My addiction is officially out of control! My brownie tin has been on ridiculously fast rotation of late! I thought that putting pen to paper would be like some sort of admission, the start of my therapy, so to speak……sadly, it’s having the opposite effect. Damn! I think I might be one step away from hypnotherapy.
When I write up a recipe or post, there is of course, the cooking, the tasting and the time spent tweaking. Then, there are the cooked goods sprawled across my benchtop – they are luring me in! These brownies look so beautiful to me. So delicious – are they angling for a little centrefold spread?
So I am at my desk now. The models have had their photo shoot and I now do my best to stop myself from making anymore of a dent through the photographed platter of chocolate ‘centrefold’ bliss. I need to knuckle down and write! Focus Nellie! All I can do is think of is brownie. I think of a fudgey chocolate sophistication that is begging me for more! I love a brownie almost as one loves their own child! They are my weakness, well and truly.
So, let’s cut to the chase – do you like yours fudgey or cakey? I will not be swayed! If I want cakey, I’ll eat cake! In a brownie, I want fudgey and I want an outer layer that is almost meringue like – with a crumbly and yet chewy exterior! I love that once a brownie cools, what’s left (hmmmnn!) gets portioned and stored. A brownie is ‘on the ready’- how easy and efficient! Sometimes there just isnt the time to drag out that gorgeous cake, tucked away in the fridge or pantry, slice it & plate it up! Heaven forbid – this might take all of a minute – too hard! Brownie – easy! “Too easy” my thighs would say, if only they could talk!
Over the past few weeks, I have used every excuse under the sun to make a brownie – these range from the likes of releasing squeals of delight from my girls, to a lovely friend who has just had a baby or the really nice computer guy who commented they were delish and so I baked him his own batch and thrust them upon him the very next morning. I also love to enjoy them as the star of a humble dessert. They can be ‘tarted up’ to beat the best of them! One of my faves is to enjoy them as part of a wonderful ice cream sandwich – home made ice cream, fudgey middle of the brownie…………………off now for another piece. Avert your eyes! I think it’s time now for another ‘photo break’ . Boring elevator music playing for you, in the background as I gorge myself on yet another piece of brownie. The nausea will not set in for a little while. There is still time! Look away now people! !!
A few little but important tips for a good brownie : Use the best quality dark chocolate you can afford, use room temperature eggs, I don’t believe a baking agent should be added (I don’t want to lighten this load), whisk the mixture for a full minute until glossy and smooth and pulling away from the sides of the saucepan – this explained in the method but I cannot stress enough how crucial it is.
150g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
250g of the best quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
60g plain flour, sifted
A pinch of salt
1 cup (about 135 g) walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
(My children, although nut lovers, will not touch a brownie with a little nuttiness. I add 40g of roasted cocoa nibs instead – which is insanely good btw!)
Preheat oven 175° C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper or 2 layers of foil. Lightly grease the baking paper or foil and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and sugar and whisk until well combined.
Whisk in the eggs one at a time, until smooth, before each new addition. Sift in the flour and salt. Now this part is really important : Whisk the mixture with gusto for 1 full minute. The batter will loose its graininess and becomes smooth and glossy. It will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan. Please don’t stop whisking until this happens – crucial for a spectacular brownie!
Add the chopped nuts and or cocoa nibs and stir with a wooden spoon to gently combine.
Pour mixture into prepared baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes, until the centre feels almost set, do not over-bake. Test with a skewer – it should come out sticky, but not coated with raw mixture.Let cool completely in the tin before lifting out the baking paper to remove the brownies. An alternative method and a great result is to prepare a roasting tin of iced water. When the brownies are ready, remove the tin from the oven and place in the cold water bath. Leave to cool for an hour before cutting into squares. Store in an air-tight container – should you have any left to store!