My Mum's Chocolate Brownies

My mum’s one of my food heroes – she’s got a huge collection of recipes (lots of them just in her head) and is always coming out with delicious things. She takes a relaxed approach to cooking and has inspired me to explore & be creative without worrying about getting it wrong – after all, if it tastes good then it’s a success, no matter what it looks like or if it’s different to the original plan! A lot of my mum’s recipes are treasured family favourites and come in old money, so I’ve given the measurements in ounces as they appear but also given a rough approximation for them modern measurements.

This is one of her go-to recipes for family teas – it’s easy and works beautifully, turning out dark, sticky brownies bursting with chocolatey-ness. I think the real secret to good brownies is using plenty of melted chocolate as a base for the recipe, so don’t skimp, but you can buy fairly cheap stuff if you like (I usually go for Sainsburys Basics chocolate, for cooking).

9.5oz (270g) dark chocolate
8oz (225g) margarine
14 oz (400g) caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
5 eggs
7 oz (200g) plain flour
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Start by melting together the chocolate & the margarine – you can do this in the microwave, if you have one, by putting it on for short bursts & stirring in between, or you can make a bain-marie – find a heat-proof bowl that’s the right size to sit in the top of a saucepan, so that it’s not touching the bottom, then pop the ingredients in the bowl and pour some hot water into the saucepan. Heat it gently and keep stirring – whichever method you use, plenty of stirring is key, because burnt chocolate is a terrible, tragic waste.

Once the chocolate and margarine is melted & combined, take off the heat and scrape into a bigger bowl for mixing. Add the sugar and vanilla essence and stir well, then break the eggs in one at a time and combine – I just used a wooden spoon but if you’ve got a hand-held mixer you could use that too. Finally, add the flour and a pinch of salt.

Line a brownie tin (a deep square tin, a bit like a roasting tin but smaller) with greaseproof paper (use a bit more margarine to make it stick) and scrape the mixture in. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the mixture is solid and starting to crack on the outside but still a bit gooey inside – as the brownies cool this gooey bit will become sticky & squidgy, just like the inside of a brownie should be. Serve cold with a cuppa, or warm with ice cream if you’re feeling indulgent!