Brownies are a very emotive subject for me. They are my favourite “cake” and they would be the dessert in my Death Row dinner (and it would be roasted Duck Breast with a red wine and cherry sauce, Dauphinoise Potatoes and Garlic Greens for main, if you are interested). I have very strong feelings about Brownies: they have to have squidge. They should not be hard or dry or cakey: they should be soft, melting, moist and squidge.
I finally found my Brownie nirvana a few years ago with Nigel Slater’s recipe but have tinkered with it a little since. I usually substitute the 50g of chopped dark chocolate for white, for example. I tried various respected food writer’s recipes, including ones from Nigella Lawson and Tamsin Day-Lewis, but Nigel’s recipe gives the exact amount of oozing chocolate richness that I want in a Brownie.
Last year I made BBC Good Food’s Salted Caramel Brownies and though delicious and a contender for Nigel’s ultimate recipe, I still preferred his.
Off the back of that I came up with my Slutty Nutty Brownies in honour of a dear friend. And they are fun and wickedly decadent. But *my* heart belongs to the unadulterated simplicity of a dark and oozing simple Brownie.Having said all that, I do like to experiment, and for my son’s recent 12th birthday I thought I’d come up with a Brownie equivalent of S’Mores, that American campfire institution. He *loves* marshmallows, so it seemed an obvious route to take.
He loved them but I wasn’t entirely happy with the finish on them. I had used marshmallows on top, melting and torching them, but they proved an absolute swine to cut up, and so it all got a bit messy when it came to portioning them up and eating them. Also, I felt the crust was a fraction to thick.
This weekend I went back to the drawing board and I think I have cracked it. I am much happier with the ratios of the layers and delighted to say they cut up beautifully (thanks to switching to an Italian Meringue topping). So here is the recipe:
S’Mores Brownies (make sure you give yourself enough time for the Brownie to cool and firm up, perhaps even overnight)
For the crust:
125g of Digestive biscuits, crushed
85g of Butter
For the Brownie:
250g of Butter
300g of Caster Sugar
200g of Dark Chocolate
3 Large Eggs
60g of Plain Flour
60g of Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
For the Italian Meringue:
112g of Caster Sugar
45ml of Water
2 Medium Egg Whites
- Line an 8″ square baking tin (I use a silicone one for this recipe as I find it easier to to get it out) and pre-heat your oven to 180C (160C fan).
- Melt the butter and mix the crushed biscuits in, then spread it out evenly in the tin and baked for 15 minutes. Leave aside to cool slightly.
- Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, gently melt the chocolate over some simmering water. I tend to take it off the heat whilst there are still a few small lumps of chocolate: the heat will melt the rest and allow the whole mixture to cool slightly quicker.
- Sieve together the dry ingredients of flour, cocoa and baking powder.
- Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, with the addition of a dessert spoon of dry mix to help stabilise it. Once all the eggs are incorporated it, mix in the cooled, melted chocolate but hand, then fold in the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Spread the Brownie mixture out evenly over the biscuit crust and bake for 30 minutes. It will seem wobbly and not quite ready when you take it out (with a thin crust on the top) but it will firm upon cooling. Allow to cool completely (it is probably best to make this the night before or several hours earlier.
- Make the Italian Meringue by whisking the egg whites until they hold their shape. At the same time, bring the water and sugar to the boil in a pan and, using a thermometer, bring it to 112C on a medium heat.
- With the whisk still going in the egg whites, drizzle the hot sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream (be careful! it is very hot).
- Once all the sugar syrup is incorporated, keep whisking until the meringue if back to room temperature (this can take 15-20 minutes on a warm day).
- Once the Brownie is cool and firm, carefully lift out from the tin. Spread the meringue over the top (I just swirled it but feel free to pipe it).
- Now comes the fun bit…toasting it. If, like I was, you are afraid to use a kitchen blow torch, then get over it. It’s so much fun and not (that) scary at all. Unfortunately for me, I had run out of gas and though I had ordered new gas, I couldn’t work out how to refill the damn thing. So…it was time to crank up the grill to full for a good ten minutes before placing the meringue topped Brownie underneath it in order that it would toast the top. It really isn’t the same effect or textural outcome, but the second best and only other option.
So, with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her son staying, our kids playing so nicely together whilst we drank wine together and faffed in the kitchen, finishing off the brownies, all was well this weekend.
The S’Mores Brownies were a big success and sure to be made again soon.