I haven't baked anything in a long time. The urge to bake sort of comes at me in waves. These days, I've been way too stressed and time-deficient to want to bake anything. Today, I came down with a desperate NEED for something sweet. It's that time of the month. And seeing that episode of Masterchef with the sticky date pudding flipped an irresistible switch. I know most of my cooking posts of late have some reference to Masterchef but understand that it's basically the only thing I watch on TV. Indeed it's my only exposure to any form of media (that and Australia's Next Top Model on Youtube) so it's reasonable that what I see has a huge influence on what I cook.
Originally, I did intend to make a sticky date pudding but I don't just have a box of dates in my pantry. My plan to run to the shops to buy some was foiled when it started raining so I settled by making something with the ingredients I already have handy.
A few weeks back, I think I mentioned that I've been hoarding chocolate - so it was ideal to make something rich and chocolatey.
I'm a really PLANNED person. Even with cooking, I would normally write lists of ingredients I have, things I want to cook and then research and compare recipes for hours. Sometimes (actually, 'usually'), it all amounts to nothing and I change my mind and go out to eat instead. Today, I decided to bake something spontaneously so I didn't have any recipes in mind - I grasped wildly and decided on something simple and classic: brownies.
I've already posted brownies on this blog before but there were 'problems' with them. For my next attempt, I went with Jamie Oliver's recipe. Because he's cool. The original recipe is titled 'Fifteen Chocolate Brownies' from "Cook with Jamie". Fifteen is the name of the restaurants he opened as part of the 'Jamie's Kitchen' TV series.
I stuck quite faithfully to the original recipe aside from halving it and omitting the sour cherries.
Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies
Makes approximately 12 squares
- 125g unsalted butter
- 100g good quality dark chocolate (I used Cote D'Or 'Experiences' 86% dark chocolate)
- 1/3 cup whole haze nuts (you can use other nuts - anything. I also added 2 tbsp of crushed peanuts)
- 40g cocoa powder
- 35g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- vanilla ice-cream to serve with (optional)
1. Melt the butter and chocolate together. You can use a microwave or double boiler. I just used a small non-stick saucepan on low heat, turning it off periodically to let the residue heat work. stir it till smooth.2. Add the nuts and stir through.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add the sugar and mix evenly.4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pour the chocolate and nut mixture into the dry ingredients and mix through.5. Add the eggs and mix together until the batter is glossy and smooth - like thick, liquid velvet.
6. Pour into a large loaf tin and smooth out evenly.7. Bake for 25min or so. When done, the top should be set and slightly springy when you press down gently but the centre should be still goey when you insert a knife.
8. Let the brownie cool down completely. Turn it out onto a plate and cut into squares.9. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar or serve as is with vanilla ice-cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.
These brownies were a huge success, unlike last time. At first I thought the top was a bit burnt but they didn't taste burnt at all, just crusty and caramelized. The center was soft, melt-in-the-mouth and very chocolatey. I've heard a lot of home-bakers complaining that their own brownies are not as dark as they'd like. These turned out REALLY dark. I used a good quality chocolate and the quantities in the recipe must have been ideal.
I think they're better than most cafe brownies I've tried. The nuts added a great dimension. I'm not sure about hazelnuts though - they're a great-tasting nut but I think I'd prefer macadamia next time. Jamie's suggestion of dried sour cherries sound good too; probably would be good to cut the sweetness.
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know these brownies are RICH. Just skim over the ingredients list to get an idea. The way I cut them in the photo above are a bit too big for one serving. I have a huge sugar tolerance and I can just about handle 1 finger. Half of that would be perfect. Share these babies around - you don't want to munch on too many in one go or you'll be saying goodbye to your current wardrobe in favor of larger sizes.