Best way to cleanly cut brownies?
So, I'm on a brownie kick, and am currently playing around with baking batches of brownies in 9"x13" pans. I want each batch to yield 15 brownies (so I'm aiming for brownies that are around 3"x2.5") and I'd like them to look as presentable as possible (e.g. like these guys).
So far, I've read suggestions like:
- use a warm blade, wiping it down after every cut
- let the brownies cool in the pan until room temperature (~ 2 hours), chill in the fridge or freezer, then cut
- use a plastic knife
- forgo the entire process and bake in muffin tins.
Do any of the experts here have any time-tested advice? Or if people subscribe to any of the above methods, can they elaborate a bit more? For example, if you believe in the warm blade method, what type of blade would you suggest?
The brownie mix I'm using has chocolate chips in it if that helps anyone.
Wouldn't it be easier to yield 16 brownies per batch rather than 15 by cutting it 4 x 4? I say that because it is easier to get similar sized brownies if you are cutting by even numbers. By cutting down the center, then cutting down the center of each sides. If you are cutting in odd numbers (3 x 5) you will have to eyeball where to cut. Unless you are using a ruler :)
I usually wait for them to cool but I sometimes opt for the 5th option- Forget about the clean squares and eat the hot brownies with a spoon! (with ice cream.)
I can't select either of the above answers as the best answer for the following reason:
The brownie I'm making is meant to be "gooey", and even after cooling for 2 hours, and then chilling in the fridge for another 30 minutes, the the upper-half brownie still remained fudge-like. I ended up using Jay's suggestion to eye-ball a 4x4 grid, however I didn't use a hot knife. I used a plastic knife with an up-and-down sawing motion and got fantastic results. The cuts were as clean as you could ask for, and the entire process didn't take more than 5-10 minutes.
As an aside: I decided to forgo the "aluminum foil sling" and just spray the 9"x13" pan with PAM, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray it down one more time. The brownie "loaf" came out with zero fuss and had a perfect looking crust.
edit: I plan on experimenting with 2 large metal rulers to score the loaf, instead of eyeballing the grid.
+1 for the plastic knife ... my neighbor showed me it, and it's impressive how well they work when you're cutting still-warm brownies. And if you're going to be making the same sized grid on the same sized pan ... make a template; find some cardboard larger than the pan, cut a hole so you can place it over the pan and still cut everything, then mark your grid. When it comes time to cut, place it on, put a straight-edge across it, then cut w/ your plastic knife and it's perfect every time.