To my immense surprise Snigdha has kindly offered me a guest slot on her blog to cover a bit of baking because she claims it “isn’t really her thing”. She’s not alone; sadly most people give up because of a few bad experiences with burnt bits or a dry loaf, which is a shame because cooking is all about having the confidence to experiment (and be willing to eat the failures where possible).
In the hope of encouraging this experimentation I’ve decided to reveal the recipe for my famous chocolate brownies. Partly inspired by an Austrian friend’s incomparable chocolate cake (thanks Kathy!), and adjusted to be gluten free, they are gooey, satisfying and almost impossible to mess up. The cooking time required is mercifully short and it is good practice for anything more complicated. The most important thing is getting the oven temperature right before you put the baking tray in, so turn it on before you start doing anything else!!!
Ingredients (for 12-14 brownies)
150g unsalted butter chopped and cubed
270g chopped chocolate (220 dark, 50g milk)
3 large eggs*
75g rice flour
125g dark muscovado sugar
150g of chopped glacé cherries (quartered. Less likely to stick to the baking tray)
1tsp vanilla essence
Tsp of cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
*hypothetically you could do this in a vegan way with guar gum, but the magic in this recipe really comes from how the eggs bind the flour together.
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ gas mark 4
2) Line the base of a baking tray of about 20cm by 20cm by greasing the sides and base with some of the leftover butter to stop it sticking to the sides.
3) Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a bain marie (a pan of simmering water with the bowl full of chocolate/butter sitting in the middle of it). Melt the chocolate SLOWLY and stir frequently. You can also cheat by doing it in a single bowl in the microwave if you have asbestos fingers and do it for short bursts at a time. In both cases stir together gently, adding no more than 50 grams at a time, and once everything has melted together turn off the heat. I find it is better to do most of the chocolate before you start adding the butter.
4) Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl.
5) Stir in the flour, cinnamon and that dash of salt to the eggs and then, when the flour lumps have been beaten out (five minutes work) you can add most of the chopped cherries. Then fold in the chocolate mixture until it is all mixed together to your satisfaction. Use oven gloves when pouring this in because, even with time to cool, the chocolate will often resemble molten lava for heat and texture.
6) Pour it all into the pre-prepared tin and give it a tap to ensure that the liquid is level. Sprinkle on the remaining cherries, if this is your thing, then place in oven.
7) Aim to cook for about 15-20 minutes only. Don’t worry if the middle is squidgy as it will continue to cook in the tin once you remove it from the oven. Remember: the aim is not to overcook the mixture, or else it becomes dry rather than gooey. You can test for optimal gooeyness by gently pressing the middle of the mixture with the back of a spoon – it should be soft without being a liquid or paste consistency.
Leave to cool and then cut into the number of pieces of your choice. I find I get 12 very comfortably with my sized baking tray – they can be a little crumbly so great big slices are not the aim of the game (whatever the temptation).
9) They should keep for up to four days in an airtight tin...if they haven’t been scoffed in one!
You can tweak the recipe to your own mix of chocolate and flavours – for example with candied ginger in place of the cherries if you replace the cinnamon with a tsp of ground ginger to help it along.
The perfect autumnal treat: happy baking!
The perfect autumnal treat: happy baking!
My thanks to Matt for his wonderful guest post! I am really grateful to him for the time and effort he has put into the brownie recipe, complete with photos and step-by-step instructions.
I am very lucky to have lots of foodie friends to bounce ideas from, and Matt is no exception with his excellent knowledge of French food and baking.
The brownie recipe is one I will try in the kitchen. Heaven knows I've tried making scones, muffins, bread and cakes, but all ended up just a little dodgy. Perhaps the more rough-and-ready technique for making brownie mix will work better for me. And I'll remember to preheat the oven too!
Thanks again, Matt!