Despite all signs to the contrary, I’d like to think I eat in a fairly balanced manner. Cake days get offset by salad days. Always featured at the dinner table are a good dose of vegetables, to counteract my sixth essential food group : ice-cream. However, I was left wondering today if there was anything that could possibly balance bacon in a brownie.
That’s when I decided that there are some things in life you just have to accept as being essential experiences. In other words, give in to the fun. I’m speaking of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, eaten on the beach. Blowing bubbles into a chocolate milkshake, even though your mom has told you to stop playing with your food for-the-tenth-time. Eating a butter-fried croque madame without cutlery. Putting your ear to a bowl of rice bubbles containing freshly poured milk.
To that list, I’m adding bacon brownies. Eat bacon brownies in the comfort of your own home. With your feet tucked under a blanket. Eat it and marvel at how well the combination works. Savour the rich, moist, dark chocolate and the crispy, salty bacon. Forget those words that fill the mind with doubt and catch in the throat like a solitary dry rice cake. Words like chol-es-ter-ol, and once-on-your-lips-forever-on-your-hips.
Think instead : At least my feet won’t look fat in this. My handbag is still going to fit. Now I can finally get the most value out of my gym membership. Here’s something I won’t feel guilty about not sharing with my vegetarian friends.
If you’re not a fan of bacon, you should still make this anyway, sans bacon. It is a superlative brownie, and according to the authors of Baked, this brownie has not only been featured in O magazine, but has also been awarded “best brownie” by America’s Test Kitchen and the Today show.
The Baked Brownie :
(yields 24 brownies; recipe from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
311g dark chocolate (60 – 72% cacao), coarsely chopped [I used Lindt 70%]
226g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 176’C. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 mnutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.
Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
To baconise the Baked Brownie :
Bake 75g thinly sliced proscuitto or bacon in the oven until crispy. Crumble the bacon slices over the top of the brownie batter (or fold it through the mix) before baking. The bacon brownie is best eaten on the day it’s made, if you like your bacon crispy. Otherwise, the bacon will soften a little over the next couple of days, but still be perfectly tasty.
(Of course, the less decadent option would be to bake cookies instead, but honestly, I think the brownies are definitely the way to go.)