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Possibly the best brownies (adult recipe)

My hubby is a fantastic cook. For the first few years we lived together he did most of the cooking and I was very happy about that! He’s very good at coming up with great meals day after day whereas I’ve always struggled.

Our routine now is that I cook during the week and he takes over at the weekend. Usually at the weekend we catch up with friends and often eat out which suits hubby just fine! When he does cook now, unfortunately there’s not a lot of passion, rather he’s cooking for necessity.

I really miss his passionate cooking so when he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday I requested a dinner cooked by him. And a chocolate cake! Hubby doesn’t like chocolate so I never make anything chocolately even for guests. Surprisingly it was the chocolate cake request that made him nervous and unsure – he’d never made anything chocolatey before!

Sunday dinner was fabulous. A starter of various salami and cheeses followed by langoustines flamed in whisky sauce with potato cakes, quails’ egg tempura and wilted spinach (this took him much longer to prepare than the recipe stated but it was superb!) and triple-chocolate brownies to finish with. I felt thoroughly spoilt… and full!

The brownies are full of chocolatey goodness, in fact I don’t think you could squeeze in any more chocolate. Hubby said they were very easy to make with clear and precise instructions. Maybe encourage your partner to make them for you as they’re so easy 😉

Hubby used a loaf tin instead of the square square tin (I wouldn’t have guessed) and lined not just the bottom but all the sides with baking paper so there was no chance of sticking. He also had to cook it quite a bit longer than the recipe said (about 15 minutes longer); just keep doing the wobble test!

POSSIBLY THE BEST BROWNIES

Prep and cook time: 1 hour
Makes 16 squares or 32 triangles
Keeps in an airtight container for up to two weeks
Freezable (up to a month)

185g unsalted butter, cut into smallish cubes
185g best dark chocolate (not cooking chocolate!), broken into small pieces
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar

Put the butter and dark chocolate into a medium bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, you can cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.

While the chocolate is cooling, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the bottom and sides of a shallow 20cm square tin (or similar sized loaf tin) with baking paper, leaving the paper overhanging on all sides.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl, making sure you don’t have any lumps.

With a large sharp knife, chop the white chocolate and milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don’t lose heart. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the good whisking work you did before.

Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, but keep going very gently and patiently and it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. Now you can let the oven take over.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and check again in another 5 minutes. When it’s cooked the top will have a shiny, papery crust and the sides will be just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.

Leave it in the tin until completely cold, then lift out the brownie using the edges of baking paper. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. Enjoy their fabulous rich chocolately goodness!

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