Defining what are the perfect brownies is a constant source of debate. People tend to fall into two camps: those who prefer a crumbly, cake-like brownie and those who enjoy the chewy and rich variety. Mark and I definitely fall into the chewy and rich camp and we’ve been hunting for a perfect recipe for a long time.
At last, after many failures and attempts at allegedly foolproof recipes, I found this one, which works! Well, because brownies can be difficult – too short a cooking time, and they are far too runny and thick, too long and they’re dry and cakey. Plus there is the infamous and sometimes elusive cracked glossy topping.
This recipe is a slightly tweaked famous Leith School of Food and Wine and they are describe as ‘decadent, indulgent and deliciously excessive’.
LEITH RICH DARK BROWNIES
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
85g plain flour
handful of roughly chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the baking tray with baking parchment.
- Break the chocolate into the small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the chocolate. stand the bowl over a pan of just-boiled water, making sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water, to melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally.
- Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes, then whisk in the sugar using an electric whisk until well combined.
- Gradually whisk the eggs one by one into the chocolate mixture and beat until smoothly combined. Sift the flour and whisk in well for about 20 second until the colour begins to lighten. Stir in the chopped walnuts (or any extras you chose to add).
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until a stick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs (not wet batter!) clinging to it. It s better to slightly undercook then overcook brownies, as they should still be fudge in the middle and will become less moist as they cool.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 2 minutes before lifting carefully from the tin and transferring to a wire rack to cool. Remove the paper before the brownies is completely cold. Cut into 20 squares using a sharp knife. These are delicious cold or warm, served with cream, ice cream, creme fraiche or, if you want to be really indulgent, a fudge sauce.
A Little Extra:
Any extras should serve to enhance, rather than mask a brownie’s fabulous chocolate taste.
Go nuts – A handful of toasted pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts add a pleasing textural contrast.
Get fruity – Dried berries (sour cherries, cranberries, raspberries) or orange zest all go well with chocolate.
Lace with spice – For a Mexican-style brownie, add a pinch of cinnamon or a dash of chilli.
Top tipple – For adults-only indulgence, add a slug of bourbon or a tot of a rich, dark rum.
Perk it up – Coffee and chocolate are natural partners: so try adding a dash of espresso or choc-coated coffee beans to the batter.