I am a little torn. On one hand I feel quite strongly that the Internet does not need another brownie recipe. On the other hand, I’m rather excited by the success of this recipe. I have been on a long quest to find the perfect brownie recipe and this one happened quite by accident.
I must have made close to a hundred batches of brownies over the years, using a wide variety of recipes, ingredients and techniques. The difficulty is that people often want different things from a brownie. Some want a dryer, cakey texture, others want something more fudgy and gooey. Some like nuts, others are vehemently against this addition. The type of chocolate and sugar you use, how much flour you add, how long you beat your eggs (if at all) along with the size and depth of your baking pan all make small but crucial differences to the end product.
For me, I am devotedly in the fudgy and nutless camp. Nuts have no place in brownies as far as I’m concerned. I am aware I am likely to have some opposition to this standpoint, so please feel free to add them if you really want to. My ideal brownie is very rich, densely chocolatey and more like a dessert than cake, especially in the centre. The more it sticks to my teeth in a rather unattractive but highly necessary way, the better! I like a very thin, crunchy crust on top and a slightly dense, more risen edge. It’s a long list of requirements for a humble brownie. It is also one that is rarely fulfilled.
As with many great discoveries, this recipe came about by a total accident. In essence, this was a slightly new twist on a recipe I have used many times before. This particular trial was using slightly less flour and cooking for longer at a lower temperature. Fate intervened ten minutes before the end of cooking time and I had to get the brownies out and leave them on the kitchen top.
A few hours later, I returned to the batch to find it completely cool but also very undercooked, especially in the centre. I’m all for a fudgy brownie, but this was essentially a raw mixture. I decided to return it to a hot oven to see what happened. The first time I tried, it was overbaked, dry and too crumbly at the edges and the next time it burnt on the top, but I could see the potential for the idea of baking it twice. After several further attempts, I believe I have it cracked. Essentially the double-baking allows for a crispy, slightly chewy edge to the brownie, whilst maintaining a really moist and dense centre, which would be overcooked if you baked the brownies once but for longer.
The chocolate you use for the recipe is crucial. For the main brownie element, you need to use good quality cocoa powder (not hot chocolate powder) and dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solid content. Any less, and the brownies will taste sickly sweet rather than sweet and rich. For the chopped chocolate to mix in, feel free to use whatever you like. I like milk, but white, dark or a mixture is equally good. The main thing is to keep the chopped chunks fairly large, or they will just melt into the cooked mixture, rather than staying in lovely chunks. Using golden caster sugar is also important, as it adds a slight caramel flavour to the brownie, rather than just straight sweetness. If you must add nuts, use 100g of roughly chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, adding along with the chopped chocolate. But I would really rather you didn’t.
Makes about 15 squares
- 185g soft salted butter
- 185g dark chocolate-at least 70% cocoa solids, chopped
- 85g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g milk chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan or 150°C for an ordinary oven and line a 15cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a simmering pan of water. Stir slowly until the mixture is shiny and all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together until very light and fluffy. The texture should be like a frothy milkshake.
4. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and fold in. Try to do this as gently as possible to trap the air from the eggs.
5. Chop the milk chocolate into large chunks of about 1cm diameter.
6. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture.
7. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth.
8. Add the chopped chocolate and gently mix.
9. Gently pour the mixture into the lined tin. Slide onto the middle self of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
10. Remove from oven. When they have cooled completely, return to the oven for 15 minutes.
11. When cooled for the second time, remove from the tin and cut into generous squares.