Toffee brownies

Do you remember how I told you about Yotam Ottolenghi, the guy who turns even muffins into something complicated?

He does the same thing with brownies.

Normally, brownies are about the simplest thing you can make: the best example of low effort/high pay-off cooking, a totally unchallenging one-bowl affair, where the only thing you can possibly mess up is the baking time. An overbaked brownie ain’t no brownie. Well, now I think of it, I remember the time my daughter (aged 11) and her friend made brownies and forgot to add eggs. That did not end very well, though the resulting product still got eaten. Mr. Ottolenghi’s brownies require more than one bowl and more than one baking tray. You have to make butter toffee first, which is a little stressful as it threatens to split most of the time. But all’s well that ends well and it usually comes together if you whisk vigorously.

And if you give it a go, you will find that a soft fudgy brownie with crispy shreds of butter toffee and swirls of apricot jam is a result worth almost any amount of washing up.
I made these on Friday before we left for a week-long visit at my sister’s in the Czech Republic, packed them individually and planned to give them to my sister upon arrival. But somehow they disappeared along the way. Probably evaporated.

Toffee brownies

From Yotam Ottolenghi: Ottolenghi, the Cookbook

The recipe said it would make 8-10 slices, I cut them in 16 squares and considering the richness (300 g of chocolate!) found them large enough.
200 g unsalted butter, plus melted butter for greasing
280 g plain flour
½ tsp salt
300 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 free-range eggs
220 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
140 g apricot, banana or raspberry jam
Butter toffee:
25 g unsalted butter, plus melted butter for greasing
75 g caster sugar

1. Start by making the toffee. Lightly brush an oven tray (not the one you will use to bake the brownies in) with melted butter. Put the butter and sugar for the toffee in a heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture turns a dark caramel color (at one point it might seem the mixture has split; it will come back together when you stir vigorously). Carefully pour the toffee on the buttered tray and leave aside until it sets.
2. When you are ready to make the brownies, brush a 22 cm square baking tin with melted butter and line with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/ Gas Mark 3. Stir together the flour and salt.
3. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Leave to melt, stirring occasionally from time to time. As soon as the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the bowl from above the water. This is important! You need to avoid getting the mix very hot.
4. In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Work them just until combined, a few seconds only, as there is no need to on corporate any air into the eggs. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture and then the sifted flour. Break the toffee into small pieces and fold them in as well.
5. Pour the mix onto the lined tin. Drop the jam in spoonfuls into the mixture and swirl it around with a knife.
6. Place on the center shelf of the oven and bake for roughly 25 minutes. When you stick a skrewer inside your brownie, it must come out covered with lots of gooey crumb, not with dry crumbs, but it must not be the type of wet mix you started off with. Once out, allow to cool on a wire rack before removing from the tin. Cut into any shape you want and keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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