I feel like the weather has been trying to tell us that summer is over since about the middle of August. Now I’m back at uni, summer is officially over for me, and I am mildly dreading an autumn and winter spent hibernating inside reading books on literary criticism and writing essays until my mind goes numb and permanent exhaustion sets in. On a more positive note, I feel this is the perfect excuse to make plenty of stews, soups and all sorts of comfort food in an attempt to offset uni-work induced depression, time and energy permitting.
It was my boyfriend who got lumbered with the task of driving all my stuff back to uni this year, which clearly required baking him something special to say thank you. I’d recently made carrot cake, very high up on his favourite cakes list, and a millionaire’s shortbread with pecans in the caramel, bringing a little bit of his much loved pecan pie into his equally loved millionaire’s shortbread (although it wasn’t until very recently that he learnt that name for chocolate caramel shortbread). I first made marbled brownies in the autumn of last year, bringing the batch along to rehearsals when I was directing a play. They were incredibly well received, with lots of wide eyes, exclamations of deliciousness and excessive praise. It’s a great feeling, mixing a few ingredients together, putting them in the oven and getting results that leave people thinking you’re a little bit amazing. Ever since, a discussion of brownies always led to my boyfriend bringing up the marbled brownies in order to reflect on how good they were. So I figured a second batch might make a suitable thank you present. ‘I definitely hope so’, I thought, as I melted down four bars of high quality chocolate.
I wouldn’t say brownies are my baked treat of choice. Possibly something to do with finding them a little rich and sickly. But these brownies seem to fall into a slightly different category. The rich, slightly bitter dark chocolate brownie is contrasted by the sweeter, milder white chocolate brownie, or blondie. The blondie also has a slightly more open texture than the brownie, further helping to balance things out and make them a touch less dense. These brownies are satisfying without being too much so. The marbled effect helps make them look a little more visually exciting than a plain brownie too, (although mine refused to be photogenic for me). Plus people will think you’re a culinary genius for making them, a thought that I suggest you hold on to if melting down four bars of expensive chocolate just for one batch of brownies starts to make you feel a little unsure. It’ll be worth it.
Marbled brownies (adapted from Gizzi Erskine’s Kitchen Magic)
- 200g white chocolate (good quality)
- 200g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 250g butter
- 300g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 140g plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Grease and line a 23cm square brownie tin (I used a 25x20x4 tin which worked fine).
- Break up the white chocolate into a medium sized heat-proof bowl. Break the plain chocolate into another medium sized heat-proof bowl. Halve the butter and cut each half into smallish dice. Place one half of the butter into each bowl. Place each of the bowls over saucepans of gently simmering water, being sure that the water in the pan does not touch the underneath of the bowls. Gently melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth (with separate spoons!) I’ve found that the white chocolate never melts down quite as smooth and glossy as the plain chocolate and seems to always go a little bit grainy looking and quite gloopy textured, still seems to work ok though.
- Once melted, remove the bowls from the saucepans. Add 150g of the sugar to each bowl. Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl or jug and add to one of the bowls. Repeat with the other two eggs, adding to the other bowl of chocolate. Gently stir the eggs and sugar into the chocolate until combined.
- Sift 70g of the flour into each bowl and fold in until combined.
- Spoon the two mixtures into the tin in alternating spoonfuls so as to create a random pattern of dark and white splodges. Make sure some white splodges are visible on the top of the brownie in order for the marbling effect to work. Once you have spooned all of both mixtures into the tin, drag knife up and down the length of the tin in a sort of zig-zag pattern. Once you reach the end drag the knife back and forwards across the width of the tin until you reach the other end.
- Bake in the oven for 35 mins. The brownies will be just firm on top but should feel fairy squishy under the surface. Cool in the tin before cutting into squares, as big or as little as you fancy. Await praise.