I have only ever met one person who admitted they don't like brownies. Don't worry, I was as shocked as you. I am as old as Mr Kipling and have been baking cakes for as long as I can remember so trust me when I say brownies are a complex matter. Not quite rocket science but nearly. There are as many brownie recipes out there as there are people who love them. Tastes may vary but what separates a brownie from a cake or a muffin or a bun is the very delicate and distinctive line it traverses between cake and fudge. A brownie is a brownie because it has the crumbliness of cake but the rich moistness of fudge that delivers an intense taste sensation.
This recipe (adapted from BBC Food) is just right in my opinion. It has just the right proportion of eggs, chocolate and flour to produce a blissful brownie. My son who is a connoisseur of brownies likes this recipe the best of all the ones I have tried over the years. The only challenging part of this recipe is the mixing of eggs and sugar that requires quite a bit of elbow grease. I would strongly recommend getting a machine to do this for you - unless you are one of those purists who likes to do it all by hand. In that case this recipe will help you burn off the calories in the brownies before you've even eaten them. Win-win.
Pre-heat oven to 180 C/Gas 4 and line a shallow 20cm x 20cm brownie tin (I used a 20 x 30 and it was fine)
185g chocolate (ideally 60% cocoa or more)
185g unsalted butter chopped up
275g caster sugar
85 self-raising flour (the original recipe says plain but I do like a bit of body in a brownie)
40g cocoa powder
3 large eggs (or 4 medium ones)
100g white chocolate chips (or chop a bar of white chocolate to get small chunks)
Melt the chocolate and butter. Despite many recipe books advising doing this in a glass bowl over boiling water I just put the bowl in the microwave for a couple of minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to keep it all smooth. When the chocolate and butter are melted and blended to a smooth mixture, leave them aside to cool.
Beat the eggs and sugar till the mixture is double in volume, frothy and light. It is best to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. It takes a bit of time, from 4 to 10 minutes to achieve the frothy texture. The mixture is done when you lift the whisk and the mixture dropping off leaves a trail on top of the surface for a second or two. (Watch the video on the BBC website - link above).
Carefully pour the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the whisked egg and sugar mixture. Whisk it all together. Then sift the flour and cocoa once into a bowl and add to the whisked chocolate mixture two or three tablespoons at a time and fold it in. Do not use the hand mixer or any beating device at this stage. Flour must always be folded into a wet mixture, particularly with eggs involved for two reasons. Firstly you don't want to lose all the air you've beaten into the egg mixture, secondly you don't want to work the flour too much as this stretches the gluten in it and makes the final product tough. Folding usually means making a figure 8 with a spoon. (Video on folding)
When all the flour is incorporated into the mixture, pour it in the tin and bake for 30 minutes. At this stage check the brownies, if you shake the tin and the centre wobbles, bake for a further 5 minutes. Do not over bake brownies or they turn into cake. But if you like a bit less goo then bake for another 5 minutes up to 40 minutes.
Remove the tin and cool on a wire rack. Tempting as it may be to devour the whole lot when hot, try and resist. The brownies are quite delicate and crumble to bits if you try and cut them at this stage. Cool completely in the tin before taking them out gently and cutting them while still in the lining paper and using a long flat pan turner to get the brownies out and onto a plate. Try not to eat too many at once (if you have that kind of will power) as these are very very rich and sumptuous.
Note: Instead of the white chocolate chips/chunks you can add anything you fancy. Milk chocolate chips and nuts work beautifully too.