Oooops! Who ate that side of the pan of brownies? Come on now – who cut a slither off one corner whilst still warm then went back as they chomped it down to cut a second piece and then thought “oh to hell with it, I may as well slice off the whole of this side!”? Hehehe, that would be *me* then ;).
You see, the 24 hours running up to this shameful act was consumed with one thought and one thought alone. I must bake. And eat. I must bake something I really want a piece of and eat it with pleasure in my soul and joy in my heart! I think there is only so long a person who loves to bake can hold out not eating some of their wares, even when she’s trying so desperately hard to lose the weight she packed on after her wedding to Hungry Hubby.
I’ve really cracked this exercise milarky now – I do some form of proper, drenched in sweat evoking form of exercise almost everyday and I have completely overhauled how I eat beyond recognition. I’m slightly proud of these facts. So far, be it painfully slowly, I have been rewarded with a 9.5lbs weight loss which other people are starting to see. Me? Happy much! :D. But back to these brownies…
I’ve been fantasising about these brownies, adapted from the first of a series of books written by the founders of the healthy fast food chain Leon, for months and months. I’d even bought myself some fructose sugar to make them with. Sadly I learnt after this act and certainly way after the publication of this book fructose might not be the “kinder to your health” form of refined sugar the Leon creators thought it might be. Turns out, it probably turns to fat just as quick if not quicker than bog standard sucrose. Rats. Oh well, it was pricey and I only had enough for one recipe so I decided to use it up just this once! I’m sure the turning on of fat burning genes supplied by the almonds in the recipe counteracts this design flaw nicely! ;)
You see, brownies are somewhat of a contentious issue in themselves. By that I mean – folk in the home baking camp are forever arguing (if from a passionate place rather than an angry one!) about what makes The Perfect Brownie. It’s something my foodie friends come back to time and time again. We even have a document in our Facebook group “Cooking Friends” which is dedicated as space to transcribe the some 200 plus members favourite brownie recipes into. Whether you like your brownies gooey, cakey, chewy or fudgey (or perhaps a combination of all four) chances are once you’ve found your Ne Plus Ultra brownie, you’re going to fight to the death to promote it to the world! Such is the power of the humble cacao pod and the fruits of its refinement.
Once I tasted (three pieces) of this smouldering rich chocolate brown pan of goodness I knew I’d found The One (for me). You may disagree with me but like selecting a mate, a life partner, a Hungry Hubby or Wifey of your own, a recipe for sheer brownie perfection is not merely about matching up exact, predefined criteria of desirable characteristics but more about finding The One which makes your insides melt and your heart pound with all its might.
For me, I’m all about the addition of nuts to make the perfect brownie – here we go for ground almonds as well as toasted then roughly chopped whole almonds and pecans. I just love how even a small quantity of ground almonds provides a fudge-like consistency with also a hint of cakey-ness that combine to produce the most toothsome texture of all known baked delights.
I love the “set” the ground nuts give once at room temp and the addition of chopped dark and milk chocolate just skyrockets this recipe to the top of the brownie charts for me. You’ll know exactly why when you sink your teeth into one, still with the breath of warmth from the oven on them and a chunk of molten chocolate is unleashed into your salivating mouth. Wow. There are no words to fully describe that sensation!
My version of the original recipe has both a streamlined method (as I found the method in the book unnatural to follow – I guess we all get into a personal rhythm in our own kitchens so feel free to do as you please also) and I’ve played around with the ingredients. I left out the orange zest, bumped up the espresso, reduced the chocolate amount and changed the nuts.
This was due to my baking supplies cupboard running on empty but can I tell you – I will never make them any differently from now on as these were chocolate perfection to me. So not only have I found a soul mate in Hungry Hubby (whom is a lifelong lover of a good brownie served warm with vanilla ice cream) but I’ve found my brownie soul mate too. The search is over :)
- 180 g butter
- 200 g dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp espresso coffee
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 180 g caster sugar light or dark muscavado sugars are also delicious here
- 100 g ground almonds
- Generous pinch sea salt
- 50 g whole almonds
- 50 g whole pecans
- 125 g dark chocolate chopped not too finely
- 125 g milk chocolate chopped not too finely
Pop the whole nuts on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 10 mins on 180°C until toasted and fragrant – chop roughly when cool.
Leave oven on as prepare the batter.
Melt the butter and 200g dark chocolate together then take off the heat and beat in the coffee and vanilla.
When cooled down for 5 or 10 minutes whisk in the eggs, sugar, ground almonds and salt.
Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate.
Pour into a 20x30cm baking tin lined with grease proof paper or buttered foil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the middle just has a hint of inner thigh wibble, as Nigella would say.
Cool only as long as you can bare to wait for and portion up as generously as your greedy soul can bare!
Adapted from Emma Goss Custard, when she worked for the Leon group