Overcooked a batch of brownies? Don’t throw them away! Burnt brownies can still be used in several ways and you can get a lot out of their flavor too.
What to do with burnt brownies? The flavor of burnt brownies can either be masked or complemented by a range of desserts! You can grind them in a food processor and use them as a topping, or shape them into balls and add a coating of chocolate. You can use them in tiramisu and affogato, too!
Read below to learn more about the uses of burnt brownies, how to be clever about using their flavor to your advantage, and more!
What Do Burnt Brownies Taste Like?
So, you ended up overcooking a batch of brownies — it happens.
The good news is that burnt brownies aren’t necessarily wasted unless they are fully charred.
They can be used in many ways and one might even grow accustomed to their flavor too!
That’s right — some people prefer the taste of slightly overcooked brownies and will purposefully “burn” them to give the brownies an edgy flavor.
But if you are not from that camp, then you can still make do with their altered flavor in genius ways and pretend like you meant to overcook the brownies all along.
Before we explain how to redeem burnt brownies, let’s first define what a burnt brownie is and explore some of the cases where they can be useful.
How “Burnt” Is Burnt?
When it comes to brownies, you need to strike a balance between chocolatey and sweet flavors.
Overcooking the brownies can throw off this balance, but sometimes it can work in your favor too!
See, when you burn something, you add a smoky flavor to it — but there is a fine line between smokey and bitter.
When you cook brownies, the sugar content undergoes a process called caramelization. This chemical reaction is activated via heat and changes the base flavor of the brownies.
Just enough caramelization can lead to deliciously pleasing flavors, and a bit more can add a smoky and deep caramel flavor.
But if you go past the boundary of caramelization, you enter the “point of no return” and introduce striking bitterness — this is usually when you term something as inedible!
With brownies, things are a bit different because they contain a range of sugary and moisture-rich ingredients. So, even if you do end up slightly overcooking them, they will only marginally alter their flavor.
However, if you overcook them at higher temperatures, and for longer, then you may push them towards the point of no return.
This is when the brownies will not taste great — period. And there is nothing you can do to fix it! If you have truly charred your brownies, then you are better off not using them with anything.
Characteristics Of Overcooked Brownies
Here are a few characteristics and guidelines on burnt brownies (and when to avoid using them).
Burned brownies will have the same chocolaty and sweet flavor notes as regular brownies, but you may also get hints of slight smokiness or a deep, caramel-like flavor with smoky undertones.
These flavor notes are considered to be within the “acceptable range,” which means that there is still a lot that you can do with them.
But if the brownies have an overpowering bitterness or a funky flavor, then you should just toss them out — they will not benefit you or your stomach!
Burnt brownies have a particularly dry texture because of the evaporation of excess moisture from the superficial layer of the cake.
If the brownies become hard and chewy but are still edible, then you may be able to use them for other purposes.
But if they are stone-hard and very hard to chew on, then you should consider tossing them — ONLY if they also don’t taste as good (more on this below).
Aromatics play a vital role when cooking and baking, especially if you plan on working with burnt brownies!
Burnt brownies are usually used as a garnish over food — but if their scent is overpowering, then the dessert won’t give off a very good first impression. So, you have to be very smart about using them!
If the brownies smell like dark chocolate and give off a lightly smoky aroma, then they can be used with other sugary ingredients.
For the best results, try going with aromatic dessert options or recipes that center around coffee flavors that can easily work with the flavors of the burnt brownies, instead of just masking them.
On the other hand, if the brownies have a strong and distinctly burnt aroma, then we wouldn’t advise using them in any recipe, especially when it comes to plain flavors such as vanilla or chocolate shakes.
How To Salvage Burnt Brownies
Will burnt brownies taste as great on their own? Not really, but that doesn’t mean that their shortcomings can’t be covered with a few sneaky techniques.
Here are a few great ideas that can help you repurpose burnt brownies!
1. Brownie Balls
This is perhaps the easiest way to reuse burnt brownies. This method not only improves the flavor of the brownies, but also treats their chewy texture as an advantage!
Start by lightly compressing the brownies using a kitchen hammer — or you could also just use your hands. If the brownies are too stubborn to work with, then add a splash of milk and continue smashing them.
Once the brownies have been reduced to a gooey and mashed state, scoop up 2-3 tablespoons and form round brownie balls.
You can change the shape and size of the balls as per your liking, but for the best results, we recommend keeping them bite-sized!
Once the brownies have been shaped, line them up on a baking tray and store them in the freezer for at least 5-8 hours.
The great thing about this method is that the brownie balls can be reused in several different ways. For added fun, garnish with sprinkles, and enjoy!
2. Ground Brownies
If the brownies have a slightly too hard or chewy texture, then we recommend that you grind them up!
Ground brownies can be used in infinite ways and they will add that same distinct brownie-like flavor to any dessert.
Start by cutting the brownies into manageable pieces and then put the pieces in a food processor. Blitz until the brownies turn to a fine powder.
Check the food processor to confirm if all the pieces have been equally processed. A great pro tip would be to use the pulse button in intervals.
Avoid blitzing the brownies for a longer period — they might heat up and take on an even deeper and more undesirable flavor.
Store the powder in an air-tight container and then let it rest in the fridge overnight. Voila! You can use this ground brownie over cakes, muffins, drinks, and (of course) ice cream.
3. Brownies With Ice Cream
If you don’t want to turn the brownies into powder, then you can also try cutting them into small cubes. Add the cubes to your favorite ice cream and pair them with other toppings like crushed biscuits or even candy!
The ice cream will do a great job at not only masking the subpar flavor of the burnt brownies, but it will also complement it, especially if you use the right flavors.
We recommend going with either plain vanilla, caramel, cookies, and cream, or other chocolate-friendly ice cream flavors!
4. Brownie Milkshake
Brownie milkshakes are an excellent way to reuse both undercooked and overcooked brownies. This method is a smart way of covering the lack of texture in imperfect brownies.
Since you will be pairing the burnt brownie with milk and sweet ingredients, the brownies will not just taste great, but they will also give off a very appealing mouthfeel too!
The proper way to go about this method is to first grind the brownies into a fine powder as described in our method above. You can also go for chunky pieces if you don’t want super-fine particles of brownie in your shake.
We recommend cutting the brownies into cubes because all of the ingredients will be going into a blender. So, even if you add large chunks, they will likely end up getting ground in the blender.
A great way to tell when the shake is ready is to check for uniformity. Use a spoon to inspect the consistency of the shake. If you find irregular pieces of brownie in the shake, then process the mixture for another minute or two.
This method will work with any type of shake, but we suggest going with a thicker shake to get the most out of the bits and pieces of the brownie!
5. Brownies With Syrup
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. When in doubt, just add syrup to the brownies and enjoy them with an added flavor boost!
This strategy works well with any type of brownie and is perhaps the best way to get the most out of their lackluster flavor.
You can also add a layer of cream on top of the brownie to improve its dry texture too! The cream layer will superficially moisten the brownie while the syrup will work its magic by providing an interesting combination of flavors!
Try using the brownies as a substitute for pancakes in the morning. Add a few sliced fruits and top it off with syrup for a delicious alternate breakfast option!
Brownie affogato is our favorite way of reusing burnt brownies. If the brownies are only slightly overcooked and don’t have a distinctly smoky flavor or aroma to them, then we highly recommend that you use them to make affogato!
How do we know that this combination will taste great?
Well, affogato is just a pairing of ice cream and an espresso shot! We know that ice cream and burnt brownies work well — so if you add an espresso shot then that would just tie all the flavors together!
Cut the brownie into small pieces, enough for you to be able to suck them up through a straw. Add an espresso shot (or two) and then top it off with ice cream and a bit of brownie sprinkle!
Did you know that you can replace ladyfingers with brownies when making tiramisu?
Not only will this change add a flavorful boost, but it will also introduce a new layer of interesting textures to the dessert!
Ladyfingers are technically soft sponge cakes and even though burnt brownies have different textural characteristics, you can make this combo work by cutting the brownie to size and following the recipe as it is.
Tiramisu is a complex dessert with a wide flavor profile, so the burnt flavors can easily meld between the flavors of the coffee, brandy/liquor, and cream cheese!
What To Pair With Burnt Brownies
If you don’t want to make a separate dessert just for the sake of reusing the brownies, then we recommend that you use singular pairings to get the most out of them.
To make this strategy work, you will need to think in terms of just two characteristics: flavor and texture. First, assess what your batch of burnt brownies needs.
If they taste fine but are dry, then you should focus on reviving their texture by pairing them with dairy ingredients.
A great example of this would be to cut the brownies into small cubes and then pouring milk over them — this would make for an excellent brownie cereal recipe!
If the brownies lack flavor, then you can try pairing them with other flavorful ingredients to cover up their smoky flavor — or conversely, you can also use their burnt flavor notes to your advantage.
Try using nuts or dried fruits to cover up and complement the flavors of the brownies. Just adding simple chocolate syrup can also easily enhance not just the flavor but also the texture of the brownies.
As a last resort, if the flavor and texture of the brownie are beyond redemption, then just grind them and use them as a flavorful garnish, as explained above!
Burnt brownies don’t need to be thrown away! Now that you know all about the ways you can use them, here are some related questions.
Can you fix burnt brownies without repurposing them?
The most practical and viable cure for salvaging burnt brownies is to reuse them in other recipes. The reason for this is that there isn’t a lot that you can do with the brownies after they have been baked.
Had the brownies been undercooked, there could’ve been a few things that would’ve improved their flavor and texture. But for overcooked brownies, you may only have the option to reuse them in clever ways.
How to store burnt brownies?
Store burnt brownies exactly how you would store regular brownies! Brownies usually last 2-3 days in an airtight container if kept at room temperature. You can extend their life by up to a week by storing them in the fridge.
For even longer storage durations, we recommend freezing the brownies. Frozen brownies can last up to 1-2 months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight and enjoy them as usual!
Can burnt brownies make you sick?
This depends on the severity of the burnt brownies.
If the brownies have been charred or have a visible layer of carbon on them, then they could make you ill, but the most damage that burnt brownies can do is usually just an upset stomach.
You should still avoid consuming overburnt brownies if you have a sensitive gut.