Monday, September 27, 2010

Brownies - from scratch!

Perhaps the companies we have worked at are not typical of most UK firms, but it has been our experience that bringing baked goodies in to share with office mates is not typical and customary in the UK. When I first brought a batch of the classic American "Nieman Marcus $1,000,000 Chocolate Chip Urban Legend Cookies" into my office at KBR, the crowds went wild. Well, ok, we're all techies, all IT professionals, so yummy cookies are a natural along with coffee, lots of coffee. But then I sent in a share of the next batch with Alan (my husband) to his office and again, the crowds went wild. As time went on and we moved to other jobs the same phenomenon occurred - people delighted but mystified at why one would bring in home baked goodies for the office.

Well, it's an American thing.

Anyway, making those awesome cookies is a great deal of work, especially as I have to make them entirely by hand since I have no mixer here in the UK, and I wasn't making them very frequently. But people at Alan's office were making wingeing, mewling sounds of need so one evening I mixed up a batch of classic American brownies - from a mix box, of course. People loved them, and it was a perfect solution for home baked goody craving being dirt-easy to make. So when Alan came home from work on Thursday and informed me that the hints had progressed to stern cross-examination as to the expected arrival date of more snackies I told him to let his mates know he'd be bringing in brownies Monday morning. I planned to pick up a couple of boxes of brownie mix when I did my regular weekly supermarket run. Unfortunately I went brain dead and while I knew there was something I'd intended to pick up, I absolutely couldn't remember what. Until Alan asked me on Sunday afternoon when I planned to bake the brownies for work. Yikes! That's what I forgot to buy! But I knew I couldn't let the office staff down, they were all anticipating rich chocolaty brownies with morning coffee on Monday. So I airily announced no worries, I shall bake brownies from scratch as I had all the necessary ingredients in my cupboard storage. On the other hand, what I didn't mention was that I'd never actually made homemade brownies from scratch. So armed with a recipe from a trusted source, and scavenging the cupboards, I proceeded to bake a batch of what turned out to be the best damned brownies I've ever tasted!

Note to UK users - this recipe used cup and spoon measures, not weights. This makes life VASTLY easier.

If you don't have them, get yourself a set of standard measuring spoons and a set of measuring cups. Forget the misery of scales. I've given a rough guide to metric measures you can use.)


4 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar (or 250g)
7 0z unsalted butter (200g)
6 oz dark chocolate - use a really good quality bar(150g)
1 cup plain flour (150g)
3/4 tsp baking powder (3.5g) I just used 1 level tsp because it was easier
2 small packs dark chocolate chips or chunks (100 gr bags UK, 4 oz bags US)


Baking pan - 8 x 10 x 1.5 inches (you can use a slightly larger pan but not smaller)
Greaseproof or Parchment paper
spatula - get yourself a silicone one as they are marvelous
Two bowls, pyrex or stainless steel, (1 large for mixing, 1 which can sit comfortably on top of the saucepan).
Saucepan with simmering water


1. Preheat oven to 325 F (170c or 160C for fan ovens)
2. Very lightly butter the baking pan (this will help keep baking paper in place).
3. Cut paper and fit to the pan leaving a small bit over the long sides for lifting cake out later and tucking the corners in keep a reasonably neat lining.
4. Lightly butter the bottom paper.


1. Put the eggs and sugar into the large mixing bowl and whisk together until well mixed. Set this to the side.

2. Break up the chocolate and put it into the heatproof bowl.
Cut the butter into chunks and add to the chocolate.
Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water.

3. Using the spatula, gently stir the butter and chocolate until they have both melted.
Then pour them into the egg and sugar mix while stirring the mix. It's important to stir the mix while adding the stream of melted chocolate.

4. Add the flour and baking powder to the mix and whisk them in, ensuring there are no lumps of flour.

5. Now stir in the chocolate chips and pour the whole lot into the baking pan lined with greaseproof paper.

6. Put the baking pan into the oven and bake it for 30 minutes.

7. Remove the baking pan from the oven; you'll notice that the brownies have shrunk slightly away from the sides.
Put the pan on a rack or heatproof surface and allow it to rest and cool for 10 minutes (ok, 5 if you're terribly impatient)

8. Take the brownies out of the baking pan by gently lifting on the extra paper you left on the long sides of the pan. Place the brownies on a tray and allow to cool another 30 min or until cool enough to handle. Cut into pieces and serve.

9. You can store the brownies in a tin or tupperware box at room temperature for a couple days - if they last that long! Or you can also wrap them individually in wax paper and place in a zip lock bag and freeze - that way you can take 1 out when you like and just let it come to room temp. Frozen brownies will keep for a couple of months.