These brownies were a gift, along with a ridiculously sized growler of porter, for a close friend who turns another year older and wiser today. Ok, maybe just older if the antics of Saturday night are considered. I would argue that the basic brownie recipe that these are based on (Nigella Lawson’s in “How To Be a Domestic Goddess”) is the best out there: a bold claim, I know. If you champion a rival recipe then I would love to hear it!
The original recipe adds chopped walnuts to the brownie mix, but I wanted to do something a bit different. A long list of potential edible extras came to mind: white chocolate chips, peanut butter, marshmallows, raspberries, orange zest, Oreos, and so on. Ross demanded “No Fruit”, but in the end he lost that battle. I think I struck a pretty fair compromise though, by balancing out fruit with booze. Rum and raisin is a classic combination – I love rum and raisin ice-cream – and, once that idea had popped into my head, I just couldn’t let it go without making it. Unfortunately, I had sultanas, not raisins, and the dregs of some apricot liquor, not rum. And so Not-Rum-and-Raisin Brownies were born.
Ingredients (Makes about 15 brownies)
Small handful of sultanas
A few glugs of fruit liquor or rum
190g good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids is ideal – or higher if you love dark chocolate
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar (Note: this seems like a ridiculous amount of sugar when you weigh it out. We’re making full fat brownies here. Deal with it.)
115g plain flour
½ tsp salt
80g of fudge, chopped into small pieces
1. Soak the sultanas in the liquor and leave for a couple of hours, at least.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Butter an 18cm by 28cm tin (at least 3cm deep) and line with baking parchment. If you leave some excess parchment on either of the long sides then lifting the entire bake out of the tin is much easier.
3. Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat, stirring until glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
5. Sift the flour into a separate bowl and add the salt.
6. When the chocolate mixture has cooled enough (unwanted scrambled egg action would be a disaster here), beat in the egg and sugar mixture.
7. Combine the chocolate mixture with the flour. Drain the excess liquid from the sultanas and add to the brownie mixture with the fudge. Beat to a smooth batter.
8. Pour the thick brownie mixture into the lined tin, using a spatula to scrape every last drop out. Give the tin a shoogle (technical term) so that the mixture spreads into the corners.
9. Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on how you like your brownies*.
10. Leave to cool on a baking rack and then cut into pieces. Dust liberally with icing sugar.
*The consistency of brownies is very much a personal preference. 25 minutes in the oven produced a wonderfully fudgy consistency, but if you prefer your brownies soft and gooey in the centre then 20 minutes should do it. Any less than that and you might be scooping out your brownies into a bowl. Do remember that the brownies will keep cooking once they are out the oven.
These went down extremely well, if I do say so myself. The hint of booze was just right and the fudge was slightly melted but still chewy. They are very, very rich so one piece is definitely satisfying enough…unless you are the birthday boy, in which case no one is counting!
Happy Birthday Colum!