I work in Camden (you can read my Camden musings here) and right across the road from my office is a fantastic creative space called The Camden Collective that hosts pop up stalls from up and coming designers and foodies. It was my favourite place for presents last Christmas – I’d say at least 30% of Mr Bon Bon’s presents came from there. And I’ve recently treated myself to a lovely bracelet and earrings and all sorts of other accoutrements. Basically, I love it.
I may have mentioned earlier, I fancy myself a relatively OK baker – I once had a pop up bakery with some friends (awesome fun, bloody hard work) and the main thing I learned through that was it’s so much better to make a bloody good cake than it is to bake a crap cake and cover it with glitzy icing. I’m sure I’ll write again about my particular hatred for cupcakes but I hate cupcakes. Hate the icing to cake ratio. Hate the cutesy girliness of it all. Hate that it turns grown women into jibbering wrecks. It’s a cake for crying out loud, it lasts minutes and shouldn’t cost a fiver. In fact, Sophie Heawood said it best right here.
So, last Christmas, when popping by Camden Collective for an amazing Black Sheep coffee, I happened across Dub Plates Kitchen and her fabulous slutty brownies. In a nutshell, she’d taken a brownie and made it incredible with toppings and a pie base. I have dreamed about this brownie and so, a couple of weeks ago, with #CakeFriday at work and my niece and nephew staying for the weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try my own version of slutty brownies. Rather than a pie crust base (mostly because I’m hugely lazy and couldn’t be bothered to), I decided to make a biscuit base (like on a cheesecake) and used all sorts of stuff that I had in my cupboard as the toppings. And I made them in muffin cases, because I thought that’d help them bake more evenly, not because I had any cupcake desires. Have I mentioned how much I hate cupcakes?
The basic brownie recipe was inspired by one for chilli chocolate brownies, on the beautiful Del Sole blog. I didn’t chilli them this time though. Recipe below, with some pictures. If you make them, I’d love to see how they turned out.
Slutty Brownies – makes 15-20 muffin sized brownies
For the base:
8 x digestive biscuits
5 x ginger nuts
50g butter melted
For the brownies
200g unsalted butter
450g dark chocolate
150g strong flour
6 large eggs
400g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
Whatever you like really – I used mini-marshmallows, Smarties (although the colour ran so maybe try M&Ms), Maltesers, salted pretzels and honeycomb but if you like nuts and chocolates, peanuts or walnuts could work well. Next time I’m going to try wasabi peas, I think that’d be a rare treat.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a muffin tray with cases
Crush the digestive biscuits and ginger nuts to crumbs. Mix in to the 50g melted butter and spoon a couple of spoonfuls into each muffin case. Set aside to cool.
In a pan on low heat melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until fully melted. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, salt and spices and mix with a electrical whisk for 5 minutes or until the mixture falls from the whisk in ribbons.
Fold in the melted cool chocolate into the egg mixture. Do so gently to avoid deflating the air in the mixture.
Sift the flour in the mixture and fold in with the spatula.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases – 2-3 tablespoons per case as it will rise a little. Grab a handful of whatever toppings you’re going for and throw them onto the top – the thing with slutty brownies is that they don’t have to look perfect, they just need to taste delicious.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until the top of the brownie is a little cracked.
If you go with the loaf option, turn the heat of the oven down – I didn’t and ended up burning the top whilst the middle was a little undercooked
Smarties lose their colour in the heat – maybe try M&Ms
If you don’t like toasty marshmallows, then add them onto the top halfway through the cooking time