Dark, rich and indulgent – brownies are the pinnacle of chocolate baking. The very best are crammed with high-quality chocolate and cooked to a soft, squidgy texture. If you feel like a real treat, try our double chocolate brownie recipe.
This decision is crucial to making successful brownies. Use ordinary ‘cooking chocolate’ and you’ll end up with an over-sweet, artificial-tasting brownie. Swap the cheap chocolate for gourmet chocolate like Valrhona or Callebaut and you’ll notice a real difference.
If you have the opportunity to taste chocolate before buying, what should you look for? Firstly, the chocolate should break cleanly with a snap. Crumbly chocolate just won’t do (and is probably old). It should be glossy with a chocolate aroma (and notes of coffee, citrus or wine can be sniffed out sometimes). Taste the chocolate. As well as assessing the taste (a personal choice), test the texture. Good chocolate has a smooth, luxuriously velvety feel in your mouth. If it leaves a lingering aftertaste, so much the better.
You can buy gourmet chocolate online, but it’s far better to visit a local shop – particularly if you can find a local chocolate-maker. Visit your farmer’s market, and you might be lucky enough to find someone who is blending and hand-piping chocolate in your locality. You might even find interesting blends such as lemon, rose and violet.
Tips for successful brownies
The most difficult aspect of baking successful brownies is getting the texture right. The perfect brownie should be slightly soft and fudgy in the middle, with a crackly exterior. It may be helpful to check your Oven’s Temperature before you begin – many ovens run slightly hotter or cooler – using a thermometer. But the only way to perfect your brownies is to keep practising until you turn out the perfect batch. When you do, make a note of the precise time and temperature required by your oven. Every oven is different.
Prepare your tin – which should be square, to ensure even cooking – before you start whisking eggs and sifting flour. Grease it well and line with baking parchment or foil so that you can lift out the entire brownie mixture when it’s cooked.
Double Chocolate Brownies
We suggest sprinkling over some chips after baking to get a pretty finish. This recipe makes enough for a 20cm tin (a size that’s widely available).
- 110g (4oz) unsalted butter
- 85g (3½ oz) dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa)
- 175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 110g (4oz) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 85g (3½ oz) white chocolate chips
- 85g (3½ oz) plain chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 175ºC and line your tin (see Tips, above). Put your mixing bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put in the chocolate and butter and stir occasionally until melted. Be careful not to let any water get into the bowl, because this will cause the chocolate to seize up and become granular. Cool slightly before whisking in the vanilla and eggs. Finally, add the sugar, sift in the baking powder, plain flour and salt and tip in 2/3 of the chocolate chips. Stir together until well combined and scrape into the prepared tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips. Use the baking paper to lift out the bake and put it onto a wire rack to cool.