I have a little mission to find the best version of what I deem to be life’s ‘basics’ so I am compiling a list of recipes for the perfect roast chicken/ tomato sauce/ chocolate chip cookie/ vanilla cake/ chocolate cake/ pizza dough/ roast potato/ pancake/ waffle/ pie crust/ basic loaf/ fresh pasta etc. etc.
First up is the brownie. Welcome, dear friends, to the best brownies you will ever eat. These really are flawless; slightly crisp on top with soft, gooey deliciousness on the inside. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s (of course) book; Barefoot Contessa, Foolproof, and the lady yet again outperforms. Sorry to have two Ina Garten recipes in a row but that’s what happened when I get a new cook book; I get over excited and make only those recipes for a month before eventually calming down and moving on.
Right back to the brownies. I had read about Ina Garten’s basic brownie recipe and new it was highly praised (I had already bookmarked it as my number one). In this version of her original perfect brownie recipe she drizzles caramel and a little salt over the top. You can take away the salted caramel if it’s not your thing (you worry me) or even add your own twist (chopped up caramels inside?) but please just make these brownies, they will change your life. Your kids (or future kids) will be arguing who’s Mum/Dad makes the best brownies, and your kid will win (just me?). Finally one of the great things about this recipe is there is no need for a mixer, so even the most badly equipped kitchens can rustle up these brownies. So they are easy, simple and crazy good, so basically, yes, PERFECT. The holy grail of brownies.
I have made a few tiny tiny tweaks to the recipe; firstly she uses chocolate chips as in the USA chocolate chips come in large bags which means they use them for melting as there is no chopping involved, but alas in England we only get little bags so I have swapped out for bars of chocolate chopped up as they are much cheaper. However you do add chips at the end so I have left that ingredient as is (except I have swapped out half of the dark chocolate chips for milk, because that’s all I had and I actually really like the further caramel essence they added to the mix). I have omitted the coffee granules as I don’t like coffee (as I have said before, I’m very childish when it comes to my sweet things) and I have also swapped ounces and pounds for grams, hence the slightly odd measurements. Lastly Ina has added shop bought caramel to the top of hers but I topped mine with more of my batch of David Lebovit’s salted caramel I mentioned here (seriously this stuff just keeps on giving/I sound like a Stepford Wife), so use that if you have any left over from the icebox cake.
Makes 12 Brownies
230g unsalted butter
310g good quality dark chocolate
85g dark chocolate chips
85g milk chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
60g plus 2 tbsp. flour, divided
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine salt
170g high quality caramel sauce
2 – 3 tbsp. flaky sea salt
Butter and flour a 9x12x1.5 inch baking pan and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the unsalted butter. Place bowl over a simmering pan of water and melt, stirring, careful not to get any water inside the chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl gently stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled for 15 minutes stir it into egg mixture. Allow this mixture to cool until room temperature, do not skip this step as otherwise the chocolate chips will melt when you add them to the mix.
In a medium bowl sift the flour (leaving the 2 tbsp. for later), baking powder and fine salt and add to the now cooled chocolate mixture. In a small bowl add the chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tbsp. flour and toss to coat the chips. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
Spread the mixture evenly into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick come away clean. It is really important not to over bake, remember that there are melted chocolate chips in there so the toothpick might be dirty when pulled out. Always better to under bake than over bake with brownies.
Once the brownies are out of the oven, warm your caramel in the microwave or pan, stirring as you go, until pourable and smooth. Drizzle the caramel over the brownies and finish with a scattering of the sea salt. Leave to cool and then cut into 12 individual brownies. Pat yourself on the back for fining a perfect recipe and try not to drool.