Brownies

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes about

    48

Appears in

Towards the middle of the baking this has the most gorgeous smell, which runs like streamers through your home when you take the brownies out of the oven. This is my friend Artemis’ recipe. She makes them so often that this is the most familiar smell from her kitchen. She likes them with whipped, unsweetened cream. You can add some toasted nuts, apple or pear chunks, or anything else you think might go well. Serve these on their own in squares to nibble on or slightly warm with a dribbling of chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They also freeze well so I like to make up this big batch and freeze a few for an emergency snack, but you could also make half the amount in a smaller tray (15 × 20 cm/ 6 × 8 inches). I sometimes make this large quantity (in my big rectangular tray) and then cut it in half into two squares once it’s cooled. Layered with strawberries and whipped cream, it makes a beautiful cake. It’s a bit messy maybe to cut and serve but I have noticed all the kids eyeing this at our parties. Use really good-quality chocolate.

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Ingredients

  • 350 g(12 oz) butter
  • 300 g(10½ oz) dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, broken up
  • 60 g( oz) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 350 g(12 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 g(7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

Filling

  • 360 ml(12½ fl oz) whipping cream
  • ½ tablespoon icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • few drops of vanilla extract
  • 250 g(9 oz) strawberries, hulled, and halved if large

Icing

  • 150 g( oz) dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml( fl oz) pouring (single) cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Butter and flour a 29 × 39 cm(11½ × 15½ inch) baking tray that is at least 3 cm( inches) deep. Put the butter in a medium-sized pan over low heat. When it begins to melt a little, add the chocolate. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Don’t overheat it or the chocolate might seize up. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, then leave it to cool a bit.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until creamy, then fold in the flour. Add the cooled chocolate and butter, mixing well, and then fold in the whites until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Scrape out every drop into your tray and put in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Don’t overcook it though; the brownie should be quite moist in the centre with a crusty top and edges. Leave it to cool completely.

If you are going to fill and ice the brownie, cut it in half across the long side. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until firm peaks form and spread over the top of one piece. Scatter with the strawberries and then put the other piece of cake on top to make a sandwich.

For the icing, gently melt the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan, stirring all the time. As soon as it is smooth, take from the heat. Add a few more drops of cream, if needed, so that it will drip onto the cake. Spread the icing all over the top of the cake, letting some dribble over the edges. Wait for the icing to set before cutting.

For brownies, cut the cake into 5 cm(2 inch) squares. If you are not going to eat them immediately, let them cool completely and then store in a biscuit tin, or well covered with plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out. Leftover brownies can be broken up into bits and scattered into just-about-set vanilla ice cream.