In some ways, it’s bit like the start of a relationship. I spend most of the day staring at my phone, willing it to ring. I go for a long walk round the office or go on a lengthy trip to the stationery cupboard to try and trick someone into calling me with good news when I’m not there to answer. The other day, I refreshed my email so many times that I was locked out of my email account.
I bought my ground hazelnuts from a supermarket in France where they are pretty easy to find, I presume because they are used in various fancy French desserts. You can, of course, grind your own. The hazelnut flavour is not particularly pronounced – it’s more of a warm background note – so I think it’s nice to add some chopped hazelnuts either on top or through the batter. These brownies freeze very well.
- 300g (12 oz) dark chocolate (I used 70%), chopped roughly
- 175g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 120ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 30g (just under 1/2 cup) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of sea salt
- 50g (1/2 cup) ground hazelnuts
- Roughly chopped hazelnuts to scatter on top
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 22cm square tin.
- Spread the ground hazelnuts out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until just turning golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, slowly melt the chocolate and butter. Make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. When melted, remove from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
- Add the maple syrup to the chocolate mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one by one and the vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated. Sift the cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the mixture and finally fold in the toasted hazelnuts until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin, scatter with chopped hazelnuts and bake for 20-30 minutes. The brownies should still be moist but should be set in the middle; if you stick a toothpick in, it won’t come out clean but it won’t have any raw batter on it.
- Allow the brownie to cool before transferring to a wire rack and cutting into pieces.