Chocolate warning. This column is definitely for those with a sweet tooth. I am not really a chocoholic, but I do enjoy chocolate in a dessert or muffin, and a chocolate brownie occasionally.
Brownies, of course, include a generous share of chocolate indulgence, fudgy but not gooey. In today's recipe, they are made even more special by adding marshmallows into the icing on top.
The marshmallows add a splash of colour to the brownie slice and are a gesture towards the famous Rocky Road confectionery.
Actually, what is known as Rocky Road seems to depend on where you are. In the United States, the chocolate, marshmallow and nut combination is popular, even as an ice-cream flavour.
In Britain, it is a biscuit slab that has dried fruit included along with the standard chocolate and marshmallows.
Australia claims to have invented the idea in the 19th century as a way of using up slightly stale imported dried fruit and confectionery, disguised in a nutty chocolate bar.
I have also come across recipes that suggest chopped-up Turkish Delight, or glace cherries, or broken biscuits and many varieties of nuts as ingredients.
When it comes to brownies, it also seems everyone has a different favourite version - cakey or fudgy, with or without nuts. The answer is to pander to your personal preferences since brownies are an indulgent treat.
In this recipe, I have confined myself to just marshmallows in the chocolate icing, with macadamia nuts in the slice itself.
Cooking with chocolate can be tricky. Ideally, it is best to use unsweetened, bittersweet or dark chocolate as, broadly speaking, they are "cooking" chocolates with no milk solids.
When cooking, bear in mind that water, too much heat and even porous utensils made from wood and some plastics can cause chocolate to spoil.
Overheating can destroy chocolate's structure and cause it to go lumpy. And it is best not to cover the warming chocolate with a lid in case that causes condensation droplets to drip into the chocolate. That can make it thicken or "seize" into a lumpy mass.
For the recipe, the best idea is to melt the chocolate gently in a stainless-steel or glass bowl, over hot water in a saucepan.
It can also be melted in a glass bowl in a microwave, although you will still need to be careful to avoid overheating and remember not to cover the bowl in case condensation forms and drips as water into the chocolate.
Another point to consider when baking brownies is how long you cook them.
I prefer to slightly under-bake them which keeps the brownies soft and chewy.
Substituting some of the caster sugar with brown sugar adds a fudge-like texture, if you prefer.
The tin size can also be varied. Use a 30cm by 20cm tin if you prefer thinner brownies or a 21cm square for thicker, but fewer, brownies.
Enjoy, but not to excess.
CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW BROWNIES
- 200g dark cooking chocolate, broken into chunks
- 160g butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 4 Tbs milk
- 150g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 80g macadamia nuts chopped
- 200g soft icing sugar
- 2 Tbs cocoa powder
- 40g melted butter
- 2-3 Tbs boiling water
- 100-150g marshmallows (below)
- Preheat the oven to 170 deg C. Grease a 30cm by 20cm tin or a 21cm square one and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a medium-sized bowl over a pot of boiling water. Allow to cool, then stir in the sugar.
- Lightly beat the eggs and milk together in a small bowl, then stir into the chocolate and sugar mixture.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, then gently fold into the chocolate mixture along with the macadamia nuts.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 170 deg C for around 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the mixture comes out moist, but not sticky.
- Allow to cool in the tin.
- Prepare the icing: Place the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the melted butter until icing is smooth. Add tiny amounts of boiling water and continue stirring if the icing is too thick.
- Spread a thin layer of icing on top of the cooked and cooled brownie mixture. Dot the marshmallows over the top, then pour and spread the remaining icing over the top (below). Alternatively, gently fold the marshmallows directly into the icing mixture and spread across the top of the cooked brownie.
- Cut it into squares and enjoy.
Makes 10 to 12 slices
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.