When it comes to baking, who can resist a warm, squishy chocolate brownie? Throw in some added surprises like crunchy hazelnuts, salted caramel sauce or even dried fruits into the mix and they’re a sure-fire winner for me. They don’t have to be drenched in calories either if you make some clever ingredient swaps and variations. Since Valentine’s Day is this month, this indulgent recipe makes chocolate the main event so perfect for sharing or making with loved ones. It’s a straightforward recipe so if you’re new to baking, it’s a great place to start but timing is essential – too long in the oven and you’ll miss the beauty of a soft centred brownie with a crispy top. It’s a serious deal.
I’d recommend a good quality 70% dark chocolate for this recipe (organic if you can get it), and some raw cacao powder too for an all-round richer taste and added health boost. I also roast the hazelnuts for a few minutes beforehand to really enhance their nutty flavour – small touches make all the difference to the taste and texture.
200g 70% dark chocolate
75g raw cacao power
175g softened dairy-free spread
3 large eggs
100g whole blanched hazelnuts
150g soft dark muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
160g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 vanilla pod (extract is fine)
Makes 10 brownies | Prep: 15 mins Cooking: 40 mins
First: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a medium size baking dish with greaseproof paper. On a baking tray place the hazelnuts and dry roast for 5-6 mins until browned.
Second: Meanwhile, in a heat proof dish place the broken chocolate pieces and butter and simmer over a bain-marie for 10 mins until melted through. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, just steam.
Third: Once cooled slightly, add the eggs one by one, the vanilla seeds and sugar then combine well.
Fourth: Sift the flour, cacao powder, salt, baking soda and mix in the cooled hazelnuts. Mix together well and pour into the dish evenly.
Fifth: Bake for approx. 40 mins. The top should be crackling and dark, but the centre should be fudgy when a knife runs through it. Allow to cool slightly and cut into 10 large squares. Keep in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
By Sherrelle Lancaster