If my year to date could be epitomised in a food item, I'm quite sure this Brownie would be it. It's delicious. It's exciting. It's a little bit sassy, it's confident in it's own abilities, and it sometimes surprises even itself. Like 2011 so far, it is awesome. It's life-changing, it's mind blowing and with each bite it kind of feels a little bit like you've won lotto.
I've actually never been a huge fan of Brownie. A few too many average experiences - too dry, too hard, or hopeless at communicating it's true feelings - cake? slice? square pudding? Maybe it had been sitting sadly in a cafe cabinet for a couple of days too long and was just generally not up to much. All this meant I've never really been that interested. I embraced other baked goods. I used my dark chocolate in other ways.
But not all Brownies are stink. Some Brownies are actually worth the (surprisingly little) effort. Like a ray of sunshine, along came the addition of cream cheese. The perfectly cracked top. The crisp outer shell and the gooey soft inside. With each bite this Brownie gets better. You've got to give it a chance - you will be rewarded. If you're apprehensive from previous Brownie experiences; maybe you thought you'd sworn off Brownie for good - give this one a go. You might think it looks like hard work, or will result in hard work, running off all those calories. You might think that you're crazy for embarking on such a feat - what with all that sugar! and chocolate! and butter! Don't focus on the negatives. Just get in the kitchen and have fun. You won't regret it. Trust me.
Life-changing Brownie (stolen and adapted from my dear friend Harriet)
180g dark chocolate
350g white sugar
pinch of salt
a capful of vanilla essence
125g white flour
2 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I went with dark)
Cream cheese (use the hard stuff - non-lite and non-spreadable is best)
Grease and line a baking dish with baking paper. I used a rectangular brownie pan, approximately 30cm x 20cm. Preheat oven to 170*C (if your oven is particularly hot, you might want to turn it down to 160*C or 165*C)
Break the chocolate into chunks, place in a saucepan and add the butter, cut into cubes. Add vanilla, and gently melt over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon.
In a bowl, crack the eggs. Whisk well, then add the sugar, then whisk well again until thick. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture. Add the flour, salt, cocoa and chocolate chips, and mix together well.
Pour half the mixture into your prepared pan. Drop many teaspoons of cream cheese as you can fit all over the mixture, then pour over your remaining mixture to cover all the cream cheese up.
Bake for between 50 minutes and an hour. Keep an eye on it in those last ten minutes - you want a perfect cracking on top, and you want it gooey on the inside but not too soft.
Don't over-think it. Just enjoy! I mean that, I really do.