by Chathurika (Chath) Ginige

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I once had a friend who’d spent some time at college in America. She’d shared a dorm with an American student and remarked that one of the biggest perks of the American love of holidays was the care packages from home. In January there would be a box for New Year,  February there was a Valentines box, March was St Patricks Day, April brought Easter eggs and Spring, May was Memorial Day and Cinco De Mayo,  June is the beginning of Summer and Summer break, July 4th is Independence Day, August is back to school , September is Labor Day, October is Halloween, November is Thanksgiving and December is Christmas…phew.  Americans love to celebrate!

While the husband and I are vehemently against filling the coffers of Hallmark this day of St Valentines, we will indulge in some slightly Americanised celebratory behaviour and do what we do best….eat!

These “brownies” are the perfect mix of decadence and romance. They’re super simple, have no complex or difficult ingredients and the batter can be whipped up the day before and stored in the fridge. Just bring it back to room temperature before baking as per instructions. I bought these heart-shaped moulds from a craft shop here, and now that Valentines is around the corner, I’ve found they are everywhere.  If you don’t have one, these will bake just as well in a mini muffin tin.

Ingredients

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Based on the “Bouchon” from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook by Thomas Keller

Servings: 36 individual brownies

For the brownies

  • Butter and flour for the moulds
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated/white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • >170g (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa solids)

For the whipped cream

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. icing sugar/confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste

To serve 

  • fresh raspberries

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

2. Butter and flour a heart mould tray or mini muffin tin.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in colour. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine (the batter can be refrigerated for up to a day at this point).

4. Place the moulds on a baking sheet. Fill each mould about two-thirds full. I spooned the mixture into a piping bag and piped them into my heart shaped moulds. While it’s an extra step, it made it so much easier to get the batter into the tricky shaped moulds.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the brownies to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert and let the brownies cool upside down in the moulds; then lift off the moulds.

6. To serve, invert the brownies and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar till you have soft peaks. Fold in the raspberries. Serve the brownies and whipped raspberries and cream together with fresh raspberries.  (The brownies are best eaten the day they are baked.)

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Some of Sharon's favourite tools

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