Maybe you're in the quiet of your kitchen, with a cup of steaming tea and a square of oven-warm deliciousness washing away the stresses of the week. Maybe it's late at night, you're in your PJs and on your way to bed, but you detour via the kitchen and before you know it, you're eating a stolen slice from the fridge (cold brownies have their devotees). Maybe you've already had two squares today but what the heck, no one's looking, you'll have another! (These are of course strictly hypothetical situations and did NOT occur at my place over the weekend.)
Brownies can mean different things to different people. My idea of the perfect brownie is the obligatory shiny, crackly, chewy top, with a dark fudgy centre. I occasionally toy with the idea of throwing in a handful of walnuts (a classic addition) but then chicken out and decide I don't want anything interrupting, corrupting, that soft sumptiousness.
Here is the joy of a brownie: you can make it your own. Nuts, or no nuts. Raspberries, or no raspberries. Coffee, cinnamon, or not. Something tipsy, or - actually, there's no 'or' here, I definitely add something boozy to my brownies! Frangelico is a favourite, but this time I used sweet, syrupy Tia Maria.
The special touch to this batch of brownies came from prunes, soaked in the Tia Maria - for almost six weeks (talk about delayed gratification). Plumptious, tender, wicked little bombs. They added to the squidge factor of these brownies, not detracted.
So everyone should have a good brownie recipe in their repertoire. Here is mine.
The ultimate brownie
Adapted from Glamour magazine Feb 2004. The joy of a brownie is that it is melt-and-mix, so when the urge hits you, you can act on it immediately (unless of course you're soaking prunes in alcohol for six weeks). So what are you waiting for?
- Preheat oven to 180 and line a brownie tin with paper.
- Melt 105 grams butter, 1 tbspn light olive oil, and 115 grams dark cooking chocolate in a double boiler set up (bowl over saucepan of simmering water, not directly touching the water).
- While that's happening (keep your eye on it), in another bowl whisk up 2 large eggs, 1/4 tspn salt, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tspn vanilla.
- Then add the combined choc-oil-butter mixture. It will get sort of rubbery!
- At this point, add your flavourings. I added the prunes (18; don't ask how I arrived at that number) which I'd soaked in 125 ml of Tia Maria; I also added 2 tbspns of the leftover TM. You could add about 2 tbspns of any alcohol you like that pairs well with chocolate (Frangelico, rum, brandy, Grand Marnier); or coffee, or a good handful of nuts, raisins; or some cinnamon. Up to you.
- Then fold in 1/2 cup of plain flour (yes, that's right - not much at all).
- Pour into brownie tin, lick the bowl and spoon, and place in oven to bake for about 45 to 50 minutes - the top should go shiny, the edges will pull away from the tin, and a skewer will still come out a little damp.
- Enjoy, guilt-free.