5 January 2015

PERFECT BROWNIES...?

PERFECT BROWNIES

For me the perfect Brownies have to be chocolatey but not too sweet. Moist but not gooey.  Melting but with a little chew. Rich in flavour and texture, but at the same time soft and light. Topped with a thin crispy layer of dough and studded with tasty slightly crunchy walnuts - YUM! A Brownie has to always leave you craving for three one more.

PERFECT BROWNIES

The first Brownies I ever had were exactly like that. Needless to say I was hooked. You know when you connect with a flavour - I call it the 'Nutella Syndrom'. There is only one Nutella: Perfection in a jar! and you know when you taste it. And no other chocolate spread can be nuts enough to even think to come close. But how do you know? How do you remember? What glorious section in your brain is dedicated to recall something you tasted? Even after years? And what stubborn section tells you to not let go? To never settle for less?


PERFECT BROWNIES

Well, here's to the tragedy: that perfect Brownie recipe got lost. But that's no problem you would say, just google 'Perfect Brownies', et Voila! But not so. It's not like with Nutella where there's only one. No, no, the perfect Brownie is on the pallet of the beholder: there's gooey, cakey, squidgy, fluffy, dense and soft, there's bitter-sweet, sicklish-sweet, mixed with marshmallows, pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and glossed. There's every version of mixing and making, flavouring and baking - some of them even include jumping three times over a cat at midnight (yes, just kidding!). But what they all have in common, is that they are perfectly perfect for those who chose to love them. Luckily I managed to find again my perfect Brownies, but will they be yours?

PERFECT BROWNIES

Tips: 
- The main flavour in Brownies is of course chocolate, and some recipes say to use a high-quality chocolate. I use a 57% no-name chocolate that tastes rather nice, and it works well.
- Do not use cake flower but instead use all-purpose flour. It has a higher gluten content and seems to work better. 
- Use an oven tin that conducts heat well and heats up quickly. A ceramic dish takes too long to heat up.
- I found that I have better results when using the conventional function on my oven rather than fan-assisted. 
- Fight the temptation to eat your Brownies while still warm. They do improve in taste and texture once fully cooled.

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Recipe adjusted from: American Brownies, from Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course
(The original recipe is too gooey for my taste so I add twice the amount of flour that makes them lighter. I also use twice the amount of chocolate (57% cocoa content), and a little less sugar to balance the sweeter chocolate.)

Makes 16
110 g butter
100g good chocolate (app. 60% cocoa content), broken up in small pieces
2 eggs
200g granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
110g walnuts, coarsely chopped

Baking tin, 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inches)


PERFECT BROWNIES

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (do not use fan-assisted if possible, or reduce by 20°C). Grease the tin with a little vegetable oil, then line the bottom with grease-proof paper.

PERFECT BROWNIES

Melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water. Alternatively you can do this in the microwave, in which case stir every 20 seconds to make sure the chocolate does not crystallise. Leave on the side to cool. 

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Beat the eggs together with the sugar with a wire whisk for app. 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved (don't overbeat!). Add the vanilla extract and stir under. Add the cooled chocolate to the egg mix and combine.


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Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift the mixture over the chocolate-egg mix. Stir in gently.

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Add the chopped nuts, then pour the mixture into the prepared dish and spread it out evenly.

PERFECT BROWNIES

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until the mixture starts to shrink away from the sides and the centre feels springy. Do not open the oven door during baking. A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean with maybe a couple of cake crumbs attached. Don't overcook, the brownies will firm up as they cool!

PERFECT BROWNIES

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Cut into 16 squares. The Brownies can be stored in a tin in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

PERFECT BROWNIES


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BROWNIES



PERFECT BROWNIESPERFECT BROWNIESPERFECT BROWNIES

Makes 16

110 g butter
100g good chocolate (app. 60% cocoa content), broken up in small pieces
2 eggs
200g granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
110g walnuts, coarsely chopped

Baking tin, 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inches)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (do not use fan-assisted if possible, or reduce heat by 20°C). Grease the tin with a little vegetable oil, then line the bottom with grease-proof paper. Melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water. Alternatively do this in the microwave, in which case stir every 20 seconds to make sure the chocolate does not crystallise. Leave on the side to cool. Beat the eggs together with the sugar with a wire whisk for app. 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved (don't overbeat!). Add the vanilla extract and stir under. Add the cooled chocolate to the egg mix and combine well. Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift the mixture over the chocolate-egg mix. Stir in gently. Add the chopped nuts, then pour the mixture into the prepared dish and spread it out evenly. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until the mixture starts to shrink away from the sides and the centre feels springy. Do not open the oven door during baking. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean with maybe a couple of cake crumbs attached. Don't overcook, the brownies will firm up as they cool! Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Cut into 16 squares. The Brownies can be stored in a tin in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

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