Friday, 27 January 2017

Coffee Chocolate Brownies

Living with a great cook gives me the freedom to learn how to cook by making fun food - no one starves in the process.  When I decided to conquer one of El Punko’s favourite vices, the chocolate brownie, I didn’t expect the brownie to fight back. 

There was the-pan’s-too-big-so-I’ll-double-the-recipe fiasco.

Too brown & dry around the edges.

The turned-on-the-grill-not-the-oven debacle.

Burnt on the outside, raw on the inside.

And the Thanksgiving vegan brownies topped with icing, which weren’t too bad but weren’t kickass brownies. 

Thanksgiving Day Brownies

Every couple of weeks, I’d research & practice.  Eventually, I developed my own recipe which is heavily influenced by the real cooks who came before me. 

400g cooking chocolate
250g butter or baking margarine
2T instant coffee
3 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g muscavado sugar
1t vanilla extract
90g self raising flour
200g chocolate chips

For vegans, check that your chocolate & margarine have no dairy products in them, then substitute 1C applesauce for the eggs (standard substitution of ⅓C applesauce per egg).

Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5.  Grease a 30x23cm baking tin, line the bottom with greaseproof paper, then grease the paper. 

A note about baking paper.  I’ve found that store brand paper doesn’t usually come away from the baked goods very well, regardless how many surfaces I faithfully grease.  Siobhán has long used a silicon coated parchment paper that she found in the local farm shop.  It can also be ordered online.

My double boiler set up.
Set up some type of double boiler apparatus to melt that chocolate & margarine together.  For mine, I pour a bit of hot water from the kettle into a small saucepan, set it on a medium heat, then use an old Christmas pudding bowl that rests perfectly without falling in.  

Put the margarine in first & break the chocolate into it to make all the melting happen faster.  The first time I did this, I broke the chocolate into the pre-fab sections, then cut each of them in half.  A total waste of time.  The chocolate melts fast enough in pre-fab segments.  

So while you’re preheating & melting . . .

Let this cool slightly before adding to mix.

In a large bowl, dissolve the coffee in enough hot water to make it liquid.  2T of coffee give the brownies a nice caffè mocha under-taste, but you could use more for a stronger coffee flavour.  Add the vanilla extract, sugars, & eggs or apple sauce, & stir well.  Mix in the slightly cooled chocolate & margarine.  

Lastly, stir in the flour & then the chocolate chips.  If you like walnuts bits in your brownies, add about 175g now.  (I find this recipe too rich for walnuts.)

Pour into your lined tin & bake for about 45 minutes.  Properly cooked, brownies are still soft in the middle of the pan with a light crust over the top.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack like so:

Put the cutting board on top of the pan.

               Flip so the cutting board is on the bottom, then lift off the pan.

Put the wire rack on top of the brownies.

 And flip again.

You could remove the paper before the final flip, but because I was using the cheap stuff, I waited until the brownies cooled in order to have fewer chunks come off with the paper.  You can see that a hunk came away when I flipped the brownies, so I was very brave & ate it.

Icing.  In my early trials, I used this Mary Berry icing (from Mary Berry's Cookery Course):

I used a tea strainer because I'd already washed the sieve.
Add 3T of sifted cocoa powder & 4T of boiling water to 25g of cubed unsalted butter.  Stir until smooth.  Sift in 225g icing sugar.  Leave to cool, then spread over the uncut brownies with a palette knife.  Allow to set, then cut into squares. 

The Europeans in my fold loved this icing, but I suspect Americans have a different idea about what constitutes suitable brownie frosting.  

Mary Berry icing.
By the time I got to my vegan Thanksgiving brownies (see photo above), I’d switched to Betty Crocker frosting (what else) but in my opinion, this current recipe is way too rich for anything but a little dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Cut into squares (1.5” square is the perfect size for me) & keep in a sealed container or freeze.  An easy, slightly decadent dessert that’ll please all your chocolate lovers!

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