My search for the perfect brownie
I’ve tried many recipes for brownies on my quest to find the perfect mix. I’ve often made Ottolenghi’s macadamia and white chocolate brownies as they are such a crowd pleaser.
200g macadamia nuts
200g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing tin
280g plain flour
½ tsp salt
300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2tsp instant coffee
200g white chocolate, broken into pieces
However, I find this recipe has far too much butter in it and I’ve had to use kitchen-towel to remove the excess butter, swimming on the top during baking. I sometimes make these with 100g less white chocolate or dark chocolate as I feel that 500g of chocolate overall is a little too decadent and not really necessary!
I also find that most brownie recipes contain far too much sugar, so I usually reduce the quantity to stop it masking the taste of the dark chocolate. I once made this recipe using fudge pieces instead of the nuts (due to lack of availability at my local supermarket). These were a bit of a disaster as they were really overly sweet without the nuts.
I then saw a recipe on how to make salt caramel, and thought it would go brilliantly in a chocolate brownie. We added hazelnuts this time, as the Hog prefers them to macadamias. They are also considerably cheaper. All of this resulted in the recipe below, my best so far!
I started off trying to make caramel pieces to go in, but these just turned to goo. I now put the caramel in as a layer in the middle, this works really well.
Oh well, it was still damn tasty so give it a try! If you have any suggestions of think you can improve it, please let me know.
Piggy’s salted caramel & hazelnut brownies
This combines two of piggy’s favourite things; dark chocolate and salted caramel!
115g granulated sugar
50g unsalted butter
1/3 tsp sea salt
50ml double cream
200g good quality dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
½ tsp salt
2 medium eggs
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Line a medium sized plate with a square of baking paper. Make the caramel by heating the sugar in a decent sized saucepan, over a medium-high heat for a few minutes.
Once it has melted and become a nice copper colour, take off the heat (do not be tempted to stir before this point). Caution, melted sugar is extremely hot!
Carefully stir in the butter (slightly explosive, stand well back) as well as you can. It may look split but don’t panic!
Return to heat and stir in the cream and salt. Allow to bubble for a minute or so until it’s slightly darker.
Preheat your oven to 170C. Spread the hazelnuts on an ovenproof dish and toast for 5 minutes.
Brush a 22cm square brownie tin with melted butter and line with baking paper.
Sift the flour and salt together.
Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir from time to time and remove bowl from heat as soon as the butter and chocolate have melted. (Do not let mix get too hot!)
In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until just combined.
Fold in the melted chocolate mix then the sifted flour. Fold in 2/3 of the hazelnuts.
Pour half of the mix into the lined brownie tin and flatten. Pour over the caramel evenly to create a nice layer. Place remaining brownie mix carefully over to cover the caramel layer. Flatten and push remaining nuts into the top.
Bake for 25 minutes at 170C/160C fan assisted, this is a rough guide to cooking time as it varies wildly from oven to oven. Check on it earlier as nobody likes an overdone, cakey brownie!
When you stick a skewer inside your cooked brownie, it must come out covered with lots of gooey crumb, not dry crumbs, but it mustn’t be as wet as the mix you started with.
If it turns out underbaked, chilling it will make it set hard and you will still be able to slice it and enjoy it. Under is better than over when it comes to brownies.
I often make slight changes to the recipe, I’ve used a mix of pecan and almonds instead of hazelnuts which work just as well.
To be continued…..