Hitesh @ The Barefoot Bistro –
Nigella Lawson introduced me to her fats. Unsalted butter and chocolates. I have never been the same since. While I watch her on television adding in cup after cup of cream or butter or sugar cooking up sinful delights, Ananya sits beside me in horror imagining every calorie from Nigella’s recipes settling on her hips. But, I believe what the French know so well. Butter makes everything better.
For the longest time, commercial bakeries in the big cities of India had no idea what a true brownie was till about two years ago. Nor did most of the patisseries in the five star hotels. Yes, their other confectionary was fabulous, but everyone just plain screwed up the brownie. All we got was some idiot’s bright idea of passing off square pieces of mediocre cake as brownies. Even worse, you’d find them burning away merrily on a sizzling platter doused in more burning chocolate “sauce” and sold as ‘sizzling brownies’ in restaurants. Most commonly you’d find them as almost rock hard plastic filmed brown cubes of chocolate horrors in vitrines…with or without walnuts. And of course, someone had the brighter idea of soaking sponge cake in chocolate syrup to make it fudgy… that, my friends, is wet cake. And wet cake is worse than horrible.
I decided the only way to enjoy a great brownie was to make them myself. All I needed now was an oven. Dear old Santa (the jolly old man in a red suit not the Sardar from the jokes) got me one for Christmas in 2009. Yes, I still get my Christmas goodies from Santa. And occasionally, the Easter Bunny…
So my foray into baking really started with the quest for a damn good brownie. And I hit upon Nigella’s recipe just channel surfing one evening. My first brownie experience or experiment was unloaded onto a houseful of foodie friends during a potluck dinner. And while they tasted my brownies, I tasted stardom that night!
I was hounded and applauded for my brownies during gooey mouthfuls and garbled ‘yummmmmm….mmm…’s. Three years, a few tweaks, and over a hundred batches later this chocolate brownie is still one of the foremost recipes in my repertoire. You can double it for a 9”X13” pan if you like.
187.5 g unsalted butter cubed app, 1 cmX1 cm
187.5 g dark chocolate chopped or grated
200 g fine brown sugar
112 g white flour
100 g desiccated grated coconut roasted lightly.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pre heat the oven to 180C.
Grease or line a 5”X9” pan with greaseproof paper.
Place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, melt and stir till glossy and smooth and runs off the spatula clean and shiny. Using raw chocolate slabs and stirring constantly with unsalted butter for at least five or seven minutes after completely melted till glossy, shiny and smooth has given me the best results. Cool slightly to pour into the egg mixture.
In a clean bowl put the eggs and caster sugar and whip till pale almost white. Pour in the chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla essence.
Sift the flour with the salt and stir in firmly but gently till smooth.
Put in the grated coconut and mix.
Pour this in the 5”X9” baking pan and bake at 180C for 25 to 30 mins. For the doubled recipe in a 9’X13” pan bake for upto 45mins checking every 5mins after the 35min, mark.
The brownie will continue to cook even after you take it out of the oven. If it is in too draughty a place it might cool too fast so cover when cooling. The skewer should come out ALMOST clean. (**If the skewer comes out completely clean, the brownie is too dry. You can save it by using a caramel icing.)
When cool decorate with classic sifted icing sugar over the top. Cut into 12 or 16 portions.
Using unsalted butter changes the keeping properties of the brownie and its texture. However to be fair the texture in iced or nut brownies is not apparent. By keeping properties I mean that when you take the unsalted butter brownie out of the fridge you do not need to microwave it to get it fudgy. Just leave it out at room temperature for ten minutes.