CHOCOLATE & WALNUT BROWNIES
What do you associate with brownies? For me, it is certainly hedonism. For surely there is nothing as intrinsically pleasurable – both for the senses and the mind. In moderation of course. Now, if the first thing that springs to your mind is a certain green herb, then I am sorry you have come to the wrong place. For I am to write here about a totally legal high – that caused by too much chocolate and sugar and potentially a cup of coffee to go with it. I admit, chocolate brownies contain obscene amounts of chocolate, sugar and butter. To the point where you feel slightly queasy at the thought of really adding that much butter. But trust me, just do it. For this staple of any school bake sale, brings instant happiness to anyone who takes one extremely chocolatey bite. Delicious cold, but now dare to imagine them warm. A slightly gooey, fudgy centre. A scoop of vanilla ice cream slowly melting and soaking into the sponge. All topped with a rich, warm chocolate sauce. Not to mention the fact that as the brownies bake, your kitchen suddenly smells like the most homely place in the world.
My love affair with chocolate brownies started as a teenager. In my school canteen, run by no other than a head chef by the name of “Herr Weissbrot”, which translates into English as “Mr. White Bread”. Can there be a more apt name for a chef? I should think not. Now, in either our morning or afternoon break, one of my best friends at school and myself would go and each purchase either a pretzel or a brownie. We would then split each in half and take alternate bites of brownie and pretzel. Both, without fail, commenting each time on how genius the combination was of the salty pretzel with the dark, heavy, sweet chocolate brownie. Clearly, we were well ahead of all culinary trends, as I distinctly remember the craze over salted caramel and salted chocolate happening years later.
Making these, is incredibly easy. It shouldn’t take much longer than 45 minutes from start to finish. The addition of walnuts adds a wonderful texture and a light, pleasant bitterness.
Luisa and I met all the way back at school. She had just come back from a year abroad and joined our class when we were both 16. Together we suffered through boring German lessons, successful and unsuccessful chemistry experiments as well as uncountable lunch breaks. I love the fact she picked this recipe for me – its simplicity brings back memories of school. Where a difficult decision was what you were going to wear to the party next weekend.
- Bain marie – A bain marie is the fancy, french word for a waterbath. A bain marie protects delicate food from direct heat that could ruin the food.
Secrets to success:
- You want to cut the butter into medium sized cubes and break up the chocolate, otherwise it takes a while to melt. It may seem obvious but the amount of times I’ve been lazy in the past and attempted to melt a 250g block of butter…well let’s just say that is time I will never get back.
- Always melt chocolate on very low heat. If it is too hot, the chocolate will burn and seize up, turning a horrible clumpy texture and the taste will be ruined. Forever.