Trust me, I’m not searching the world for recipes that are a heart attack on a plate, but sometimes things are just too good not to try. Brownies (more about their history below) are one of those wonderful food creations that can be eaten at almost anytime. Great for tea-time, on picnics and even as a dessert after good meal (just add a spoon of ice cream). This one has extra chocolate chunks running through it – I used mostly dark chocolate but the choice is yours. I have a recipe for a brownie cake, squidgy on top with wonderful chocolate goo on the base. When I’ve tried it I will share it. Well, maybe.
Cuts into 16 squares or 32 triangles. Ready in 1 hour (inc cooling)
- 185g unsalted butter
- 185g best dark chocolate
- 85g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 50g white chocolate
- 50g milk chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
1. Cube the butter, break the dark chocolate into small pieces and drop both into a medium bowl and sit the bowl over a saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, but don’t let it touch the water. Put on a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. While this lot is cooling, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn it to fan 160C/conventional180C/gas 4. Line a shallow 20cm square tin with a square of non-stick baking parchment.
3. Sieve flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl, getting rid of any lumps. Then with a large sharp knife, chop the white and milk chocolate into chunks on a board so you end up with rough squares.
5. Eggs and sugar go into a large bowl, whisk using an electric mixer on maximum speed until they look thick and creamy, think of a milkshake. Don’t skimp on this (it can take up to 8 minutes if your mixer is slow). When it is really pale and about double its original volume or the falling mixture leaves a trail on the surface it’s done.
6. Pour the chocolate mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold them together with a spatula until the colour is a dark brown. Don’t knock out the out the air, you need it, so be as gentle and as slow you can.
7. Hold the sieve over the bowl of the mixture and resift the cocoa and flour, covering the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder, it is going to look dry and dusty at first but it will soon end up looking fudgy. Stop just before you feel you have done enough. Finally, stir in chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout.
8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level it, then into the oven for 25 minutes. Test to see if it’s done. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not push it back in the oven, or check with a toothpick; if it comes out clean it’s done.
9. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then you can cut it. This will keep in an airtight container for two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.
While You Are Waiting.
More fashionable in recent years, the US brownie is becoming something of a staple here too, although it would never be on the menu for afternoon tea. What of the history? Well, there is an argument. Some say the brownie recipe first appeared in the 1897 Sears and Roebuck Catalogue. Don’t believe them, take a look at it – it’s a brown molasses sweet with a nut in the centre. If you take a read through the Larousse Gastronomique, it will tell you a recipe for brownies first appeared in the 1896 ‘The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book’, written by Fannie Merritt Farmer; but follow the recipe and all you get is biscuit that is coloured and flavoured with molasses and made in fluted marguerite moulds. Not really what we want. We are looking for something full of chocolate, with a slightly crunchy top, gooey centre and deep rich chocolate kick. Closer to the brownie we know, ‘The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes Of The 20th Century’ has found that the two earliest published recipes for a cake “brownie” is in the 1906 edition of ‘The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book’. The proportions are similar to Farmer’s 1896 chocolate cookie recipe, but with far less flour and baked in a 7-inch square pan.
I am sure that there are as many recipes as there are bakers; in this, it really is a case of each to their own.