A few weeks ago my Mum and I spent the day selling our homemade goodies at the Covent Garden Real Food Market where one of our best sellers was our chocolate brownies. They flew off the stall like little hot cakes!
Now I've never been a massive brownie fan. For starters, I'm generally more of a savoury person - I'd much rather go for starter and main and skip the dessert (unless there's a good cheese board of course in which case I'd be sure to leave room for that). Added to which I'm not a huge lover of chocolate cakes or desserts. Don't get me wrong, I love a few squares of quality dark chocolate but you'll rarely find me choosing a chocolatey pud. I much prefer something fruity.
So it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I first had a go at making chocolate brownies and even then I had no intention of eating them... I always make cakes to take to work and share with my colleagues on my birthday and this particular year someone asked me if I was any good at making brownies. Never one to turn down a challenge where food is concerned I set off on finding (and perfecting) a good brownie recipe.
Now, family aside, I know of two queens of baking whose tried and tested recipes never fail - Mary Berry and Sue-L. As anyone who visits the BBC Food Message Boards will know, Sue-L 's prowess in the world of baking is much revered! Where better place to start than with her brownie recipe? I know everyone has their own interpretation of what a brownie should taste like - some like them with nuts added - but the bottom line is that a brownie needs to be squidgy on the inside. And believe me, these little beauties are! They went down a treat at work, so much so, even I ate one and have been making them for people ever since.
Sue-L's recipe has a little vanilla extract which I haven't included here. I think whether you need it or not very much depends on the type of chocolate you use and your own tastes, but that's a story for another blog post altogether as my recent chocolate tasting with the chocolate master himself, Paul A. Young, taught me...
200g good quality plain chocolate (as Sue-L says, 70% cocoa solids makes the best brownies!)
600g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
250g plain flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
Preheat your oven to 180C (170C fan assisted).
Grease a rectangular roasting tin or oven proof dish which measures approximately 8" x 12" (20 x 30cm) and line with baking parchment (not greaseproof paper as this will stick to the brownies!).Melt the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water inside the pan and be careful not to let the water come into contact with the chocolate as this could make it all go horribly wrong.
Cool the chocolate and butter mixture slightly and then stir in the caster sugar. Whisk the eggs and add then a little at a time, making sure they are well blended before adding more.
Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. It may take up to 50 minutes to cook, depending on your oven, but you don't want to over cook it or your brownies will be too dry. To get the right consistency the mixture needs to be just cooked, so start testing with a cocktail stick after about 40 minutes – there should be moist crumbs clinging to the cocktail stick, but not wet batter.
Cool the brownies in the tin slightly and then mark into pieces. Depending on how big you want your brownies to be, this mixture will make between 15 and 24 pieces. It is fairly rich though so you may just want to make mini sized brownies, in which case you could make 32 pieces.
Leave the brownies in the tin until they are completely cold, then turn out onto a board and cut into pieces along the pre-marked lines.