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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

object of lust

I received a box of Baked Brownies for my 40th birthday, all the way from New York from my best friend, G. I was too huge and in too much pain to bake some for myself and was moaning to him. Baked doesn't ship internationally but G got it fresh for me and did one of those guaranteed city to city 24 hour delivery courier thing. It was soo good, I wish I didn't have to share. That was almost two years ago.
Since then I have been making my own happily ever after brownies and almost too chicken to order the book so I can get the recipe of the brownies I have lusted over since that first bite. Too chicken because what if it was not as good as my memory? It's like one of those perfect one night stands - you don't ask for names and phone numbers - you just enjoy the moment. But I keep seeing the brownies popping up in blogistan. Blogs that have been raving about the brownies. My own copy of the book arrived just last week and I have been baking from it since. I played with the brownies recipe - adding different flavourings and using different combination of chocolate and cocoa powder. You see, I have been clearing my stash of Valrhona since May when it got warmer. I usually order Valrhona in 3kg packets so it is pointless to order some now when I was down to about 165g. I decided to use the 70 percent cacao brands available in my supermarket and Van Houten cocoa powder. I love each and every experiment and will share with you the others later.

I didn't really alter anything in the ingredients but what I did changed the texture and taste of brownies quite significantly. I just used two different texture of sugar because I prefer to bite into the coarse raw sugar. It is the same reason for using fleur de sel instead of plain fine salt. Maldon works for crunchy bites as well. I also like the fact that they rise to the surface of the brownies making them look a little gritty, not at all giving away the deep chocolaty and fudgy interior.
The dark muscovado sugar caramelised as it baked and gives another dimension to the brownies - almost toffeelike. The fleur de sel also elevates the taste and brings out the chocolate better. The result is a brownie that is so sexy - salty, caramelly, dark and so chocolaty - it begs to be kept. You would, you know and not just as a dirty mistress either.

Sweet and Salty Sexy Brownies
(adapted from the famous Baked Brownies)

325g flour
1 tsp fleur de sel or Maldon salt
2 TBSP cocoa powder - I used Van Houten
315g dark chocolate at least 70% cacao - I used Cote d'Or Noir Intense - chopped
225g unsalted butter
1 tsp instant espresso powder
150g dark muscovado sugar - I used Billington's
130g coarse raw sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter the bottom and sides of 30cm by 30cm square baking tin.
2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Stir to mix in the fleur de sel. Set aside.
3. Place the chocolate pieces, butter and espresso powder in a glass bowl and put it on top of a sauce pan with simmering water over fire whisk gently until they melt together. Turn off the fire and add both sugar. Don't worry of the raw sugar doesn't melt - that is the point of using them. Remove the bowl off the pan now. It would be at room temperature.
4. Whisk in the egg one by one until well combined. Add in the vanilla and stir gently. Do not overmix or your brownies will be cakey.
5. Gently fold in the flour with a spatula. Again, do not overmix!
6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if the brownies is firm. Turn off the heat but leave the brownies for another 10 minutes. This will avoid overbaking which will turn out a dry, flat one dimensional brownies.
7. Take the brownies out after that and let it cool completely. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

1. I changed the time in the oven and use my usual method to making sure my brownies do not overbaked. It works very well for me and the friends who have been using my happily ever after brownies.
2. Wrap the brownies in plastic foil and it will keep at room temperature for 3 days.


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