Chef Rachel Phipps shares the perfect brownie recipe for low tech kitchens
If I had to pick the one recipe that I am most known for, it would have to be my chocolate brownies. I never used to like making brownies because I saw them as so much effort; you had to melt the chocolate, they took forever to get out of the pan in one piece and caused far too much washing up for my liking.
However, a few years ago I stumbled across a cocoa powder only brownie recipe from American baker Alice Medrich, which sent me down the rabbit, trying to work out the most fuss free recipe possible. I found out two very important things that make these brownies really simple to produce.
First, you really need to line your brownie pan with foil. That way, you can simply lift them out of the tray once they’re cool, then leave them in the foil until you’re ready to cut. Second, while I have tried methods to mix ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat while the butter melts (a method that may be familiar if you’ve ever made a kladdkaka), you really need a bain marie. You can get so much fancy equipment to do this, but honestly all you need is a heatproof glass bowl (I use Pyrex) over a saucepan of simmering water. The steam will warm the bowl and melt the butter. This is also the best method to melt chocolate.
Once you have a good brownie recipe down you can create so many different variations. As things are getting colder, adding a hit of warming chilli is a nice way to make them a little special and a bit more grown up. I actually serve them as an alternative second dessert at dinner parties, piled high and dusted with icing sugar. Just another idea—topping them off with sparklers as you carry them to the table not only looks more impressive, but fits in with the theme of the flavouring.
150g unsalted butter
300g golden caster sugar
100g cocoa powder
2 tsp chilli powder
2 large eggs
120g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
Put the butter, sugar, cocoa and chilli powder in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of freshly boiled water set over a low heat. The water should not be boiling, just simmering before you place the bowl over the top, and the bowl should not touch the water. Stir every few mins, as the steam hitting the bowl gradually melts the butter until the mixture is smooth, but grainy. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C and line a 20cm square brownie pan with foil. Beat the eggs 1 at a time into the cold chocolate mixture until smooth, then follow with the flour and salt. Pour the mixture into the pan and use a spatula to smooth over the top.
Bake for 20 mins, then leave to cool on a wire rack. After 10 mins, lift the batch carefully out of the pan using the foil. Cut into 18 squares when it has cooled completely.
Recipe: Rachel Phipps