when wrinkles are a good thing


Everyone, or at least brownie fans, has their own ideal brownie. The die-hard cake-lovers would only serve their brownies cakey and fluffy, the serious chocoholics frolic in the dark and fudgey squares, while the moderates enjoy to tread the path between the two aforementioned camps.

Remember I mentioned a gem of a book in the previous entry? As if the life-changing banana flapjacks wasn’t enough, this is another proof that the understated Sue Lawrence’s Book of Baking is truly a gem.

Chewy, moist, fudgey, oh-so-chocolatey, and topped with a gorgeous crackly wrinkled crust;– I couldn’t ask for more in a decadent 2-inch square.


In my never-ending quest for the perfect brownie, I came across what became a staple recipe in my household. It was fudgey, chewy, and most importantly, takes only about fifteen minutes to whip up. But just like how seasons change, palates evolve over time, and I found myself yearning for a little something more. This recipe for dark muscovado brownies filled that gap for me.

As much as I am a fan of cocoa powder in bakes, there is a certain chocolate decadence that can never be replicated without the presence of melted chocolate. And when you pair that with the rich molasses from dark muscovado sugar, you’re most certainly on the right path to sheer brownie bliss.


But the best part of these brownies for me? The glossy paper-thin crackly crust adorning the top of the brownies, as of protecting the fudgey chocolate surprise awaiting you beneath it. I don’t know when it was exactly, but it had almost become a personal obsession of mine to be on the lookout for this gorgeous crackly crust.

Some says it depends on how aggressively you beat the batter, Jacque Torres attributes it to the type of sugar you use, the hardworking people from King Arthur Flour claims that it is the result of melting butter and sugar together, while Alice Medrich writes in Bittersweet that the crust is due to the heating of chocolate before adding other ingredients.

Whatever the speculated science behind it, all I know is that melted chocolate plus dark muscovado sugar plus shiny crackly crust most definitely equals to the end of perfect brownie search.

Dark Muscovado Brownies
(adapted from Sue Lawrence’s Book of Baking)

350 gm dark chocolate (60-70 per cent cocoa solids)
200 gm unsalted butter
250 gm dark muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
70 gm plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Butter bottom and sides of a deep 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. Stir and mix until smooth.
  3. In a bowl, combine well the sifted flour, and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, put in the sugar, making sure to break up lumps if there are any.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add this to the melted chocolate; combine well.
  6. Add in the flour mixture, gently folding together.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Cut into squares or desired serving sizes in the pan before allowing to cool completely. Remove from pan.

46 thoughts on “when wrinkles are a good thing

  1. the mister

    Wahhhhhh….. These look gooooooooooooood!!!

    And seriously, you have such a way with words!



    Although I have to ask : No ice cream to go along this time? πŸ˜›

  2. Hélène

    You have me drooling over the pics. I love brownies. With real chocolate and dense in the middle. I almost undercook them to make sure they are dense. Beautifuls pics.

  3. ovenhaven Post author

    Zita: Ice-cream is good for wrinkles? That’s the first I heard! πŸ˜‰

    Helene: Thanks, dearie. Nothing quite hits the spot like dense and fudgy brownies πŸ™‚

    grace: Awww, thanks sweetie!

  4. Indigo

    OH, these look perfect! The best recipe I’ve found to date is the ‘Baked’ brownie (you know, the brooklyn bakery), but I never turn away a dark, fudgy brownie. I might have to try, just in the interests of science…!

  5. ovenhaven Post author

    Patricia Scarpin: Thanks, sweetie! πŸ™‚

    The Little Teochew: Haha, guess I’m a brownie-holic that way πŸ˜‰

    Indigo: I’ve heard so much about the Baked brownie, and bookmarked it. Gonna get a copy from the library and I’ll give it a go! Of course, it’s in the name of science, as well… *looks at expanding waistline* πŸ˜›

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  7. ovenhaven Post author

    Karine: Thank you! And thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

    jean: Thanks, sweetie πŸ™‚

    amy: That sounds great! Can’t wait to see your photos. Oh, happy belated birthday, sweetz! πŸ™‚

    19thmayflower: You’re welcome, dearie. Glad you loved it! πŸ™‚ Muscovado sugar is an unrefined brown sugar, but the molasses taste is stronger. If you can’t find it in stores, you can easily substitute it with dark brown sugar.

  8. rachel

    hey i just used your recipe and baked for 30-35min. but the whoel thing was running and not solid. kinda liquidy. is tht normal, like will it solidfy when it cools?

  9. ovenhaven Post author

    Hi Rachel, you may remove the brownies from the oven when a skewer inserted in the center has moist crumbs attached to it. It’s not supposed to be runny. There are several reasons why your brownies could be runny:-

    (1) Check your oven temperature (different ovens work differently; having an oven thermometer to understand your oven’s temperament is good);
    (2) Do note that the recipe calls for 9-inch square pan, not the usual 8-inch square typically used for brownie recipes (different sizes call for different baking times); or
    (3) If you’re using volume instead of metric (conversions may not be precise).

    The brownies will definitely firm up upon cooling, but I don’t think it should be runny. I cooled mine for about an hour before cutting it up, and it’s definitely firmer. If you have any further clarifications I can help you with, feel free to drop me a mail at ovenhaven(at)gmail(dot)com!

  10. Trisha

    I didn’t realise everyone’s doing brownies at the moment!!! Mmmm I agree – “Whatever the speculated science behind it, all I know is that melted chocolate plus dark muscovado sugar plus shiny crackly crust most definitely equals to the end of perfect brownie search.”

  11. ovenhaven Post author

    Trisha: I didn’t realise it either, until I saw your post on bakebakebake πŸ˜› Yours look great, btw. I hope to give it a go soon πŸ™‚

    hannah: I got mine from Phoon Huat.

  12. guowei

    i’ve always been a big fan of your recipes for brownies and i still absolutely love the fudgey cocoa brownies that seemed to be your fav till now! (:
    but what’s the texture and taste difference of this and that brownie?
    though i’m not exactly the biggest fan of the crackly skin thing hurhur.

  13. ovenhaven Post author

    Glad to hear you love the cocoa brownies as much as I do πŸ™‚ I’d say that the main difference would lie in its texture. The cocoa brownies are firmer and chewy, whereas this one tastes somewhat like flourless chocolate cake; like a serious chocolate shot to your brain πŸ˜› It’s not firm at all, and is somewhere between soft and gooey. With the cocoa brownies, I can easily stack each slice on top of another, but these muscovado brownies are pretty fragile, and take quite some time to firm up.

  14. ovenhaven Post author

    Hi ida, no problem. I used Phoon Huat’s dark couverture chocolate, but there’s lots of dark chocolate you can use. If you’re splurging, you can look out for Valrhona chocolate. Otherwise, you can give Carrefour’s chocolate (it’s housebrand) a go; it’s really good and affordable too! Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  15. Malin

    I just love that crackly wrinkled surface, but my brownies never really turn out looking like that. Now that, together with chewy edges and a fudgy center would be the ultimate brownie!

  16. Alison

    MMMMMMMMM….I just got around to making these…and the key was, I made them in the morning, worked out, and then rewarded myself with one…then two, then one for breakfast the next day…haha! TOO good, and I got the cracked top as well, very very impressed!

    They are STILL moist and delicious a few days later…definitely an awesome recipe to keep when I decide everyone needs a serious chocolate fix!:D Thank you for posting this! I think I should be good and try that rice pudding and make some mango…at least, I’ll feel that’s a bit better than delicious addicting brownies;D

  17. ovenhaven Post author

    Haha, your comment totally made me LOL! Nothing spells reward like a good brownie, even if it means negating the workout just by a lil bit πŸ˜› Glad you loved them as much as I did!

  18. Atiq

    Hey, I just baked these today! πŸ˜€

    I got the ‘wrinkles’ too! Hehe.

    Despite the mistake – forgetting the baking powder after I poured the batter into the baking pan and having to pour it back to the mixing bowl and then add in the baking powder – it still turned out good and yummmmmyyyyyy!

    Thanks for the recipe, teehee.

  19. ovenhaven Post author

    You’re welcome, sweetz. Glad they turned out well for you! Aren’t the wrinkles just the prettiest of things on brownies? *swoonz* πŸ˜›

  20. Atiq

    What I mean by good is the taste but mind turned out to be a tad too soft?

    I can’t remove the brownies from the pan like how you did in your pictures. 😦 I followed every single step though.

    Any idea why?

    Nevertheless, it’s addictive! Can’t stop binging on it. πŸ˜€

  21. ovenhaven Post author

    If you’re referring to the texture, they’re most certainly soft. Given that it only calls for 70g flour, the texture’s akin to an almost-flourless cake rather than your typical sturdy brownie. This is definitely not a brownie to pack into your picnic basket, lest the top/shape gets mooshed up.

    However, if you’re referring to the slicing, if you can’t slice a brownie neatly, that means it hasn’t cooled enough. While the recipe states cooling it for 30mins, it’s really up to your discretion, particularly given the local humidity. I usually tend to ‘forget’ about my brownies until almost an hour later. If you’re rushed for time though, you can always pop them in the fridge/freezer, and then cut them neatly.

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  23. dayah

    Oooh! I look out for the same thing too when I bake brownies. It’s like a personal satisfaction each time I see the papery skin because I know for sure the brownies would be chewy and fudgey, just the way I like it. Glad to know that somebody else is sharing the same obsession πŸ™‚

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  25. Frannie

    I made these yesterday and they were terrible! I followed the recipe exactly, with all the ingredients weighed for accuracy. The only change I made was to bake the brownies in a deep, 9-inch quiche pan with removable bottom. I tested with a toothpick and got the moist crumbs as directed. after 30 minutes I cut the brownies and waited to cool completely.

    I got no shiny wrinkles and the brownies came out like dark chocolate SAND! Awful!

    What could possibly have caused this expensive disaster???


    1. ovenhaven Post author

      Hi Frannie, sorry your attempt didn’t turn out well! Several others have made it successfully (see comments above).

      A couple of things to note:-
      1) If it ends up like sand, it’s obviously not cooked long enough. Why? Because…
      2) 9-inch round is not equivalent to 9-inch square. The volume will be higher, hence the need to bake longer and at a lower temp for it to be fully cooked.
      3) When you said moist crumbs, it must’ve been moist batter instead. Moist crumbs means you have bits of the brownie (crumbs), but they stick to the tester, unlike cakes where it comes off clean. It should still be bits, not smearing the whole tester with batter that you can wipe off.
      4) Because the brownie wasn’t baked properly (I’d say it was only 50% in the oven vis-a-vis 80% in the oven then 20% upon cooling), even the 30min wait (where the brownie continues cooking) couldn’t help.
      5) The lack of a shiny crust also points to same reason; your brownies have not finished cooking.

      Hope that helps.

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