Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Adapted from, with heavy modifications:
"Chocolate Chunk Cookies" from The Great British Bake Off.

My Ingredients: (Makes 24)
  • 150g flour
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 50g dark chocolate (86% cocoa)
  • good pinch of salt
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

My Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the walnut pieces on a baking tray and toast them for 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into smaller pieces. Use a knife if needed.
  2. Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg and the sugars and beat well.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl and mix in with a wooden spoon.When thoroughly combined, work in the toasted walnuts and chocolate pieces.
  4. Spread the dough onto a baking tray lined up with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until the brownie is lightly golden. Rotate the tray halfway through the baking time so the brownie cook evenly.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave the brownie on the baking tray to cool and firm up for 5 minutes. Cut it up into 2cm x 8cm pieces into mini brownies. Dust with icing sugar if desired.

One-line Verdict:

    • It is important to toast walnuts or any other nuts before baking because nuts can never get hot enough to toast while baking due to the presence of other ingredients surrounding them. Toasting nuts beforehand can help reduce the bitterness of raw nuts and give them some extra crispiness.
    • After the test bake, I found that the cookies were more fudgy that I'd like and tasted more like brownies. Hence I baked the remaining dough into brownies in a tray. This change of texture could be caused by the reduction in chocolate so the same amount of leavening agent gives the "cookies" more "raise" and result in a "cakey" texture resembling brownies.
    • I replaced half of the chocolate (100g) specified in the original recipe by 30g of cocoa powder as I want to have less chocolate-y bakes. I also used 86% cocoa instead of 70%. I should have added extra butter to compensate the loss of chocolate. The substitution should be: 40g of chocolate can be replaced by 30g cocoa powder plus 14g of butter. It means I should have added 35gram more of cocoa powder plus 35g of butter.
    • The cookies/brownies are not too sweet but drier than most brownies as a combined result of the reduction in chocolate and the use of higher cocoa %. But honestly I am quite happy with the sweetness. If I make this recipe again, I might add 35g of extra butter but I won't use the chocolate bar with 70% cocoa as suggested.
    • Muscovado sugar should not be replaced by golden caster or any other brown sugar because it is significantly moister than other brown sugar.
    • Approximate cost of the main ingredients: £2

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