Well, it's now technically summer, but you wouldn't guess it from the weather we've been having in Boston lately. It's been grey and cold and drizzly, and my plans for colorful salad and grilled fish have been put on hold until the sun comes out again.
Instead, I've been keeping company with a mug of tea and oven-warm baked goods. Continuing in the vein of making over American-style baked goods to my taste, I set my sights on creating a more palatable brownie.
You see, I maintain that the brownie is a miserable tease of a dessert. Brownies smell like the essence of chocolate... but taste like failed fudge. It's excess gone wrong: put that much butter and chocolate and sugar together, and something has to give.
Given my fondness for cakes that consist of butter and chocolate and very little else, it probably won't come as a surprise that I chose to jettison nearly all the sugar and substitute an appalling quantity of cocoa powder and chocolate chips. I also decided that it would be neater to bake the batter in small muffin tins, rather than one big pan.
The resulting cakes had a light texture and a slightly bitter flavor, tempered by plenty of molten chocolate. My first attempt used semisweet rather than dark chocolate chips, and the flavor put me in mind of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut Bars, which taste best when slightly melted.
So I treated it as a natural progression, and added raisins and hazelnuts. As you might guess, the finished product is almost, but not entirely, unlike a brownie.
But it is a very nice excuse to eat melted chocolate. Need I say more?
Unbrownie "Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar" Chocolate Cakes
Feel free to vary the exact quantity of fruit and nuts to your taste. And should anyone decide to experiment with a splash of Frangelico... well, I'd love to hear about the results.
(Recipe not for one, unless one wishes to be very, very sick. Makes around a dozen muffin-sized cakes)
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a twelve-cup muffin tin.
Cream together half a stick of softened butter and one-eighth of a cup of sugar in a stand mixer. Add one egg. Add half a cup of cocoa powder and blend on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
When the cocoa powder has been well-incorporated, stir in a quarter-teaspoon of salt, a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda, and a half-teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Using a rubber spatula, stir in a half-cup of flour, then a half-cup of milk, followed by another half-cup of flour, and another half-cup of milk. Fold in one-and-a-half cups of semisweet chocolate chips, half a cup of raisins, and half a cup of chopped toasted hazelnuts.
Spoon the batter into the cups. Bake in the oven for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until a knife stuck into a cake comes out with only melted chocolate on it.
Serve warm. You may want vanilla ice-cream if you're a fan of brownies à la mode, but I think these taste better with a sprinkling of sea salt, or just as they are.