It was my Mother-in-Law's birthday last week. She always makes really delicious food, especially deserts, so I thought she might like something sweet to celebrate turning another year older. I eventually decided on brownies! I love brownies, I think most people do, don't they?! I had been thinking of making them for a while, because I love them so much, and I wondered why I never bothered to attempt them before now.
I realised it must be because a lot of the time I associate brownies with major disappointment. I also associate them with major happiness - like when you get one anywhere in North America and they just taste sooo good, you know they are obviously calorific; packed with chocolate and so much butter you can taste it. But that's what you expected, so it's good and you're happy. Then you buy one over this side of the Atlantic and it's just a major let down. They are usually just light powder filled things that taste like overcooked chocolate sponge. That's not a brownie and shouldn't be allowed to be advertised as one! (Yikes, I'm only realising how passionate I really am about brownies!)
Anyway, everything is OK now because I found a recipe that has fulfilled my requirements for a rich chocolatey brownie. It's from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook that I got as a present over Christmas. Now the Hummingbird Bakery is based in London, which could have thrown me, but above the recipe in the book there is a paragraph that explains my whole theory on American brownies. To quote the book: "Many other brownie recipes seen outside the USA are not really brownies!" I was so glad that me and this bakery person were on the same page, literally, so I knew THESE were the brownies that I would bake!
This makes about 12 but they are very rich so you could divide into even smaller pieces
- 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I just break it up into pieces instead)
- 175g unsalted butter
- 325g caster sugar
- 130g plain flour
- 3 eggs
- icing sugar to decorate
a 33 x 23 x 5cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper (I didn't have that size so I used two trays that added up to the same size & it worked alright!)
- Preheat the oven to 170C (325F) Gas 3
- Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water)
- Leave until melted and smooth
- Remove from the heat
- Add the sugar and stir until well incorporated
- Add the flour and stir until well incorporated
- Finally, stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre
- Be careful not to overcook otherwise edges become hard and crunchy
- Leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar to decorate
I have to say they didn't disappoint. When I tasted a bite I may well have been transported to a bakery in New York or Toronto or somewhere, they were that good. Rich, chocolatey and dense! Only thing was that I may have left them in a little bit longer than I should have. I tested them before they were done and decided they needed just 2 more minutes. Then I went and prepared dinner or something. And got distracted and two minutes turned out to be a bit longer. Now they didn't burn, I wouldn't give a gift of burnt brownies! But the ones on the edge seemed a little crispier than I'd like. I knew from a tip I read somewhere, that the centre brownie is always the best one because it doesn't get as well cooked as the outer ones, so I made sure that one was for the birthday girl!
A brownie update: I made these again for somebody (?) for Valentines Day and took the tray out on time and they were just almost perfect! Better than the birthday ones. So if you decide to make these just be sure not to over-cook them and you'll be very happy!