Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipe: Coffee Brownies

A slightly different version of this recipe first appeared on my old blog, Stella Matutina.

three brownies piled on a plate. They have moist, dark brown innards studded with nuts. A paler brown crust is also visible between the inner regions and the thick chocolate ganache on top.

When it comes to food, my family knows what they like. You can win most of them over with meat, with all-day breakfast, and with brownies.

Specifically with The Brownies, as pictured above.

The Brownies come from BROWN SUGAR, Joyce White's fabulous cookbook packed with soul food desserts courtesy of her family and friends. They're rich, splodgy, and liable to keep you up all night if you eat too many of them after supper.

They're also a near-universal hit. I have one lone friend who dislikes them; everyone else thinks they're the bees knees.

My one friend is wrong, wrong, wrong. These brownies are the best. I love 'em, my family loves 'em, and I know you'll love 'em too.

Brownie Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans (recommended) or walnuts (also tasty)
  • 85g/3oz chocolate (I favour dark wafers for this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients

  • 85g/3oz chocolate
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup (or corn syrup, if that's all you've got)
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 350ºF/175ºC.

Butter an 8-inch square pan and dust it lightly with flour. Do not--I repeat, DO NOT--use a nonstick pan or a cooking spray. The brownies will stick to the pan if you use cooking spray, but even worse, they'll lack their particular crust. That crust adds a lot to the brownie-eating experience and you won't get it unless you butter and flour your pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Chop the nuts, if you’re using them. Set aside.

If you’re using baking chocolate, chop it up and set it aside. If you’re using wafers (which you'll find in your grocery store's bulk section), you can leave them as is.

Combine the hot water and coffee powder in a small saucepan. Add the butter and place the pan over low heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until everything's fully incorporated.

Combine the sugar and eggs in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat them for 2-3 minutes at medium-high speed until they're quite a pale yellow and almost appear fluffy.

Add the chocolate-coffee mixture and the vanilla extract, then beat for 30 seconds more.

Stir in the flour mixture until everything's just damp, then add the nuts and stir the batter until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter until the prepared pan and level it out.

Bake the brownies for 40 to 50 minutes, checking them regularly after about the 30-minute mark. They're done when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out moist but mostly clean. Don't worry if there's still a little goop on the bottom of the pick; that just means your brownies will be gloriously moist.

Cool the brownies on a wire rack. Ideally, they should be room temperature before you depan them, but don't worry if you can't bring yourself to wait that long. Provided they're no more than lukewarm, they should hold together just fine.

Once the brownies are cool (or most of the way to cool), prepare your topping. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then add the chopped chocolate and corn syrup. Stir constantly until the chocolate has just melted, then remove from the pan from the heat and add in the liqueur or vanilla. Beat briskly until the mixture is smooth.

Set the depaned, uncut brownies on a wire rack over a piece of newspaper or some paper towels, then pour the topping over them, spreading it as you go. Leave the finished brownies to set for as long as you possibly can; 2+ hours is best, but you should be safe to cut and eat them after an hour if you don’t mind the topping being a tad runny in the middle.

I'll warn you: the innards are likely to look undercooked. Don't worry; that's normal. These are moist, dense, splodgy brownies, and you wouldn't want 'em any other way.