‘I should panic bake more often…’
These were the sort of brownies I made when I panic baked. Have you ever done that? Not so much with baking, but it’s usually with a purchase. Or a restaurant order. You have no idea what to do so in a panic, you just order whatever it was that seems reasonable. These were the product of a panic bake.
My friend Nathan summoned a gathering full of beer and general rugby cheering and I was only able to come last minute and this was my ‘throw something together to take with me’ bake. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a particular plan with the brownies, baking isn’t a matter of throwing the kitchen sink at the wall and hoping for the best, there was a start point and an end point, but I say all that to say – these are the best brownies I’ve made so far.
I’ve made several a brownie in my time and these held their shape whilst still being fudgy and moist in the middle. Perfect to make, slice up and throw in a Tupperware box at last minute’s notice to take with you to fetch and carry.
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment. I’ve expressed several times on this blog that I am diabolical at lining tins. I just rub butter everywhere and shove baking parchment until it covers the whole tin. It works for me.
Break up 100g of dark chocolate into a bowl and put in the microwave until it melts, stirring after 10 second intervals. Once melted down, leave to one side. In a big old bowl, add 100g of peanut butter and 30g of unsalted butter and beat with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy. Add 200g of soft brown sugar and 75g of caster sugar and stir to combine.
In a jug, crack 2 eggs and beat. To this pour in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir again. Pour this into the butter-sugar mixture, stirring in between egg additions. Don’t stir too much because you’re not looking for your brownies to rise. Put a sieve over the bowl and drop 100g of plain flour into the sieve along with 2 tablespoons of coco powder. Give this a shake until both powders have sifted through before stirring into the batter.
Grab another 100g of chocolate and, with the chocolate bar still in its wrapper, give it a few hard bangs with a back of a spoon. All this does is crack your chocolate into mini morsels so you don’t have to do this by hand. You want a mixture of big chunks and little chunks – it’s the big chunks that’ll only almost melt in the oven and give you a luxuriously decadent chocolate bite. Toss the chocolate shards into the bowl. Now sprinkle in 70g of chopped mixed nuts and give everything one last mix.
It may feel slightly stiff but remember you want a brownie batter, not a cake batter – so here, stiffness is what you’re looking for. Empty this batter into the prepared tin and even the surface with the back of a spoon. Drop in the oven for 30 minutes. I would say do a ‘cake test’ where you shove a pointy skewer in the brownie to see if it’s done but with brownies, you want the skewer to have a little brownie batter on it because you want them slightly damp!
But alas, the brownies vanished as soon as the Tupperware was opened. I think one of my friends even smuggled one home to have with a cup of tea the next day. I should panic bake more often.