So I’ve been trying to find the ultimate Brownie, but it has proven to be more difficult than I thought.
If you do a little bit of reading up in the world of food blogging, then you’ll quickly come across the name Nigel Slater. Nigel is, I guess, what all us amateur cooks and food bloggers aspire to one day become. I couldn’t actually believe how well his words resonated with me when I read his bio on his website, as Nigel’s views on food exactly mirror my own.
As a newbie on the scene myself, I first came across Nigel’s name while researching Chocolate Brownie recipes, and it soon became apparent that Nigel’s Brownies have cemented their way into the Food Blogging Hall of Fame.
So I had to make them of course.
But I quickly struck a conundrum. I had no butter left in the fridge and it was snowing outside while the temperature was hanging somewhere well below 0. So clearly going to the supermarket wasn’t an option.
But my craving for Chocolate Brownies just wouldn’t subside.
So, I did what anyone would do and decided to try and see if I could find a recipe for Brownies that didn’t use butter (yes I was that desperate!). I came across this recipe on squidoo.com which uses coconut oil instead of butter. This was perfect as I just so happened to have a tub of coconut oil in the cupboard for which I had limited use for and so this was the perfect opportunity to put it work.
The author (sorry I couldn’t find your name!!) claims that her coconut oil recipe delivers a rich fudge-like Brownie unlike any other, and I think she might be onto something. They are very fudgy and moist and received a huge thumbs up from Meneer Prins who very happily scoffed them down.
And so although my craving for Chocolate Brownies was somewhat assuaged, I just couldn’t get my head around using any substitute for butter, and could swear that I could taste its absence. And so of course, I was still super curious to try Mr Slater’s famed recipe and see just what the fuss is all about.
On the surface of things, Nigel’s recipe simply reads like a dream. It has real melted chocolate as well as a very decent amount of cocoa powder and a full packet of butter. And the end result was indeed decadently divine. I was satisfied I had found the ultimate recipe, after all who am I to argue with the food blogging community?
Until Meneer Prins decided that they weren’t as nice as the first lot (i.e. the batch with coconut oil) and were even decidedly dry. I couldn’t believe my ears. How could this be??
And so my search continued. I asked around, and was told to try Donna Hay’s recipe, Martha Stewart’s, or Nigella Lawson’s. But really, by now I was getting all brownied out and besides there were other sweet treats that I wanted to bake, and not only more Brownies. Then the other day I stumbled across a blog post by The Amateur Gourmet. He claimed to have found the perfect Chocolate Brownie. By now of course I was becoming rather tired with words like “the best ever” when associated with Brownies, as I was beginning to think they just didn’t exist. But something told me to try this one. And so I did.
First up, the method used for cooking these Brownies struck me as odd. You add the butter, cocoa, sugar and salt to a metal bowl and put it over a pot of boiling water in order for the butter to melt and the mixture to warm. This seemed unnecessary to me. Why not just melt the butter nice and easy in the microwave and then add to the mixture? But I kept my impatience in check and did what I was told. Turns out, apparently what I was doing was “blooming” the cocoa powder and thereby intensifying it’s taste. Yes, it’s completely new to me too! To read more, have a look at David Lebovitz’s cocoa powder FAQ page here.
The other quirk of this recipe, is that it takes you back to the good old days when Brownies contained only cocoa powder and not real chocolate. According to The Amateur Gourmet, omitting real chocolate allows the Brownies to have more structure.
I also decided to put my own twist on these Brownies. Although I consider myself a chocoholic, I’ve always found Chocolate Brownies just too much – they are so rich and gooey and sickly sweet. The addition of tart raspberries seemed to be the perfect answer to combat all that sickly sweetness.
And so to conclude: Adam Roberts - I wholeheartedly agree. These are the best Brownies of my life! And I will NEVER make another Brownie without raspberries – the tang counteracts the sickly sweetness and unfortunately allowed me to down more pieces than I otherwise could. Hmmm, perhaps adding raspberries wasn’t a good idea after all?
But seriously, if you are looking for more of a cakey, less fudgy brownie, then do go and try Nigel Slater’s recipe. I guarantee you’ll get your fix. But if fudgy and slightly chewy is for you, forget adding real chocolate, start blooming your cocoa, and give these fantastic Brownies a go! And don’t forget the raspberries …