My second oldest brother is quite the opposite of the eldest – he is not at all fussy where food is concerned, has a truly enormous appetite (what is it about teenage boys that allows them to eat like their stomachs are bottomless and stay as skinny as beanpoles?!) and loves all things chocolatey and/or cakey. Double chocolate brownies it is! These are not complicated but they do take a little more care and effort to make…Oh my goodness they are worth it though. Comments on these delights have so far included ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’ and simply ‘Oh My God’. Clearly this is a recipe to impress and who doesn’t like brownies? The flapjack connoisseur doesn’t actually, but I have yet to meet any other skeptics. Here are the ingredients before you burst with anticipation:
- 185g unsalted butter (I tend to only use real butter in pastry or shortbread where it really does make a difference, otherwise margarines or spreads can make bakes lighter, less fatty and generally cheaper)
- 185g decent quality dark chocolate
- 85g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g white chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 275g caster sugar
Step 1: Melt the butter and dark chocolate together either in a bain-marie (a bowl or pan set on top of another pan of boiling water) or in a bowl in the microwave. Be careful not to overcook the mixture; it should be just smooth, glossy and one colour like in the delicious picture above. Leave to cool at room temperature.
Step 2: Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a separate bowl and set aside. You can also line a tin with baking paper* and preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 at this point while you wait for the chocolate to cool.
*The original recipe says to use a 20cm square cake tin, but whatever not too shallow tin you have (within reason) should work – I’ve used all sorts of containers before and its been fine. Just remember to think about how deep the tin is and adjust the baking time to more or less accordingly.
Step 3: Whisk the eggs and sugar together in another bowl (a fair bit of washing up with this one, don’t be put off though – get your boyfriend or similar to do it in return for a sample of the finished product. This is NOT what I did…). Use an electric mixer if you have one, or a balloon whisk if you don’t, and keep going until the mixture is ‘thick and creamy, like a milkshake’. Or for as long as you can by hand, because apparently this stage can take 3-8 minutes to reach with an electric mixer. Mine was fairly frothy and worked fine, I think the longer you whisk it the more rise you get during baking though. Ideally the eggs and sugar should turn a lot paler and double in size.
Step 4: Carefully, and with patience, fold the melted chocolate and butter into the fluffy egg and sugar mix. I did this by making a figure of eight with the spatula, starting at one side of the bowl and scooping across to the other, and turning the bowl at the same time. Sounds tricky I know, but once you get into a rhythm its actually quite relaxing. The second photo down from the top shows this stage of mixing. When they stop looking like two separate mixtures, shake in your sifted flour and cocoa powder, and fold in the same way again, nice and gently, until the magic happens and your mixture gets a lovely gooey texture and you can’t wait to bake it.
Step 5: Chop your white chocolate into chunks (the BBC recipe adds milk chocolate as well, in which case do 50g white and 50g milk chocolate chunks) and stir in. Everything should be just combined now, so resist the temptation to do any more mixing as you want to keep the air in so the brownies will rise in the oven.
Step 6: Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven (best on a middle shelf for even cooking) for 25 minutes, at 180C/Gas Mark 4 as preheated to earlier. Check that there’s no wobble when you shake the tin gently after the 25 minutes – if there is, give it another 2-5 until the top has a nice crust (papery is how Good Food described it, a nice fitting word) – and leave to cool completely before cutting into squares and devouring.
Brownies keep well for up to two weeks in an airtight container, and they also freeze okay for up to a month. Useful to know, if they ever last that long…
Source: BBC Good Food, ‘Best-ever brownies’. Thanks to my middling brother for eating and appreciating, and all the others who tried and enjoyed them – they’ve got a pretty good rep thanks to some very eager taste-testers.