I noticed to my surprise the other day that I only have one entry on this blog tagged as 'brownies'. It's possible I made a couple in the early days before I started tagging my posts, but still - that must be at least ten months with no blog-worthy brownies. Surely this is impossible - some brownie-hating little blog fiend must have been swallowing up my posts. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that blogging has made me want to try out new things every time I bake, and the old tried and trusteds have fallen by the wayside. When those tried and trusteds are brownies this is surely a travesty of the highest order which must be rectified immediately.
Luckily, I had an excuse. When we were in Leeds visiting Munchkin Gramps and family a few weeks ago we went into a posh little bakery in the Corn Exchange. It was a Sunday and very quiet, and the young man in there - who also did all the baking - let us taste lots of things. While the others were making appreciative noises about the very non-veggie-friendly lime jelly covered cheesecake, I was looking around, and noticed some manger-shaped brownie cakes filled with some sort of luscious chocolate ganache. When I pointed them out to The Scientist (once the distraction of the cheesecake had been dispatched) he looked very interested and suggested that they could be a good offering for a gaming night.
This weekend was the one. I knew I wanted to make little cakes with proper finished edges rather than slices from a big cake, and so I chose a recipe I'd cut out from a magazine for a brownie cake. It differed from other brownies I'd made because you separate the eggs, whisk the whites and fold them into the mixture at the final stage. Does that make it a cake and not a brownie? Who knows. As a joky nod to the fact that The Scientist has gone gaming over Valentine's Day (not a problem AND he sent me flowers as a surprise before he went), I baked them in heart-shaped moulds, and they looked pretty cute. I must admit that I never got as far as the ganache. I was going to make chocolate buttercream which is The Scientist's favourite, but I was just too tired in the end after a busy week, and we decided there was enough chocolate involved. But if I were making them to woo my beloved at a homey Valentine's supper, I might go the extra hog (sugar-induced coma - always a romantic end to a night).
When I thought more about it I did remember a few more brownies which have graced our oven in the last year. There was Dogophile Vegan Nurse's vegan brownies for one. And the golden syrup-based ones which Noodle helped me make. And I tried some black-beany ones which I rediscovered in the freezer the other day and which are a little odd (I am forced to concede that beans don't improve *everything*). And there was another more recent batch which had Celebrations chocolates baked into it which I planned to post about but which didn't photograph too well. I was relieved to think that the dearth hasn't been quite as bad as I'd feared, but it's good to put a conclusive stamp on it by selecting 'brownie' as I tag this post.
Mini chocolate brownie cakes (from ?? - oh dear, I must start labelling where the recipes in my folder came from. I suspect the Sainsbury's Magazine)
175g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
225g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, separated
65g plain flour
50g chopped pecan nuts [I left these out; one of The Scientist's gamer friends has a nut allergy]
Heat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4. Butter a 20-25 cm cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Or, do as I did and use a silicon muffin pan.
Place 175g of the chocolate, plus the butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool [I wouldn't skip this - the eggs might scramble and that wouldn't be pretty]
Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then add the flour, nuts and the remaining chocolate.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently, but thoroughly, fold into the chocolate mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin(s) and bake in the centre of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until crusty on top. I set the timer for 20 minutes for my little muffins and then started checking on them at 5 minute intervals. They probably still took close on to half an hour but everything takes a long time in our oven. Leave to cool, then turn out. The recipe suggests dusting with icing sugar and serving warm with custard or cold with cream.