If macaroons are the elitist snobs of the baking world then brownies have to be the slobby hedonist equivalent. Their intense flavour is neither subtle nor delicate. Their fudgy stodge coats your mouth making you think twice about smiling in polite company. But don't get me wrong, I adore the humble brownie, moreover I love making brownies. There is not one step of the brownie making process that doesn't make one salivate involuntarily, I have been know to skip around the kitchen while they are baking taking in greedy gulps of delicious air. So what makes the perfect brownie?
I would argue the perfect brownie is dense and rich but crumbly with crunchy exterior. It is not super sweet nor should it leave a buttery film on one's tongue. My friend Mike makes brownies that are absolutely to die for, he uses the recipe from Green and Black's cookbook (divine in itself!). But I sometimes like a slightly lighter version with a higher crunch to fudge ratio... so I devised my own recipe for the most perfect cupcake (of course) brownies which, although are definitely only to be eaten occasionally, don't make you feel like you should be running a marathon to work them off! Even better every step allows for new bowl licking experiences (if that's what you're into!)
Ms Cupcake's 'light' brownie cupped-cakes
3 large free range eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
200g darkest chocolate you can afford/find
150g butter at room temperature
20g dutch cocoa powder
40g plain flour
Combine eggs (at room temperature) and sugar in mixing bowl and beat with whisk attachment (If you have a stand mixer you're life will be a lot easier but no dramas if you only have hand mixer just be patient!). Start out slowly at first until mixture is foamy then ramp up the speed and whip until you have a pale yellow mass about 4 time the original volume, there should be no large air bubbles in the mix (this usually take my Kitchen-aid 5-8 minutes)
Break up chocolate and cut up butter and combine, put in microwave and stir every 30 or so seconds until all butter is melted, stir really well and if there are still chunks of chocolate microwave for a few more seconds but be careful, you don't want to mix to be hot!
Let the chocolate mixture (which should be smell amazing!) cool a little until its tepid, then add in medium stream to the egg mix using a cake scraper to gently fold it in....be very careful here it doesn't matter if the mix isn't a homogenous colour just make sure there's not a big blob of chocolate at the bottom...it's probably best to stop stirring before you think you should!
Combine flour and cocoa and sift into chocolatey egg mix. again very gently stir it in...it will look awful at first but keep folding until there are no obvious chunks of flour ( it's ok if it's not smooth)
Line a 12 cupcake tray with pretty papers and carefully scoop the mixture, it should come 2/3 of the way up. Put cakes in a 180C oven for 25 mins (check after 2mins to see if they need the extra 5 mins), the skewer test won't work here it'll come out messy even when done.. a light press on top of one should tell you if it need the extra time...unless you have a really slow oven don't go past 25 mins, they keep cooking when you take them out and no one wants a dry brownie!
Once they are cool you can eat them as is or add some ganache to the top if you're really decadent, I like to serve them warm with raspberry coulis and ice cream or just by themselves straight out of the fridge! If you'd like to fancy them up a little try adding a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix after you've added the flour, or poke a couple of frozen raspberries into each cupcake... if you're feeling really naughty chop up 75 g of white chocolate and mix it through or your could even add all three! ( but maybe then you'll need to run at least a half marathon...). Happy brownies!