Words By Graziela Williams
You’ve heard it before- chocolate releases serotonin and dopamine, makes you happy, etcetera. But I feel like making brownies- especially with the recipe below, which comes together within an hour, only uses two bowls and a mug, and has ingredients that, if we’re accounting for campus co-op prices and the fact that someone always has a bottle of vegetable oil, will only set you back a fiver- is even more rewarding.
The main issue with my brownies was always that they came out too cakey, by which I mean dry and not brownie-like at all. The solution is that you should always stay on the undercooked side, because overcooked brownies are miserable and gross.
Another key aspect of brownies I recently discovered is that they should always have real chocolate in them. Like, always. Cocoa powder does not and can not cut it. I’ve found that buying bars of dark chocolate and breaking it into chips (either with a knife or by putting them in a plastic bag and bashing it around) is much more economical (and stress relieving) than buying baker’s chocolate bars or chips. Five bars of Aldi dark chocolate cost around 80p less than one bar of Sainsbury’s baking chocolate- do you know how many brownies that’ll make you?! (Ten trays. It’d make ten trays. Read the recipe.)
The final problem I always encountered was the brownies getting stuck to the tray. But buying baking paper as a student? In this economy? Maybe not. If you’re of the same line of thinking, try greasing your tin with about one tablespoon of vegetable or sunflower oil on a paper towel, then adding a tablespoon of flour to the tray and tapping it around until it’s coated, shaking out excess into the sink. Lining would be better, but sometimes we need brownies and don’t want to trek to co-op in the rain.
Basic, really good brownies 1 cup (a small mug) of plain flour Two eggs Half a cup (half of the same mug) white sugar Vanilla extract (not essential) Half a big bar of dark chocolate (I use 70%, but you could use milk or white or anything else) or most of a cup of chocolate chips 2/3 cup cocoa powder (bournville brand is good and usually discounted) 5 tbsps any oil you have (I use vegetable sunflower or olive usually- or a mix if I’m running out) Additional toppings (chocolate buttons, nuts, m&ms etc) 1)Preheat your oven to 170 degrees- five o’clock if you look at the hob like a clock. 2)Line or grease and flour a small baking tin- one with sides that aren’t any longer than a ruler, otherwise they’ll be flat. There’s no shame in baking them in a cake tin- you want your brownies thick. 3)In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 4)In a larger bowl, whisk a tablespoon of vanilla, the oil, two tablespoons of water and the eggs until it is totally smooth- no oil still separate around the corners. 5)Pour the flour mix over the wet ingredients and stir in very gently until just combined- no streaks of flour, but really try not to mix too much- stop as soon as it comes together. The mixture will likely be very thick, this is a good thing! 6)Scrape the mixture into your tin, spread it around until it’s even and top with anything you feel like- this isn’t totally necessary, though, as some of the chocolate inside will end up on top and melt and look banging. 7)Bake for 20 minutes, then take them out without turning the oven off and check how done they are. Ideally you want crisp edges that hold shape when poked and a gooey inside. If not, put them back in for another five to seven minutes, then remove from the oven and rest for at least two hours (this is difficult but worth it).