brownies

It’s not like it happens every time, but maybe sixty percent of the time, when I’m making brownies, I experience something upsetting.

Let me start by saying, I follow the recipe to a tee. I whisk the batter according to the directions, I put the ooey gooey mix into the oven only after it’s been pre-heated to the exact temperature on the box, and I set the timer so I don’t let them get a second overcooked.

And at first it always seems like everything is going to be okay. While the dessert is baking, my apartment fills up with the most heavenly aroma of cocoa and butter and eggy chocolatey goodness and I can hardly wait to take my first bite…

I let them cool for 10-20 minutes, waiting patiently for that perfect first taste and then…

There’s something hard and stringy in my brownie.

It makes me want to cry.

I don’t know if it’s the egg yolk cooking through because I didn’t properly combine it with the powdered ingredients, or if it’s the PAM spray solidifying when exposed to heat, or if the sugar starts to harden and crystalize before the rest of the mix, but for WHATEVER reason, something is NOT right.

It’s not in every bite either. It’s like the brownie god is fucking with my head. Those weird chewy bits are probably only taking up 1/16th of the pan but it feels like they’re unavoidable. I start to second-guess every bite. Is it there, is it not? I spit out dark soggy brownie mess into my napkin and inspect it, hoping for answers. But nothing.

It totally turns me off brownies and now I have a whole pan just sitting on my counter taunting me.

I googled “weird stringy things in brownies” and nothing of use came up.

Google did try to direct me towards some seriously unfortunate medical issues when I typed “weird stringy things” into the search bar, but luckily I managed to avoid that disaster of a search history.

The good news? I’m thoroughly disgusted to the point of feeling a little sick and gaggy so I probably won’t eat anything for the rest of the day… best diet technique ever? Or maybe it’s just time to make cookies instead.

20 thoughts on “When Something Inexplicable Ruins My Brownies

  1. Kat, the same thing happened to me, and I googled ‘hard stringy bits in brownies’ and found your post. I read another blog and folks speculate it is the mix sticking to those yucky egg-sac yolk umbilical cords that are not mixed well enough with the powder. Maybe next time I will use the mixer instead of hand-mixing. I plucked two or three of the disgusting hard messy strings from my last batch. Hopefully the kids dont get one in their pieces.

    1. It’s just the WORST. I discovered it IS related to the eggs not being blended enough. The key is to combine the eggs, water, and oil and mix very well before adding the dry mix. Since I started doing this, I haven’t had a problem. Happy baking!

      1. Same here, though I try to remove the white stuff from the eggs but not overmix. Next time I think I will sift the dry ingredients, mix it in small batches, and run the eggs through a strainer to remove any funny stuff.

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Your post was the only one on Google that addressed my same problem. It seriously turns me off of brownies in a heartbeat and then I end up tossing the rest. I’ll have to try mixing the wet ingredients up really well before adding the dry mix. I hope that works or I may never eat another brownie again. That’s a lie. I will simply eat them with extreme trust issues.

    1. Yes! That’s the trick. You need to mix all the wet ingredients together first and THEN add the dry. Good luck and be careful out there in brownie-eating world…

  3. It’s part of the egg, called the Chalaza : either of a pair of spiral bands in the white of a bird’s egg that extend from the yolk and attach to opposite ends of the lining membrane

  4. Thank you so much for this. I thought the chewy bits were worms! Still, totally messed with your head. Glad I finally have the answer!

  5. I do believe now it has something to do with mixing the wet ingredients well together first. I noticed the Ghiradelli box brownies produced brownies sans plastic-y bits. At first, I thought it was the quality of the box mix, now I believe it’s their directions to mix the wet ingredients well before incorporating the dry.

  6. SO helpful! We thought it looked like rubbery chicken skin in the mix or something as we sort of “unrolled” it out of the brownies to figure it out!

    1. It’s SOOO gross, isn’t it? Luckily, a little extra stirring of the egg, water, and oil before you add the mix in seems to fix the issue. Good luck with future brownie making!

  7. I have been making brownies for 20 years and NEVER experienced this until last night! I was so creeped out! It seemed like egg white not mixed well enough, but I was using a different mix than normal and was afraid it was a bad mix. Thank you for the post letting me know I’m not crazy and all the comments telling me how to avoid it on the future!

    1. Isn’t it just the CRAZIEST thing? It had never happened to me either and I felt like there was no information about it online when I first started investigating. Glad to be of help. And good luck with future brownie making. Hopefully you can avoid those weird rubbery tendrils in the future. Not appetizing!

    2. I’ve made them for years also never had it happen before I made a brownie cake pulled it out washed the chocolate off and it’s clear and rubbery. So gross made me feel a little better knowing it happened to others but I’m throwing the rest away yuck

      1. Oh wow, I can’t imagine looking at the gross rubbery part on its own. Yuck!! I do love that so many other people have had this weird baking experience though. Makes me feel like I’m part of the ruined brownie gang 😉

  8. I’ve been cooking for over 30 years and have never had it happen until tonight. I’m interested to know if we all used the same brownie mix or different mixes. I used Duncan Hines, milk chocolate, family size, extra thick and fudgy.

    1. I’ve had issues using the same Duncan Hines mix as well as the Ghiradelli double chocolate brownie mix (when I didn’t follow directions properly). I’ve since learned that really whipping up the eggs with the water and oil BEFORE adding the mix really makes a difference!

  9. I really wish this info. was in other places online. I’m glad I found it though. Finding these weird stringy pieces in my brownies has actually happened to me every so often for years and I finally just thought to google it. I feel likes it’s odd that this isn’t brought up clearly on brownie mix boxes or brownie recipes everywhere. I am very thankful to know now what to do to avoid this forever in the future because I love brownies

    1. I’ve always thought that! I wish the brownie box mixes explained the consequences of messing up the recipe instructions. Glad this helped though! And good luck on your future brownie baking endeavors 🙂

  10. I googled – ghiradelli brownies rubber pieces, and I also thank you for this post.

    30+ years of baking and it first happened this year when using Ghiradelli sweet cocoa for brownies from scratch. I sifted all my ingredients, stored in the cupboard, wondering where it was coming from. This weekend I made a Ghiradelli box brownie mix and it happened again.

    In scratch brownies I use melted butter, and no oil. And oddly it doesn’t seem to happen when I make scratch brownies with hershey cocoa.

    I have always made brownies the same way, so it is hard to wrap my head around it suddenly being the way the egg is mixed in! But I will be mindful in the future, because it is an embarrassment when my guests find these pieces.

    And it only happens when I make brownies, not any other baked goods.

    Can you believe 4 years after your original post, that you are still going strong on this subject!?
    All us head-scratching bakers thank you!

    1. Hey Jane — So glad I could help you out here and good to know it only seems to be an issue with Ghirardelli’s cocoa. They do seem to have an especially unique consistency to the powder so it’s possible it binds to the egg differently during the mixing process. Thanks for the comment and hopefully you’ll avoid baking mishaps in the future now that you’re “in the know”! Happy brownie making!

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