I hope you all enjoyed the guest blog by Ryan - his Auntie Vi's custard cake is a winner... and he might also have won serious brownie points (ahem, bad pun alert) by giving me a bag of fine, single-origin Lindt dark cooking chocolate. As a result, I bring you a double hit of Four Figs this week!
When given a kilo of Lindt chocolate it's actually surprisingly difficult to narrow down the recipe options. Over coming weeks I am definitely going to give David Lebovitz's chocolate bread a try and I think a chocolate shortcrust is also on the list. But for now, I decided to adapt Martha Stewart's Lavender-Iced Brownie Cupcakes just in time for a picnic under the blossom trees down by the lake. The benefit of having the brownies encased in cupcake papers, rather than baked in a pan and sliced, is their portability for things like picnics. Just remember to pick up the wrappers and drop them off in a bin afterwards.
I left out the lavender icing from Martha's recipe as I was under some time constraints and didn't want to wait for the brownies to cool enough to spoon icing over the top. To be honest, I think icing on top of the gooey sweetness of the brownies may be just be a little too much sugar. I can see how, for presentation, the icing helps cover the collapsed domes of the brownie bases when they come out of the oven but, personally, I love the cracked tops. A little imperfection every now and again doesn't hurt, especially when the results taste this good.
I also added chopped roasted hazelnuts to add crunch and interest - you could also add chocolate chunks, pecans or walnuts to the mix instead (or in addition to). I think this is important to add a little something extra if you are keeping the cupcakes plain and un-iced, which I recommend you do. The pinch of salt adds an amazing element to this that you wouldn't want overwhelmed by too much sweet icing.
Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (I love Maldon sea salt)
- 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% dark Ecuador cooking chocolate), chopped
- 1 cup diced unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (you can use pecans, walnuts or chocolate chunks)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line your cupcake tins - this made 15 cupcakes filled 2/3rds with batter. You could probably make more if you put less in each cupcake liner and then topped it up with icing as the original recipe called for. For me, the more batter in each liner, the larger and gooey-er the cupcake at the end.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. This will get the ingredients distributed through more evenly and still add air to the flour, like sifting does.
Next, melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
In a mixer (or using a hand-held beater) on medium speed, beat together the melted chocolate and butter with the white sugar. When combined, beat in the eggs then the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Fold through the chopped hazelnuts, or other chocolate chunks or nuts. Spoon the mix into the paper wrappers - each should be about two-thirds full.
Bake in the oven until skewers inserted into the cakes come out clean. This took around 20 minutes in my oven, but keep an eye on them. Don't overcook though - they need to be just a little gooey when they have cooled. Allow to cool on a wire rack. They will crack and collapse as they cool, but don't worry! They'll still taste amazing and I think their disreputable appearance is part of their charm.