Alton Brown's Trick For Crispier Brownie Crust

You know the moment: You're at a potluck, or maybe a school function, or a family gathering. You don't know everyone there, so you head over to the food tables to avoid awkward small talk. You figure you'll check out the dessert table first. Life is short.

You're perusing the sweets when suddenly you lay eyes on it — a tray of brownies. You take one. (Maybe two?) You bite in and... magic! They're gooey on the inside and perfectly crispy on the top. You begin to wonder how they did it, but you decide it must be some sort of culinary wizardry that you'll never understand. But you'd be wrong. There is an answer, but first...

The humble brownie was invented in Chicago back in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel, according to Forbes. At the time, socialite and philanthropist, Bertha Palmer was organizing lunches for the Women's Pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (a sort of World's Fair of that day). Palmer wanted a desert that could fit into boxed lunches and the pastry chefs at the hotel delivered.

How to get that perfect texture

While brownies are fairly easy to make, the difficulty always seems to lie in how to get that perfect texture when baking them. You want a gooey brownie with a crispy crust, but if you under bake them they're runny, and you run the risk of salmonella. If you over bake them, they dry out. Alton Brown has a hack, however, that can help.

According to Brown the trick is to bake them twice. You can use your favorite brownie recipe but then employ the following technique: Bake for 15 minutes at the temperature assigned to the recipe, then pull the brownies out and let them cool for 15 minutes. Next, put the pan back into the oven and cook them until an instant read thermometer reads 195 degrees Fahrenheit. For Brown's recipe this takes about 30 minutes, but you can check them after 20 minutes to gage where you're at.

So next time you want to wow someone at the potluck/school function/family gathering, try this trick and when the guest's eyes pop out of their head, you'll have something way more interesting to talk about than the weather.