Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Perfectly Civilised Brownie

It's the weekend and I go back to my home town. An urge has been teasing my brain for a while, but cake or biscuits is not what I'm craving. They're just not chocolatey enough... Then one night I'm having a sugar-loaded conversation and I realise what I'm really craving is a soft, rich and gooey brownie.  A fun and longer than necessary trip to the supermarket with my candy loving boy and we're in the kitchen having fun throwing whatever we found into the silky mix of dark chocolate and butter. Putting the ginger marmalade and chocolate loaded mix into the oven, we waited in suspense until the timer beeped that 8 minutes was up. Yup. I did say 8. I got so carried away I failed to read my own handwriting which actually said 30 minutes. The result was a barely solid, sugary gooey puddle which we happily scooped with our fingers. So attempt one failed, and it took me a whole train journey back to Oxford and an extra day to find out why.

I've never failed so badly before so this did sting my inner baker's ego a bit, so much so I wanted a take two. I found myself in my kitchen a few days later, determined to make this recipe work.  I wanted orange and spice, and lots of chocolate.  So back to my notebook I went, reading everything through just to make sure I knew what I was doing, which is when I noticed my error. Suddenly it all made sense and I was calling myself all kinds of silly, but that's okay, I could now proceed with my experiment, confident in a higher chance of success.

Leftover Christmas mixed candied peel came out, crystallised ginger, ground ginger, an orange, extra dark chocolate... all went onto my worktop as I pondered proportions. I decided to err on the side of caution for ground ginger, but added the zest of a whole orange.  I wanted a warm spice mix, but humbled by my weekend disaster, I thought I would keep it simple for now. The result? A warm adult brownie, with bits of ginger and orange playing on the senses. Some tweaks I would consider next time is slightly less mixed peel, more ginger, some mixed spices and a shorter baking time for a softer, gooier brownie. The addition of a handful of nuts is another possibility, maybe walnuts or macadamia...

A Perfectly Civilised Brownie
(Makes about 20-24 squares)

Ingredients:
  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 100g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g Dark Chocolate (70%)
  • 175g Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Level tsp Baking Powder
  • 25-50g Stem Ginger, chopped
  • 25-50g Mixed Peel
  • 1tsp Ground Ginger
  • Zest of 1 Orange
Method:
  1. Line a 18x28cm/17x11" tin with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to GM4/180C/350F.
  2. Mix the ginger, mixed peel and ground ginger together and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate together, along with the zest over a double boiler until melted. Beat the mixture until silky smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and beat in the eggs one at a time then the ginger, peel and spice mix until well combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into squares.