Brownie’s hon­our

Jeremy Lee goes to town with choco­late

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Jeremy Lee Jeremy Lee is the chef­pro­pri­etor of Quo Vadis restaurant in Lon­don; @jere­myleeqv

Once when I was a young lad, hav­ing a thought to bake a cake, and so leaf­ing through Fan­nie Farmer’s Bos­ton Cook­ing-School Cook Book, my dad hap­pened to walk past. As he did, ruf­fling my hair, he glanced down to have a look at what I was read­ing, as was his wont, and made one ut­ter­ance.

“Brown­ies! Choco­late brown­ies!” And then he walked on.

Clearly a vivid and de­li­cious mem­ory had been trig­gered. Dad was as keen as can be about North Amer­ica, and Canada in par­tic­u­lar. He had ap­pren­ticed him­self to an ad­ver­tis­ing agency in Mon­treal in the 1950s hav­ing grad­u­ated from art school in Dundee. Cu­ri­ously, apart from the bowls of spaghetti bolog­nese Dad ate at a huge restaurant in Mon­treal for mere cents (be­ing paid very lit­tle), choco­late brown­ies were the only culi­nary mem­ory Dad ever shared from his time there. It gave me the dis­tinct im­pres­sion that a brownie was North Amer­ica in choco­late form.

Many years later, when I worked for a cater­ing com­pany in Lon­don called Duff and Trot­ter, the book ever at hand was the Sil­ver Palate Cook­book – the bi­ble for all del­i­catessen shops, the sole sur­viv­ing copy of which I still have (a fair few hav­ing drowned in cake bat­ter and other such in­ci­dents best left undis­closed). Its pages are cov­ered in choco­late paw prints – par­tic­u­larly that with the choco­late brownie recipe.

There is a cu­ri­ous qual­ity to a brownie, an al­most un­seemly amount of sugar to a most mod­est amount of choco­late. The sugar is vi­tal for that fudgy, near chewy, al­most in­de­fin­able great bite of brownie, so in­tensely choco­latey that only a Roald Dahl dic­tionary can de­fine it (“scrum­did­dlyump­tious” springs to mind). For my part, top­ping the brownie with fudge was the re­sult of an ac­ci­dent af­ter I tipped left­over fudge sauce on to brownie and left it to set. Such was the re­sponse the next day that we have served it like this ever since.

A thought for the cook: use the best, most bit­ter choco­late for this recipe. Not only is the re­sult­ing brownie very good in­deed when made with a fine bit­ter choco­late, so too is the fudge ic­ing to pour atop.

Choco­late brownie

Great for elevenses, a 4pm pick-me-up or pud­ding heaped with ice-cream and fudge sauce, a choco­late brownie holds still an es­timable place all its own. Al­monds, whole and roasted golden, make a good sub­sti­tute for the wal­nuts.

Makes 20

For the brown­ies

120g plain choco­late (70% co­coa solids)

250g un­salted but­ter

4 whole eggs

120g caster sugar

50g plain flour

50g co­coa

20 wal­nut halves, roasted golden

For the fudge sauce

150g golden syrup

65g but­ter

120g dark mus­co­v­ado sugar

200ml cream

150ml milk

300g plain choco­late (70%)

1 Pre­heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2. Line a dish or tin mea­sur­ing about 33cm x 23cm with bak­ing parch­ment.

2 Half-fill a pan with wa­ter and put it on a high heat to boil, then re­duce to a sim­mer. Break the choco­late into pieces and put it, with the but­ter, into a large bowl. Place the bowl over the sim­mer­ing wa­ter and let the but­ter and choco­late melt.

3 Crack the eggs into an­other large bowl and add the sugar. Beat hero­ically un­til pale and vo­lu­mi­nous. In a sep­a­rate bowl, sift to­gether the flour and co­coa.

4 When the but­ter and choco­late are quite melted, gen­tly add this to the beaten eggs and sugar. Mix deftly, then add the sifted flour and co­coa. A swift but thor­ough mix­ing is re­quired. De­cant this into the lined bak­ing dish.

5 Put in the oven and bake for 3035 min­utes. Check for done­ness by in­sert­ing a knife or a skewer. A trace of wet choco­late gooey­ness is good. Re­move the tray to a cool­ing rack.

6 To make the fudge sauce, put all the in­gre­di­ents ex­cept the choco­late into a large, heavy-based pan. Put the pan on a mod­er­ate heat and bring to a sim­mer. Stir well and cook gen­tly for about 10 min­utes. Break the choco­late into pieces and beat into the fudge. Re­move from the heat and stir gen­tly un­til smooth.

7 Check on the cooked brownie – it should be rea­son­ably flat. If there are choco­late crags risen around the edge then, by all means, top­ple them with a knife (the re­sult­ing shards are rather good stirred into vanilla ice-cream …).

8 Pour on enough fudge sauce to gen­er­ously ice the whole tray. Any left can be kept for serv­ing later.

9 Let the fudgy brownie now sit. The longer the bet­ter – a few hours prefer­ably. When ready, cut 20 rough squares from the brownie, say 5 squares along one side, 4 along the shorter side. Lift each square on to a tray, pop­ping a wal­nut half into the fudge in the mid­dle of each. Warm the left­over sauce, and bring the ice-cream.

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