, I’m totally with you on the sugar content theory.

    PJ, I’m not an official food scientist, but I am a chemist who loves to bake!

    I buy into the theory is that it’s the sugar content, and also how well the sugar is dissolved with the other ingredients. I, too, like Linda, would cut down on the sugar content in some recipes (like brownies!) and not see a flaky top. But, once I used the same recipe, and used the amount of sugar called for, I would get a flaky top.

    The half of the batter that you added chocolate chips to has a slightly higher sugar content, and the sugar in those chocolate chips is already well dissolved in the cocoa butter and other ingredients. When you bite into a chocolate chip, you don’t taste granules of sugar, but one cohesive chocolate piece. The sugar contributed by the chocolate chips melts/dissolves much more quickly once it hits the heat of the oven. I think this is also why brownie recipes made with chocolate instead of cocoa powder and sugar are more sure-fire wins for the shiny top; the “pre-dissolved sugar” nature of chocolate versus cocoa powder and sugar.

    I made chocolate meringue cookies (egg whites, cocoa powder, sugar) recently, and re-visited the crackly top issue!! I noticed that the beginning of the batter was really shiny, but the bottom of the batch was dull. I hypothesized on why this could be..the bottom of the batter was likely not mixed as thoroughly as the top of the batter, because I was using a hand mixer and didn’t always get to the batter on the very bottom of the bowl.

    I’d like to see side by side brownie tests where one half of the batter is the control without chocolate chips, and the other half of the batter has additional sugar added during the sugar /eggs step, that would bring the total sugar content to the same as if there were chocolate chips
    (I would calculate the grams of sugar in chocolate chips, if possible!)

    Hmm..maybe I will do this test myself and post my findings!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That sounds like that would be a good test. You are officially hired, Megan! Let us know what you find out and if you need some help eating the end result (shiny or not shiny), I’ll be right over! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Mickey, that’s an excellent question. The only hesitation I have about that theory is that other types of solid chocolate don’t contain lecithin, and it sounds like a common theme here is solid chocolate, melted. Still, I imagine there are some solid chocolates, beyond chips, that include lecithin… interesting. Now you’ve got me itching to go do some more testing! 🙂 PJH

  71. Joyce

    I’ve been baking for a long time and the secret to the crust on top of brownies is not over mixing, no special ingredients are necessary. When mixing in the flour, you do it by hand and carefully blend it in until the flour disappears. Do not beat it!

    Reply
  72. Carol Kemp

    I never thought out why there is shiny or dull tops but I almost always add chips to my brownies because the grandkids love them. I .especially like the mini chocolate ones. I think they melt better and keep the brownies more moist also. After 48 years of baking for family I just do what we like. Thanks for the info. It is always fun to read

    Reply
  73. Marcia B

    My mothers recipe for brownies is the best I have tasted. It is always shinny and it called for shortening. I use the butter flavored Crisco and have excellent results. I also tried gluten free
    flour and that changed the results. Not moist, but drier and crumbly. Didn’t hold together. I have
    a granddaughter that can’t eat gluten. She has an allergy to Soy as well and I didn’t read the label for
    the shortening before I made them. So learned the shortening comes from Soybean oil.
    I have good results when baking your lemon bars with the gluten free flour. My granddaughter has an
    allergy to peanuts and almonds as well so baking is proving to be a challenge

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marcia, here’s a helpful blog about converting your recipes to gluten-free. And we also have lots of gluten-free recipes on our website that you can try. Here’s one for our gluten-free brownies. One cautionary note: If your granddaughter is severely allergic to soy, there is some risk that the items packed in our gluten-free facility may come in contact with soy. Barb@KAF

  74. susan

    My only question is if it the chocolate or chocolate chips that make it shiny then how do you explain the shine on box bronzes that only contain cocoa and not chocolate chips. I suspect there is a chemistry reaction occurring that this article does not address.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Susan, I suspect you’re right. Boxed mixes must rely on some other ingredient to get their shine – perhaps it IS the soy lecithin, as another reader has suggested. My kitchen science is more seat-of-the-pants than professional; I come at this from the home baker viewpoint, because that’s what I am: a home baker, one who enjoys sharing her experiences. Readers, anyone out there who might know how brownies from boxed mixes get their reliable shine? Thanks for raising this, Susan – PJH

  75. Angela

    First of all I must confess to NOT having read all the posts on this subject. But, for what it’s worth here is my two cents worth: I always melt my chocolate with the butter. The only variable for me is whether I combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla by hand or with my KA mixer (paddle attachment). The only time I get a shiny crust is when I use my mixer. If I incorporate too much air into that mixture, then I get too much of that good crust. I combine everything else by hand, only using the mixer for egg, sugar, vanilla mixture.

    Reply
  76. Mary Dulle

    55 or more years ago, my mother found a brownie recipe that uses chocolate chips melted with butter as the only chocolate source. It always has a shiny crust.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That’s what we’ve found as well, Mary! Chocolate chips are the secret to successfully creating a shiny crust. Happy brownie baking! Kye@KAF

  77. Patti MacLeith

    I use a recipe from the 80’s and there are no chocolate chips but the brownies ARE shiny every time. The butter is melted and I hand mix the batter. Maybe it’s the melted butter?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Patti, the melted butter definitely has something to do with it; I’m surmising it’s liquid fat that does the trick, though with just plain unmelted butter (no chips), I was unable to get that shiny crust – in my particular recipe. Recipes differ, though; clearly yours works well with just the butter. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  78. Monica

    Okay, so I made the Fudge Brownie recipe after reading the blog post. Followed all directions carefully, added two cups of chocolate chips after allowing the mixture to cool somewhat, and STILL did not get a shiny crust. What I DID get were absolutely fabulous brownies, chewy and gooey at the same time, with a deep chocolate flavor that was not overly sweet despite the large amount of sugar in the recipe. And then it dawned on me – WHO CARES ABOUT THE CRUST?!?!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      HAHA, Monica, I like your attitude! They’re really good, aren’t they? Next time, add the chips to the HOT batter and beat until they pretty much disappear – that should give you the shiny crust along with the ooey-gooey yumminess. 🙂 PJH

  79. shumaila Qamar

    Dear all,
    my secret for a shiny crust n fudgy brownies is using oil instead of butter,always get my desired result.

    Reply
  80. ladyonzlake

    My recipe is a one pan brownie recipe starting with melted butter in a sauce pan and adding sugar and eggs and the the flour. I always get a shiny crunchy top so I wonder if it’s the melted butter?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Heating the sugar with the butter helps for sure – it all has to do with heat, fat, and dissolved sugar, though I’m not quite sure of the exact equation. Thanks for sharing here – PJH

  81. Bee Nom

    Why does my no knead bread have a light gray color dough after cooking.
    It should be more white, it tastes very good
    I use
    3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon yeast
    12 ounces water

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Unbleached flour has a creamy color when baked; if the bread is light gray, you may have let the dough rise too long in the fridge. Keep it tightly covered to avoid discoloration. Laurie@KAF

  82. Sandy J

    I owned a cookie bakery for 8 years and chips and I are friends. I have been told that chocolate chips have a stabilizer added to help them keep their shape while cooking. I can only assume it is part wax? Anyway, the result is lovely and quite tasty.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sandy, most chips include soy lecithin, a stabilizer that helps them retain their shape during baking. Whether or not this is responsible – or it’s simply the fat in the chocolate, or maybe both? – could be fodder for another experiment. Thanks for adding your thoughts here – PJH

  83. Ally

    I have a problem..
    Ever since my first batch of brownies and every batch I make.. I’ve ONLY had brownies with a crust.
    I’ve made brownies since I moved here to where I am today, so age 8.
    I’m fed up with the crust.
    It’s about 3 millimeters thick.
    If it were thinner it would be amazing.

    The crust is shiny and nice.. Until you cut it.
    My entire family loves the crust, except me really.. So it’s not a huge deal, but when you cut the brownie the crust breaks into much larger pieces and I’m tired of it. It isn’t pretty, and it just makes cutting that much harder. They taste great, but I’m baking brownies for my new neighbor as they just moved in and I can’t get it right.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Ally. We can troubleshoot your issue better if we can see the recipe. From what you’re describing, I’m wondering about two things. How much sugar is in your recipe, and how many eggs? And are you baking in a glass pan? You will often get a thicker sugar crust in glass than metal. Susan

  84. Hope

    I’ve pondered this question for many years. My go-to recipe (the standard one-bowl recipe from smittenkitchen.com) has had varied results- perhaps related to the amount the egg was whipped and whether I subbed brown for regular flour. But today I chose a new recipe (the classic chewy fudge brownie recipe from jessicainthekiychen.com) and followed it to the letter (a rarity for me!) to receive the most shiny, mirror-like crust I’ve ever created. Her recipe swaps oil for butter and adds a leavener as well as water(?!) but for some reason this worked! I will be conducting a few more tests with this recipe and hope to have some definitive answers soon~ thank you for your post, it’s gotten me off on the right foot!

    Reply
  85. Kathy Funk

    Hi P.J., and Forum,

    The recipe I use for Brownies is very moist and chocolatey ; with a shiny top. It envolves no cocoa powder, just chocolate chips. I use a 12 oz bag of chips per batch. In a sm. sauce pan,I put the sugar, butter, and 2Tbls. water……heating and stirring just to boil…I turn the heat off and add 1 C chips…. stirring until throughly melted and blended. The second 1/2 of the chips will be stirred in my finished batter just before baking.

    Reply
  86. Sandie Anderson

    I loved reading through the comments regarding your brownies with shiny tops. I’ve used a King Arthur recipe for brownies for years now that originally called for corn syrup but I always substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup and I use half bittersweet and half semi-sweet chocolate chips. With those changes, my brownies are now known as Sandie’s Best Brownies. I just took a brownie form the freezer to test it!! and it does have a shiny and crispy top. We are so lucky to have King Arthur in Norwich!! Thank you.

    Reply
  87. Gail

    I have used only 2 recipes for most of my life, and often get a shiny crust-but I can’t remember which one! I guess I’ll have to bake some brownies (sigh!). One is called Katherine Hepburn’s brownies, it was in some women’s magazine long ago, and is made entirely in one pot. The other one is from an ad for Baker’s chocolate that came in little pouches. It has a chocolate icing as well that I use sometimes and sometimes now. It has a lot of chocolate! Both are wonderful.

    Then there is the fabulous recipe from the Southern Living Party book (1970s vintage) that has basically a thick icing with marshmallows in it poured on top of the warm brownies. With more than a 1/2 inch of marshmallow-infused chocolate icing/fudge, the shiny crust is a moot point!

    Reply
  88. Yvonne

    I had a recipe, that I got on the back of a chocolate chip bag in the 70’s and didn’t keep but my top was always shiny.
    You melted the chips in a saucepan, add oil and stir til smooth. Add eggs and stir.
    Have the dry ingredients, mix in the chocolate mixture. Put in pan and bake. LOVED THEM!!!! I no longer have the ingredient amounts… darn it!!!!

    Reply
  89. Sally

    It’s great to get the shine, but how much chocolate is going into these recipes? Is it strong enough? My favorite brownie recipe starts w/ 7oz unsweetened, and later adds chopped chocolate bar, or choc chips. I don’t add the suggested pollutants like raisins or nuts. A touch of cinnamon to bring out the chocolate – some use a hot spice, I forget what, but it’s mean to me and I avoid it.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Our brownie recipe starts with 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa, and PJ adds an optional 2 cups of chips to the shiny topped batches in the blog. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  90. Philosophy of Yum

    BIG shiny brownie crust discovery posted on our blog! You can actually achieve a Shiny brownie crust on ANY recipe like you guys say as well! I do not like whipping the eggs and sugar because very often there is a crust, but it is dull! Also, the brownies aren’t chewy enough if you whip the eggs and sugar. You guys at King Arthur kind of figured it out, but it isn’t just ANY chocolate chips. It doesn’t work with dark chocolate, plus there is even more science to it. With so many experiments and science I’ve figured it out completely! Here is everything you need to know! http://philosophyofyum.com/shiny-brownie-crust-everything-you-need-to-know/

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Wow, that’s fascinating! Not sure I’d want to go so far as to use a hairdryer on my brownie batter (I’m simply not that passionate!), but I love the fact that you spent 3 1/2 years on this project – and have shared your results here. Thanks a lot! PJH

  91. Michelle Moulton

    I have always made the same brownie recipe my mom made when I was growing up, and it always had a shiny crust. It’s the Brownies Cocaigne recipe from The Joy of Cooking cook book. Best recipe ever! It’s only 5 ingredients and so easy to make. My sister and I always called them crack brownies. Melted butter and bakers chocolate mixed with flour, sugar and eggs. That’s it!

    Reply
  92. Elaine Anderson

    I can’t find the article just now, but I’ll swear I read a Cook’s Illustrated article a few years ago that talked about how many of their cooks “confessed” to making box brownies — to get that chewy inside brownie wirh a shiny crispy crust. The gist of that article was using oil as part of the fat rather than all butter.

    Reply
    1. Shauna

      I think I read that same article! They were saying that box mix brownies have several different types of shortening and oils to ensure the shiny top, provided you follow the other instructions correctly. And in order to replicate that in the recipe they were using, somehow oil made it work.

  93. Ann Hurley

    I have been making the one bowl brownies recipe from Bakers Chocolate every week for the past 25 years. I never could get that shine that I wanted. A few weeks ago I had some extra dark chocolate shavings and threw it into the batter, Like magic… I now have a beautiful shiny crust!

    Reply
    1. Gloria Aluise

      I am known among friends and neighbors for my brownies. Although I occasionally make homemade brownies (usually only to experiment with a recipe that looks interesting, and prefer cocoa to melted chocolate), most of the time I by the Ghiradelli 6-bag mix at Costco or whatever dark chocolate mix is on sale at the grocery store; I prefer the brownies without add-ins and they are impossible to find now in Costco or other big box stores. I usually make 6 or 7 batches at a time, cut them in 5X7 pieces after frosting and cooling in the refrigerator overnight, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer in double zip-lock bags. They are always topped with ganache, a thick, luscious layer spread on the brownies when they are almost completely cooled, but not quite, and I put unchopped walnuts in most of my batches. When I make 6 boxes of mix for 13X9 pans, I add almost all of the large Costco bag of walnuts. People love the ganache and the large nut pieces. Really, the brownie batter is there to hold the nuts together. When I serve them, I cut them into squares, some as small as 1 inch squares, finger-size bars, hearts, circles, whatever the occasion calls for. I sometimes layer thin mint candies in the batter and top them with a second layer of batter. Once in a while, I long for a Chunky candy, and add raisins, almonds and walnuts – maybe a bit of dried cranberry, cherry or candied orange rind if I have it.
      When I am cutting and wrapping them, I save the trimmed ends for friends to taste. One of my neighbors who dropped in one day when I was “packaging” and who is a brownie snob, commented on how delicious my brownies are and what a pleasure it is to eat brownies made from scratch!!!! (Don’t tell!!!!) I have noticed that sometimes they are shiny, but I have never paid much attention to that. I will now!!!! I think I might use the KA recipe referred to in this post and leave the nuts out! Have them a teeny bit warm! Thank you, KA for all you do.

  94. Susie

    So after reading all the posts and some experimenting, it seems like the key to a shimmery crust, is sugar, either emulsified in chocolate chips, corn syrup, or meringue. With thanksgiving passing and enjoying my honey baked ham with its delicious honey glaze, I think that shimmery crust, is really a type of brownie glaze. I started glazing my brownies with powdered sugar swirled in lightly on top and presto instant shimmery crust. I am happy because I don’t like my brownies super sweet but I do like that crust. Next I am trying caramel or butter sugar glaze.

    Reply
  95. Liz

    It’s funny I’ve never liked shiny crust! It reminds me of box brownies! I guess that’s because the shiny crust is the ideal so it’s how the boxed ones turn out. I always associate it with that though.

    Reply
  96. Nancy

    I found this on the web (I was curious so spent some time googling as the addition of chocolate chips alone didn’t make sense to me). I think the source of this is cooking science expert Shirley Corriher.

    “Crust or No Crust

    Whether brownies, or even some cakes and pound cakes, have a crust on top depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. The more you beat, the more crust you get. If you beat vigorously with a mixer, you can get a dramatic crust. Depending on how much you beat, this crust can be barely noticeable or a crisp, shiny crust that is totally puffed, and separated above the cake or brownie. It is also usually lighter in color. The color and shine are especially noticeable on brownies.

    This is a meringue-like crust and is actually caused by a “meringue.” Your beating of the batter after the eggs are added creates it. This seems not to be widely known even among chocolate experts.”

    Perhaps the addition of the chips at the end caused enough extra mixing to produce the crust.

    Reply
  97. Gwenette

    I add chocolate chips to every brownie recipe I use. In my teens, I found a recipe on the back of the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate box, which I used until my 30s, and that always yielded brownies with a shiny crust. Then I found a recipe that called for cocoa, and although I love this recipe, it never yields a shiny crust (even with chocolate chips in it). So in my experience, what makes the crust is melting the chocolate for the batter. I plan to experiment with melting the butter and cocoa together to see if that produces a shiny crust.

    Reply
  98. Brenda

    Wow, did this ever get replies! I’m one the top didn’t matter to me. My brownie just has to be very rich in dark chocolate, moist, and chewy. And sometimes has pecans or caramel or both. Then I frost with milk chocolate. And a must, refrigerated.

    Reply
  99. Carolyn

    I’ve always made my mother’s brownie recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook, only using butter. That calls for chocolate, echoing your chocolate chips. It had a pretty good crust. One day I decided to beat the melted butter, chocolate & sugar until the sugar nearly dissolved – and it had a super shiny, crispy crust. So I suspect it’s a combination, and not due to one factor alone.

    Reply
  100. Aravis

    Oh, I see — I haven’t been getting the dull brownie problem for years, and it must be because I use a recipe that calls for melted chocolate, instead of cocoa powder! But I always beat the eggs and sugar for twice as long as I think I need, to make sure the meringue is all shiny.

    Reply
  101. Aaron

    Never thought about shiny vs. dull brownies. But we taste first with the eye so it makes sense.

    Your recipe uses cocoa. The recipe I use calls for unsweetened chocolate (although lately I’ve started to use cocoa and chocolate and a little coffee). Both are very different from chocolate chips which have emulsifiers and are tempered.

    Would that have any effect? I’ll have to make a batch of my brownies and check out the top.

    My family thanks you!

    Reply
  102. Simone Castillo

    I actually don’t think I’ve EVER seen a brownie with a dull top before, that’s super interesting!
    I always just use some sort of box recipe and never have done it from scratch (I should try sometime, sounds like fun)… But the boxes don’t come with chocolate chips! In fact, now that I’m married my husband is always trying to remind me before I put it in the oven to add chips! lol
    Since it seems to not matter what order you do stuff in… I wonder how adding chips effected the balance of your sugars and stuff in that recipe you use… And how it compares to shiny chipless brownie mixes!

    Reply
  103. Scarlett in FLA

    after reading through all the comments, I have to giggle a little…I have been making brownies for 60 years and I’ve yet to have any complaints on whether they had a shiny top or not…sorry, couldn’t resist!

    Reply
  104. Claudia Waitt

    I’ve made brownies for many years and always get a shiny crust…apparently my addition of chocolate chips and using melted butter works!

    Reply
  105. Heidi W.

    In response to some comments about this recipe…
    Alternate recipe for shiny top brownies that are not too cakey. Use slightly less flour for chewier brownies with a nice balance of chocolate but not too much. Add extra chocolate if you like, but not necessary for good tasting brownies.
    _______________________
    2 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    dash salt
    2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
    1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
    1 cup (scant) King Arthur All Purpose Flour
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3/4 – 1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
    (NO, you do not need baking powder!)
    _______________________
    • While the butter is slowly melting together with the chocolate, in a small sauce pan on very low heat, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt, until they are pale yellow and/or the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Let the egg/sugar mixture just sit there until the melted butter and chocolate cool off a bit, as that also helps the sugar to completely dissolve.
    • Add the cooled melted butter and chocolate. Stir well.
    • Add the vanilla. Stir well.
    • Fold in the flour, and then the nuts, and pour into a well greased and floured brownie pan (or lightly coat pan with cooking spray). Batter will be thick; spread evenly in pan.
    • Bake at 325º for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean – do not over bake.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marianne, it depends on what the recipe calls for. Usually it’s either an 8″ X 8″ square pan or a 9″ X 13″ pan. This particular recipe calls for a 9 x 13. Barb@KAF

  106. Rhonda Woods

    My recipe calls to melt butter, unsweetened chocolate (which I substitute cocoa powder and vegetable oil) and semi sweet chocolate chips. This is done by boiling water in a saucepan, remove from heat and place the bowl with the above mentioned ingredients over the hot water and melting slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon. Eggs, sugar and vanilla are mixed together and added to the warm chocolate mixture, flour and baking powder are also stirred in, and finally dredged chocolate chips are added. Keep in mind that all of this is being done wit the bowl still over the hot water. The mixture is quickly poured into a foil lined pan that has been sprayed and dusted with flour. I believe the shinny top is achieved when the mixture remains warm before baking.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am not sure that we have tried using sweet potatoes. Interesting, though! Elisabeth@KAF

  107. Kurt

    Well not being that versed in baking, do I just add the chips into the batter without melting, or melt and add to the butter and sugar and then into the other ingredients and do I increase something to compensate for adding the chips? Since the old recipe does not have the chips in it, I’m at a loss, so a little help here please.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kurt, in this Fudge Brownie Recipe the chips are added with the flour and are not melted before adding to the recipe. You may be thinking of a different brownie recipe, as this recipe has not changed. Barb@KAF

  108. Karen

    Can’t help busting out laughing. Some people are actually concerned about which ingredients are healthier. These are brownies people. Enjoy, in moderation.

    Reply
  109. linda

    hi thanks so much for the tip 🙂 really help me to learn on baking. if i substitute chocolate chip with chocolate bar, is there any impact will occur on the texture of brownies? thanks again 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, as long as you have the same kind of chocolate and same amount by weight, it should work just fine. Bryanna@KAF

  110. Marianne

    My go-to brownie recipe is Katherine Hepburns. It REALLY is her recipe. I still can’t figure out why sometimes it has a shiny crust and sometimes not. It is rich and fudgy and I personally like it chilled. It’s so easy,I know it by heart:

    Preheat oven to 325. Melt 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 lb butter over low heat in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 1 c. granulated sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Quickly stir in 1 c. chopped walnuts and 1/4 c. flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Spread in well greased 8″X 8″ baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool.

    I use the microwave to melt the chocolate and butter.
    It’s been a while since I’ve baked,I tend to finish the entire batch in a day or two!!

    Reply
  111. Stephanie

    Tried this recipe today using a few of the suggestions listed. I melted the butter/margarine on the stove, added in the cocoa powder, then the sugar. I blended the sugar to make it super-fine. 2 cups turned into 2 1/4 cups; perfect for the recipe. I whipped the eggs by hand separately for about 2 minutes before adding them into the cocoa mixture. Cut back on the baking powder; used only 1/2 tsp. I didn’t use chocolate chips. I got a real nice SHINY crust! For me, it is all about the sugar and the eggs. This is the method I’ll use from now on. Thanks for your ideas.

    Reply
  112. Charmaine

    There was a period when I was on a brownie baking spree….and I think the trick is the amt of sugar (prob w a combination of beating as well).

    One recipe was memorable as it yield a super glossy shiny crust but my oh my…..at the same time it was diabetic inducing sweet! So i halved the sugar and the subsequent batches all had v dull crust. So i figure it must be the sugar… be it in pure cane sugar form or in the choco chips or corn syrup. Since I don’t have a sweet tooth, dull but less sweet and more choc fragrance won (sometimes too much sugar covers the choc taste!) But I admit I do miss the crusty flaky top though!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, if you’d like to experiment with using egg replacers in your brownies, check out this article on our blog about using golden flax meal blended with water instead of eggs. Be sure to add in the chocolate chips to make the shiny crust! Kye@KAF

  113. Paula in Maine

    I have tried the same recipe many times and found other things besides chocolate chips that give a shiny crust. They all have something in common; they don’t dissolve into the batter. I have made my brownie recipe with sugar and no chips(=no crust), sucanat instead of sugar and no chips (=crust), honey granules instead of sugar and no chips(=crust), and sugar with chocolate chips (=crust). I will keep experimenting but there seems to be a correlation here.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      You’re right, Paul, and I think the correlation has to do with the availability of sufficient sugar in its liquid form; while liquid, it can migrate to the top crust, where it lends shininess. Perhaps Sucanat has a lower melting point than granulated sugar? At any rate, thanks for chimining in here; together, we’ll figure this out! 🙂 PJH

  114. Mary

    That can’t be the case. If you look, Paula in Maine listed sugar with chocolate chips = crust. I bake from scratch and from mix, just depends. My brownies, sorry, are from a box mix. However, they’ve always had that very thin, yet crisp crusty coating on the top. I’m wondering if the type of fats involved would make the difference – such as experimenting with oils, mayonnaise, the various chocolate chips – I usually use semi sweet and/or dark chocolate chips. I do know that if you increase your oil in a cake/brownie, you’ll get a more fudgie texture – I found that if I used extra pecans and just a tad more oil in a chocolate bundt cake that I wound up with a tunnel of fudge cake – WOOT-HOOT!!!!

    Reply
  115. Patricia A Lisi

    I really try to not use chocolate chips preferring to use chocolate chunks of my fav Belgian chocolate. I know there is some additive to chips to keep them chips. I hope I can achieve the shine without them or I prefer to not have the shine then. The pics of the others look overbaked.

    Reply
  116. Grace DeShaw-Wilner

    Ahhhhhh, and this is why I love KAF so much. Superior products, and curious staff that go the extra mile with recipies and the science behind perfection. Thank you for hanging in there and testing, so that we may all benefit from your efforts. We appreciate it!

    Reply
  117. Shari

    Funny story. I was wondering this too. I used to always use an electric oven and always made brownies with a shiny top. Then we moved to a new house with a gas oven and since then I have never produced a shiny top brownie — note I always use the same recipe.

    Reply
  118. Ellen

    I have several recipes I use, but I top them with the topping from Ida Hyde’s Texas Cake. It’ll pop up if you google it. I’ve used Baker’s brownie recipe, Elsie Masterton’s recipe and even a mix or two. Throw in Ghiardelli chocolate chips and that icing and you’re good to go.

    Reply
  119. Marleen

    A friend and I use the exact same recipe to make brownies. When I use the recipe my brownies have a shiny flaky crust; her’s have the dull flat top. We sat down to figure out what…

    I whisk the eggs and sugar first then add a cooled mixture of melted butter, chocolate and cocoa.

    She adds sugar to the warm butter/chocolate/cocoa mixture then slowly adds the eggs.

    We both add the dry ingredients last.

    This is the only difference we could determine.

    Reply
  120. Tami Harris

    I’m a baking arts instructor and I have my students making brownies almost daily for our retail window. The recipe we use is Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownie recipe. It’s fantastic and calls for both melted and whole chocolate chips. It makes a wonderful moist brownie with a shiny crust. Last week we make an accidental, wonderful discovery! Because it’s a large batch recipe (it makes a full sheet pan) I had a student overnight the batter. It was all ready to go, in the pan, into the oven. But class time was up and I couldn’t stay late to finish them. The next morning we put the pan in the oven and the result was magical! We got the shiniest crust I have ever seen and a super rich and fudgie brownie! So if you prefer a denser and fudgier brownie instead of one that is more cake like, overnight your batter!

    Reply
  121. Amy E

    Maybe this has not been asked but its important to me…. What if you hate chocolate chips in your brownies??? 🙁

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hate chocolate chips in your brownies? You can try chopping up the chips before adding them to the batter; they’ll mostly melt so you won’t notice they’re there, but they should still work their shiny-topped magic. If it’s the flavor you don’t like, that you can try heating the butter and sugar together until the sugar dissolves before adding the other ingredients in the recipe. This sometimes helps create a similar effect. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  122. Paola

    I attended a short baking course a couple of years ago and the instructor showed us a technique regarding this matter.
    As usual, melt the butter and chocolate. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Fold in the flour. Then the eggs (cracked separately in another bowl then beaten ever so lightly) come in last into the batter. Dump the eggs into the batter, then mix lightly; we were taught to cut-&-fold or just swirl around the eggs like writing figures of 8/infinity sign in the bowl. Do this just until you cannot see jellies of eggwhites, maybe around 10 of the number 8 using the spatula. The batter was really glossy before it got baked. And indeed it was really shiny after the bake.
    I have been doing this trick every time since then. Maybe you can try it sometime too.

    Reply
  123. Paola

    May I also add that we used cold eggs then.

    I will never forget that class because the instructor was literally watching about our every move while were mixing in the eggs, like a vulture ready to attack anyone who would overmix the batter. And I was glas she did.

    Reply
  124. julia d

    OMG I need this recipe…i made a batch this week and last week….two different recipes and the second with chips only to get more cake like brownies with slightly shiny crust but not that crackly one I’m dying for your as in your picture. I don’t get it.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Julia, we used our recipe for Fudge Brownies for this comparison. You can find it through the links in the article or right here. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  125. julia d

    Im convinced it must be the order of mixing. Cuz two different recipes the second recipe with 2C sugars (vs 1 1/2) and chips was super chocolatey and sweet how i think they’re meant to be but didn’t have the crackly top =(

    I would give an A+ for taste but fail for crackly top. Help

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Julia, for the shiniest of crusts, look for a recipe that takes advantage of multiple possibilities – one that calls for dissolving the sugar in melted butter before adding and added chocolate chips got us the furthest. We hope you’ll give our recipe for Fudge Brownies a try soon! Mollie@KAF

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