Brownies

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I have been very busy recently creating a menu of treats for people to give as Christmas presents. I am very happy with how successful it has been so far, but it does mean I have spent most of my spare time trialing recipes and making batch after batch of chutney! Because of this, I have had to put baking to one side. It does sounds a little sad, but I have really missed it! I used my uni friends coming to stay for the weekend as a perfect excuse to have a break from chutney and bake for them.

One of my friends, Zoe has Coeliac disease which means she has a gluten intolerance and has to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Gluten free food seems to be the latest ‘fad’ for people in search of living a healthier life. Although this overshadows people who can’t eat gluten for medical reasons, it at least means that gluten free food is becoming more widely available.

In our first year at uni, Zoe made me delicious brownies for my birthday which were gluten free. She used Nigel Slater’s recipe who is a chef I have admired for years. He speaks so passionately about cooking and creates delicious food. I really like the way he describes his brownies “The crust is thin and lightly crisp, the centre poised between chocolate cake and the texture of a peat bog. The flavour is intense. This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view.”

Because deliciously gooey brownies aren’t amazing enough, I decided to add Snickers to the mix before it went in the oven. I have seen people do this with lots of different chocolate bars and have wanted to try it for a while. Up until now I deliberately hadn’t bought a square tin because I knew it would tempt me to make brownies. I gave in when I needed one to make fudge for my Christmas menu and so at the first opportunity, I made brownies.

300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm x 23cm tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the sugar and and butter for at least 5 minutes until white and fluffy
  3. Break 200g of the chocolate and melt it in a bowl suspended over simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water! Keep stirring until the chocolate has melted and become smooth and glossy and then remove from the heat and set aside

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  1. Chop the remaining 50g of chocolate into small chunks and set aside

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  1. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder along with a pinch of salt. Turn the mixer back on to a low speed and add the egg a little at a time. As you add the egg, speed the mixer up
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add in the melted and chopped chocolate and stir with a large metal spoon
  3. Fold in the flour and cocoa mix gently making sure you don’t knock the air out. This can take a couple of minutes to ensure the ingredients are fully combined
  4. Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Now is the time to add any chocolate bars if you want to. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Test the brownies with a cocktail stick – it should come out sticky but not with raw mixture. If it does, put back in the oven for 3 minutes. Remember the brownie will solidify as it cools

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One of my favourite parts from the original recipe is ” 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.” He is quite right, what makes a brownie so delicious is its gooeyness so if you over bake it you have ruined it, as harsh as that sounds.

Between the five of us, we managed to easily eat the brownies within 12 hours – four of us ate two in one sitting! They are so rich and moist and delicious and the contrast between the soft gooey brownie and crunchy Snickers is fantastic. Obviously you can make these with ordinary plain flour and any chocolate bar you like; or even leave them as they are.

These are easily one of the nicest things I have baked.

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I have since made brownies with Oreos and  Reece’s Pieces – both were delicious.

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