It dawned on me recently that I had never made full fat brownies before. I regularly used to make lower fat brownies from the “Cook Yourself Thin” cookbook and have even turned my hand at Gwyneth Paltrow’s vegan brownies but never the indulgent, no calories spared brownies. Last week this changed as I researched the ultimate brownies and settled on Nigel Slater’s ‘Very Good Chocolate Brownie’ with the addition of hazelnuts as I had some that needed using but you could use brazil or walnuts or leave them out altogether.
As I have learnt with the modified brownies I have made before, timing in the oven is crucial. Nigel suggests the following: ‘it is worth checking after 25 minutes, just in case, then every three minutes after that. I reckon you are looking for a cake whose outside edges feel a little springy, the inside soft, but not at all liquid. Stick a thin skewer or knitting needle in. If it comes out with visibly wet cake mixture stuck to it then put it back for three minutes longer. If, on the other hand, you have a slight goo stuck to your skewer then you are probably there. Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it’.
300g golden caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g spelt flour or plain flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
100g chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Grease and line a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, or a small roasting tin of similar proportions with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4.
Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for several minutes until well creamed, pale and fluffy.
Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or slowly in the microwave. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.
Break the eggs into a small bowl, beating them lightly. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt.
With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time and once fully incorporated, continue mixing until the batter starts to become shiny and increases in volume.
Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour, cocoa and hazelnuts gently without knocking any of the air out.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.