Don’t take this the wrong way, this is going to sound like I am totally blowing my own trumpet but get ready for a fanfare because THESE brownies are the best I have ever eaten… period… they are delicious warmed and served with ice cream or just cold and on their own, it doesn’t matter because if they are treated right in the oven, I promise you one thing – you will have them breaking down the door for these bad boys!
Everybody loves a brownie don’t they? And the perfect brownie has to have that crisp outer shell which, when you bite into it, is followed by a total chocolate meltdown of goo and yumminess! Some like nuts in their brownies, some like fudge, some like just chocolate – or even extra chocolate, but me? I prefer nuts AND fudge, so here you go, my very own, Pecan Fudge Brownies!
You will find that most brownie recipes call for about 200g of 70% cocoa solid dark chocolate, but I find that way too bitter for my liking, so I always go half dark and half milk… but you don’t have to, if you prefer them dark, then use all dark, if you want them even milkier, then use all milk (though this doesn’t taste as good in my opinion). Don’t skimp here though, cheap chocolate taste like just that, cheap chocolate, it isn’t nice, try to go for Swiss or Belgian, I usually use Sainsburys Taste The Difference Fairtrade Belgian milk and dark (70% cocoa solids) 100g bars, they are £1.39 each and well worth the extra pennies. Green and Blacks Organic chocolate is also delicious though you can expect to pay a fair bit more for these bars.
If you want nuts, I would advise pecans as they mix well with the fudge, though roasted hazelnuts are also delicious. As for the fudge… only clotted cream fudge will do in my book, Thorntons do an amazingly good clotted cream fudge, but if you can’t get it, any good fudge will do, so long as it tastes creamy! You don’t have to stop there though, you can add chopped cherries or other dried fruits or even chocolate chunks if you like, or honeycomb pieces, or biscuit pieces!
Make sure you have the correct sized tin, a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin is what I use and I generally get 32 marvellous melting mouthfuls out of that because too much really is too much in this instance! You could also use a more rectangular tin, Asda do a pack of 3 or 5 (I forget now) foil ones for about £2.50 which are also great. Anyway, enough! On with the recipe!
Makes 32 Brownies
- 185g unsalted butter
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 85g milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (don’t use essence, but you can use a pod if you prefer)
- 100g plain flour
- 20g cocoa powder (again, use good stuff like Bournville or similar)
- a pinch of salt
- 75g pecans, chopped
- 75g fudge pieces, chopped
- Icing sugar for sifting
- First things first, the chocolate bit! First, pop the butter, in smallish cubes into a medium bowl and add the 100g dark and 85g milk chocolate in broken pieces. 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, but most important – so that it DOESN’T EVER touch the water, if it does, you run the risk of turning smooth silky liquid chocolate into something resembling dried mud.
- Put the pan on a medium heat on the stove, allowing the water to boil under the bowl until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Once everything is all melted together nicely, you can remove the bowl from the top of the pan in order to cool it.
- While you’re waiting for the chocolate and butter mix to cool off, turn the oven on to heat up at a temperature of Fan 160C/180C/Gas Mark 4, then cut out a square of greaseproof paper with which to line the base and overlap the edges of your baking tin, smear a little butter under and all over the top of the paper to prevent sticking, I also like to dust with a little sprinkle of cocoa powder here as well which also prevents sticking.
- Leaving the chocolate, oven and tin for now, get yourself a sieve and tip the flour and cocoa powder inside over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so the two run through together and you get rid of any lumps and bumps.
- Next, take your add on, your nuts and fudge in this case, and get yourself a sharp knife, and carefully chop the fudge and nuts into smallish pieces on a chopping board.
- Fetch another larger bowl and into it break the eggs and add the sugar, with a medium speed electric whisk or mixer whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, sort of like a milkshake, when this is done, pour over the cooled chocolate mixture and gently fold with a spatula. It’s important that you don’t mix heavily with a spoon or whisk as this make the brownies nice and light, folding is basically a figure of eight through the mixture with the spatula, pushing the spatula in at one side, taking it underneath before bringing it up on the opposite side of the bowl and then in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl around as you go so you don’t leave anything on the sides until the colour of the mixture is a sort of mottled dark brown.
- Hold the sieve over the bowl of chocolate mixture and once again sift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Then, gently fold using the same figure of eight action as you did before. Yes, it looks awful to begin with, but stick at it and after a couple of minutes of patience and gentle folding, it will eventually look like a gungy fudgy mix, which is what you want…
- Take the chunks of nuts and fudge and stir it gently into the mixture until it is nicely distributed.
- Now for the magic! Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, feeling free to leave a scrape in the bowl for licking afterwards (or is that just me and Seran?). Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and level it on the top.
- Pop the tray onto a middle shelf in the oven and leave it there undisturbed for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes have passed, open the oven door, pull the shelf out a little and gently shake the tin. If the brownie mix wobbles wildly in the centre, it’s not quite done, so pop it back in and bake for another 5 minutes and then repeat as needed until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin then take the tin out of the oven.
- At this point a lot of people will pop a knife into the middle, pull it out and it will look wet, so they will put the whole thing back in the oven until it stops doing that. Trouble is, by doing this, you end up with regular dry brownies instead of the gooey ones that we are after… so leave your tin, even if your knife comes out wet. In fact, I leave the whole thing, covered in tin foil until it has gone completely cold, sometimes overnight even! It WILL carry on cooking when removed from the oven, and the foil helps.
- When the brownie is completely cold, and has been left long enough, remove it from the tin in one go using the overlapping sides of the greaseproof paper, pop it upside down on a large cutting board, pull off the paper, flip it back over and then, using a VERY sharp and very large knife, sharpen it if you have to, cut the brownie into quarters. Then, cut those quarters into quarters and then, cut those 16 smaller squares in half diagonally, until you have 32 lovely little brownies looking at you like loving children.
- Pop your children (?!?) on a plate or display stand and dust with some icing sugar. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep lovely and moist for at least a week.