Chocolate Brownies – and why they win every time
I’m on a life-long mission to find, or devise, The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever. I’ve been on the case for almost 30 years now (My ‘quest’ started in 1987 with a no-bake chocolate/marshmallow/cornflake concoction which blew my tiny 8 year old mind – and was the first recipe I ever wrote down)
But I’ve recently realised that the answer might have been in front of me all the time: Chocolate Brownies!
Chocolate Brownies tick all the boxes:
- Easy – Any idiot can make a good brownie. It requires no skill (other than using an oven and weighing scales correctly) and involves none of the slightly off-putting sifting/folding/separating/whisking techniques required for ‘proper cake baking’. You just chuck a load of ingredients in a bowl and get stuck in.
- Quick – The genius of a brownie is that within 30-40 minutes of the desire for cake entering your head, you can be tucking into a freshly baked batch. That’s quicker than going to the shops!
- Transportable – Lets be honest, very few of us can (or should) eat a whole cake on our own. So one that can be conveniently wrapped up to take to work or to a friends house without requiring a fancy specialist cake box is always going to be a winner. Plus, there are those who would argue that brownies taste better the next day….
- Adaptable – A brownie can be ‘personalised’ to suit your mood. So you’re in need of a sticky peanut butter hit? Just add some. Want to make chocolate more chocolatey? A brownie can always handle some more. Need to pretend your brownie is a ‘dessert’? Just add cream cheese and caramel sauce and call it ‘Brownie Cheesecake’. You can even decorate it, or use it as a component in another dessert (hello icecream sundae!).
- Not pretending to be anything other than a TREAT – I like baked goods (and people) who aren’t ashamed of who they are. A brownie is an undeniably indulgent sugar rush that isn’t claiming to be anything else. It proudly flaunts it’s insane ratio of sugar and butter to flour, and that’s why we love it. In my opinion, if you’re going to eat cake, do it properly.
So. On that note I will share with you my two best chocolate brownie recipes. Yes two. Because on different occasions you need a different type of brownie. The first is my ‘Everyday Brownie’. A one-bowl wonder which takes minutes to throw together and won’t let you down. It uses cocoa rather than chocolate and tastes like an American box-mix brownie. Click the link for the recipe.
At the other end of the spectrum is the ‘Uber-Brownie’. An indulgent, fudgey pan of baked heaven. It requires marginally more effort than the ‘Everyday Brownie’ (and costs more to make)…..but you won’t regret it if you do! The recipe is below.
Right. ‘Nuff said. Get baking!
Please don’t cheap out on me here. This recipe is all about the chocolate. So use the best chocolate you can find – ideally 70% cocoa or more.
225 grams salted butter
200 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
275 grams caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
140 grams plain flour (gluten free flour works just as well)
150 grams white chocolate chips, or chopped white chocolate
Optional: Fun stuff to take your brownies to the next level (see number 7 below)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan).
2. Lightly grease a 22cm square brownie tin with butter, and line the base with baking parchment. Leave the tin aside.
3. Break up the chocolate and melt it with the butter in a microwave, or over a bain-marie. Don’t over heat it. Stir regularly until it is just melted. Leave it aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt, until they are just frothy (this takes less than a minute by hand with a whisk)
5. Whisk the melted chocolate mixture into the other ingredients in the bowl.
6. Finally add the flour and the chocolate chips, whisking just enough to combine everything. Stop mixing once the flour disappears – it’s better slightly lumpy than over-mixed.
7. Use a spatula to scrape all the mixture into the tin. Note: this is the point at which you can ‘pimp’ your brownies. At the most basic level, a few generous handfuls of chocolate chips and/or nuts scattered over the top work brilliantly. But you can also swirl through caramel sauce, cream cheese, peanut butter, marshmallows. Or scatter broken Oreo cookies, chopped pieces of your favourite chocolate bar, or anything else you fancy on top of the uncooked batter!
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (25-30 if you’ve added lots of additional ingredients to your brownie). The sides should be set, but the whole thing should still wobble a lot if you shake the tin. As it cools it will set. Or you can eat warm brownies fresh from the oven, straight out of the tin with a spoon!
9. When the brownie has cooled, I like to decorate it with a melted drizzle of chocolate - any type - but this is totally optional!
Note: If you want neatly cut pieces, leave the brownie slab to cool completely in the tin before cutting it. It will be delicious for 3-4 days if you keep it well wrapped.