Fudgey Brownies

All you need is love and a brownie ♥

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I never thought I’d be emotionally and mentally equipped to handle protests, riots, crashing stock indices and a pandemic – all at the same time. Growing up with an elder sibling meant watching movies not meant for a child of my age. So, I grew up scared of zombies, murderers, riots, and basically any kind of violence. I’m the kind of person that likes to avoid awkward confrontation and would run different arguments in my head before even asking for something. And now, here I am in 2020, picking fights with friends and family on the topics of NRC, CAA, nationalism, public healthcare, liberalism and capitalism.

I’m not a socialist. But I do try to be a responsible citizen and a decent human being. An empathetic human being. I can imagine your confusion – where do brownies fit into all of this?

Well, I’m on day 2 of my social isolation today and couldn’t get myself to binge watch junk on Netflix. So instead, I brought out my paint box (filled with dust bunnies),  unscrewed jammed acrylic paint tubes and began painting after what felt like years. But as with most creative things, you can’t rush the process so eventually after a couple of hours I had to stop, and focus on my next creative outlet – which is why I am here.

If you’re at home (which I am hoping most of you are), let’s make the most of this terrible confusing time and do something which makes us – all in all, better, happier people.

I don’t know about being better people, but whats going to make you happier? These fuuuuudgey brownies, which according to my boss,  who in between meetings paused to say were ‘F**KING BETTER THAN THEOBROMA!“.


I’m just a girl, sitting on her recliner, asking strangers on the internet to just add a little more sweetness to their lives and bake these brownies. Please?

 

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Here’s what you need:

  • 120g semi-sweet chocolate (melted) – 20 second intervals in the microwave
  • 100g semi-sweet chocolate – chopped into one inch sized chunks
  • 220g butter (also, melted) – 20 second intervals in the microwave
  • 175g white caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 95g flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp flakey salt

Here’s what you need to do:

I highly recommend a hand mixer for this recipe. But since most gyms are closed, feel free to take out a hand whisk and get a workout in 🙂

Prepare a 9″ pan – line with parchment paper and grease with butter. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, pour the melted butter and top with the two sugars. Mix until light and pale, till you can’t see individual granules of sugar. Crack in the eggs, one at a time. Now, this is the time to really get that workout in, show off those arm muscles. You want to mix this till everything is glossy, very light in color and you can see an increase in volume. Why? Because want to mix the eggs till they almost double in  volume for that beautiful cracked top on brownies which make them look oh so attractive. Trickle in the vanilla extract and stir.

Pour in the melted chocolate in a single stream. Gently, using a whisk, stir the chocolate and mix until everything resembles something so chocolately and sweet that you want to put your face in it 😀

Topple the sifted dry mix on top of the eggy-melted chocolate goodness and mix until you don’t see any dry lumps of flour. You don’t want to over work the flour – it will activate the gluten and make the brownies cakey  – and we don’t want that. We want these to be gloriously fudgey and gooey.

Top the batter with the chopped chocolate chunks, mix just until folded through and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 mins until the top of the brownies is glossy and wrinkly, and you can’t see any uncooked batter from the top.

Wait for the brownies to cool before cutting them – I didn’t. But that’s also cause I have zero patience in life and I’m all about instant gratification. :/


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Brown Butter & Salted Caramel Cake

I’ve been told birthday calories don’t count, especially since this was my 25th and I can sense an imminent quarter life crisis. And, since this was my birthday week, I decided to go all out and make the most decadent (and laborious) cake for myself :).

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This cake is  very close to my heart. I have wanted to make this amber delight for a really long time.

I was inspired by a similar version of this cake (except with a butterscotch sauce rather than the salted caramel) from Elma’s a very long time ago. Making it now, reminded me of very fond memories.

I must admit, when I was deciding on which cake to make, I was facing a lot of competition from a Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. Eventually, I gave in and settled for what I didn’t know at the time, would be the best cake I have ever made, hands down.

Without further ado, I did my research and found recipes online that I felt comfortable with.

So this cake, this very special milestone cake for a milestone birthday is a Brown Butter Sponge and a Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting with a rather generous Salted Caramel Drizzle.

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Cake
The ingredients listed below are for a multi-layer 9 inch cake. I made a 2 layer 6 inch cake, so all I did was halve the ingredient below. And somehow everything worked out.

What you will need:

For the brown butter sponge

  • 12 ounces salted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsps of baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean; split it down the centre and scrape the seeds
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 180 grams butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 cup water

For the salted caramel frosting

  • 12 ounces cream cheese; at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsps of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of icing sugar

Method:

Brown Butter Cake

First thing’s first, you need to make the brown butter. If you are making the 9inch recipe, please make sure you have a heavy bottom, large pot for melting the butter. When I found this recipe, the author did not issue a very important disclaimer about how much the butter foams up before it turns brown – imagine over boiled milk. So once you have placed the butter in the pot, and turned on the stove, get an ice bath with a bowl ready to go. You will be needing the ice bath to cool down the brown butter once its done, but it is also very handy in case the foaming gets slightly out of hand and you need it pour the hot butter out.

IMG_5198Okay, now, for the brown butter – place the butter in the pot and turn the stove on. You don’t have to keep stirring, but you have to keep an eye on it for a. the foaming (be cautious) and b. to smell the nutty aroma once the brown butter is ready. The whole process lasts about 10 minutes. The milk solids in the butter will start to turn brown and solidify at the bottom of the pan. The minute it starts releasing a butterscotchy aroma, you need to take it off the heat and pour the butter into the bowl in the ice bath.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line two 9inch (6inch) pans with parchment paper and grease the sides generously.

IMG_5206Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Turn back to the brown butter, once it has cooled around the edges, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk them together until creamy and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla seeds, followed by the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition. Beat in the whole eggs one by one until you the whole mix comes together and is well mixed with significant volume.

Fold in the flour dry mixture, and alternate with the milk, about three rounds of this process.

Once the mixture is folded in and there are no flour lumps, pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the centre is cooked.

Salted Caramel Sauce

IMG_5210So about the caramel, I absolutely loathe dry caramel. Not only does it have a horrible bitter after taste, its tricky to make, there is a high chance of the sugar crystalizing AND its far more temperamental than a wet caramel.

Note: Use a heavy bottom deep pot; the caramel will spit and foam.

Place the sugar and water in a pan. You don’t need to stir it, just swirl the pan once in a while, if needed. Keep an eye on the caramel. Now, many people have different preferences when it comes to the desired level of color/ burntness/ bitterness. I was very fortunate to get to the perfect color on my first attempt.

Keep the cream, butter and salt handy. Note: All the ingredients should be at room temperature; DO NOT add cold cream to hot caramel. IMG_5211

Once you get the perfect colour on the caramel, tip in the butter and stir till its melted through. Remove the pot from the flame and pour in the cream. Be delicate, you don’t want to splash hot caramel around. The mixture will foam and bubble furiously when you add both, the butter and the cream so be cautious.

Once the cream is mixed through, pour the caramel in a separate bowl and leave to cool.

 

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

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For the frosting, all the ingredients must be at room temperature.
Start with whisking the cream cheese in a large bowl with the softened room temperature butter  and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Whisk in the salted caramel sauce.

One everything is well combined, sift in the icing sugar, small tablespoons at a time. It isn’t necessary for you to use all the icing sugar, you can adjust the viscosity and the sweetness of the frosting with the sugar, and that’s that.

Whip it up until nice and stiff.

Assembly

Place Cake 1 on a cake board and lather the cream cheese frosting rather generously in the centre. Once its evenly spread, drizzle some salted caramel on top.

Place Cake 2 on top of Cake 1, and spread the frosting all over the cake. At this point, you may want to chill the cake in the fridge for an hour or so.

Decorate the cake with leftover salted caramel and some popcorn 🙂

Belt the cake with a nice cup of Ristretto Nespresso coffee. 🎂☕️

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