Slytherin chocolate brownies…

Let me be clear, absolutely nothing about these brownies will turn you into a power hungry, magical supremacist. They’re called Slytherin brownies because I baked them for Child 2 when she told me she needed to take cakes in for the school bake sale. She and her sister are in Howard House. The cake stall was for Brooks.

Those scurrilous frauds conned my 5 year old daughter into giving them free (not to mention effing delicious) brownies to sell so they would win a prize. Dicks. Scheming little dicks.

Anyhoo, that’s off my chest now. We’re thinking of the big picture and the money these cakes will raise for charity and I’m being less petty. On with the recipe for truly delicious brownies.

Ingredients are as follows –

150g of chopped, unsalted butter; 125g of dark chocolate; 375g of caster sugar (if you’ve seen any of my other baking recipes you’ll know that I am biased in favour of the golden type – and it’s perfect, but make sure it’s definitely caster and reasonably fine in texture); 3 medium size eggs; 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or essence – I’m never sure if you can really taste the difference in a Brownie); 80g of cocoa powder and 125g of plain flour.

Let me be clear here, this is not haute cuisine. It’s a kids’ cake and it should taste like home – not like Le Gavroche. It’s Bonfire Night, not night at the ballet: you want fireworks, not a delicate flicker of light shimmering on tutus. You don’t need more than one slice. Well, two tops. It’s powerful stuff. If you want to personalise it, add some booze, or nuts, or chocolate drops, or marshmallows…whatever you like really – but only one extra ingredient. Only one.


Set your oven to 180°c / 350°f / GM4 and let it warm up as you carry on with your other work preparing the batter.

Butter and line a square or rectangular cake tin – I use an 8″ square springform tin because it’s easy. And I already have one. The brownies come out about an inch high. I used tin foil today but I usually use unbleached baking paper. Because I’m posh like that.

Break the chocolate up and add the butter chunks to the bowl or pan, then melt. You can do it in a bowl over a pan of warm water or you can microwave it very very carefully. Do it seconds at a time. I confess that I put it all in a pan on the lowest heat possible and just wait stirring it slowly with a wooden spoon.

It’s meditative and the most thoughtful part of the entire dish. It shouldn’t get too hot as you need to add it to another mix later. You aren’t cooking it, you’re simply melting it. The heat required is little more than skin temperature.

Sift the flour and cocoa together in a bowl. Set aside.

Mix the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. If possible use a mixer, not your arms. It gets very heavy.

Add the silky melted chocolate and butter. I can’t tell you how satisfying this part is. All good things in one bowl.

Once the mix is smooth, add the powdered goods. Do it in gradual amounts but as quickly as possible.

As soon as everything is combined, pour into the lined cake tin.

Put the tin into the middle of the oven. It will take between 30 and 60 minutes to cook. I’m sorry I can’t be more exact but it depends on your oven and lots of other factors. Just. Keep. Checking. You’re looking for an even colour with give if you touch the top with your knuckles. Use a skewer but remember that you want sticky – not dry.

When you take the tray or tin out of the oven, put the entire thing on a cooling rack. Leave it there for half an hour or so. Then take the actual brownie out of the tin and leave to cool.

There’s some debate about when to cut the portions. Personally I do it around one hour after exit from the oven. I could be wrong.

However the advantage of the timing is that the cake is still warm and velvety at this point – so you can have a warm piece with a cup of tea. Or coffee. For me it tastes perfect with solitude.

However you prefer to eat these brownies, the recipe is a real crowd pleaser and great on Bonfire Night. Eat them warmed on ice cream or with a little cream. Eat them toute seule. Just don’t eat too many. They’re so rich you’re best rationing them slightly.

Lastly, they freeze. You can do a batch then freeze them individually, take one out every morning and pop it in your bag. You’ll have it ready to eat by lunch or for a mid afternoon snack.

You’re welcome.

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