Today is Market day in Guildford. I’m not feeling too well so I decided to stay in, but that means I can show you what I brought home with me last month, which in turn inspired something I baked a few weeks ago. By coincidence, or call it what you want, I was thrown in a very entertaining Twitter conversation involving lots of people, including the lovely Signe, a.k.a. Scandilicious. Topic: Brownies. As you may know, Signe is one of my very favourite food writers. What I didn’t know is how seriously she takes brownies. Seriousness/passion scale 1 to 10 = 20. I say this in the most affectionate way, mind you. Why? Because she’s on to something. Brownies have the tendency to be way too sweet, too fudgy, too bitter, too chewy, not too chewy, too bland and too everything. To be honest brownies aren’t one of my first picks when choosing something from the coffee shop or bakery. I prefer a good muffin, though homemade ones are the best. Somehow the ones found in shops, tend to be really dry. The ones you can get in coffee shop chains I mean. But I digress.
Having said that I love making brownies at home – they are foolproof, easy, quick to assemble and therefore there’s no fuss. These are qualities that appeal to me in the kitchen. I cannot count the times I decided against baking something because of all the faff. I tend to be lazy in that way, yes, but when I’m tired the last thing I want to bake is a croquembouche. Let’s leave that to the pros, shall we?
This recipe is Signe’s, from Scandilicious Baking of course. They are seriously
ooppss rich. And just for kicks I added dried chilli on top. The taste of these will take some time to develop so don’t expect to taste the full-blown effect instantly. But you will get the chilli hit by day 3. If you keep them in a cool place tightly sealed in a container, and wrapped in their own parchment paper, they will stay fresh. Mine kept for a whole week, and here I must say thankfully! Take your time with them.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 75g cocoa powder
- 175g chocolate hazelnut spread (in other words, Nutella!)
- 3 eggs
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 50g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 shot of espresso
- pinch salt
- ¼ teaspoon or whereabouts of dried chilli flakes, for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/130ºC convection/Gas mark 2. Grease and line with parchment paper a 20 x 20 cm square tin. Cut the parchment bigger that needed so that you have a steady hold at the sides when lifting the finished brownies. It takes a bit of extra work but well worth it I promise you.
Put the butter in a small pan and melt. Add the cocoa powder and hazelnut spread and give everything a proper mix. Set the mixture aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, break the eggs, give them a light whisk, then add the caster sugar and whisk again. Take the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and pour it in the bowl. Now add the plain flour, vanilla extract and salt. Mix everything until the all the ingredients are combined. You will now have a dark, gooey brownie mixture.
Tip the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the dried chilli flakes on top. Bake for around 22 minutes. Around the 20 minute mark, insert a skewer in the middle. If you see some uncooked mixture on it, then take the brownies out of the oven. They will continue cooking in the tin, so please don’t overbake them. If the skewer comes out clean, you probably left them in the oven for too long.
Cool the brownies before cutting them into squares.
I told Signe they reminded me of American brownies. They are so different from the ones you get in the UK, which unfortunately tend to lack character. So I have to say this recipe wins hands down. So thanks Sig! And I look forward to seeing what you come up with next. Enjoy!
(Recipe adapted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, Saltyard Books, 2012.)
May I add some pics of those bought at the Market? Here they are…