Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Ode to Brownies - How did I live without you for so many years??!

There are some foods that my generation was introduced to very late in life, but we all have somehow come to believe that we have loved and known them for ages. Like Pizza. I remember the first time I ever had pizza was in Vizag when I was 17 yrs old and at a small Hot Breads outlet. The pizza was hard, unfamiliar, chewy, loaded with bad cheese and raw vegetables and yet, me and my brother felt oh-so-cool eating it! I think it was the same Hot Breads that gave us our first taste of burgers, fries and croissants. Today we wouldn't be caught dead sitting there! Come to think of it, even in those days it was uncool to be seen hanging there with younger siblings. I remember this one time when my cousin Mahi and I fought with our younger brothers and insisted on going to the fast food outlet unaccompanied by the minors :D

Much to our chagrin, the two brats landed up at the table next to ours acting all grown-up and ignoring our presence, full of themselves at having come and ordered on their own! This is one of those food memories that I don't think any of us will ever forget... :)

But this post is definitely not about pizzas or burgers, but another one of those calorie-laden foods that I cannot believe I lived without for 20 yrs of my life! Try as much as I can, I just cannot remember when I was first introduced to this wonderful man-made creation called Brownies... It was definitely not something I grew up with. My mom made some amazing cakes, tarts and savoury goodies but never brownies. I think I discovered the sinful indulgence that this rich dessert provides only in college in Chennai. Since then I must have had hundreds of brownies all over from the Sizzling Brownie at Bombay Blues to the standard Walnut ones at Coffee Day, from the amazing varieties at Theobroma to the most delicious custom-made brownies that I once got as a Diwali gift...

So I decided that this time I would try my hand at recreating this all-time favorite dessert for a lunch I threw for a couple of friends... I made two batches with different recipes as I was extremely unsure how the end-product would turn out.

The first batch was Egg-less Chocolate Walnut Brownies the recipe for which I followed from Sailu's Food.

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour/maida
1 cup thick buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil (I used Sunflower Oil)

2 tsps instant coffee powder mixed in a tbsp of hot water (I used Nescafe)

1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsps chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. In a bowl, sieve maida, cocoa, powdered sugar, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Keep aside. In another bowl, combine oil, buttermilk and coffee mixture. Add the vanilla essence. Mix in the cocoa-flour mixture using a wooden spoon until no trace of flour is left. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 28-30 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar (optional). Cut into slices or squares at room temperature. Serve with a scoop of ice cream. Though the original recipe called for lining the pan with grease proof paper, I did not do that and the brownie brick still came out intact.

However the brownies were a little cake-y and dry for my taste. Maybe I should have gone with the butter instead of the vegetable oil.

The second batch, which was frankly the best brownies I have ever had, were made from a recipe for Cocoa Brownies from

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cold large eggs

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup toasted almonds sliced (optional)

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F or 180°C. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
    Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
    Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the almonds, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan and press in some of the almonds on top to garnish the brick.
    Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
    Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.
    Again I did not line the pan with anything and in this case it was a big mistake! My brownie brick got stuck to the pan and I really had to struggle to pull it out intact.
    The texture of these brownies was unparalleled! Gooey centres, a nice crust, and a crunchy, sugary bottom... yummmmm! And in my opinion, they tasted better without the almonds...


    Priya said...

    Absolutely divine, wat a droolworhty brownies..

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    Priyanka said...

    Oh Bombay Blues, such lovely memories. I still remember the day I ate the brownie for the first time with my friends. I was hooked. The sizzling brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream..ah!!

    Paula said...

    what a delicious blog! here is so many inspirations!

    have a nice time,

    dj sam said...

    i love brownies.,. let me try this.,.,

    Swati Sapna said...

    @priya, vincent, paula - thanks guys :)
    @dj sam - hope u tried them!
    @priyanka - oooh yes, bombay blues used to hv the best sizzling brownies ever! havent eaten there in a while now...

    Cardamom said...

    Decadent....and absolutely worth trying! thanks for the recipe!


    Swati Sapna said...

    hey cardamom, glad u liked it :)