Friday, 24 July 2015

Chocolate Brownies or 'Brazzies'

Wow it’s been a while since my last blog post. When I last posted I was a week away from finishing my university final year exams, probably bored stiff of film and Greek revision so baked a cake to remain sane. So much has happened since then; I finished said exams, moved out, got my final degree classification and completely graduated from university (gown an’ all). So now that’s all done with I thought it was time to get back on the baking sharing thing. It’s not that I haven’t baked anything since my last post in May – BELIEVE ME there have been cookies and cakes baking in my oven since then- but I just had no energy to write about them after. But now I’m back on the baking blog writing wagon. For now.

So what better way to get back on track than with a brownie recipe that actually works.
Now, I think I can confidently say ‘I can bake’. But I have to say the humble brownie has always been something that I’ve not been that good at baking; you could say it is my Achilles heel in my baking arsenal. I have simply never been able to achieve that crunchy topped, chewy but not gooey brownie. Instead I have always achieved this very under-baked style brownie which is fine around the edges but a half-baked gooey nightmare in the middle. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of under-baking, for example in the loyal cookie (who wants a crunchy cookie over that dreamy chewy number we all know and love?), however in this case I would say my brownies have always been TOO under-baked. So you can imagine when I found the following recipe I was sceptical. Firstly the title of the book in which I found the recipe sounds dodgy: ‘Perfect Cakes Every Time’ along with the byline: ‘…guaranteed to succeed!’
I mean those are some bold statements right? When I saw this in the shop I just had to put it to the test. Once home I was flicking through the unillustrated pages of classic recipes when I stumbled across a recipe for ‘Rich Fudge Brownies’. I thought ‘hmm that’s always something I’ve fallen short of the mark of…so let’s put this failsafe status to the test!’
And I’m happy to say that I have now used this recipe three times and it has worked every.single.time!! Woop I am no longer a brownie baker failure!

Now the concept of this book really is very good. Apparently a newly-wed Victoria Combe baked a horrendous cake for her in-laws and, in despair, wrote a plea to readers of the Daily Telegraph for recipes that she could not mess up. Subsequently readers of said newspaper sent in their cherished and fool-proof recipes to help her out and of course her baking improved. THEN she put all of these recipes together into the book which I now hold in my hands ‘Perfect Cakes Every Time’. So even though this is a big statement I think we can all have a little faith that these recipes…well they clearly know what they’re talking about!

Now I have to say a big thanks to ‘Karin Smith from Reading, Berkshire’, who sent this recipe into this charity baking mission. It truly is fab. The only thing I tweaked was the sugar. Firstly I tried the recipe straight with the caster sugar it suggests, and they came out well if a little lighter in colour to what I’m used to. So the next time I used light brown muscovado sugar to add more density in colour and flavour and I haven’t looked back since. I find muscovado sugar always adds to the chewy element of baled goods too, hence why it is used in the likes of cookies and other chewy nuggets of joy. As well as this I’ve messed about with adding choc chips too and I find doubling the ingredients is always a better idea. THIS TIME however I dipped some of my brownie cubes in chocolate and hundreds and thousands to channel that well-loved chocolate drop sweet ‘Jazzies’; I call these beauties ‘Brazzies’. I did leave half of them naked though because my Mum was disgusted I had the audacity to pimp a brownie. Let’s just say we have agreed to disagree.

So here’s the recipe from this book (in doubled format):

200g / 8 oz plain chocolate
100g / 4 oz unsalted butter
4 eggs
300g / 12 oz light brown muscovado sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extact
150g / 6 oz self-raising flour
·     100g / 4 oz  chopped walnuts/ chocolate chips (optional)
·         For ‘Brazzies’: 100g / 4 oz melted chocolate and a bowl of hundreds and thousands.

1) Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 9x9”/22x22cm square baking tin.
2) Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted add in the cutter bit by bit and stir to combine to a smooth chocolatey silky bowl of joy.
3) Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together until pale. Pour in the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
4) Sieve in the flour and use a metal spoon to fold everything lightly together. Now stir in any nuts or chocolate chips you desire. Pour into the tin, leveling off with a spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The brownie is baked when the surface is crispy and cracking, pulling away from the sides a little and not wobbly when shaken slightly. Allow to cool in the tin until cold before cutting up.

5) For ‘Brazzies’: Melt chocolate as above and pour hundreds and thousands into a bowl. Dip the bottom of each brownie cube into the melted chocolate and then into the sprinkles. Leave to set, dipped side up.

Enjoy x