Aoife Noonan’s How to be a Better Baker Part 3: The ultimate fudgy chocolate brownie
To make the perfect brownie, it is necessary to go against your intuition and underbake it
Fudgy chocolate brownies.
Aoife Noonan will host a 30-minute live cooking class on how to be a better baker on Sunday, November 15th, at 3pm on the Irish Times Food Facebook page
A good brownie should be decadent and rich, with a crisp and slightly crackly exterior, and a soft, fudgy, almost melting inside. An old-fashioned brownie can be a real nostalgic pleasure and a therapeutic process, if homemade. Here are a few simple tips that will elevate your bake to create the perfect example of its type.
To make the perfect brownie, it is necessary to go against your intuition and intentionally underbake it. This will give you a meltingly gooey centre. While baking and pastry is a science and cooking temperatures and times are crucial, there are a few occasions when underbaking your dessert will result in an even more delicious result. This is one of them.
This recipe is straightforward and uses ingredients you most likely have in your pantry. I use both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in this recipe to give a double chocolate hit.
Dark chocolate is the one to go for here, as milk chocolate will make your brownies too sweet. I also like using soft brown sugar as it gives a wonderful base caramel note and adds to the sticky texture. The addition of salt in the recipe is essential as it really brings out the chocolate flavours; your brownies will taste bland without it.
Brownies are a bit of a free-for-all. Here I have given the basic recipe, but you can use whatever you have in your cupboard to add variety and texture. I love adding hazelnuts and dark chocolate chunks, or fresh raspberries and white chocolate drops.
Mixed dried fruit is a lovely addition too. Dried cranberries, sour cherries or orange zest are a delicious winter twist. You could even add swirls of some more unusual ingredients – tahini, nut butter or dulce de leche are all delicious. Swirl a tablespoon or two of these into the brownie mix before baking.
As long as you retain that gooey, melty inside, you can’t go wrong. You’ll know it is sufficiently baked when the outside is crisp and set, and there is a slight wobble in the centre.
It is important to then cool the brownies completely. If you cut into it before it has cooled, the middle won’t have had enough time to firm up and you’ll end up with a type of brownie fondant. While this sounds delicious, you’ll have difficulty portioning it.
I like to cut these into perfect squares and enjoy with a cup of coffee. You can warm them up and serve with ice-cream, or portion into fingers for a smaller bite to enjoy. They freeze well too.
FUDGY CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
320g dark chocolate, chopped
200g unsalted butter, cubed
180g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
½tsp baking powder
120g caster sugar
250g light brown sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees if using a fan oven. Grease a 9 x 13-inch deep rectangular baking tin and line it with parchment paper, ensuring the paper comes up and over the sides of the tin.
2 Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and gently melt together over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Alternatively, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave, stopping every 30 seconds to mix. Once melted, leave to cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
3 Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
4 Whisk the eggs, caster sugar and brown sugar together using an electric beater or stand mixer for two to three minutes until light and fluffy.
5 Slowly add the chocolate and butter and mix well to combine. Switch to the beater attachment and slowly add half of the dry ingredients, mixing well to combine, before adding the second half and mixing thoroughly.
6 Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and spread out evenly using a spatula or palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
7 Check the brownies, they should be crisp and set around the outside with a very slight wobble in the centre.
8 Remove from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature for an hour or two before transferring to the fridge to cool completely. Portion into 12 squares. The finished brownies will keep for up to three days in a sealed container.