Very Good Chocolate Brownies

24 April 2012

Post image for Very Good Chocolate Brownies

They say that anyone can buy a good house, but good neighbours are priceless.

We happen to be blessed with the most wonderful neighbours in our whole building. Ok, it’s a small building with only 5 tenants, but it is still a wonder that we love to get together regularly for dinner, with a new host on each occasion and dinner being a casual affair where we each arrive in our house-slippers and even bring along chairs or an assortment of dinnerware if need be. We go on picnics together, attend each other’s wedding and even babysit if the need arises. One particular neighbour is so sweet to occasionally leave boxes of Lindt chocolates on our doorstep, he being an employee of this awe-inspiring local institution. If you have had a horrid day at work, coming home to find a little treasure of pralines at your door not only does wonders for your spirit, but almost makes you believe in the fairy godmother.

So you can imagine my delight to come home one day to find not one, but two (!), 2.5 kg industrial-sized bags of tip-top chocolate chips on my doorstep! Not quite like your average chocolate chips, these small, unpolished coin-sized pieces of chocolate are perfect for melting or for chopping to use in various baked goods. They come in a variety of grades which you can mix together to create your own custom blend of chocolate. What makes them more special is that they are not available for purchase by the ordinary customer; these specially manufactured chocolate chips are produced primarily for the local chocolatiers to use in their exquisite creations. My head is still spinning from the excitement of the numerous ways in which I can put this chocolate to a deserving use …

And what better recipe to show off good-quality chocolate than the humble brownie?

For a long time, I had been faithful to Nigella Lawson’s Snow-Flecked Brownies which first appeared as a variation to her Brownie recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess, and which was later granted a special status as a recipe in its own right in Feast. This particular recipe was quick and easy to whip together, not to mention fail-proof. It remained my go-to brownie recipe for perhaps a decade, a testament to my loyalty.

But then there were whispers in the foodie community that there was a better brownie recipe on the block, a recipe that was bound to convert anyone who had tried it. That recipe belongs to Nigel Slater and comes from his evocative cooking journal, The Kitchen Diaries. Although I was curious to try Nigel Slater’s recipe, I found it difficult to diverge from the usual path whenever a craving for chocolate brownies ensued. But faced with 5 kg of chocolate, I thought now would be the right time to take risks in the kitchen.

With a decent 250 g of chocolate in the recipe, plus a generous amount of cocoa, I had an inkling that this recipe could not go wrong. As with any recipe where chocolate is the predominant flavour, you should use the best quality chocolate and cocoa you can afford. I often use chocolate with 60% cocoa solids in my baking – it tends to be a good compromise if you are serving both kids and adults as it is not too sweet and not too bitter. To that end, I don’t necessarily always use Lindt chocolate in my baking; given the amount of baking I do, I often opt for the supermarket brand (which is made by a reputable local chocolate factory anyway) and reserve the more expensive chocolate for special occasions where I definitely want the chocolate to stand out.

For this recipe, I used Lindt Trinidad chocolate with 68% cocoa solids and Bensdorp cocoa from Dean & Deluca, the latter being a staple ingredient in my pantry ever since I first discovered it on my first trip to New York. Since then, whenever I find myself in New York for work or play, I always make the time to bring back a tin or two of this rich, dark cocoa. I have even asked colleagues visiting from New York to pack a tin in their suitcase. In return, I make sure they go home with a good supply of Teuscher chocolates.

As with any brownie recipe, this particular recipe was fairly easy to put together. I love that some of the chocolates are chopped up into small chunks and folded through the batter to provide nuggets of sweetness as you cut through a slice. Baking brownies in a square tin makes a lot of sense because you will have a few fudgy slices in the centre for those who like their brownies really gooey, and the slices around the edges tend to be drier, yet still wonderfully moist. They keep quite well for a few days under a covered dish, if you can manage to restrain yourself from eating them all in one sitting.

Upon biting into my first slice of this brownie, I needed no further persuasion as to which was the better brownie recipe. Nigel Slater’s My Very Good Chocolate Brownie Recipe is more than very good. It is, without a doubt, the best brownie recipe. Ever.

Perhaps it is the top-quality chocolate which I used in this recipe which gives it the deep, dark, chocolate flavour. But the use of little flour in Nigel Slater’s recipe certainly makes the brownies less cake-like and more deliciously dense and fudgy. Just so that I could be sure of my verdict, I made these brownies a second time which was a sign in itself that there will be a decade yet of Nigel Slater’s brownies before I will try any other.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

manu 24 April 2012 at 11:10 am

Oh, I love brownies, they’re so confort…
Have a great day

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 11:23 am

If you love brownies, you must try this recipe, Manu! You will not be disappointed :-)

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Caroline 24 April 2012 at 11:19 am

HA!!!! I TOLD YOU!!!! I saw the pic and thought it HAD to be Nigel Slater’s. This the motherload of brownie decadence! As far as a lush, extreme, brownie goes, this is the recipe for me. There is perhaps, a brownie for different needs but this one, in the end, blows all of them out of the water! How jammy are you to have such a neighbour??! And you are right, good neighbours are priceless, without question. Just like these brownies :-)

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 11:26 am

LOL!!! I am very thankful to you and everyone else who has been singing the praises of this recipe. I would not have known otherwise! Sometimes when I find a really good recipe, it’s so hard to deviate and try a new one but I’m really I glad I gave Nigel Slater’s recipe a go. It is, as you say, brownie decadence! Now we just need to convince SamIam to try this recipe … she, too, is another faithful follower of Nigella’s brownies …

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Caroline 24 April 2012 at 5:50 pm

Ooooh that’s going to be a hard task, trying to convince Sam that something else is even more perfect that what she has already LOL! However it is understandable, when you find something that hits all the right notes, its very difficult to move away from that. Kind of like ordering the same thing at the same restaurant! Can’t seem to get past it lol! Glad you did though, and moved to the other side..muwahaha!

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 6:01 pm

Evil laugh, indeed!! :-) Actually, you’ve hit the nail on the head … I am someone who tends to order the same thing at the same restaurant! Must be more adventurous as clearly it can sometimes pay off ;-)

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Jo Blogs Jo Bakes 24 April 2012 at 12:10 pm

Oh I love, love, love this post Thanh! What a truly wonderful place to live – I’d kill for neighbours like that. You’re so lucky to have a direct line to uber special choccie like this too! I’ve been eyeing up this recipe for sometime and now you’ve trialled it with super special choc, I think I must wait until I can afford (the money and calories!) for top of the range stuff before I jump in head first, mouth open ;)

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Caroline 24 April 2012 at 5:52 pm

True Jodie, the quality of chocolate does show itself here. But Lindt, the bars are perfectly acceptable and so is G&B’s cocoa as well. Valrhona, the holy grail of chocolate, could not be put to better use, but here it isn’t a law. So give it a go, just don’t use the supermarket equivalent I think. :-)

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 6:00 pm

Jodie – You haven’t tried this recipe yet??! I can already see you pimping this recipe, LOL! As Carrie has mentioned, I think any good quality chocolate is good in this recipe, not necessarily the super-expensive kind. I keep pinching myself at how lucky I am to have access to wonderful chocolate, not just through my neighbour but just by merely living in the land of chocolate! I hope you will give this recipe a try soon :-)

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Mathilda 24 April 2012 at 8:36 pm

Becoming a huge fan of your fantastic blog. I actually never tried yet cooking a brownie and will without anydoubt try this one : we say in French “tomber du cocotier dans la mercedes” (to fall directly from coconut tree into mercedes) !

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 10:37 pm

Merci Mathilda! As a brownie lover, I can certainly recommend this brownie recipe to you :-) There are many brownie recipes out there but I think this is the one for chocolate lovers.

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Cookie and Kate 24 April 2012 at 9:55 pm

Good grief, your brownies look incredible! Beautiful food photography, too. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect brownie recipe and it looks like I may have just found it. Thank you!

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eat, little bird 24 April 2012 at 10:52 pm

Thank you! I hope you will give this recipe a try. As an enthusiastic brownie consumer, this recipe is certainly the best I’ve come across. And I’m thrilled to read that you like my photography! I have been a follower of your wonderful food blog and am so happy you have found mine :-)

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Radka 24 April 2012 at 11:40 pm

I had to try these as soon as I saw the recipe here and they turned out to be FANTASTIC! (not to mention those were the first brownies I made in my life – so huge thanks for the idea:))

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eat, little bird 25 April 2012 at 10:56 pm

Oh how wonderful!!! I’m so happy to hear that you tried this recipe as your first attempt at making brownies. They are really delicious, aren’t they?

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Russell at Chasing Delicious 25 April 2012 at 3:42 am

I lovee brownies. I think its been a week since I’ve made some and that is far too long. I’m going to have to make this recipe asap. Yum

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eat, little bird 25 April 2012 at 10:57 pm

If you love brownies, you will not be disappointed by this recipe!

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Reem | Simply Reem 25 April 2012 at 7:55 am

These look really good…
You know i too made brownies… Same thinking ;-).
I have to try this recipe next time….

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eat, little bird 25 April 2012 at 10:58 pm

Ah good minds think alike ;-) Nothing beats a good brownie and I think I am pretty sure this is THE recipe … popping over to your blog now to check out yours :-)

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Liz Headon 25 April 2012 at 5:49 pm

Gorgeous ! I don’t think I’ve tried this recipe… yet. I smiled when you mentioned how wonderful it is to have a Lindt factory locally, as there is one in the small French town where my brother lives. A trip to the factory shop is a must when I visit !

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eat, little bird 25 April 2012 at 11:08 pm

Indeed, forget about the art galleries and museums! Visiting the local chocolate factory is much more interesting! Our neighbour has high praises for the French factory and says they produce some of the best truffles. He once gave us a box which were 70% cocoa content and we devoured them in mere moments – they were so addictive. I don’t think they are commonly sold everywhere but you should look out for these next time you visit your brother:
http://www.lindt.com/ca/noswf/eng/products/christmas/lindt-truffes-intense/lindt-truffes-intense-70-box/

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Anita Menon 26 April 2012 at 6:31 am

Such lovely neighbours! I totally envy you.

I don’t even know who lives next door. that has been the policy of this flat apartments since we moved in 2 years ago.
The brownies look drop dead gorgeous! I must say, your neighbours are lucky too.

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eat, little bird 26 April 2012 at 12:16 pm

Oh it’s a shame to not know your neighbours! I must admit that in previous places where we have lived, our neighbours were always complete strangers. This is the first time where we have gotten to know our neighbours well, and not just one, but all of them! We feel really lucky indeed :-) I hope they feel lucky too … goodness knows how often I have knocked on their door with some baked goods for them to try, both bad and good!

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Alex B 26 April 2012 at 10:32 am

These look truly amazing! I am forever trying new brownie recipes in hope of finding that perfect gooey fudgey-ness, but have been disappointed so far (one recommended baking for just 12 minutes!?) These look fabulous and I will be trying the ASAP. Loving your blog and I am very jealous of your lovely neighbours!
A x

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eat, little bird 26 April 2012 at 12:23 pm

Hi Alex! 12 minutes??! Crikey, you are hardly baking the mixture, LOL! I must admit that achieving the perfect gooey and fudgy centre takes a bit of practice. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake tin should come out sticky but not with a lot of raw mixture attached to it. If the latter happens, I put the cake tin back in the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes longer, and test again, baking for an additional 3-5 minutes as necessary.

Nigella’s recipe requires you to bake the brownies in a large rectangular baking tin which meant a bit of fiddling with the baking time to make sure that the centre was fudgy but not uncooked.

What I really like about Nigel Slater’s recipe is that you use a square baking tin, so there is less chance of undercooking the centre of the cake. The two times I have made this cake, I only had to bake it for the stipulated 35 minutes to achieve a lovely, moist centre with slightly drier edges.

I hope you will give this recipe a try soon :-)

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LP @dishclips 27 April 2012 at 10:50 pm

These look great! I love the picture where all the required ingredients are laid out. Thanks for sharing!

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Jane 28 April 2012 at 4:13 am

I love a simple brownie recipe which is easy for the kids :)
I also like the below brownie recipe.
http://www.wascene.com/food-drink/perfect-chocolate-brownie-recipe/
Thanks for sharing,
Jane

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eat, little bird 28 April 2012 at 12:20 pm

Ooh that recipe looks good too! Especially if you only have cocoa powder to hand. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I think the best thing about brownies is that they are fairly easy to make and don’t require too many ingredients.

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Carole 28 April 2012 at 8:06 am

hm beautiful pictures, your brownies look amazing! I have been making brownies using a very similar recipe for years. The only difference is that they have walnuts. I will try your version too one of these days.
You are SO lucky to have such great neighbors!! All of my neighbors are complete strangers unfortunately. I also live around ZH so if sth becomes available in your building, could you let me know so I can move in right away?! Thanks! :)
I just discovered your blog and already love it! Your photography skills are amazing!

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eat, little bird 28 April 2012 at 12:24 pm

Thanks, Carole! Lovely to have a “local” visiting my blog :-)

I’ve been told that it’s quite rare in Switzerland to mingle with your neighbours, and even more so if they happen to be Swiss. So we are very blessed indeed. We have all planned a BBQ picnic together this evening to enjoy the lovely weather :-) And contrary to Swiss fashion, it was only organised last night, not weeks in advance! ;-)

I, too, love walnuts in brownies and have thought about adding some to this recipe next time. But these must be the first brownies which I have really enjoyed just for their chocolatey goodness so, to date, I haven’t wanted to take any chances. But maybe next time!

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Malin 29 April 2012 at 4:03 pm

I want neighbours like that too! Since I hardly know who my neighbours are, I guess I have to take care of myself – with these brownies… They look divine and totally perfect!

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eat, little bird 30 April 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s nice to know who your neighbours are, and to be friends with them makes living next door to them a much more pleasant experience! It’s also handy when you need to share your cooking or need a hand finishing a cake …

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Jennifer (Delicieux) 1 May 2012 at 1:02 pm

Wow, what wonderful neighbours! I’d love a neighbour who left me Lindt chocolate, how sweet (no pun intended). I’ve been faithful to Nigella’s recipe, so now I’m going to have to try this. They sound amazing. Thanks for testing this recipe twice :D

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eat, little bird 1 May 2012 at 3:19 pm

LOL! Yes, my neighbour is very sweet :-) I would love to know what you think of these brownies!

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Rushi 4 May 2012 at 1:23 pm

Now I’m craving for a brownie, it’s not fair – I want neighbours like you. lol I guess for the time being I’ll have to make my own brownies and greedily eat ‘em by myself (maybe share a couple with hubby and a few friends). I tried Nigel’s brownie recipe that used only cocoa powder so I think this one will be more decadent.

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eat, little bird 4 May 2012 at 4:25 pm

These are indeed quite decadent brownies. The good thing is that they keep quite well so you can treat yourself for several days in a row. I’m wondering when I can make them again soon!

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NYinRome 1 June 2012 at 10:21 am

Having a morning catching up on my favorite blogs, and this post has made me decide to make brownies this weekend. Your photos of them have shown exactly and preecisely what a true good brownie should be and look like. Your writing was wonderful….a true exploration of a brownie. Not to mention you wonderful neighbors! Thanks for sharing, this might just be the thing I need to get me moving this morning. :D.

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eat, little bird 1 June 2012 at 12:04 pm

Oh thanks for popping by :-) I’m glad these brownies motivated you to get moving this morning! These brownies are truly something special. There was some chatter over on FB about whether these brownies were too rich for some – I think a few found 70% chocolate to be too dark. So depending on your preference, you might want to use chocolate with less cocoa content. Otherwise, I found them to be perfect with the 68% chocolate I used. I hope you will enjoy these :-) xx

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Meenakshi 9 September 2012 at 2:58 pm

Can I move into your building?! A neighbour who works at Lindt and is generous enough to share samples! I have been partial to a Nigella brownie recipe myself, mainly because it is so quick. But I have come across a few new ones (including yours) which I would love to try. Your photos are so beautiful!

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eat, little bird 11 September 2012 at 9:48 pm

LOL!! Aside from the fact that he works for Lindt, he’s also a top bloke so we are very lucky to have him as our neighbour :-) As for Nigella’s brownies vs. Nigel’s brownies … I recommend that you try both!

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tiffany 7 February 2013 at 9:09 am

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! I was looking for a brownie recipe to make some for my friend’s birthday, and she loved these. They’re definitely replacing my previous recipe as a staple! It’s so nice to have a recipe that calls for two types of chocolate so I can control the sweetness of the brownie. Beyond awesome – love this recipe and your blog. Thank you!

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eat, little bird 10 February 2013 at 11:27 am

Great to hear that your friend enjoyed these brownies! It is also the best brownie recipe I have across and I have been making these rather frequently. Not only are they moist and decadent, but I love that they keep so well.

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Laura 27 October 2013 at 9:22 pm

These look great! You might like our Bonfire Brownies.

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