12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 4: Brownie Cookies

I could only manage one post last week since we were off in Goa for a little break. But now it’s back to baking, full steam!

Brownies were one of the first things I learned to bake well. Back in the day, I’d use packaged brownie mix, but once I found a recipe that worked, I never looked at boxed mix again.

Since then, I’ve made different variations of brownies, drifted into blondie territory, and returned to the brownie zone with a 2-ingredient Nutella brownie. This made me realize, once again, how comforting a simple brownie could be. And that’s when it struck me: there’s been a lack of chocolate around here for a while.

I know Christmas calls for pumpkin spice lattes, hot apple cider, cranberry scones, and all kinds of spiced + fruity bakes and treats, but in my book, it ain’t a party until you’ve laid down some chocolate.

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So I present to you the brownie cookie. A recipe I bookmarked eons ago when I discovered Purple Foodie.  It lives up to its name: a cookie that’s crisp on the outside and along the edges, but a little underdone in the centre. These require a little patience, because you need to melt the chocolate using a double boiler. These are so, so good dunked in milk. How do I know? Because as I was trying to take a photograph, the cookie, teetering dangerously on the rim of the glass, fell in. (This happened with 3 cookies in successsion, FYI.)

I followed the recipe as is, but the quality of the chocolate was not top-notch: no Callebaut or Lindt, just regular Morde “cooking chocolate” from the baking aisle at Dorabjee’s in Pune. And it made for a pretty good cookie! So I can only imagine how decadent a cookie baked with Callebaut would be.

BROWNIE COOKIES (Via Purple Foodie.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 155g flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 110 g butter
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 75ml or 1/3rd  cup milk

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 175°C.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Melt the chocolate using the double-boiler method, by putting the chocolate in a bowl and placing the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, set aside.
  • Sift together the, flour, cocoa powder and, baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat the butter until creamy.
  • Slowly add the castor sugar until it’s dissolved in the butter.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
    Next, add the vanilla and melted chocolate beat until well incorporated.
  • Add the milk.
  • Fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour can be seen in the batter.
  • Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet and press down gently with the tines of a fork, if you want to. Leave at least an inch of space between each drop of cookie dough.
  • Bake for 7 minutes at 175 C.
  • Allow to rest and firm up before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

ON MELTING CHOCOLATE

♥ Double-boiler: Place a pot of water on the stove, allow the water to simmer. Put the chocolate in another bowl, and place this bowl above the pot of simmering water and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. (Make sure the bowl you put the chocolate in fits snugly onto the rim of the pot- you don’t want the pot shifting around too much.)

♥ Cooking chocolate:  It’s best to use good-quality cooking/baking chocolate for recipes like these, dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids.

♥ My chocolate is seizing up/coagulating/getting thick and crumbly/powdery: Don’t throw it out just yet. Lower the heat and add a little bit of fat- a spoonful of butter or a little drizzle of flavourless oil (pls don’t add coconut oil!) and your chocolate may smoothen itself out and melt evenly. If it still doesn’t work, it is best to start over- and avoid stirring the chocolate too much.

♥ Can I use Cadbury’s Dairy Milk? I love Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. I grew up eating it and still enjoy it. The thing is, since Dairy Milk is a processed milk chocolate (with a lower percentage of cocoa solids compared to something like a Lindt 70%) it isn’t the best chocolate for baking. However, I did use Dairy Milk once to make chocolate cake- I couldn’t find dark chocolate anywhere and I was in a hurry. I melted the Dairy Milk pieces in a double boiler, but added a shot of oil to help bring it together as it began to seize up. Since there was extra fat in the cake batter because of the oil, I had to add extra flour to bring the batter together. The cake still turned out well. So yes, I suppose one can use Dairy Milk, but it’s a matter of trial, error, instinct and (dare I say) luck!

 

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2-Ingredient Nutella Brownies

I’m a big fan of 2-3-4-5 ingredient recipes. The ones which proclaim, right at the beginning, that they are by nature uncomplicated; you don’t need to go shopping for a long list of ingredients. It’s convenient. Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t like the Sandra Lee style of cooking- that semi-homemade stuff is just sinister. But I like using pantry staples like anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, tortillas and marmalade to create a meal.

Anyway back to the 2-ingredient recipe. I’m a fan of The Kitchn’s One-Ingredient Ice Cream, so when I came across this 2-ingredient brownie recipe I clicked right away.

I think we can all agree that Nutella is a great pantry staple to have on hand when you are pressed for dessert. (Or breakfast, or a snack.)  And if you want to bake something really good, really fast, without a lot of mise-en-place (you know, measuring out your flour-butter-sugar-baking powder-toasted nuts-what have you,) then this is the recipe you reach for: just eggs and Nutella combined deftly to create a rich, fudgy brownie in minutes.

 

Eggs: Whisk, fiercely.

Nutella: Heat in microwave; fold into eggs.

Bake.

I just did a brownie-baking haiku!

I know you don’t need another brownie recipe. And I know you don’t need another food blogger telling you that these brownies in particular, are the best. But if you are on the  “fudgy brownie” side of The Great Brownie Divide, (cakey vs fudgy,) then this gives you a fudgy brownie that is pretty darn good. Lovely crust, moist centre and easy to cut through. It’s so very simple that it’s hard to believe that just 2 ingredients can create such richness!

THE KITCHN’s 2-INGREDIENT NUTELLA BROWNIES (From The Kitchn.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup Nutella (slightly less than the 370 g/13 oz jars you get in the supermarket)

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 175 c
  • Line the baking dish with enough parchment so that the paper hangs over the sides, it will be easier to pull the brownies out.
  • In the bowl of a freestanding mixer or by using a handheld mixer, whisk all 4 eggs. Begin on a low speed and increase it to high gradually.
  • Whisk until the eggs triple in bulk and turn a billowy yellow. (This takes from 6-8 minutes.)
  • While the eggs are whisking, warm the Nutella in the microwave in short bursts, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the Nutella is loose and pourable.
  • Fold the Nutella one spoon at a time into the egg mixture, until everything is evenly combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake 25-30 minutes.
  • Cool completely before cutting.

Great, Chewy, Everyday Blondies | Chocolate Chunk Blondie Recipe

I’m sharing one more blondie recipe with you. Sans bananas. Just a regular blondie with some chocolate and nuts, and sure, you can add some  butterscotch chips in there too, for good measure. It’s a one-bowl crowd pleasing treat. The recipe is from my current favourite baking book, Pooja Dhingra’s The Big Book Of Treats. I’ve baked about a dozen recipes (some, many times over,) from the book so far, and each and every one of them has turned out well.

While I have made some wonderful cakes and cookies from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess, I find The Big Book Of Treats way more useful because it comes from an Indian pastry chef, writing for an Indian audience, keeping the Indian kitchen in mind. I shall post a detailed review once I’ve baked a few more treats from the book!

This should be your base recipe when you want to make blondies, and a go-to recipe for those times when you have surprise guests, a last-minute dinner party or a school bake sale you didn’t know about!

 

Blondie moment

Blondie moment

(Ok I’m going to honest with you- these last-minute situations never seem to happen with me. My family and small circle of friends are pretty good with advance notice- so we know when someone’s coming around for a meal. And my son is 3. So not many bake sales happening around these parts. But so many easy store-cupboard recipes come with the promise of solving the busy-trap, so I had to put it in there.)

These are quick, easy to put together and ready in under an hour. And chewy-crusty-gooey delicious. My chocolate chips actually melted in the summer heat and welded into one solid, bumpy mass, so I had to hack away and break it up into chunks. And it actually worked really well for this recipe, because irregular-sized chocolate pieces lend an element of surprise as you bite in. You don’t know if you’re going to get a little fleck of chocolate on the tip of your tongue, or a nice big gob of melting goodness.

I’ll be honest with you…even though I’ve glossed eloquent about how simple, low-effort and minimal-energy these blondies are, you don’t have to keep them for a rushed day: bake them for a special occasion too. (I know, I know, the right term is waxed eloquent, but when talking about food, you’d much rather something be glossy than waxy, right? Except potatoes.) 

I encourage you to bake them because they are really good to eat. Sweet. Chocolatey. Nutty. A little crunchy and a little chewy. And their simplicity is what makes them charming.

I take my chocolate chunks very seriously.

I take my chocolate chunks very seriously.

These are great with ice cream and make for much better milk-dippables than Oreos. Be sure to add nuts- a little nibble makes it much more fun.

EVERYDAY BLONDIES (Adapted very slightly from The Big Book Of Treats)

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 200 g brown sugar (I used Mawana light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 120 g flour
  • 60 g of walnuts + chocolate chunks

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 175 C
  • Grease and line an 8-inch baking tin (I used a 6×6 inch square tin and it worked fine,) and set aside
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add the beaten egg and vanilla bean and whisk some more
  • Fold in the flour mixture
  • Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin, spread evenly and bake at 175 C for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean

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