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The world’s best brownies December 30, 2009

Posted by Helen in cakes, chocolate, cookies, dessert.
5 comments

Brownie recipes are like men. You go through a lot of them in a lifetime, searching for that perfect one. Along the way, you find some that are quite good and some that are so dreadful you never want to see them again. Most fall somewhere in between – they’re pleasant enough, but you probably wouldn’t bring them home to your mother. No matter how many disasters you come across, you’re still willing to put yourself out there and search for the elusive “one.” You read coookbooks and surf the web in desperation – the cook’s equivalent of online dating. But then … then … all of a sudden one comes along that completely changes your life. That’s how it was for me when I encountered Nigel Slater’s Very Very Good Brownie recipe a few years ago. It was lust at first sight. How could I possibly resist a recipe which fed me such smoothly seductive lines as, “This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view,” and “What I want is the mother of all brownies – pure, dense and unapologetically raunchy.” Swoon. I know now that I’ll never ever look at another brownie recipe again. I’m a changed woman. A one-recipe woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick, or a small roasting tin.

Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.

I’m in love.

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Bourbon balls December 18, 2009

Posted by Helen in chocolate, confectionary, cookies.
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I’d forgotten all about bourbon balls until I was given a cookbook published by my old school in Louisiana. Then it all came back to me! Back then, you couldn’t go to a Christmas party anywhere (in Shreveport, at least) without seeing a huge platter of bourbon balls on the table. I think there was some sort of a rule about it. So, I give you – the bourbon ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
1 cup (109 g) vanilla wafer crumbs (I used Marie biscuits)
1 cup pecans (109 g), finely chopped
1 cup (100 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp (11 g) cocoa powder
1/8 cup (30 ml) bourbon
7 ½ Tbsp (111 ml) light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
More icing sugar for rolling the balls in

Mix together the biscuit crumbs, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Blend in the bourbon and golden syrup. Shape into 1″ balls and roll in the icing sugar. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Budino di cioccolato November 26, 2009

Posted by Helen in chocolate, dessert.
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Budino di cioccolato is, according to Nigella, the Italian name for these very rich chocolate puddings. The recipe is from Nigella Express. Essentially, they’re chocolate mousse without the fluffy egg whites, so you wind up with a very dense pudding instead. Personally, I prefer the bubbly Aero-Bar-ishness of chocolate mousse and I found these a bit too thick and cloying, so I don’t think I’ll be making them again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
250ml full-fat milk
125ml double cream
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Warm the milk and cream together in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.

Put the sugar and cornflour into another saucepan and sieve in the cocoa powder. Add the 2 tbsps of boiling water and whisk to a  paste. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the warmed milk and cream, then the vanilla extract.

Scrape down the sides of the pan and put it on a lowish heat, cooking and whisking for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.

Take off the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate, before pouring into 4 small cups or glasses.

Cover the tops of the cups or glasses with clingfilm, letting the clingfilm rest on the chocolate surface to stop a skin from forming. Once they’re cooler,  refrigerate. Make sure they’re not still fridge-cold when you serve them.

I served mine in small cups and saucers with a dollop of cream (whipped with a little icing sugar) on top and a couple of Amaretti biscuits on the side.