fussy to the point of violence quite particular about brownies, which will surprise no-one who knows me as, apparently, I can be rather fussy about most things. I don’t think I am – I just know what I like – but that’s beside the point. Until recently we’ve had a crap oven which has made baking near impossible but thanks to a very generous wedding present our kitchen now boasts an oven which actually gets hot! In ways that you can control! WITH A FAN! Seriously, these are the things you get excited about when you reach your thirties.
Anyway, I had a favourite brownie recipe when I was much younger, from the marvellous (and terrifyingly beige) Cakes, Pastries and Bread by Jennie Reekie. It’s from 1977 (and it shows) and the best thing I’ve ever made from it is the ‘American Brownies’, which I used to whip up for my parents’ poor unsuspecting guests for breakfast occasionally. I remember them being amazing, with the best balance of fudgy, chewy, and crunchy on top, and not too sweet. I thought the book was lost forever until Mum unearthed it from the depths of Dad’s sizeable cookbook collection and reunited me with it one Christmas. I didn’t want to try the brownies until we had a good oven because I knew that our old one wouldn’t do them justice and I’m a sentimental idiot who didn’t want my memories of the perfect brownies spoilt.
They were finally baked again last weekend and they’re as good as they were when I was 10, thank god. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly to add more chocolate and to scale it up as the original makes a disappointingly small amount…
4 large eggs
400g caster sugar (I know, I know, I’m sorry)
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract
100g plain flour
6 tablespoons of raw cacao (or cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
150g chocolate chips – I used a mixture of dark and white
50g chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Line a 26 x 19cm (or similar) tin with baking parchment. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until they turn thick and pale, then beat in the melted butter and the vanilla. Sieve in the flour, cacao, baking powder and salt, and fold into the mixture, with the chocolate chips and pecans, if using. Pour/dollop into the tin and bake for around 25-30 minutes, but use your own judgement*. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, hard though that is, and then cut into as many pieces as you like and apply to your face.
*Brownies are notoriously difficult to take out of the oven at the right time – I go for the middle being gooey when you stick a skewer in and the edges more cooked, with a few sticky crumbs on the skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, they’re overbaked, but that isn’t very helpful, sorry!
Do you have a favourite brownie recipe? Will you try mine? Let me know how they go!