Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mr Normal Kitchen's Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

Mr Normal Kitchen is a chocoholic of the first order.  In fact I would go so far as to say that I have never met anyone with quite such an obsession.  He's also a very big fan of salted caramel and hazelnuts and pondering a different baked treat I could make I decided to concoct something that incorporated all of his favourite sweet things.  Oh yes I went there.  Meet salted caramel hazelnut chocolate brownies.

I've tried lots of subtly different ways of making brownies over the years but there's one recipe that stands head and shoulders above the rest.  It gives the perfect balance between the slightly crusty top and the gooey inner that you should be aiming for.  Reliably, every time.  Armed with this, a bag of hazelnuts and the unbeatable Nigella Lawson recipe for salted caramel sauce I made a brownie that has been pronounced the best thing I have ever made for my lovely husband.  It's hard to convey what high praise this is.  He is not an easy man to please.

If you're not a nutter you could leave the hazelnuts out and still get an awesome result.  Alternatively I think they'd be great with macadamia nuts instead.  Go wild and do let me know if you try them.

salted caramel hazelnut chocolate brownies Ingredients:

Chocolate brownies
3 1/2oz unsalted butter
6oz caster sugar
2 3/4oz dark muscovado sugar
4 1/2oz dark chocolate
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2oz plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Salted caramel sauce
3oz unsalted butter
2oz soft light brown sugar
2oz caster sugar
2oz golden syrup
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt flakes if you can't find it

1 1/2oz hazelnuts

salted caramel hazelnut chocolate brownies1. For the salted caramel sauce melt the butter, sugars and syrup in a medium pan over a medium heat.  Let this simmer for 3 minutes swirling the mixture around from time to time.

2. Add the cream and the fleur de sel (you may prefer to use only half, up to you) and swirl it all around again.  Stir and cook for another minute then remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Now to make the brownies.  Lightly grease and line a 20cm square brownie tin.  (The lining makes it so easy to lift the brownies out for cutting so I advise not to skimp on this element.)

4. Put the butter, sugars, dark chocolate and golden syrup in a large pan and melt gently over a low heat, stirring regularly until all of the ingredients are combined and the sugar grains have melted.  The mixture should be smooth.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

5. In a large glass bowl beat together the eggs with the vanilla extract (I use my homemade version, naturally).  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and stir vigorously until everything is combined.

6. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently until you have a smooth, thick mixture.

7. If your hazelnuts are whole then now is the time to take something heavy to them.  Put the hazelnuts in a sandwich bag (one of those slide to seal ones is ideal) and give them a good whack to break them up.  On this occasion I used a cocktail muddler :)  Now add them to your brownie mixture and give it all a good stir.

8. Spoon 1/3 of your brownie mixture into the bottom of your brownie tin and spread it around.  Add a 1/4 of your salted caramel sauce, drizzling it over the brownie and giving it a swirl around if you fancy.

9.  Add another 1/3 of the brownie mixture followed by a 1/4 of the salted caramel, and repeat again so all your brownie mixture is used.  The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that you have some sauce left.  Whoo hoo, here's your cooks perks!  You really don't need all of the salted caramel for this recipe so use the leftovers to drizzle over ice cream, dip churros in or just eat it with a spoon.  No judgement here.

10. Back to your brownies!  They're ready to bake now so put them in a pre-heated oven at 180°C fan for 25 - 30 minutes.  When they're done the edges will start to come away from your baking paper lining and they'll be crusty on top with a gorgeous gooey middle.  Be really careful not to touch the caramel when you get them out, it will be bubbling and burn.

11. Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into 16 pieces.  Enjoy with no guilt because you and they are awesome.

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