Yes, I do need an excuse to bake brownies, and now I have two. We’re hosting an end of season bbq for the Muffet’s team, and as we’re providing the meat I am naturally compelled to make something to have with coffee. I’m not that fond of meat. I’m also being nagged to make brownies by the Muffet’s schoolfriend, Lindy Lu. Lindy loves my baking and often sends requests home with the Muffet, because her mum never bakes anything. It makes a nice counterpoint to the Muffet, who complains that she never gets normal food in her lunchbox, like everyone else.
Even before the web it was easy to find multiple brownie recipes, everyone has a favourite. The one I’ve been making for a while comes from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, and I haven’t even altered it. Except to convert those absurd American measurements. A stick of butter, forsooth! How far can you get from SI??
I don’t use a double boiler, because guess who washes up? I use a metal bowl balanced over a saucepan of boiling water and it seems to do the trick. Place in the metal saucepan 200grams of very nice butter and 100g of dark chocolate. These, along with the cocoa, are the ingredients that will make people beg you for the recipe, their quality makes a big difference. I use Harmonie Organic Butter. I was using Belcolade chocolate drops and they were quite good, but then I bought one of those chunks of Callebaut chocolate you see at Harris Farms. Why do they sell them like that? How on earth are you supposed to break them down? The first one I got I just surreptitiously nibbled at until it was all gone. The second one was fortunately exactly the right size for these brownies, which was when I realised I couldn’t go back. Now I get Callebaut in chip form either at the IGA, or from the nice man at my local chocolate shop.
Place your bowl over the saucepan of boiling water and wait for the contents to melt. This took about as long as making a coffee, taking a phone call from my husband to ask why his Blackberry wasn’t syncing properly (I blame Google) and reheating the coffee in the microwave. Probably time he moved to an iPhone. Stir it with a wooden spoon then take it off the heat. Stir in half a cup of Dutch cocoa (mine comes in a dark brown container from Norton St Grocers and I can’t be bothered digging it out of the cupboard to get the brand), one and a quarter cups of caster sugar, and three eggs – one at a time. I also try to get nice eggs, but I can’t say that I can taste a difference. Then stir in one third of a cup of sour cream, once again, can’t taste the difference between Barambah Organic and Dairy Farmers, and two teaspoons of vanilla essence. Vanilla is the salt of the sweets world, you won’t necessarily pick it as a flavour but it makes everything taste nicer. Speaking of salt, I’ve recently started grinding a turn or two of sea salt into my brownie, but you really don’t want to overdo it. Last, stir in half a cup of plain flour. The recipe also suggests stirring in a cup of pecans, which sounds like a wonderful idea except, as you would have gathered by now, my family Don’t Like Bits In It.
Scrape mixture into a baking paper lined square or rectangular cake tin. Mine is square and 20cm a side. Bake at 160C for about 45 minutes. It will be all cracked on the top. I don’t bother dusting it with icing sugar, but you can if you’re a presentation kind of person.