These brownies are very dark, dense and immensely rich, best served in small portions. The subtle bite of black pepper helps balance the richness.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and put it in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a pan of steaming, but not quite simmering, water, and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and well mixed. Gradually sprinkle in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and pepper until well mixed. Gradually beat in the still-warm chocolate mixture, then stir in the flour, mixing well.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35–40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out very slightly sticky – brownies are meant to be gooey in the middle.
Leave in the tin until completely cool. Lift from the tin using the overhanging baking parchment. Slice when ready to serve.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.