Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Warm brownies on an Autumn day...

I just took a warm batch of brownies out of the oven and couldn't resist cutting a corner right out of the tray... Brownies are good, but warm brownies take it to another level.
Dark chocolate gets moved to the back of my pantry shelf in summer when there are raspberries and other beautiful stone fruit to distract me, but as Autumn creeps up on us and the days get cooler, I start dreaming up recipes with cinnamon, preserved ginger and dark chocolate. There's something just RIGHT about brownies in Autumn.

So, while I am supposed to be costing a recipe for a function this week, putting in orders and just generally being productive, here I am blogging about this brownie recipe which is really a MUST in any bakers' repatoir. I know, I know, you've heard it all before and I bet you've got your own favourite brownie recipe you swear by.

Well, let me tell you a little about how this recipe became my favourite and I may just convince you that this it's worth trying. It's quite funny really, but like many pastry chefs, my love for baking started with a humble brownie recipe. Nothing fancy, no raw chocolate, cranberries or white chocolate chips, just a good ol' faithful brownie, made with regular ingredients.
From there I never did get into the way-out flavours, to me it's more about getting that balance between a dense texture, an intensely dark chocolate taste and just the right amount of sugar - the perfect compliment to a cappuccino, is how I like to think of it.

This recipe landed in my inbox when I asked a fellow pastry chef friend of mine if I could try the recipe she was given when she was at a very well known chef school many years ago. I was looking for a recipe with a dense texture, obviously, rule number one when baking brownies is not to over bake them, but there is still something to say for a reliable recipe, that can be baked over and over and never seems to let you down. I'm hoping you sense my passion here.

So, a few tweaks later, this is it, I can confidently say. At most, I add chopped hazelnuts because there's something just SO right about combining hazelnuts and dark chocolate but I'll allow you to take it from here and add whatever your heart desires, to make it yours.

Brownie Recipe

175g butter, plus extra for greasing
5 large eggs
220g castor sugar
220g brown sugar
175g cake flour
100g good quality cocoa powder
100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a brownie tray or large cake tin with greaseproof paper after greasing it generously.

Very gently melt the butter in a saucepan and leave it to cool. Using a wooden spoon, beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until creamy and smooth, then slowly stir in the cooled butter.

Stir the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Gradually add the egg mixture until smooth, then fold in nuts and keep a few aside to sprinkle on top.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until risen with a cracked, crusty top. Be very careful not to overcook them, as the cooking time may vary slightly in different ovens.

Cool in the tin for about an hour, or until completely cool before cutting them in squares. I like to dust them with cocoa powder.
Variations - adding cranberries, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, macadamian nuts, pecan nuts and the list continues...

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