Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Orgasmic cocoa walnut brownies

Brownies are my nemesis. I don't make them particularly often, and pretty much every past effort has ended up overbaked, dry and crumbly - not exactly ideal, when I like them chewy on the outside and fudgy in the centre. And with nuts in, to cut through the sweetness. 

Two weeks back I baked brownies again, using fancy dark chocolate, because I wanted to take them to a friend's new apartment where we had been invited for dinner. While those brownies were not too bad, they were still drier than I wanted. Sort of dusty tasting. This was disappointing and annoying, especially because I'd used expensive chocolate to make it. Nobody else seemed to mind and the brownies were gobbled down, but I was still not really happy with the result.

I nearly decided not to bother making them again, but those darned brownies kept bobbing about in the back of my mind, never quite going away. (Well, obviously not the ACTUAL brownies, but the thought of them.) Yesterday around midnight I finally gave in to the compulsion and decided to make them with cocoa powder (and the remainder of the dark chocolate from last time). Just regular cocoa powder (actually Tesco's own brand, so the very opposite of posh!) which had been lurking in the back of the cupboard for ages.

I made the brownies with hope, but no expectation that it would be what I wanted. For once, I managed to ignore my inner voice which was as usual screaming "but it's not FULLY baked yet!" and removed the brownies from the oven when the centre was still slightly shiny. A toothpick inserted into the centre went in with just a little resistance and came out mostly clean - perfect! The brownies were absolutely sensational - orgasmic, even. Just goes to show that expensive ingredients do not necessarily transform into fabulous baked goods. If you have not come across this tattuvam (truth, in Tamil) anywhere else before, or realised it for yourself during your own cooking experiments, then this is where you heard it first. Credit where it's due, after all, haha!

Here's another truth - underbaking a brownie is preferable to overbaking it. If, like me, you've baked cakes but are not particularly experienced with brownies, your instinct will be to ensure that the toothpick comes out clean. This is a good instinct when it comes to cakes, where underbaking would be disastrous, but it does not apply to brownies. Keep that in mind, and you'll be fine! More importantly, so will your brownies.

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Recipe for: Orgasmic walnut cocoa brownies


140gm unsalted butter, cut into cubes
230gm granulated sugar
50gm unsweetened cocoa powder
30gm dark chocolate
1 htsp instant coffee granules
1/4 tsp kosher salt (or regular if you don't have kosher)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
65gm all-purpose flour
1/3 cup nuts of choice (I used walnuts), broken into small pieces


1. Preheat your oven to 170C. Line an 8"square tin with nonstick aluminium foil such that there is an overhang on all sides. This will make removing the brownies from the pan way easy!

2. Put the butter, sugar, salt, coffee granules and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat it on high for 30 seconds, then stir with a wooden spoon. Repeat until the butter and chocolate are completely melted and smooth.

3. Tip in the cocoa powder and vanilla and stir until fully incorporated.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well. Then the flour, first mixing it in, then beating the mixture vigorously until it is thick and shiny. Stir in the nuts, if using.

5. Pour/scrape the mixture into the prepared tin - it will be quite thick - and level it. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top of the mixture loses its shine. This may take a little more time in your oven, but after 20 minutes keep a very sharp watch on the brownies. Underbaking is always preferable to overbaking! A toothpick inserted into the center of the mix should come out mostly clean.

Remove the tin from the oven and let the brownies cool completely before cutting. If you can resist temptation, after the brownies are cool, put them in the fridge for 30 minutes. When cutting them, dip your knife in water every so often, to get clean cuts. Or, if you're like me, never mind refrigerating, just dive in!