Dinner at a friend’s house is always nice – I don’t have to worry about cooking or washing the dishes, but I was also raised not to go empty handed. So for tonight’s visit to some friends’ up the West Coast, I decided to make a brownie. And I say a brownie because I intend to take the whole tray with. You see, it’s only my third time making brownies, but based on the previous experiences, I am afraid that I will not be able to help myself from finishing what would be left tonight, around 2am, while secretly watching an episode of True Blood on my laptop, with my headphones on. Yes, they were that good the first two times. Since right before starting making the brownies I had a bit of a panic attack – I had misplaced the paper with the scribbled recipe and while I knew it by heart and actually barely even looked over it, I was honestly afraid that it wouldn’t come out right (as if something that has half a kilo of sugar could ever taste bad!) – I decided to write it down somewhere where I could always go back to.
I will list below the ingredients and the instructions of how I made a brownie for the first time (that one did not make it out of the tray unfortunately, so there are no photos). Even though I did find it somewhere on a website (please don’t ask where, if you search on Google ‘brownie recipe’ you will find so many that it could be any one of those), I put my twist on it to make it truly decadent. So here it is, my ‘original’ recipe:
- 225 g butter, unsalted (duh – leave the salted one for a delicious piece of toast in the evening, sprinkled with a tiny bit of Himalayan salt, and accompanied by a cup of mint tea)
- 600 g brown sugar
- 15 ml vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, medium size
- 180 g cake flour
- 70 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 200 g milk chocolate
Notes: If the eggs are extra-large or jumbo, or whatever comes after that, it will most likely have a more cake-like texture, all good if that’s what you like, or if you only have medium sized eggs and you are after said texture, feel free to add an extra egg.
I am quite keen to try replacing the vanilla essence with a teaspoon of natural vanilla powder, but I am not sure if it’s not wasted in that sea of chocolate?
You can omit the baking soda if you don’t want the crust on the brownies (but why would someone not want that??)
You can add chopped walnuts or slivered almonds for an extra kick - I figured there would be enough calories anyway, but I am keen to try it sometime.
Before we start, let me just say that I am never one to take out all the ingredients and have them nicely aligned on the kitchen counter and I am known to rush around (as much as one can rush around in the 3 sq m that I have available in my kitchen) looking for what I need, dropping all kinds of things on my feet in the process. But I find that it helps to have everything in front of you, especially when trying a new recipe. Anyway, let’s move on to the important stuff:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Grease a baking dish with butter. (I had to go with a round oven dish for this one, I thought that if I’m no good at making brownies then there is no point in investing in a proper dish; I have, since, purchased a proper square tray)
Combine the melted butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a large bowl.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.
Gardually stir in the flour, cooca mix, salt and baking soda.
Chop the chocolate in small to medium sized pieces, toss them lightly in a bit of flour and stir into the mix.
Pour in your pan of choice.
Pop in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Knowing when it’s ready takes a bit of guessing, the toothpick test does not work, trust me, how is the toothpick supposed to come out clean when the inside of the cake is full of melted chocolate?? I would say that even with a low range crappy oven, 35 minutes should be enough for the brownie to be ready.
Now, for the harsh truth, the monster that I created when I first made this recipe was estimated at just over 6100 calories, and considering that the average moderately active 24 year old woman could get away with eating 2000 calories a day, you can imagine that I did not joke when I said ‘decadent’.
For the second round, I tried to be a bit more responsible, and firstly halved all the quantities, so the maximum calories that could have come out were around 3050. Shorter brownies but better for your blood tests. Then, I left out an extra 100 g of sugar and replaced the 200 g of milk chocolate with 180 g of dark chocolate. I think I might have omitted the vanilla essence as well, but th result was delicious and I enjoyed it with much less guilt…
For the third attempt, this one, I have omitted about 70 g of sugar and instead of 200 g I only used 180 g of milk chocolate – not as drastic as version 1.1, I still need to impress, but slightly better. I am also planning on actually sharing this batch with more than one person, so it should be a nice treat at the end of a long week. I think that while dinner on your own has a wonderful effect on stress and nerves, enjoying good food and wine with friends is why I started cooking in the first place.