Fudgy chocolate brownies

The web is awash with recipes claiming to be “the best brownies ever”. I make no such claim for this recipe; they are extremely good, but tastes differ, and anyway the success of brownies depends above all on not overcooking them, whatever recipe you use.

No, what struck me about this recipe above all was that there is no chocolate in them! Don’t get me wrong: they are chocolate brownies, but they are made with cocoa, not slabs of dark chocolate. This is great for me, because whenever I buy chocolate to cook with, I put it in the cupboard, and when I come to use it a few days later, it has mysteriously disappeared, leaving only a crinkle of silver foil to mark its passing. Whereas the box of Dutch-process cocoa stays in place for months on end.

I found the recipe on Apple and Spice; the original is by Alice Medrich. If you can keep your hands off them long enough, these keep really well in a tin, and I’ve even sent some unharmed via international post!

140g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
80g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm square baking tin (or oblong tin of equivalent size), and then lay a piece of baking parchment in it so that it covers the base and two sides.

Dice the butter and put in a small pan with the sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and combined with the cocoa powder and sugar. Don’t be in a hurry to do this, or the cocoa will go lumpy. Beat briefly to blend thoroughly –- it will look grainy at this point — and remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Beat the eggs lightly before beating into the chocolate mixture, a little at a time. The batter should become smooth and glossy. Sprinkle over the flour and beat it in with a spatula.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until a thin crust has formed and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing with the help of the paper. Once cool, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cutting into small squares. This stops the fudgy interior sticking to the knife. They are even more delicious served as a dessert with a dollop of crème fraîche or a small pool of chilled custard.

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