“No offence mum, but you are not very good at making brownies.” When your child utters such niceties you have two options. You can either curl up in a ball and vow never to bake brownies again, or you can rise to the challenge. In my defence, the brownies in question were an attempt to use up the zucchini glut we were experiencing, and I probably shouldn’t have tried to sneak in the leftover almond pulp at the same time. If it’s a recipe for chicken feed you are after, email me.
Brownies are the little black dress of the dessert department. They can be dressed up or down depending on your requirements. Sometimes you just want a little something to sit beside a cup of tea. Adding cream, ice cream and/or chocolate sauce to your brownie is like throwing on high heels and a sparkly necklace. Your brownie is all ready for a night on the town.
I accepted the challenge and have been refining my brownie skills over the past few weeks. Even though I have only been making half batches, there are still a lot of brownies in the house. My original intention was to perfect my recipe, then publish it as a full batch. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that my small batch was the perfect size. Sometimes less really is more.
The problem with baking a small batch of anything is trying to find a tin to cook it in. The first tin I tried was too big, resulting in a flat, dense brownie. They tasted fine, but weren’t what I was after. I then remembered a technique favoured by Nigella Lawson of baking in disposable aluminium trays. A quick search at my local supermarket produced the ideal container. The beauty of a disposable tin, other than the obvious lack of washing up, is that the brownies can be easily taken on a picnic or tucked into the freezer for an emergency dessert.
Aluminium is not an ideal cooking material. Studies have shown that high levels of aluminium are present in foodstuffs cooked in foil, which can result in health problems if consumed on a regular basis. I rarely use aluminium for cooking, so am happy to take the risk. If you are at all concerned you can line the aluminium container or use another tin.
The bitter malty notes of Guinness pair perfectly with dark chocolate. The inclusion of this beloved Irish beverage gives me a tenuous link to the ‘Luck o’ the Irish’ theme of this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, hosted by JJ at 84th & 3rd. You can find more Irish inspired goodies at the end of the post.
As to The Princess’s thought on my efforts. Apparently I am “getting better’.
Small Batch Chocolate & Guinness Spelt Brownies
If you want to make a larger batch, just double the ingredients and bake the mixture in a 22cm x 33cm slice tin.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced)
- Grease a 16cm x 23cm tin or disposable aluminium container.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl.
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir gently to melt the butter and chocolate together. Set aside to cool slightly whilst you are preparing the remainder of the ingredients.
- Sift together the spelt, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the Guinness and vanilla extract and set aside.
- Weigh the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add the eggs to the sugar and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and creamy. This will take approximately 3-4 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the chocolate mixture and beat until just combined.
- Add 1/3 of the Guinness and mix until just combined.
- Add half of the sifted flour and cocoa, again mixing until just combined.
- Repeat with 1/3 of the Guinness and the remainder of the flour. Finish by mixing in the remaining 1/3 of the Guinness.
- Pour the mixture into your lined tin and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the top is set and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with only a few crumbs adhering to it.
- Allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting.