The thing about baking, making celebration cakes and blogging is that is can be quite solitary. It’s quite a shift change from my years in a corporate environment in central London, catching the tube every day and sharing an office with lots of people. Trying to catch some quiet time for planning and actually getting things done was the challenge. And trying to get out of back to back meetings all day. Oh, the meetings!
But then occasionally I have crazy weeks, like this last one. I had two celebration cakes to make - the first was a tiered 70th birthday cake for a party at Home House in London, a cake adorned with sugar peonies; the second was a disco ball cake for a disco loving 7 year old boy with a sugar model of himself on top :)
I’ve also joined a networking group for local businesses so had my first lunch meeting to talk about what makes a successful website. And then finally, I was so excited to attend a food styling and photography workshop with Aimee Twigger (Twigg Studios) and Carole Poirot (Mademoiselle Poirot). I absolutely love their blogs and photography so was thrilled to be able to join them for the day.
Aimee made this amazing Lemon and Parsnip Cake for us to photograph on the day (and eat at the end of the workshop!) These were a few of the many photos I took on the day of this fabulous cake :)
Then she made the most delicious chocolate brownies for our lunch together. These were the richest and most chocolatey brownies I’ve ever experienced - they are almost truffle-like in the middle and it was easy to be defeated by a large serving of them! They were made with a Lili Vanilli recipe and are for serious chocaholics! Of course, I came home and immediately wanted to make them for the boys.
So Ultimate Chocolate Brownies. A bold claim, I know. But I promise you, these are unlike any other chocolate brownies I’ve tasted. There’s a high content of everything in this recipe: chocolate, eggs and butter in particular. Brownies aren’t difficult to make and I’ve made a lot in my time! But these are super dense and incredibly chocolatey.
The main difference when making these brownies is that we make a buttery sugar mixture over the stove that is then poured over the top of whipped eggs and chopped chocolate. My instincts would be that this would curdle the eggs but it doesn’t. It melts the chocolate into the eggs and creates a thick chocolate base to which we can add our flour and cocoa.
When they're baked and cooled in the tin, I pop mine in the fridge overnight. The outside feels hard to the touch when you take them out but it doesn’t compromise the brownie itself and I think the middle of the brownie benefits from this chilling. In fact, I'd keep them in the fridge until they're all eaten -- which, let's face it, won't be long!
I think I was a little generous with my portion sizes for these particular brownies and cut them into 9 — I suggest maybe 12 squares. You can always have another one :)
I finished them off with some Australian Pink Sea Salt and served them with strawberries.
If you love chocolate and love brownies, you should try these. You won’t be disappointed!
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
Recipe from Lily Vanilli
- 300G DARK CHOCOLATE, CHOPPED
- 5 EGGS
- 300G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 400G CASTER SUGAR
- 80G COCOA POWDER
- 130G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 70G PLAIN FLOUR
- 50G WALNUT HALVES (you can leave these out or use your preferred nuts here)
- 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP SEA SALT (I used Australian Pink Sea Salt but any coarse sea salt or flakes would work wonderfully on them)
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan
- Grease and line a 9 inch square cake tin (you can use a different sized pan here but may have to adjust the baking time accordingly for a smaller or larger tin)
- Whisk the eggs in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment for around 5 minutes on medium speed
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until melted
- Add the sugar to the melted butter and stir until the sugar is dissolved — this takes around 4 minutes
- Add the chopped chocolate to the whisked eggs in the stand mixer — try to add it around the sides rather than tipping the whole amount onto the top of your whisked eggs
- Then pour the buttery sugar mixture into the stand mixer on top of the eggs and chocolate and mix with the paddle attachment for around 4-5 minutes
- Sieve both flours and the cocoa over the top of the chocolate mixture and then mix to combine
- Add the vanilla and nuts and stir until they’re mixed through
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 20-25 minutes
- When they're ready, the edges will be set but there will be a slight wobble in the middle -- make sure they're not liquid in the middle and give them a little extra cooking time if they need it
- Allow to cool in the tin and then refrigerate until ready to eat — I refrigerated mine overnight in its tin
- When you’re ready to serve them, sprinkle sea salt over the top
- Remove them from the tin and cut into squares (I recommend 12 squares as they’re very rich)
- Enjoy with strawberries, cream, ice-cream or custard — or all of the above!