It was last weekend. A was sat on the sofa, intermittently groaning, immersed in the rugby. I was sprawled on the floor, pondering brownies. Priorities, priorities.
These brownies are serious bites. Each one comes with a rich seam of golden, salted caramel, and a sprinkling of bitterly dark crunchy cocoa nibs on top.
I was inspired to bake these after salivating over the brownie selection in Paul A. Young’s chocolate shop. However, they’re pretty expensive, so I thought I’d have a go at the recipe on Poires au Chocolat instead. Not to mention that they’d use up some of my cocoa nibs. You know when you buy all these exotic baking ingredients and never get round to using them up? Yeah that happened. Anyone got any other good uses for cocoa nibs?
They taste every bit as good as I expected them too, rich nuggets of dark chocolatey flavour, crammed full of silky buttery caramel, and the sprinkle of cocoa nibs perfectly balancing the rich buttery sweetness from the other ingredients.
Texture-wise, they’re very different from any other brownie I’ve made before. These are baked for only 20 minutes on a rather low oven temperature of 160˚C. This makes them very soft at room temperature, the interior of each piece sticky and gooey. After a stay in the freezer overnight, they firmed up considerably, with the dense, smooth texture of homemade fudge.
Although I think that the aim of the cooking instructions is to achieve this textural state, I prefer my brownies to be a little firmer. So I baked a second batch, throwing in a little more flour, at a slightly higher temperature for longer. They’re more robust once cut than the originals, and a tiny bit cakier around the crust. However, they’ve still got that smooth dense fudge-like texture inside, and just as much rich chocolatey flavour that I love.
My brownies are a little on the tall side, as I don’t have a good eye for measurements, and the cake tin I thought was 20cm squared all along is actually a tad smaller at 18cm. It simply makes these bites even more truffle-like, rich and decadent so I’m not complaining too much!
Salted Caramel and Cocoa Nib Brownies
Adapted from Poires au Chocolat
For the salted caramel:
- 75g caster sugar
- 50ml double cream
- 10g unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
For the brownie:
- 100g butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 50g dark muscovado sugar
- 75g golden syrup
- 275g dark chocolate, chopped finely
- 4 eggs
- 90g plain flour
- small handful of cocoa nibs
Make the caramel. Toss the sugar in a dry saucepan, and gently heat until it melts and turns golden brown. Take off the heat and whisk in the cream bit by bit until it is all incorporated. Then stir in the butter, followed by the salt, until smoothly combined. Scrape the caramel into a bowl and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Line a 20x20cm tin with baking paper.
Using the same saucepan for the caramel again, gently heat together the butter, sugars and syrup until melted and combined. Take off the heat and add in all the chocolate. stir until melted and uniform.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then gradually incorporate them into the brownie mixture, whisking together to combine. Then add the flour and beat everything together until smooth and glossy. Pour into the prepared tin.
Spoon/drizzle the cooled caramel evenly over the brownie mix and use a skewer/sharp knife to lightly swirl it through. Scatter the cocoa nibs on top.
Bake for 25 minutes, then take out and leave to cool. Once cool, freeze or refridgerate overnight until solid. Cut into squares.