Wednesday, 8 September 2010

"Artic Brownies" aka Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

Take a look at these little beasties! Are they not a thing of beauty?
There's 5 different chocolates lurking in there you know. Yes, you heard right... FIVE different chocolates! *drifts off into chocolate heaven* oh, sorry! Got distracted there.

Where was I? Oh yes.
This recipe came up when tasked by work to create a suitably themed bake for our quarterly newsletter. Given that my line of work is waste water treatment, brownies were considered to be, er, fitting. The "artic" part represents the large number of articulated lorries we receive on a daily basis, so I picked a recipe with a white topping like snow, as a play on words with "arctic". Geddit??

Anyway, enough ado... to the brownies!

Did I mention there are five different chocolates in there?
Oh, I did? OK... well, did I mention that they are totally delicious, somewhat addictive, and very very bad for you??
The chocolates in this recipe combine together to make the chocolatiest, richest, most dense brownie I think I've ever eaten. They are a very "grown up" treat, as they aren't terribly sweet-tasting, but that just makes it easier to eat more of them without feeling ill - bonus!
The white chocolate topping just helps to lift the flavours slightly, but they'd be equally as delicious without it - perhaps served warm with a good vanilla ice cream and a splash of Amaretto... ;)

So, on to the important bit - how to make them!

Artic Brownies (makes 16)
  • 65g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp very strong coffee, cooled to room temp
  • 85g very dark chocolate (minimum 90% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • 85g plain chocolate, around 60% cocoa, roughly chopped
  • 170g good-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips
  • 170g good-quality white chocolate, chopped into chips
  • 75ml double cream
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, and line an 8" square baking tin with foil. Butter the foil, and place the tin on a baking tray.

Put the butter in a large large heatproof bowl. Put the dark and very dark chocolates in on top of the butter, and add the coffee.

Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until the ingredients just start to melt. Take the bowl off, stir it gently for a minute or two, and if un-melted ingredients remain replace on the pan for a further minute. Repeat until the mixture is smooth. Do not allow it to get too hot or the ingredients will separate! Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.

After this time, use a rubber spatula to beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture - try not to add any air in by beating too hard! The mixture will be grainy at this point.

Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Gently beat in the vanilla. You should now have a smooth, glossy batter.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and gently stir in using the spatula. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Mix only until the ingredients are just incorporated.

Finally, fold in the milk chocolate chips and scrape the batter into the prepared tin. Push it into all the corners and edges and level the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out lightly streaked with batter.
Leave the brownies to cool in the tin on a cooling rack for half an hour, before turning them out onto the rack and allowing to cool completely.

Once cool, make the topping:
Put the white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl; in a pan, gently bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, leave it for 30 seconds, then gently stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and the topping is smooth.

Pour the topping onto the centre of the brownie, then spread it across the top with the spatula. Place the whole lot in the fridge for about an hour to semi-set the topping, then use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut the brownie into 16 smaller squares.

Becka xx

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