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Sunday
Jul112010

Dad's best-ever chocolate brownies

  

Since I am currently experimenting with an entirely new way of cooking (see my last post, measuring up), it may take a little longer to get my own recipes into a workable state, so I thought I would start with someone else's.  

The Flour Power City Bakery, which has stalls at all the major London farmer's market and some further a field, claims that their ultra chocolate brownies are 'Absolutely the best in town!'; a claim which I seek to challenge. Notwithstanding the fact that I think my Dad's brownies are the best-ever, I think many a brownie I have tried has beaten them by a mile. What the Flour Power brownie is lacking is that essential rich, chewy, fudgy quality which makes a brownie a brownie and distinguishes it from a slice of chocolate cake. And the secret? A sticky tar-like concoction made from butter, brown sugar and lots of it! 
 
Dad's recipe is the one he used to use in his cafe, so it yields a rather hefty batch of brownies. When I make it, I cut the recipe down by half and cook it in a pyrex dish from ikea (27x18cm at the top, including the rim, approximately 22x14cm at the base and roughly 6cm in depth). One of the benefits of using pyrex is that the brownie is less likely to burn at the edges. If, like me, you have an unreliable oven, this will come in very handy!
 
If using the full recipe (as set out below) you will need a baking tin or pyrex dish approximately 28x20cm, give or take a few cm, and a depth of at least 3cm. Unlike with cake making, where using the wrong sized tin can have a significant impact on the outcome of the cake, with brownies the effect will just be a slightly more or less fudgy consistency in the centre.
 

Ingredients

2 cups plain white flour
2 cups cocoa 
500g unsalted butter
4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts or hazlenuts (optional)*
1/2 cup dark cooking chocolate pieces (optional)*
 
* Please note that in his original recipe, Dad gives the measurement of nuts as 2 handfuls and gives no measurement for the chocolate. Therefore, please take my suggestions as approximations. 
 

Method

Preheat the oven at 180C, grease your baking dish with plenty of butter and line the base with baking paper. If using a pyrex dish, you can forgo the baking paper, I find it comes out just fine.
 
Sift the flour and cocoa together and set aside. 
 
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. When fully melted, add the brown sugar, stirring until combined (this is the sticky tar like concoction I mentioned earlier). Remove from the heat. You will need to add the eggs to this mixture while it is still quite warm, but not so hot that the eggs begin to cook immediately (this will look like scrambled eggs). Stir until the eggs are combined and then add the vanilla essence, if you are using it. 
 
Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the flour and cocoa in stages. Make sure you stir throughly, because sometimes pockets of flour and cocoa get trapped at the bottom and if you are not expecting it, you may find them when pouring the mix into your baking dish. I find a silicon spatula is best suited to this job. 
When all the flour and cocoa has been intgrated into the mix, stir in the nuts and real chocolate. 
 

 
Pour into the baking dish, using a spatula to spread the mixture evenly. Bake immediately (i.e. while it is still warm) for 35-40 minutes. Your end result should have a nice brown crust on top and be soft in the centre. Don't worry if it seems a bit too soft in the middle when it comes out of the oven, it will firm up as it cools turning into that lovely chewy, fudgy consistency that makes these brownies the best ever.
 
If presentation is your thing, then a light dusting of icing sugar looks great. If you are feeling especially indulgent, serve with clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.

 

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Reader Comments (8)

The brownies look extraordinary and I will definitely try them. The best recipe so far is that by Jamie Oliver which remain moist and have that lovely "stick to the tongue" texture which lasts beyond the last mouthful. Quite often those brownies that look the best are dry and have no "squidgy" factor. For a real surprise for lazy brownie lovers try the ones from the Co-op - they come in packs of 5 or 6 and are truly delicious!

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie Hodder

I quite agree that looks can be deceiving, the Flour Power Bakery's brownies being a case in point, hence my disappointment. I'll have to make Jamie's brownies to compare, but I must admit now that I am likely to be biased in my judgements.

July 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterVix

I also make Jamie Oliver's brownies. I think the only right thing to do would be to cook both and make a decision. Look out hips!

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Can't wait to try this one Vicks. I am a self-proclaimed brownie connoisseur - this looks great. One thing i have found with brownies is that using corn oil rather than butter can really add to the squidginess - mmmm!

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaty J

That's one I haven't heard before, I'll have to give it a go. My general rule is the more butter the better, but I imagine the same could well apply with oil.

August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterVix

Vicki - just wanted to let you know that every time I dip in to your inspired blog I want to eat ! I also love mention of your papa and his words of wisdom ! Keep up the good work.
Cheers,
Jen

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen Ainge

I knew I'd been missing something since leaving the UK - the best chocolate brownies ever!
So I decided to recreate them in my kitchen. They went down a treat with the new flatties (these brownies are a great way to win friends in a new house!) but I would reiterate Vix's suggestion of using a pyrex dish, as my edges came out slightly burnt! The middle was still divine though and they are just so simple to make!

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMishka Martin

Thanks for the comment, Mishka Bee. And here I was thinking it was me you were missing ;) Ha ha, just kidding! The brownies are pretty special.

Re. pyrex or metal tin - I suppose the one good thing about brownies is that they are very easy to trim, so not as bad as burnt cake, for example.

February 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterVix

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