Undemanding, yet impressive and versatile, a brownie can be whipped up at short order without complicated kitchen gadgetry. A few additions and you’re able to glamourise this deceptively simple favourite, transforming the copybook brownie into a memorable dessert that will wow your dinner guests.
I would like to share a recipe that gives a nice, deep chocolate flavour and creates room for variations so you can put your own spin on the final product.
Call me pedantic (I prefer the term purist), but I insist that any food boasting chocolate in its name should deliver just that - chocolate - in taste.
- 180g butter
- 500g chocolate (Yes, really!)
- 3 eggs
- 100g sugar (or try even less)
- 250g flour or substitute ground nuts (almond, hazelnut) for a rich, gluten free alternative
- Sea salt
Let’s talk about the chocolate. I know that looks an awful lot, but this is a chocolate brownie, after all. If you can source 100% cocoa/cacao, also called cocoa mass, use it. Otherwise, get the best available chocolate with a high cocoa mass - minimum 70%. Shy away from compound/cooking chocolate or any ‘chocolate’ product that contains vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter.
Sure, it’s more expensive, but compromising on quality ingredients is false economy, in my opinion.
And if you’re wondering about the absence of vanilla, it tends to mask the flavour of chocolate. Save it for another project.
- Prepare a 20cm square tin, buttered and floured or lined with baking paper.
- Preheat oven to 180 C
- On a low heat, slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Go gently here, or you risk burning the chocolate. Add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavour.
- Allow to cool slightly, before whisking in the eggs and sugar, or you may end up with chocolate scrambled eggs.
- Fold in the flour until just combined.
- Scoop the mixture into the tin and bake for about 20 minutes.
- If you’d like to get adventurous, throw in some berries or dried cherries just prior to baking. Or, take a different direction with a blob of tahini or peanut butter in a contrasting swirl. Options are limitless as your imagination.
- As ovens vary, you may need to play around to find your optimum baking time. With that in mind, keep a close eye on it, remembering that it will continue to cook once removed from the oven. You’re looking for a light brown crust that yields to gooey depths below. You may find yourself trying several batches while perfecting this. Happily, an overbaked brownie is not necessarily a disaster, though lacking the “squidge factor” it can have its own crumbly charm.
Consider serving alongside:
- Orange slices and toasted hazelnuts
- Sour cream or mascarpone “pimped” with a splash of liqueur; try Kahlua, Baileys or Frangelico
- Vanilla ice cream (the best you can afford)
- Fresh berries and lightly whipped cream
- Banana and caramel sauce, etc, etc, etc.