What Is The Toothpick Test For Baking Brownies?

The toothpick test is a tried-and-true method for many home bakers and is exactly what it sounds like. To test the doneness of whatever you're baking, including brownies, you just poke your baking item with a toothpick. How much or little batter or crumbs stick to the toothpick when you pull it free tells you how done your dish is. In most instances, you want to see little to no residue on the toothpick. This means your baked item is cooked through and there's no raw batter lurking beneath a seemingly cooked exterior. However, this isn't what you'll always look for when baking brownies.

As Baking How explains, you should poke your brownies in two spots — near the edge and in the middle. When you poke the edge portion of your brownies, the toothpick should come away with only a few crumbs (no crumbs at all may mean your brownies are overdone). When you poke the middle, though, you should see a little bit of goo. This is because your brownies will still cook for a few minutes after you remove them from the oven. Ensuring that the brownies are nearly done, but not quite done, in the middle, can protect them from over-baking. Real Simple further recommends using the toothpick test earlier rather than later; if you wait until the end of your recipe's recommended bake time, it might be too late.

No toothpick? There are alternatives

But not everyone keeps toothpicks in the pantry. How can you similarly test your brownies if you don't have a toothpick handy? If you have wooden skewers, like those you'd use for kebabs, you can easily use them the same way. If you're skewer-less, you can test your brownie doneness a few other ways. Baking How says you can use a digital thermometer to check the center of your brownies. Your brownies are done if the temperature reads 165–210 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the temperature, the cakier the brownies.

As you wait for your brownies to cook, take your pan into account, too. As Real Simple explains, your brownies may require less or more time depending on the type of pan used. Dark metal pans cook faster, while glass pans cook slower. Aluminum pans are ideal for achieving even doneness throughout your batch of brownies.

Not quite sure whether your brownies are the perfect doneness? As Fine Cooking notes, it's always better to opt for underdone instead of overdone. Most people like a still-slightly-chewy brownie, but very few like a burnt, dry brownie.