Sending box after box of brownies through the post was the inspiration for this book, and my quest to develop the perfect recipe has been a long one. I have tried countless ratios of butter, sugar and flour; baking temperatures (hot and fast, low and slow); and cocoa agents (dark chocolate – if so, what percentage of cocoa – or cocoa powder, or both). Finally, I feel confident that I have one of the best brownie recipes out there. These are densely chocolatey, but also slice beautifully and, thanks to the two sugars used in the recipe, have a perfectly crisp, meringue-like crust.
For the brownie batter
- Unsalted Butter 360 g cubed
- Caster (superfine) Sugar 480 g
- Light Brown Soft Sugar 120 g
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 85 g
- Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) 85 g, chopped into small pieces
- Eggs 5
- All-Purpose Flour 170 g
- Fine Sea Salt ¾ tsp
For the topping
- Salted Caramel (recipe follows) 120 g
- Flaky Sea Salt for sprinkling
For the salted caramel
- Caster (superfine) Sugar 360 g
- Double (heavy) Cream 300 ml
- Unsalted Butter 60 g
- Fine Sea Salt 2½ tsp
- Make the caramel: Put the sugar in a heavy-based, squeaky-clean saucepan over a medium-low heat. Cook the sugar without stirring (as this can cause the sugar to crystallise) until it has dissolved. If it needs a bit of encouragement to dissolve evenly, gently shake the pan to move the sugar around. Once the sugar has melted, you can gently whisk it to encourage even browning.
- Once the caramel is a deep golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream. Being careful (it will bubble), whisk the mixture to combine. If lumps of caramel solidify, return the pan to a gentle heat and stir to melt through.
- Add the butter and salt, stir to melt, and then carefully pour into sterilized jars. Leave to cool before using.
- Make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the base and sides of a 9 x 13 inch tin with baking parchment.
- To make the brownie batter, put the butter in a large saucepan followed by the caster sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder and dark chocolate (it is important to put the ingredients in the pan in this order, so that the butter melts first). Place the pan over a low heat and leave for 5 minutes, without stirring, until the butter has completely melted and enveloped the other ingredients. After 5 minutes, give the mixture a stir with a whisk to bring everything together. Once the butter and chocolate are fully melted, remove the pan from the heat (don’t worry if the sugar is still slightly granular at this point).
- Crack the eggs directly into the pan, then quickly whisk the mixture together until it is glossy and all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the flour and salt to the pan and whisk again briefly, until just combined. Make sure you get into the corners of the pan with the whisk to catch any pockets of flour which haven’t been mixed through. Pour the mixture into your lined tin, gently tilting the tin to encourage the mixture to fill to the edges in an even layer.
- To top the brownie, use 2 teaspoons to dollop spoonfuls of the salted caramel evenly over the surface of the brownie mixture, then use a toothpick to ripple the caramel through the batter. Sprinkle the surface of the brownie with a pinch of flaky sea salt.
- Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the brownie no longer wobbles when lightly shaken and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few wet crumbs.
- Allow the brownie to cool to room temperature in the tin, then place in the fridge for an hour before slicing. (This will help you get clean edges when you slice the brownies.) Once the brownie has cooled, remove from the tin and slice into 16 brownie bars or 24 smaller squares, if you prefer.
SHELF LIFE: The brownies will last for at least two weeks when tightly wrapped in airtight packaging.
HOW TO POST: Wrap tightly in cellophane and tissue paper. These can be sent as part of a mixed box (and are robust enough to sit at the bottom) or in a well-fitted box.
Recipe adapted slightly from Sweet Deliveries: Over 60 Cakes, Cookies and Other Treats to Send by Mail by Lucy Burton © 2022 with permission of Welbeck Publishing Group. Photography © 2022 by Nassima Rothacker.