I love the New Year; it is a magical season abounding with so many tender hopes and dreams and good intentions – most of them revolving around losing weight. It is the ideal time of year for someone like me to come along and grind those dreams back into the dirt with the pitiless heel of my hobnailed Hush Puppies; because if my own dreams won’t come true then I’ll be darned if anyone else’s will!
But what exactly are my hopes and dreams for the New Year? Well, I think I may have already mentioned that I am in fact pure evil. If I haven’t, then just a quick glance over my previous recipes should be enough to reassure you of exactly how great an irredeemable blackguard I really am.
Basically it boils down to this: I want to be thin and beautiful. To accomplish this I plan to do the obvious such as exercise, eat sensibly, drink plenty of water and of course stand next to people who are fatter than I am. But that’s just stage one of my scheme. The second phase is the whole motivation for why I became interested in baking in the first place. It is my intention to continue to create such calorific and tantalising confections that no one (except me) will be able to resist them. I will keep on feeding people the fruits of my oven so that they will get fatter and fatter and fatter until I look like wispy sylph by comparison.
Then one day I will have made people so fat that they will be reclassified as big game. At this point I will put on my knee-length cargo shorts and safari hat, grab my .50 gauge elephant gun, hop aboard Jeep and go a-huntin’. I shall have endless hours of fun blasting fatties to kingdom come. And then afterwards I shall take their bloated carcasses back to my homely but spacious log cabin, where I will render down their body fat and make a tidy profit selling on the end product as a cheap alternative to lamp oil, as I understand whale blubber is growing quite hard to come by these days. Now is that really such an unreasonable ambition to cling to? Honestly is it?
To help me along the road to fulfilling my dream, I have created the following recipe, which is a variation on the Millionaire Shortbread and will, all going well, help you along the road to ruining your New Year diet. Bon appetite!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
For the Brownie Base
- A deep 10 by 7 inch brownie tray
- Silicone or baking paper
- A large metal bowl
- A couple of small bowls
- A sturdy saucepan
- A stiff spatula
- zip lock bag
- A rolling pin
- 50 grams of butter
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 2 eggs
- 75 grams of caster sugar
- 50 grams of dark brown sugar
- 50 grams of plain flour
- 1/2 baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 15 grams of cocoa powder
- Approximately 120 grams of crushed shortbread biscuits
- Approximately four or five broken plain chocolate biscuits
For the Caramel
- A sturdy non-stick frying pan
- A stiff rubber spatula
- 100 grams of butter
- Four tablespoons of golden syrup
- A 397 gram tin of sweetened condensed milk
For the Topping
- A sturdy saucepan and stiff rubber spatula
- a small metal bowl
- A zip lock bag and rolling pin for crushing
- A big knife for chopping (watch your fingers)
- Plates for holding your sprinkles
- 200 millilitres of double or whipping cream
- 200 grams of dark chocolate
- Various sprinkles – see examples below:
- Roughly chopped shortbread biscuits
- chopped milk chocolate
- chopped white chocolate
- chopped marshmallows
- chopped dairy fudge
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
Begin by greasing the brownie tray with vegetable oil and then line it with baking paper. Be sure to cut enough of the paper so that it rises at least an inch and a half above the top edge of the tray. This will help to prevent overspill, because there will be a lot of stuff going into this beast:
In one small bowl mix together the sugars and in another bowl mix together the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa:
In a saucepan heat some water a couple if inches deep. While you are waiting for the water to boil, place the butter and broken dark chocolate into a metal bowl. Turn the boiling water down to a medium simmer, place the metal bowl onto the pan to create a double boiler and gently melt the butter and chocolate, stirring with a spatula until you have a darkly glossy liquid. Make sure the water does not directly touch the bottom of the bowl and for goodness sake do not get any water inside the bowl. That will only lead to disaster, and not even I will be able to save you:
Leave the liquid chocolate aside to cool slightly before you whisk in the eggs. Do not add the eggs when the chocolate is too hot or the eggs will scramble. Stir in the sugars until they have largely dissolved into the mixture and then fold in the dry ingredients:
Take around five or six fingers of good quality butter shortbread biscuits, place them inside a zip lock bag and smash them to bits. Don’t get too carried away though; we just want them roughly crushed with some large chunks in amongst the rubble to give a varied texture. Stir the crushed biscuits into the brownie batter:
Pour the batter into the prepared tray. Break about four or five plain chocolate biscuits into triangular pieces and then lay them over the batter in the style of some very scrummy crazy paving. Press the triangles into the batter with your finger, but not too deeply. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Leave the brownie base in the tray and set aside to cool:
Now to prepare the caramel. Heat a non-stick pan and melt 100 grams of butter. Remove the pan from the heat and add the golden syrup and condensed milk. Turn the heat down to low medium. Return the pan to the heat and stir continuously. Whatever you do, do not take your eyes off the pan and do not stop stirring, not even if Christa Ackroyd herself walks in through the door wearing nothing but a ripped up copy of the Barnsley Chronicle…………….
I’m sorry, I got bit distracted by that mental image for a moment. But you cannot afford to be distracted. This mixture can burn very easily if it is overheated so be patient and stay focused. Gradually the ingredients will combine and bubble. As soon as the caramel turns into a light golden brown, similar in hue to a well known brittle butter toffee sweet, pour it over the cooled brownie biscuit layer. Tilt the tray gently to get the caramel equally distributed into every corner. Do not touch the hot caramel with you unprotected finger because it will hurt a lot. Leave the caramel to cool completely:
To make the chocolate ganache topping break 200 grams of dark chocolate into a small metal bowl. Pour the cream into a pan and heat gently. You do not want to boil the cream; you just want to scald it. That means heating the cream until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Pour the heated cream over the broken chocolate and then leave it to stand for about five minutes before you stir into a glossy liquid. The heat in the cream should be enough to melt the chocolate. If there are still a few stubborn lumps left, you can put the bowl over a double boiler, but be careful not to get the mixture too hot or the chocolate will burn and go gritty:
Leave the ganache aside. It will begin to thicken as it cools. Now we come to the fun part: the Rocky Road. You don’t have to use the same sprinkles I used; you can let your imagination off the leash and put in whatever takes your fancy. Just remember that the essence of Rocky Road is the balance between crunchy and chewy.
For my Rocky Road I chopped up the following:
Shortbread biscuit, marshmallows, milk chocolate, white chocolate and dairy fudge. I did consider putting in some Smarties, but by the time I’d put in everything else there wasn’t really much room left, so I left them out. A rare instance of restraint on my part.
A word on marshmallows: there are mini marsh mallows available that you could buy to save yourself some chopping. However, I would recommend that you buy a small bag of large marshmallows and chop those down to size. Firstly because it will be cheaper, and secondly the mini marshmallows come in a larger quantity and the remainder does not keep very well. They turn chalky and inedible within a relatively brief shelf life. Unless you plan on making a really big batch of this recipe, buying a small quantity of large marshmallows to chop will be less wasteful:
Sprinkle the chopped shortbread and marshmallows over the cooled caramel. Pour on the ganache and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Drizzle on the remaining sprinkles and then put the tray into the fridge:
Once the chocolate has set, slice up and scoff, and despair as you watch your waistline expand. once again my evil has triumphed: