Brownies vs Chocolate Cake = the ultimate showdown! If you have ever wondered what the main differences are between brownies and chocolate cake, look no further. These two decadent desserts have distinct texture, flavors and ways of decorating. Let's find out what makes them similar and different!
Trust me when I say I absolutely love both brownies and chocolate cake. I mean, what isn't to love?! Chocolate lovers everywhere will agree that there is nothing quite like these rich, chocolatey desserts. But it is an interesting question to ask-- what makes brownies and chocolate cake different? They both have flour, cocoa powder, eggs, and sugar, right? So how are they two different things?
While I was studying in culinary school, these kinds of questions came up a lot. We had to really study the way that different ingredients interact with each other and what their functions are, especially in baking. So, let's talk about why these two desserts have similar ingredients (although not exactly the same), and what makes them have similarities and differences.
The Main Differences
One of the first differences that comes to mind when thinking about brownies vs chocolate cake is the texture. Have you ever noticed how brownies instantly get stuck to your teeth? While annoying, it is also the quintessential experience of eating brownies. Brownies are denser texture that is often chewy and fudgy. Whereas chocolate cake is lighter, more melt in your mouth, and has a fluffier texture to it.
The differences that you notice in texture between chocolate cake and brownies are due to the difference in ingredients.
Brownies and cake both have flour, butter/oil, sugar and eggs. However, most chocolate cake recipes will call for baking powder and baking soda which leavens the cake and makes it fluffy in the oven. The result is a lighter texture. Of course, there are different types of cakes that are mixed differently or have slightly different ingredients whit results in a variety of textures. But generally speaking, chocolate cake is not as dense or fudgy as brownies due to leavening agents.
Brownies don't usually call for any baking powder or baking soda, which explains their dense texture. My own personal favorite way to make brownies is by whipping the egg whites, which adds a little bit of aeration to the batter and gives the brownies a little lift, but not as much lift as a chemical leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda would do. You might find a few brownie recipes that do include leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda, but it is probably in a small about, which will result in slightly cakey brownies.
I also like to add melted chocolate to brownies, which gives it a super rich flavor that you just don't find with chocolate cake!
So the main ingredients difference between brownies and chocolate cake is a leavening agent. There aren't that many significant differences between the two recipes, which goes to show how delicate baking is and how one ingredients can completely change a recipe!
Another big difference between brownies and chocolate cake is the different ways they are decorated and presented. Chocolate cake is usually frosted and can be served as a birthday cake or a dessert for special occasions. You can top a chocolate cake with just about anything- chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, or a german chocolate topping! Candles go well on top of a chocolate cake, too. One down side of chocolate cake is that you have to serve chocolate cake at room temperature (instead of warm like you can with a brownie), since you have to let it cool before frosting it!
Brownies are more rustic, and often aren't decorated at all. I personally love to top mine with a thick chocolate ganache, but brownies are so good on their own! They are usually cut into little squares, instead of slices like a cake. And they go amazingly with a scoop of ice cream when they are served warm straight from the oven!
You can make chocolate cake into a german chocolate cake or maybe you can get creative with the fillings and make something like a raspberry chocolate cake. But the cake itself is generally always going to be chocolate flavored for it to be classified as a chocolate cake.
Brownies can be combined with tons of flavors like peanut butter, Oreos, marshmallows, chocolate chips, or even caramel! You can even make a combo of brownies + blondies (YUM). But brownies and chocolate cakes are definitely combined with different flavors in different ways.
It might be difficult at times to find that many differences between a chocolate cake and a brownie. For instance, have you ever had a flourless chocolate cake? That ooey, gooey absolutely delicious creation is quite similar to a brownie if you ask me! It is just in the shape of a cake, but the cake batter contains no flour and is therefore a gluten-free chocolate cake.
There is also a dessert that is called chocolate brownie cake, which is really a perfect mix between the two. It is essentially a dense chocolate cake, which actually sounds so good! It takes a box of chocolate cake mix and blends it with a box of brownie mix, which results in an amazing chocolate flavor that is sure to curb any chocolate craving!
After writing this much about brownies vs chocolate cake, I think I have decided that I might be #teambrownies. Especially made-from-scratch homemade brownies. Not the cake mix brownies. My own personal experience with brownies might be better since I live in a high-altitude location. A raising agent just adds one more thing in the mix that could potentially go wrong in the oven. Chocolate cake is kind of hard to get right when you live in a high altitude area! If you are having trouble with your chocolate cake sinking, you should try decreasing the sugar by about 1 tablespoon and increasing the flour by 1 tablespoon.
But even if you don't live in a high altitude area, brownies are objectively easier to make than a full on chocolate cake. They come out of the oven ready to eat, with a crusty caramelized layer on top. Chocolate cake has to cool, and then you have to make the frosting and ice it! And if you're making a layer cake, it is an even more complicated process. Let's normalize making brownies for birthdays and sticking a candle on top and calling it good!
Brownie & Chocolate Cake Recipes to Try
I haven't personally tried making all of these recipes, but these are some brownie and chocolate cake recipes that looked really good to me! I hope you give them a try: