This morning I drove to town to meet with Abi, who is here for SXSW. Abi runs one of my favorite sites “Heat, Eat, Review” where she and her co-workers review frozen dinners so that you and I can steer clear of the ones that tastes like they’re made from, as one of her readers put it, “stuffed animals”. The site is very helpful to me, because I eat frozen foods quite often for lunch. Even though I love baking, I like having someone cook for me. I pretend my frozen dinners were made for me by a personal chef.
So long story short, I wanted to make something quick but extra special for Abi and decided to try out a special brownie recipe from the brilliant and talented food writer, Nigel Slater. To be honest, I didn’t know Nigel had a brownie recipe until a reader named Angel sent me the recipe. So thanks again, Angel.
The original recipe is conveniently located on The Guardian along with a description that is much better than one I could have written.
“The crust is thin and lightly crisp, the centre poised between chocolate cake and the texture of a peat bog. The flavour is intense.”
I used everyday sort of chocolate and cocoa powder – Nestle semi-sweet and Hershey’s Dark. The brownies were excellent, so use whatever chocolate you have on hand or break out the expensive stuff and blow everyone’s mind. They are that good.
The recipe below is Nigel’s, but with Imperial measurements for us non-metric users. The original version on the link is metric. The directions below are mostly Nigel Slater’s but modified based on how I did things.
Nigel Slater’s Very Good Chocolate Brownies
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter (I used unsalted)
8.8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
tiny pinch of salt (I used a very big pinch 1/8 tsp)
Line a 9 inch square metal pan with non-stick foil or line with regular foil and grease foil.
Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F). Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy. By hand is okay, but it’s important to beat until very light and fluffy. I used a stand mixer and beat for a good 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set (2 oz.) of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces. Or, melt your chocolate in the microwave.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the mixer running slowly, add the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes the top will have risen slightly and the brownies should appear softer in the middle than around the edges. Pierce the center of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it looks raw, don’t worry because the brownies will solidify as they cool. Mine tested almost raw at 30 minutes. I put them in for another 4 then took them out to cool. They set up perfectly with a light skin and “peat bog” like texture.
So total time for me was 34 minutes.