Well, Easter under lockdown has been and gone and, to be honest, has not been the Easter with the most treats for some of us! Whether you’re locked down in a remote area, in a country where you’re momentarily not allowed out at all, or in a flat by yourself, distancing yourself from your usually nearest and dearest, this recipe is for you! For all of us who have been social distancing like pro’s and who need a little ‘pick-me-up’ having not given or recieved the usual umpteeeeen mini eggs, chocolate bunnies, and other confectionaries, these brownies are the ultimate bake-once, forget-never!!
My week-long craving for some choccies resulted rather underwhelmingly in a nonetheless very thoughtfull little bag of mini chocolate bunnies on Sunday :) Alas, these bunnies didn’t survive more than a couple of days and by this time, it was really necessary to curb these cravings once and for all! So, for any of you who want the Easter spirit to carry on for a little longer or who just need a tray of the most fudgiest, softest, decadent and comforting chocolate brownies – this one is for you! And lets be honest, in these uncertain times, we all desereve a little treat from time to time! So save this recipe for later, share it with your friends and family and lets cheer ourselves up with a bakeoff… or just keep it all for yourself! ;)
I have been battling the trap of baking too much under lockdown! But I just can’t help myself! I am lucky enough to be in a remote part of Southwest France where I have a large garden and plenty of outdoors space where I can wander for hours undisturbed and uninterrupted. For this, and the company of my parents who are putting up with me being stuck here for now, as well as the (very welcome) distraction of the two ponies, I am extremely grateful every day. Even with the space, the walks, the creation of a new vegetable garden, some reading and my writing, I find there are still voids in the day which I know how to fill in only one way… in the kitchen!
I’ll approach the kitchen aprehensively wondering whether I’m looking for soul food or something to eat, and inevitably end up whipping up a storm! Flicking through recipe books and notes I’ve made along the years I’m getting quite close to perfecting some of my favourites, and the ‘lockdown kitchen’ is my latest great escape! I find that a lot of my friends have found solace in getting creative in the kitchen too. Maybe you didn’t find time to cook that often before, or you didn’t have time to look for a recipe that suited you. Maybe you never felt that inspired or you were more used to getting a takeaway or picking something up on your way home from uni or work. Now is the best chance you’ve ever had to get to grips with being your own chef! Have fun, and be proud of your own nourishing, delicious creations!
According to Mary Berry, baking is both mental and physical therapy; it is very rewarding and if you follow a good recipe you will get success. I’m with Mary Berry on this one – plus, chocolate is cheaper than therapy!!
This gem of a recipe is the result of many experiments in ‘one-bowl’ and ‘all in one’ recipes which I have tested over the years. I love chocolate cake! And I’ve never really successfully baked a perfect batch of brownies, until now! So, having tweaked this one to close-to-perfection, here I give you, the fudgiest, softest, chocolatey-est brownies I have ever baked!
240g melted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
360 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
130g plain four
100g good quality cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate chips or dark cooking chocolate; roughly chopped
If your oven takes a while to get up to temperature you can put it on to heat up now, 175 degrees C, gas mark 3. You can also prepare your baking trayby greasing it with a little butter and lining it with baking paper. I do it lengthwise in my tray, poking out a little as this helps me to remove the brownies from the tray with ease. My tray measures 20x25cm.
In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, oil and melted butter until you obtain a light, creamy consistancy. This will take a lot of whisking! I used an electric mixer, it will just be more physical and take a bit longer if you have to do this by hand!
Take a small bowl and use this to whisk each egg individually before adding it into the mix in the large bowl. Mix well after each addition! Add the vanilla with the fourth egg.
Sift in the flour in batches, and mix well with a spatula, making sure to incorporate all the wet and dry ingredients. Add the salt. Repeat this step with the cocoa powder. You should have a smooth, rich, velvety mixture!
If you are chopping your cooking chocolate, do this now. Chop delicately into large chunks. Put the large chunks to one side and add the small chipped-off pieces and ‘dust’ into the brownie mix, and stir one last time.
Pour the brownie mix into your prepared tin, spread it gently with the spatula to get it into the corners without creating air gaps, smooth out the top and decorate with the chocolate chips or your chocolate chunks.
Bake in the center of the oven for 23-25 minutes! Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes before removing the brownie from the tin and placing on a serving dish or board. Slice into 16 pieces – and ENJOY!!
PS: I like my brownies fudgy! I baked them for 23 minutes but if you prefer yours a bit more well done, just keep an eye on them every couple of minutes following 25 minutes to ensure that they don’t get too dry around the edges!
I challenge you to eat just one!!