Three tips from a true brownie aficionado.

 

I don’t bake a lot, but when I do, I bake brownies. (I’m like the ‘Most Interesting Man in the World,’ except I’m a woman and don’t have high-flying adventures, and would almost always rather have a brownie than a beer.)

Brownies are my homemade baked good of choice. Unlike cookies, they are practically impossible to screw up. You can make them in a single bowl without having to get out the stand mixer. You can dress them up or down, depending on your mood—I’ve made them for parties with a generous glug of bourbon, seeds from a vanilla pod, dark chocolate chunks, chopped toasted pecans, and a pinch of flaky salt on top. And I’ve also made a no-frills batch of brownies as quickly as I could, pulled them out of the oven before they were completely done baking, and ate them out of the pan. Both versions were delightful.

This is all to say that making brownies is easy. Slicing brownies is the tricky part. Here are some of my best tips:

1. Let them cool completely

Better yet, once they have cooled, pop them in the refrigerator for an hour to chill. The brownies will have a dense, fudgy texture that is much easier to slice. (This does require patience, and sometimes eating brownies NOW is more important than slicing them neatly.)

2. Grease your knife

Spray the blade of your knife (on both sides) with cooking spray, which will help the blade glide through the bars more smoothly. Between cuts, wipe the knife clean and re-spray. I usually do this step over my kitchen sink to prevent making a greasy mess all over the floor.

3. Don’t “saw” the brownies

The worst way to cut a pan of brownies is to sink the knife in and drag it back and forth. You’ll end up with crumbs all over the knife and brownies with jagged edges. Instead, step back and look at the pan before you carve it up. Decide how many brownies you want, and estimate where you’ll need to cut down and across the pan. Some people might break out a ruler at this point (not me!) to measure and lightly score the top of the brownies. These people work in bakeries or are perfectionists. If, like me, you don’t need the squares to be exactly the same size, you can eyeball this step and will still have good results. Slightly uneven brownies are still delicious brownies.