Blue Sky Brownies (The Best - Guaranteed) [GF]
Of all the things I make, these brownies have taken the most rigorous testing to get them right, and I'm finally chuffed with the result.
These brownies are based on the ones I used to have at a small cafe called the Blue Sky Cafe in Bangor, North Wales. It's where I went to university, and it was such a lovely little cafe that did various cakes every day with whatever leftovers were on hand. This means every day they had different cakes - such a brilliant tactic because it meant I had to keep popping in to see what they made each day because I didn't want to miss out on anything. It's a very clever scam.
Although their cakes change with the weeks and seasons, one thing remained evergreen - their brownies. They were gluten-free brownies, and they were the best brownies I've eaten. Dark and chocolatey, but not too dark - soft and squishy in texture and punctuated with great big hunks of white chocolate - buttery nuggets of vanilla blandness which rescue you from the depths of intense chocolate not-so-despair. Nobody or nowhere has since beaten these brownies in the years following my graduation and leaving that little place behind. It's what I miss most about Bangor. I spent a lot of time in that cafe, pissing my student loan on coffee and cakes, sitting by their dinky log fire and dreaming of all wonderful places in the world I couldn't yet afford to visit. It was a dreamy place, away from my mouldy student digs and somewhere I could pretend I was studying.
I hope these brownies guide you towards your dreams too - I wish you many blue skies ahead.
BLUE SKY BROWNIES
250g Dark Chocolate (the closer to 60% cocoa, the better)
50g Unsalted Butter
150g Caster Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Camp Coffee Extract (or 2tsps Espresso Coffee Powder)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
100g White Chocolate
Preheat an oven to 180C. Butter a brownie tin (8" to 10" length) or cake tin very generously with butter. Line the tin with baking paper, sticking well into the corners and allowing some excess paper to overhang.
Brownies are a melting method cake, which makes them divinely dense and squishy. It starts by melting the 250g chocolate with the 50g of butter, you can do it in a microwave, but I recommend a double boiler (that is, sitting a bowl with the chocolate and butter on a saucepan of gently boiling water). Melt them until they are just combined, and remove from the heat.
Stir in the 150g sugar and stir until roughly dissolved. This should bring the temperature down a bit. Crack in the 2 eggs, and add the tablespoon of vanilla and coffee extracts. Add in half a teaspoon of sea salt. Stir until you have a glossy, chocolate mixture.
Sift in 50g of cornflour and beat in vigorously with a wooden spoon until there are no visible lumps. It may thicken a little bit in the heat of the mixture, that is perfectly alright.
The batter shouldn't feel any hotter than body heat. If it feels little too hot, let it sit and cool slightly. When it's cool enough - add 100g of white chocolate, chopped into gorgeous hunky chunks. Stir briskly through the brownie batter, being careful they don't melt into the batter.
Pour the brownie batter into the tin and flatten the top with a blunt knife or spoon. Place into the oven to bake at 180C for 30 minutes, until the sides are set hard but there is a delicate, glossy film over the top of the brownies - that's how you know they're superior quality!