The humble brownie has escalated in years gone by into the must-have product in any and every café, pâtisserieor restaurant. I think we love it because it is just so versatile as a dessert – enjoy it hot with ice cream, chilled and fudgy from the fridge, topped with ganache or simply dusted with icing sugar or cocoa powder. And best of all there isn’t that much washing up at the end!
150 g hazelnuts
175 g maple syrup
225 g dark chocolate, chopped
150 g unsalted butter
150 g soft dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a large pinch sea salt flakes
125 g plain flour
a 20 x 30-cm baking pan, greased and lined with buttered baking parchment
Makes 16–20 squares
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Tip the hazelnuts onto the prepared baking sheet. Toast the nuts on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 6–8 minutes until crisp and starting to become golden. Remove from the oven and set aside for 3–4 minutes to cool, then roughly chop.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan or pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly for 2–3 minutes.
Mix the sugar and maple syrup into the melted chocolate mixture and stir until silky smooth.
Add the eggs, vanilla and salt. Mix again to combine, taking care not to over beat the mixture.
Sift in the flour and fold in, using either a rubber spatula or large metal spoon.
Stir through half of the roasted hazelnuts, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
Scatter with the remaining roasted hazelnuts.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes, until the top has a light crust but the middle is still soft to the touch.Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before cutting into squares to serve.
The brownies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.