Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Dancing to chocolate brownies

It is only very recently that I fell, head over feet, in love with chocolate brownies.

Until that fateful day (can you imagine all the chocolate around my face?), my only experience with brownies was that they were stodgy, claggy and overly dense – much like Michael James Devlin himself after a BNO (big night out).

However, I am now a complete convert and I have discovered that in addition to working exceptionally well as a dessert – warmed and served with black-flecked vanilla ice-cream and raspberries – brownies also go down a veritable bomb with a cuppa and a smile.

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For me, admittedly a newbie to the brownie appreciation scene, the perfect specimen is one which is not too sweet, still moist in the middle and almost ringing with the deep joys of chocolate.

And yet, you may also be surprised to learn that my conversion to brownie fan transpired in the most unexpected of circumstances.

You might remember from last week’s instalment that brownie and ice-cream featured as part of my mahoosive Italian feast the previous Saturday night; I’m ignoring the fact that brownies are not and never have been, Italian in origin.

They’re one of the few culinary success stories the yanks have bequeathed unto the world.

You may be further surprised to learn though (I know I was), that our nine-year-old made the mahoosive feast brownies all by her self, with zero input from me, excepting that I turned the oven on and later placed the wobbling tray of batter into said oven.

I had my qualms beforehand too and plenty of them. Sarah, you see, had purloined a recipe from a lady named Sinead at her after-school facility and whilst I am all on for sharing good recipes, I was unconvinced by Sarah’s affirmations that they were, “The best ever – stop being annoying, daddy.”

Being the helpful being that I am, I offered to aid and abet with the brownie mission but was waved away by Sarah amid persistent protestations that, “I can do it myself. Stop being annoying, daddy.”

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Can you see a pattern developing here? I backed slowly out of the room. I also sneaked a peek ten minutes later to see how the baking was going and unsurprisingly, it looked as though someone had exploded an amalgam of C4 and cocoa powder on the kitchen island.

Again, I slowly backed out of the room this time pretending to be invisible.

Some time later I was called upon to check if the big brownie had set and to the best of my limited experience it had; it was no longer wobbly in the middle and had achieved a paper-like crust on top. The tray was thus removed from the oven and left to go cool on the worktop.

Picture the scene: The whole house is filled with the most stupendous scent of baking and chocolate – something akin to olfactory magic – and there are two little humans in the house exposed to this smell.

They’re dancing – DANCING – around the kitchen, hopping from foot to foot and as God is my witness, they each asked me 100 times, “Daddy, are the brownies ready yet?”

In the end, any time anyone even began with a “Daddy…” I immediately replied with a “No.”

But, as with all things, the brownies were eventually ready and nothing would do but they were tasted there and then.

To give you an idea of how they went down, the dancing continued, and with greater intensity.

And, to give Sarah her dues, for a first time brownie baker and someone who acclaimed these to be the best ever, they REALLY hit the spot.

These have been made at home twice now and twice I’ve had minimal input. And twice they’ve been great.

INGREDIENTS

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 90g soft, dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 90g plain white flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 70g chocolate chips

THE PLAN

The method here, according to Sarah is to first mix the sugars together then add in the butter, which you have chopped up.

She then rubs this into the butter until well combined. Personally I wondered why she didn’t melt the butter and pour in but then, who am I to argue with perfection.

After that, mix through the cocoa powder, the vanilla, then the eggs – mix well to combine – then add the flour and chocolate chips. Mix until smooth.

Pre-heat the oven to 160˚C and then grease and line a baking tin with baking parchment and then dump in the batter mixture.

Smooth into the corners with the back of a spoon and then retire this to said oven for half an hour.

After that time, check to see if there’s a wobble in the centre. If there is, give it another five mins and try again.

As I mentioned, it’s ready when there’s little to no wobble and the top has a papery thin crust.

After it comes out of the oven, let it cool before slicing and devouring. … the dancing continues.

 

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