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All the don’ts for making brownies

A few weeks ago I attempted to make brownies, which turned out disastrously. I’m not bragging but I consider myself a decent baker and cook. If any of you have tried my sticky toffee pudding (see recipe here) or my chilli cheese wantons (see the starter here) I’m sure you would agree. So I decided to try my hand at some chocolate brownies. I used Donal Skehan’s book, Kitchen Hero and followed it exactly, yet my brownies did not cook properly and I ended up with chocolate liquidy mixture all over the bottom of my oven. I put the full recipe below and everyone should try it and let me know if it works because if it does I have to apologise to Donal for giving out to him on Twitter.

Ingredients

225g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
225g butter
300g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder

Equipment:
22 x 30cm (9 x 12in) baking tin

Method

This recipe makes beautiful, dense and fudgy brownies – just the way I like them. It’s a very simple recipe that you can make in minutes. Just make sure you make enough to share around.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.
  2. Line the baking tin with non-stick parchment paper.
  3. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water.
  4. Stir constantly until it is melted and smooth.
  5. With an electric beater, whisk the sugar and eggs together for about 2-3 minutes until pale and light.
  6. Slowly add the melted chocolate and butter then add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until thickened.
  7. Lastly, add the sifted flour and baking powder and fold in gently.
  8. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes until the top is firm and the brownies have come away slightly from the sides of the tin.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cooled cut into 24 squares.

You’d be welcome at any house with these.

I followed this recipe exactly as above, with the exception of one thing, I didn’t have the right baking tin so I used a round one (see the picture) and after the 30 minutes it had completely overflowed all over my oven (my fault, because of the baking tin) and it was completely liquid (Donal’s fault – I think). I will now explain what’s going on in the picture below.

The round, what was originally blue, tin on the left was the round tin I originally poured the mixture into when it went into the oven. When it overflowed I carefully took it out of my oven and my friend, Aoibheann came up with the solution of pouring half into another container (the casserole dish on the right) and putting both back into the oven. I’d like to point out that anything that happened to the mixture here after is obviously not Donal Skehan’s fault. Nowhere in his book does it suggest to do that but we felt this was a salvage mission that needed one last shot. After…an amount of time, I think it was 15-20 minutes, it started to solidify…and burn to the tin and dish. So we took them out and before we washed them out we put them on the table to cool. Since the spoon is in the picture I should probably admit that we did eat some of the brownie concoction. It actually tasted like it should, had it looked more like a brownie. I can tell you something for nothing though, that was no fun to clean. We steeped, we scraped, we scrubbed and eventually, we dishwasher-ed.

But hope was not all lost for us, since we did get a full-on craving for brownies after that. Aside from the fact I used up most of my ingredients on the first go, I did not fancy attempting the homemade ones for a while. So, together we set off to the supermarket and bought Betty Crocker’s Instant Brownie Mix. All you have to do with this is add an egg and a small bit of water to the mixture in the packet, pour it into a baking tin and bake. Again, the size of my baking tin was too big so the finished product is a bit flat, but it came out perfect and they tasted great! Below is what it looked like on the baking sheet.

Look, I’m all for baking. I think if you can bake, and you have the time, you should do it because generally everything tastes much better homemade. It’s also better for you because it’s not full of additives and preservatives. However, there’s nothing wrong with cheating occasionally to save time and to guarantee success. But by all means try Donal’s recipe, because he’s obviously a good cook and they have to work somehow. After a conversation with him on Twitter, I decided to try again soon. So stay tuned, I will attempt it again and share it here.

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