Brownies. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. You’ve probably made them. You might even have made a cream-cheese-swirl version, and that’s cool. I don’t get it at all when people talk about ‘the internet not needing another x-recipe’. Like, I love recipes. I love trying different versions of things. What would a spoonful of cocoa do? How about some salted peanuts in that mix? Life is wa-aaa-aaaaayyyy too short to only ever sample one kind of brownie. And, frankly, what is the point of having a blog if you don’t just post whatever the hell you want to? This isn’t a school assignment folks. This is my house.
In my house, today, we’re making mind blowing brownies. Like, seriously great, delicious, groan-out-loud good brownies. They make use of my latest favourite ingredient: hazelnut praline paste. Have you heard of it? It’s pretty old school, but only recently making its way into home kitchens. Picture this: hazelnut praline – you know, hazelnuts trapped in a luminous shard of amber toffee – ground into a smooth, smooth, smooth paste. The best way to describe the taste, is basically like a non-chocolate Nutella, but so much better. I find Nutella to be way too sweet and claggy, but praline paste is balanced, nuanced, and did I mention how smooth it is?
These brownies make the most of hazelnut praline paste. The truffley quality of the paste brings out the truffley quality of the brownies, and the cheesecake provides a necessary tang in between the two. In fact it’s the tangy, bland, richness of that cheesecake swirl that really makes these brownies work . Without that, these would be too rich, too sweet, too much…unless that’s what you’re in the mood for, in which case go for it. Or go for the cheesecake. Really, you can’t go wrong here, people.
- 160g (1 stick + 3 tbsp) butter
- 160g dark chocolate, chopped (70% cocoa solids)
- 270g (1 + ⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 100g (2/3 cup) plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 250g (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup hazelnut praline paste
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease and line a 30x20cm (or similar size) brownie pan.
- Place the butter into a large, heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, and immediately add the chocolate, stirring gently until it melts.
- Add the sugar, and stir until combined, then crack in all of the eggs and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Finally, stir through the flour and salt.
- To make the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until completely smooth and thick. The cream cheese HAS to be at room temp people, otherwise it's lump city. Beat in the egg.
- Scrape the chocolate batter into the pan, and then dollop over the cream cheese mixture in 6 or 8 large spoonfuls. Pour the hazelnut praline paste in a swirling pattern over the top.
- Tap the tin on the bench, to flatten out the mixture, and then use a skewer or chopstick to swirl the cream cheese and praline paste into the brownie batter. Less is more here, but it's up to you.
- Bake the brownie in the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen at the edges, and with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool completely in the tin, and for neat slices, chill overnight before cutting.