I've been on a hunt recently, a hunt for the best brownie. There are about a billion squillion recipes out there for brownies, and I really wanted to find one worth keeping hold of for those times when nothing else will do but dense, chocolatey, soft, squidgy brownie. You know the moments... when it's cold and gloomy outside and you want a hot mug of tea and something heavy and indulgent, or when you've had a hard day at work and you really deserve a treat, or, you know, when it just tickles your fancy - no excuses necessary!! Anyway, I tried a recipe recently and it was pretty pants if I'm honest. It was a dark and white chocolate swirl brownie and I could just tell as soon as I'd made the batter it was going to be rubbish. Thick and gungy, and kind of oily, just bad bad bad. So, I promised myself, and those who suffered the tantrum when the brownie making didn't go so well, that I'd find a stonking good recipe to make up for it.
I scoured the internet, I trawled through my books, I asked around... and eventually I came across what I really should have gone looking for in the first place: Nigella. You know that I love Nigella, and one of the reasons I love her is because she is oh-so-good at coming up with recipes that are completely indulgent, without feeling bad about it. She knows if you're looking for a brownie recipe, you want it to be rich, heavy, gooey in the middle and choc-tastic. None of this fancy malarkey, she even admits trying to posh up the brownies with pistachios but it doesn't work, and we all know why: brownies aren't posh. They are the opposite of posh. A good brownie should leave your fingers a little sticky, and they should not be eaten in front of someone you want to impress (say, a first date). A brownie should not be eaten delicately, but demolished in warp speed. This is not a mille-feuille or a delicate little tart people, this is the land of over-the-top, completely indulgent, naughty, messy pudds. Oh, and she also knows that if you are making these sqaures of wickedness, you want a lot of them, which is why the recipe makes enough to feed an army...or you know, 3 or 4 greedy people.
375g unsalted butter
375g dark chocolate6 eggs
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 tsp salt
300g chopped walnuts
300g chopped walnuts
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy-set pan, stirring regularly to avoid it catching on the bottom.
In a jug, combine the eggs and sugar, and in another separate bowl sieve together the flour and salt.
When the chocolate mixture has melted and cooled slightly, beat in the eggs and sugar, then the flour and nuts. Beat until smooth then pour into a lined tin, about 33 x 23 x 5.5 cm.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes, but keep an eye from 20 minutes onward. The top should be pale speckled with dark brown, and will still have a little wobble in the middle. It will be quite soft but have faith in your convictions and get it out of the oven! The difference between soft gooey brownie and dry crumbly brownie is only a minute or two in the oven after all!
Leave to cool as long as you can before slipping the giant slab out of the tin and slicing into hearty wedges!!
You could add any kind of nuts (don't go posh though - Nigella said so!!), dried fruit such as dates or apricots, seeds, whatever really, but I like the basic recipe of dark chocolate and walnuts. The crunch is key here, the brownie should be so soft and squidgy that the walnuts give it a bit of solidity and texture...when you take a bite and find a walnut encased in soft brownie, the combination is utterly divine.
I definitely suggest making the quantity specified here - trust me, you'll never be short of takers. Intensely rich yet frustratingly moreish, these are a winner across the board. No one, and I mean no one, can resist a good old wedge of brownie.