Recipe: The good brownie

A brownie is not a brownie unless it has walnuts in it, or so it is for me. While that doesn’t stop me eating a walnut-less brownie, it's not quite satisfying. I also cannot stand brownies that have heaps of chocolate sauce or ice-cream piled on top. Not unless it’s being served for dessert. A good brownie is meant to be eaten as is. And should have walnuts.

If the Black Forest was Ma’s for-special-occasions/party dessert, the walnut-brownie was her weekday specialty. It was not fudgy. It was more like a regular chocolate cake, with more cocoa and walnuts. It used to be a lovely, light chocolate colour, smell divine and taste really, really good. My job each time Ma made brownies was to chop the walnuts and lick the residual batter from the bowl. While Mia has now perfected Licking of the Spatula, I’m waiting for her to take over the walnut-chopping.

I first discovered that brownies can also be fudgy-not-just-cakey once the whole Barista/café onslaught began in Delhi in the late 90s. (Small town girl, no big city/café experience, what to do!)  In Melbourne cafes, more often than not, the brownies are without walnuts and oftener still, sort of thick slabs of sweetened chocolatey dough. Not always nice. I still eat them though; sometimes you’ve just got to get your brownie fix.

Of the two brownie recipes I’ve tried – Katherine Hepburn brownies from Joy of Baking and the Old School ChocolateBrownies from Joy the Baker – the latter has become my go-to brownie recipe. The KathHep brownies tasted divine but were a bitch to get out of the pan. A little too sticky and over-sweet. That recipe also called for flouring the cake tin instead of baking paper and I learnt the hard way that it doesn’t work, or didn’t do so for me.

Joy the Baker’s brownies though hit the right spot, have just the right amount of cake vs fudge ratio and are good brownies to cut up into bars. And finish in two days. Try these, you will love them. Just remember that whenever you bake brownies and even if the recipe doesn’t ask for it – ALWAYS grease your cake tin and line it with baking paper. Also with these brownies, do not over-bake as the brownies dry up too quickly and are crumbly. In case you have a fan-forced oven like mine, reduce the temperature by 20 degrees.
Here’s the link to the original recipe. My ‘version’ does not have any  chocolate chips and uses twice the quantity of walnuts.
Just some pointers:
  1. Too much beating changes the texture of this cake.
  2. Measurements are given in cups and metric for those who might/not have kitchen scales.
  3. 2/3 cup is roughly 166g. 
  4. Standard cup is 250 ml for liquids.
  5. Toast the walnuts for 8 minutes till they are light and fragrant; cool slightly and chop up roughly.

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