I recently got a new cookbook and it recommends margarine for brownies instead of butter. I have never baked with margarine before and my brownies always seem to be fine, but this is the only recipe in the book that calls for margarine. What gives? What kind of difference will margarine make vs butter?
Hello fellow cooker :) , by description
- Butter: Most frequently made from cow's milk, butter can also be manufactured from the milk of other mammals, including sheep, goats, buffalo, and yaks. Salt (such as dairy salt), flavorings (such as garlic) and preservatives are sometimes added to butter. Rendering butter, removing the water and milk solids, produces clarified butter or ghee, which is almost entirely butterfat. wiki
- Margarine: Whereas butter is made from the butterfat of milk, modern margarine is made mainly of refined vegetable oil and water, and may also contain milk. In some places in the United States, it is colloquially referred to as oleo, short for oleomargarine.2 In Britain it can be referred to colloquially as marge. wiki
So with margarine, brownies will be "lighter" and not so rich as with butter because it has not the same "fat" as butter. That's also from personal experience as i make brownies with margarine.
Baking with butter has two major advantages over other fats: 1. Flavour. Shortenings are flavorless, but butter has a smoother and more desirable flavour, adding more taste to baking and pastries. 2. Melting qualities. Butter melts in the mouth. Shortenings or lards do not. After eating pastries or icings made with shortening, you might find and unpleasant film or coating in your mouth. searched
EDIT: i really forgot to answer the primary question "Is margarine necessary for my brownies?"... the Answer is yes and no. it's all about what you like the most! Except this consider that the cooking art is all about a try/failure duo and a little bit of "alchemy" (i like this terminology :D )
Different fats have a different melting behavior when baking. So it is entirely possible that the recipe has been finely tuned to work best with margarine, and it will be worse with butter. Of course, it is also possible that it is just the ingredient the author prefered to use, and that butter will work without much noticeable difference.
So the only thing you can do is, as with all substitutions, to make a personal test. First, make the original recipe. (Do not start with the substitution!) After you have a feeling for how the original is supposed to work, make a substituted version. I promise you there will be a difference, but it is unclear whether it will be large enough for you to notice, and if yes, whether you will prefer to make the substitution or not. So, you will have to make your own decision which version you prefer.