Sunday, 25 February 2007


After three days of rain, grey skys and feeling ill the urge to bake has set in. A made a lovely roast of navarin of lamb with lots of garlic and rosemary for lunch, so after a couple of hours of lying on the sofa in a sophorific state it felt like theright kind of wet afternoon for gently playing in the kitchen.

The excuse of a friends house for dinner (hence no need to worry about consuming the whole batch ourselves) was enough. So, after a hellish trip to the shops in search of quantities of butter and green and blacks chocolate I settled into mixing up a heart attack for my nearest and dearest.

They came out all squidy and gooey, perfect in fact. And then, I'm still not quite sure how, I dropped one side of the pan. Volcanic streams of chocolate came gushing from underneath the crust, and began pooling onto the work surface. My precious brownies! Now, one thing is clear when this happens: you have got the timing just right, there is a nice chewy crust and a molten (but not uncooked) interior. You can tell this because the pools of gooeyness on the work surface are too hot to handle, and also to liquid to handle. I resorted to spooning. It was sort of sucessful, but I fear may have disturbed the lightness of my brownies.

I console myself with the thought that they were perfect, and they still taste fantastic.

A last word about nuts. I love them in brownies, but you can tend to divide a room into likes and dislikes. Happily I think their place is on top of the brownie, in the crispy chewy bit. I think the middle should be unadulterated chocolate. As well as making the contrast between crunchy edges with toasted nuts, and deep dark interior, this helpfully marks out brownies as nut containing, or not.
So, if you like them add them. Hazlenuts are my favourite.

250g green and blacks chocolate
300g light muscovado sugar
250g unsalted butter
4 medium eggs
60g cocoa powder
50g flour
2 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 180oc. Grease baking tins. I use little silicone heart moulds mainly as they give the right ratio of gooey middle to chewy outside, but if baking in a large flat tin line the base with foil or greased paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together, meanwhile melt 200g of the chocolate in a bain marie and chop the rest finely. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar once it has become light and fluffy. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly then beat into the butter mixture. Fold in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Spoon into moulds or tin and bake. The time will depend on the size of the tin, but check after 15 minutes for muffin size tins. The edges should be crisp, and the brownie will have risen slightly, but the middle should still be gooey, with definite wobble, but should not be raw.

Leave to cool slightly in tins or the will fall apart, but best eaten slightly warm from the oven.

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