The Musette: Brownies

Hands up who doesn’t love brownies? Thought so! This is a recipe from Hannah Grant’s The Grand Tour Cook Book that I’ve tweaked and have cooked for numerous professional cyclists. It’s universally popular and, according to my beloved, is my best brownie recipe ever. I should warn you, he’s not lightly given to exaggeration.

At this time of year, many of the pros, including my crack team of taste testers, are trying to lose that last stubborn kilogram so cakes are only permitted post-race. Strade Bianche’s a tough race, riding over the white gravel sections requires total concentration and don’t get me started on that final climb up into the Piazza. I checked the start list, saw two of my friends were riding, and cooked up a few batches of brownies to take with me.

These are deliciously rich and gooey, so just a small finger does the trick. One tray’s enough for eight riders, even after that gargantuan effort.

Ingredients (makes enough for 16 cyclists)

  • 375g (3 sticks and 3tbsp) unsalted  butter
  • 375g (14oz) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 375g (14oz) unrefined cane sugar
  • 6 large organic eggs, weighing approx 45g (1⅔oz) without shell
  • 225g (8oz) almond flour
  • 1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 150g chopped walnuts (optional)

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C/155°C fan/gas mark 3 (325°F/300°F fan).

2. Grease the base and sides of two  baking tins. I typically use a disposable tin-foil one measuring 18cm x 23cm x  5cm (6” x 9” x 2″) – they’re great for storing the brownies in the freezer – which I line with a couple of strips of greaseproof paper to make it easier to remove them. In addition, I find it’s an easy size and shape to slice into fingers for serving.

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3. Melt together the chocolate and butter either in the microwave on a medium setting or in a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (bain-marie), whisk to combine and allow to cool. Add the coffee powder, vanilla essence, salt and whisk to combine.

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4. Beat the eggs and sugar together to dissolve the sugar.

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5. Now lightly fold in the melted chocolate mix, the almond flour and walnuts with a spatula.

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6. Pour the mixture into the two baking tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top of the cake at the edges should be crinkly and a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre should still have some mixture clinging to it.

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7. Let the brownies cool in the tins and then refrigerate to firm up before cutting. Because of the fat content, I store the brownies in the fridge. They’ll keep for a week  – providing they’re well hidden – equally, they’ll happily sit in the freezer for a month.

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Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the brownies in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you don’t like your brownies to be this dark, substitute a chocolate with a lower percentage of chocolate.

4. I have made them with and without walnuts – your choice. Or substitute the walnuts with chopped pecans or hazelnuts.

5. These are so rich, they need no further adornment. However, my beloved enjoys them with a dollop of crème fraiche.

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