I’ll never forget the first time I ate a Belgian brownie at Le Pain Quotidien – sold in two sizes, large, which looks like a flourless cake, and mini, which looks like a muffin. It was fudgy, dense, chocolatey deliciousness with a thin top crust that shatters under pressure. They deservedly have a cult following.
While it doesn’t look like a classic brownie, the taste and fudgy texture are brownie-like. They are easy to make at home (all by hand, in a few minutes) and are best eaten on a plate (they have a delicate, crumbly texture) with a spoon or two of lightly sweetened whipped cream. This recipe is adapted from “Cookbook” by Chef Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien.
Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 30 minutes for resting batter) Bake time 35 minutes Makes 14 servings
250 grams (8.8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (60-64% cacao), broken or chopped into pieces
250 grams (2 ¼ sticks or 8.8 ounces) butter, cut into small pieces
250 grams (1 ¼ cup) sugar
25 grams (3 tablespoons) flour, regular or gluten free (note: I used cornstarch)
5 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork and at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
Measure the ingredients.
Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of barely simmering water or a bain-marie. Make sure that the mixture does not have direct contact with the flame/heat or it will burn. When the mixture is melted halfway, remove it from the heat and stir until all the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. (Taking it off the heat when it is melted halfway ensures it’s not too hot to add the other ingredients, especially the eggs.) Set aside.
Combine the sugar and flour (or cornstarch) together to prevent clumping, then stir into the chocolate. Add the salt and eggs, mixing well after each addition.
Cover the batter and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The batter will thicken as it stands. The consistency of your batter (runny or thick) will depend on the size of your eggs.
When you are almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 165C (325F). Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers or alternatively, skip the liners and generously butter the cups of the muffin tin if you don’t want the final product to look like a muffin or cupcake. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet. [Note: I prefer using cupcake liners. These brownies are quite delicate so baking them in a square pan is not advisable.]
Spoon the rested batter into the muffin tin, making sure to fill each cup no more than ¾ of the way (if you don’t use the cupcake liners, you may wish to reduce the batter to ½ of each cup as the brownies rise significantly when baking). You will need to bake the 14 brownies in two batches.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes. They are done when they puff up and still look moist but are no longer wet.
Let the brownies cool for 5–10 minutes before taking them out of the muffin tin. The puffed tops will fall slightly as they cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoon or two of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Store leftover brownies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.