“And when all of the flourless chocolate cakes & chocolate mousse or ganache cakes have come and gone, there will still be nothing like a fudgy brownie, dry & crackled on top, moist & dense within, with a glass of cold milk.” ― Richard Sax
Join me on a January afternoon in Vancouver, British Columbia, sidewalks turning slick with rain. Vancouver doesn’t mess about ― none of those non-commital Irish days here, teasing you with damp and drizzle. I cycle home, rain-spattered despite a raincoat, hair wind-swept into a giant mane of unmanageable blond frizz. They call me the Lion (if only).
I’m barely in the door, when you arrive, umbrella armed, gumboot shod, just a little dripping. The house is all creaks. We make tea, hot hot tea. We drizzle it with honey, because we can. Drops patter against the roof, and it’s almost musical. You sing something silly about rain. I do too. You tell me days like this call for a hot oven full of home-baked somethings, comfort food. I agree. ‘How about cookies?’, I say. ‘How about brownies?’, say you.
Oh the interminable battle of cookie and brownie ― and maybe it’s imagining pulling the tray from the oven, digging our spoons into that hidden treasure, so tender, soft and oozing ― or the thought of the scent, that embodiment of warmth and comfort, suffusing our house? Or maybe it’s the appeal just pouring batter in pan, lazy winter days call for lazy winter desserts after all… whatever it is, brownies win today.
Join me on this dim grey frigid day; or if you can’t face the wet or the rain, if your cat’s caught a cold, and you have too, invite me around, I’ll bring the baking supplies. Let’s make brownies. Here’s a recipe. It’s a good one, simple too. Let’s do it.
The brownies are simple to prepare and have a happily short list of ingredients me. If you, like me, prefer a fudgy brownie, air on the side of a shorter baking time. If you prefer a cakey brownie, I may need to have a lively debate with you on the subject. If you don't have a double boiler, a mixing bowl over a pot of hot water will do just as well.
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate (70% cocoa content), roughly chopped
- 115 g (4 ounces / 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing pans
- 200 g (7 ounces / 1 cup) golden caster sugar (can be substituted with any natural sugar, or if necessary, white sugar)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp (5 ml) natural vanilla extract
- 110 g (4 ounces / ⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan with parchment paper (or aluminium foil), and butter the parchment. The paper should extend above at least 2 edges of the pan.
- In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat, and whisk in sugar until fully combined.
- Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and salt. Finally, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in flour.
- Spread finished batter evenly in the prepared baking pan, and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out moslty clean (a crumb or two are okay, especially if you like your brownies fudgy).
- Cool in the pan. Slice into 16 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inch) squares, or however you fancy. For a touch of class, dust with a little powdered sugar.
Toss in chocolate chips or nuts. Swirl with caramel or your favourite nut butter. Spike with alcohol. Or find your inner kid and stud with your favourite candy! There's no end to the wonderful things you could do with these brownies.