Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate and salted caramel brownies from Kitchen Coquette

I know you are probably going to tell me to pipe down with my “first world” problems, but I really, truly do believe that a decent wedge of decadent, gooey and bad-for-me-in-every-way brownie makes the world a better place.

You see brownie, cut into slabs the size of a world atlas, has the capacity to raise the spirits. Intense and squidgy, it can keep you weirdly sated for hours, thanks to its take no prisoners calorific content. And made with the proper amount of chocolate, it’s a stayer; wrap it in foil, pop it in your bag/desk drawer/under your pillow and this is without a doubt the friend with benefits. It sticks around, in its prime, for days.

I don’t generally hold my head high with many of my recipes. Truth be told I get very nervous, waiting each day for someone to email, twitter or facebook me to tell me I am a fraud; that my recipe is no good, their delicate confidence in the kitchen wrecked thoughtlessly by my inadequate construction. But I do, hand on heart, claim this brownie is worthy of your time. Is it better than others? Probably not, but it is definitely as good as any other recipe you’ll find out there. It has the requisite delicate crust and a centre that doesn’t know if it wants to be cake or the texture of mud after the last day of Splendour in the Grass. The flavour is intense. Even more so thanks to a hit of salted caramel. And it will make you a better human being. If only for a moment thanks to the sugar high, and definitely for a few days afterwards, as you share its goodness with family and friends.

chocolate salted caramel brownies

175 g (6 oz) dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), chopped
185 g (6 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed (hate to sound like a Francophile but French butter is best)
440 g (15 1/2 oz/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g (5 1/2 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
Caramel glaze:
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) thickened cream
440 g (15 1/2 oz/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) water
60 g (2 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp powdered gelatine combined with 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) cold water (sprinkle over the water to make it easier to blend)
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3). Grease a 22 x 30 cm (8 1/2 x 12 inch) baking tin.
For the brownies, melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add the sugar and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour and stir gently until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until crisp on top and allow to cool in the tin.
Prepare the caramel glaze by warming the cream in a small saucepan over low heat until hot, not boiling. In a separate saucepan, combine the sugar and water, place over medium–high heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar reaches a dark amber colour. Carefully add the cream and butter and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and mix in the gelatine liquid.
Pour the caramel glaze over the brownies and cool until the caramel just sets. Sprinkle over the sea salt flakes and slice into bars or dive straight in with a spoon.

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