Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sticky toffee brownies

Warning: these brownies are not for the faint-hearted.

Don't believe me? Well, let me tell you that even I struggled to eat a whole one of these babies. And I'm a serious chocolate/sugar junkie.
They are rich. Mighty rich. And they are sweet. Mighty sweet. But oh are they good.

I've all but given up in my quest for brownie perfection. I have never succeeded in getting them just right. The crackly top and the slightly chewy interior. Mine are almost always under-cooked. And not in a good way. Yet I'm afraid of over-cooking them and ending up with something too... cakey.

Strangely, I also find most recipes are just a bit too... chocolatey... for my taste. Just a bit too intense. I think perhaps I should consider using (shock, horror) a slightly lower cocoa percentage chocolate. You might think this a controversial move. But interestingly, I was talking with an award-winning chocolatier recently (as you do) and he said he felt that people had gone rather over-the-top in their insistence that 'the higher the better' when it comes to cocoa solids. For him, it is all about balance. It is kind of like wine really. A higher alcohol wine is only any good if the flavour, tannin and acidity are able to carry the high alcohol - balance is what we are after.

I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well... Anyway - his point was that a slightly lower cocoa solid content chocolate can still be of excellent quality. No doubt there are lots of experts who would totally disagree with this - I'm just telling you what this man told me. And let me tell you, his chocolates were out of this world!

Anyway, this is all rather pointless seeing as these brownies were made with a 70% cocoa solid chocolate. And they are exceptionally rich, intense and full-on! But. Oh. My. Lord. These are good. They are not what I'm looking for in my 'perfect brownie'. They are something altogether different. But they are pretty damn good. They taste a bit like how sticky toffee pudding would taste if it were made with chocolate rather than dates! They have a treacley-like flavour to them I suppose.

Now that I study the recipe in more detail, I see that it actually suggests that you use chocolate with 50-60% cocoa solids. I will do this next time. Perhaps then I'll be able to manage more than half a square at a time.

The recipe is from one of those natty little books of BBC Good Food origin - 101 Cakes and Bakes. It is a great little book that I heartily recommend.

Toffee and chocolate brownies
Makes at least 16 brownies


350g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
250g unsalted butter, cubed
3 large eggs (free range, organic please)
250g dark muscovado sugar
85g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter and line the base of a nine inch cake tin and set to one side.

2. Take a heavy-based saucepan and set over a low heat - melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring once in a while to stop it sticking. Once melted, stir well and set to one side to cool somewhat.

3. Whisk the eggs until pale and then whisk in the sugar until thick, glossy and completly combined. Now fold in the cooled chocolate mixture and finally sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until all is combined and you have a smooth batter.

4. Pour and scrape into the prepared tin and bake for around 35 minutes. It should be just firm to the touch but the middle will still be soft in the centre - it will firm up on cooling.

5. Cool in the rin on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting into 16 squares, removing from tin and continuing to cool on the rack.

6. Serve, perhaps as dessert with a little cream to cut the richness!


Sylvie said...

I can tell that these are delicious, just from looking at your pictures.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

They sound too good to be true. So good to read of your conversation with the chocolatier. I find some things just (too how would you spell it) cocoa-ey.

Beth said...

I want one right now. They look so good. I bet I could eat a whole one!

Bellini Valli said...

I have a soft spot for brownies.

Katiecakes said...

I just recently bought this book and I will certainly be trying these brownies. They look fantastic!

I'm currently in the process of doing a chocolatiers course so I have loads of different percentage chocolate lying around. Handy :D

Katie xox

Antonia said...

Sylvie - I've had to start giving them away to stop myself from eating too many of them!

Beth - I managed a whole one last night actually... Only just though!

Val - you and me both!

Katie - lots of delcious treats in that book, don't you think?!

Maria said...

Antonia, those looks damn good!! I could easily eat one now ;o). I have this book and have often looked at this recipe but never tried them but thats about to change!


Nickki said...

Wow, those brownies look amazing! I've often thought about making this recipe but I never have. After seeing your pictures, I want to make them right now!

Sam said...

They look utterly delicious.

Margaret said...

I spotted those daffodils again in the photograph. How I long for the spring Antonia.
Brownies aren't the easiest - are they/aren't they cooked?
They look very moreish.

Joie de vivre said...

These look great. So you said you struggled to eat a whole one, but did you manage? I've been having a major chocolate craving recently so I think eating a whole one wouldn't be a problem for me, it would be not eating two or three!

David Hall said...

Antonia - a brownie should be approached with caution before I usually demoilsh a full tray! Lovely stuff.


Rosie said...

I have this book too Antonia but not made these delicious brownies before. Gosh they look so good!

Rosie x

finsmom said...

What a delicious looking photo!

Dee said...

This exact recipe is the the BBC GoodFood 101 Cakes and Bakes book. They are the most amazing brownies ever :)