Why are my brownies so bad-ass, I hear you ask? Well, because brownies can be difficult – too short a cooking time, and they are far too sticky; too long, and they’re dry and cakey. After many failures and attempts at allegedly foolproof recipes, I found this one. My failsafe, go-to, port-in-a-storm brownie recipe, and, as is my wont, I ignored all of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s proffered advice, added sub-standard ingredients and flouted the method…and they STILL worked. These are awesome.
I use Dairy Milk chocolate – I know that my fellow foodies won’t approve, but I’ve just lost my dark chocolate tooth. I’ve made these with eleventy million percent cocoa solids chocolate before, and found them to be too dark for me. I do, however, redeem myself by using super-duper, fairtrade, save the whales cocoa powder, which brings them back from the brink of being a too-sweet joke. I add pecans instead of walnuts, use granulated sugar instead of caster when that’s all I’ve got in the house and melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on a direct heat, which is a big no-no. It works for me though – just melt the butter slightly before adding the chocolate, keep the heat low, and you’re away.
Double Chocolate Brownies (from The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr)
200g caster sugar
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
100g broken walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 160 Celcius/Gas Mark 3.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together, either by suspending over a water bath, or by my lazy method outlined above.
3. In a bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
4. Add the chocolate/butter mixture to the eggy mix, and mix thorougly.
5. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and mix thorougly. Add the nuts and mix again.
6. Line your baking tray with foil/baking parchment (or use a nifty silicone tray like I do, thereby eliminating any element of make-and-do) and pour in the mixture, smoothing the top with a spatula.
7. Put the tray in the middle of the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes. A knife pushed into the centre at this stage should come out just smeared with the mix. Err on the gooey side of caution, and take them out of the oven if you’re unsure – they can always go back in later if need be and they often cook a little more in the residual heat of the tin.
These are gorgeous as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a glass of milk or coffee, delicious for dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche and some raspberry coulis, or divine when eaten still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. They also do double-duty as a birthday cake – just pile them up on a cake stand and stud with lit candles or sparklers to celebrate a special occasion.