Hello all, its that time of year again, December… dare I say soon Christmas! Whats not to love… twinkly lights, the scent of forest fresh pine, aroma from Christmas spices, wafting from the kitchen and an excuse to indulge and spend time with loved ones. So on the note of indulging, for me Christmas would not complete, without some form of chocolate!
Therefore, December is the perfect time to experiment with some spices in one of my favourite bakes! Chocolate brownies… need I say anymore, deep, dark and intensely chocolatey and who doesn’t love a good brownie. There are many views on what makes a good brownie, with slightly different methods and additions. I’m definitely in the ‘cake camp’, resulting in a much lighter crumb. I have tried and tested many recipes and nothing compares to Nigel Slater’s brownies, light, fudgy, and a gooey texture with an intense decandant flavour. Chocolate lovers you will be in heaven…. I promise!
This recipe uses the creaming method rather than the more conventional method of melting the chocolate and butter and without the addition of nuts and is all the better for it. Generally speaking as a purist when it comes to chocolate brownies, I would tend not to fiddle with the original recipe but in this instance I thought I could try a festive twist on these beauties and hope for a good result! Therefore, when adding the spices and extracts I was very cautious, as orange can become overpowering. I must say I was extremely pleased with the combination of spices, but the spicing was very subtle. So I have doubled the quantities for this recipe. I think its a matter of trial and error and your personal taste. However the addition of salt is a must to intensify the flavour and balance out the sweetness, as nothing is so off putting as too much sugar!
Spiced Chocolate Brownies
300g golden caster sugar
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg, Freshly grated
½ tsp orange extract, possibly less, taste mixture
1 tsp vanilla extract
You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4.
Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.
Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.
Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Add the orange and vanilla extract to the eggs. Sift together the flour, spices, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt.
With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon.
Lastly, fold in the flour, cocoa and spices, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for, between 27-30 minutes.
The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges. Pierce the centre of the cake with a skewer – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.
Happy baking and enjoy these indulgent beauties! Oh I almost forgot they freeze amazingly but somehow I don’t think they will last that long! Just handy if you wish to make a batch for Christmas, you can always sneak one out for yourself! Keep your eyes peeled, as I will be back shortly, with lots more foodie delights and seasonal decor inspiration for the home. December is shaping up to be a month, full of festive fun! I do love Christmas!