Everybody knows and loves brownies - those delicious sweet treats that are crisp and cakey on the outside but soft and chewy in the middle. Whether you prefer soft, cake-like ones or more fudgy or chewy ones, knowing how to store brownies is important, so you can stop them from drying out and becoming stale too fast.
There are lots of brownie recipes to choose from. Whether you choose to make classic chocolate brownies, red velvet brownies, or something a little more unusual such as matcha brownies, read on to find out how to store them to make them last and keep your delicious homemade brownies fresh.
Once you know how to make them, brownies are a really easy dessert to prepare, and you can choose from all kinds of add-ins and flavorings. Not only do I love making homemade brownies but I also enjoy making blondies, which are like brownies but with vanilla rather than chocolate.
Whenever I made something like this, they always disappear so fast. You can keep brownies at room temperature, refrigerated, or even frozen, but they still tend not to last that long - because they get eaten so quickly!
What are Brownies?
Brownies are a baked dessert made with chocolate, famed for their dense, rich texture. They are normally served in rectangles or squares. Typical brownie ingredients include flour, eggs, sugar, butter, and chocolate. Some recipes use other ingredients such as cocoa powder, vanilla, or nuts. They're delicious served warm or cold and can be garnished with powdered sugar whipped cream or fresh fruit.
The exact history of brownies isn't known for sure, but it's thought they originated in the United States in the late 1800s. One of the most accepted stories about how they were created involves a cook who forgot to add baking powder to a chocolate cake recipe. The result was a fudgy, dense dessert that was delicious and therefore caught on fast.
The 1897 Sears, Roebuck catalog contained the first known brownie recipe, calling for just butter, flour, sugar, eggs, and chocolate. Today there are hundreds of different types including egg-free and dairy-free versions. There are brownie recipes for just about any dietary requirement so you should be able to find the perfect recipe for you and then you can make warm brownies whenever you wish.
Brownies can be fudgy, cakey or chewy, or even a mixture of the three. Fudgy brownies will have a moist, gooey texture and are made using more fat (such as butter or oil and chocolate) and less flour. The baking time is short and you can expect a soft, dense, rich inside.
Cakey brownies are more cake-like in consistency, although they are still moist brownies. They usually call for more flour and perhaps also baking powder or another leavening agent. They are often baked for longer than fudgy brownies.
And then finally there are chewy brownies that fall somewhere between fudgy and cakey ones in terms of texture. They have a medium amount of flour and fat so they are both dense and elastic. A lot of these recipes call for both brown and white sugar, as the brown sugar will help make the brownies chewy.
How to Buy Brownies
If you're buying brownies from the store, you have the choice of using a packaged mix or buying readymade brownies. If you'll want to eat them the same day, you can use either or, if you will make them at a future date, packaged mixes are always good to stash in the pantry.
You never know when you'll want to bake a huge batch of brownies or cater for a party. Plus, when that brownie craving hits, nothing else will do!
Better still, you can make your own brownies since they're so easy! Each recipe is slightly different so you can choose what ingredients you want to include and what type of flavor and texture you'd like your homemade brownies to have.
Brownies from the bakery or store-bought brownies should be fine for a few days. If they're commercially produced it's just a case of reading the “best by” date printed on the packaging. Read on to learn the best ways to store brownies to keep them fresh. Letting brownies go bad is such a waste of a wonderful recipe.
How to Store Brownies
Although brownies served still warm from the oven are amazing, it's unlikely you will be able to finish the entire tray (well unless you have a huge family or you're throwing a party!) so you need to know the easiest way to preserve them and the best storage options. That way you can get a few extra days out of your batch of brownies and enjoy them for longer before you have to make more.
- Let brownies cool to room temperature and then wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil (or divide them between sealed plastic containers) and keep them at room temperature. Some people like to keep them in airtight glass jars or even cookie jars with a tight-fitting lid which would also work.
- If there are any perishable ingredients on top of the brownies, like a cream cheese frosting or other dairy-based frostings, or you have added dairy mix-ins, refrigerate them in an airtight container instead. Keeping dairy ingredients at room temperature is just asking for food poisoning.
- You can freeze individual brownies wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil (to prevent freezer burn) and then put them into a Ziploc freezer bag or Ziploc bags or an airtight container.
- If you prefer to freeze a whole slab of brownies or a tray of brownies, plan ahead by lining the baking pan with parchment paper before adding the brownie batter. When cooked and cooled, you can lift them out of the tray, wrap them in plastic wrap and then foil, and freeze.
- To thaw brownies, either leave them on a plate at room temperature for a couple of hours or microwave them at 15-second intervals at 20% power.
Whichever recipe you happen to use, it's fair to say that when stored at room temperature, fresh brownies should be fine for a few days. When stored in the fridge, they might keep for up to a week.
You can freeze them for up to 2 months or a bit longer if you don't mind the quality degrading a bit.
As for unopened boxed brownie mixture, that should be fine stored for a year in the pantry or somewhere cool, dry, and dark. You can also look at the "best by" date printed on the packaging.
One of the best tips to extend the life of your baked goods and ensure you don't end up with dry brownies the next day is to add a slice of bread on top, to absorb any moisture. This makes the brownies last longer.
I like to add multiple slices of bread on top, to cover the brownies, and it really does help extend their life and preserve that wonderful just-baked flavor and texture.
How to Spot if Brownies Are Bad
Although knowing how to store brownies is the best way to prolong their life, it's also wise to know how to tell when they spoil, since eating old brownies might give you a stomach ache or something worse.
Just like any other baked goods, brownies can spoil if stored incorrectly or kept for too long. The fact there are so many different recipes for brownies is good because it means there is plenty of variety but it also means there are no hard, fast rules when it comes to brownies' shelf life.
Brownies that are bad might change color on different parts of the brownie or have an unpleasant or sour smell. They might be rock-hard. Mold is a sure sign they are spoiled and must be thrown out. If they're just a little dried out, they should still be safe to consume but do use your own judgment.
A lot of recipes for baked goods will tell you to poke a toothpick into the middle of the brownies and, if it comes out clean, they're done. The problem with brownies is the toothpick should have some chocolate on it unless you've over-baked the brownies because they're supposed to be fudgy in the middle. It's a good idea to rotate the tray halfway through the recommended cooking time, for an even result, but another great way to ensure your brownies are done is to look at the top. If it's set and glossy, rather than wiggly, the brownies are ready.
Some of the best brownie recipes call for cocoa powder rather than chocolate, but you can still make tasty brownies using chocolate. The key isn't to use expensive artisan chocolate or cheap chocolate chips but go for a happy medium. As well as opting for this middle ground, it's best to use a bar of chocolate instead of chocolate chips because the latter has preservatives and stabilizers which can compromise the taste of the chocolate as well as make it melt differently. If you do want to use chocolate chips, choose a good brand that doesn't have a lot of ingredients.
Whether you're making brownies from scratch or whipping up some boxed ones, your recipe is going to call for some type of fat - either oil or butter. Olive oil will add a pleasant bitter tang to the brownies as well as a fruity touch, while vegetable oil yields a plain flavor. Coconut oil is also nice to use with brownie mix, especially if you want that delicate aroma of coconut in the resulting brownies. There are other options besides, such as avocado or Greek yogurt, but if you're new to baking you'll probably want to master the classic recipe before experimenting.
- Melting instead of creaming the butter results in a dense, rich brownie while using only a little flour and leaving out the baking powder makes them even more fudgy. Using more flour and less butter has the opposite effect and makes them more cake-like than fudge-like.
- Blondies are similar to brownies but they don't contain chocolate. Instead, most blondie recipes use vanilla as a flavoring. Both are delicious - which do you like best?
- December 8 is National Brownie Day, so make sure you rustle up a batch to celebrate the occasion in style!
Once you know how to store brownies to keep them fresh, you might like to try making different kinds of brownies as a special treat for the family. Brownies always make a good option for dessert, especially when paired with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. They're great for dessert after dinner or for a special occasion, and the shelf life of brownies means you can make them ahead.