I’ve had a brownie baking extravaganza today. Brownies are one of my favourite things to bake. They aren’t quite cakes, they aren’t quite cookies- they are a magically and unique combination of the two. Last year, I did not have access to any cake tins (student living is odd) so I baked sooooooo many brownies and I perfected my brownie recipe. My house mates love it when I cook ‘my extra-special brownies’ because it means especially good mood with them! What makes them so special? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and they are perfect to me.
A chocolate brownie is traditionally a flat, baked square or bar developed in the United States at the end of the 19th century. A chef at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel created the confection after Bertha Palmer requested a dessert for ladies attending the fair that:
- was smaller than a piece of cake,
- still had cake-like characteristics
- was easily eaten from lunchboxes
Thus the first brownie was born. These first brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, and they are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe.
Brownies come in a variety of forms. They are either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density, and they may include nuts, frosting, whipped cream, chocolate chips, or other ingredients. A variation that is made with brown sugar and no chocolate is called a blondie.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_brownie
Ingredients (serves 24)
- 225g (8oz) butter
- 125g (4 1/2 oz) cocoa powder
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) chocolate chips (I like to use white chocolate chips for a bit of contrast)
- nuts (optional)
- 225g (8oz) caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) plain white flour
- 135g (4 3/4 oz) Nutella (optional but a baked layer of Nutella on top is heaven to me)
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 160ºC fan (355ºF/ 320ºF fan). Grease a 23×33 cm (9×10 in) baking tray.
- Melt the butter and half the chocolate chips, either over a pan of boiling water or in a microwave. Watch neither ingredient cooks!
- In a bowl, add to the butter and chocolate chips, the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir until well mixed.
- Add the eggs, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
- Sift in the flour and mix until the flour is just combined. You do not want to overwork the flour. This is also the time to add the remaining chocolate chips and nuts.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray.
- Optional step: Heat the Nutella in a microwave until it is pourable. Pour over the brownie mix and swirl the Nutella with a knife blade. If you draw it lengthways then crossways, you will get a nice design.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool for 15 minutes, at which point you can spread on more brownies or add more chocolate chips or sprinkles if desired. Cool completely before cutting and serving. Why not try serving it with cream (single, whipped, ice etc!)