Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Recipe: Ganache topped chocolate and pistachio brownies

Ganache topped chocolate & pistachio brownies, as made by EJ
Repeat after me: "a good brownie is a dessert, not a cake". I've had enough of these rubbish commercial coffee-shop 'brownies', so dense and hard you could break a window with them. They're giving brownies a bad name. A good brownie should be eaten with a spoon (as in, you'd get terribly messy if you tried eating it with your hands), it should be rich, flavoursome - and gooey in the centre. It should be incredibly chocolatey without being overwhelmingly sweet.

These brownies are largely inspired by the ones I used to buy from a butchers in Hove, called Canhams. As a vegetarian, a butcher's shop wasn't an obvious haunt for me (although I believe that if you are a meat eater, you'll love Canhams) - it was Owen who discovered the amazing brownies and brought one home for me one day. So so darkly rich and literally only just cooked in the centre (with a little slice of strawberry on top). I'm not exaggerating when I say it took me three days to eat just one of these - it sat in the fridge as I gradually worked my way through it.

I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of a company called WhyNut, while at Food Blogger Connect. WhyNut is a wonderful website specialising in premium nuts and nut pastes - who kindly sent me a box of goodies to experiment with. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed, the pastes and nuts are of the highest quality - and I'm in the process of developing recipes using several of the nut pastes. I topped these brownies with the peeled green pistachio kernels - perhaps the greenest and most beautiful pistachios I've ever laid eyes on, they are truly unlike anything I've seen before - and I'm looking forward to experimenting with the rest of the range.

I've used dark chocolate (70% cocoa) for the brownies and for the ganache. I always use dark chocolate when baking - when you use chocolate as an ingredient you are diluting it, softening the flavour. Milk chocolate contains much more sugar - and through dilution with other ingredients would likely create a sweeter and less satisfying dessert (trust me on this one). I'm a big believer in always using dark chocolate for ganache - remember, you are combining it with a fair amount of cream.

These brownies are rich, gooey in the centre, studded with pistachios, topped with a decadent ganache and sprinkled with pistachio kernels. You'll want these to be just cooked in the centre when you remove them from the oven, so test the top of the brownies by very gently pressing down in the middle with your index finger, the top should be nicely set and slightly spongey, but you should be able to feel a softer centre beneath. As the brownies are left to cool in the tin, the heat will continue to cook the middle, so err on the side of caution with this one.

These are best served at room temperature and should be eaten within a few days. If you're planning to keep them a little longer, store them in the fridge and remove 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 10 chunky brownies for very greedy people, or 20 modest brownies for those with a lower decadent dessert tolerance.


For the brownies:
250g slightly salted butter (cubed, at room temperature)
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken into small pieces
65g spelt plain flour
1tsp baking powder
35g cocoa powder
300g caster sugar
4 large eggs
40g chopped (unsalted) pistachios

For the ganache:
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), grated
150ml double cream

To top:
30g whole green pistachio kernels

Special tools:
A 28cm x 18cm x 4cm brownie tin
A food mixer with a balloon whisk attachment is helpful, although you can easily mix these by hand.

To make the brownies:
1) Pre-heat the oven to 170C (fan). Line and grease the 28cm x 18cm x 4cm brownie tin

2) Pop the butter and dark chocolate into a bowl resting over simmering water. Keep stirring to melt the butter and chocolate into a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and set to one side.

3) Sift the spelt flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir until evenly combined.

4) Pour the chocolate and butter sauce into the bowl with the dry ingredients, mix on a low setting until the mixture is smooth.

5) In another bowl, whisk up the eggs a little. Pour these into the chocolate batter and mix on a low / medium setting until well combined. Do not over mix - you do not want the brownies to be full of air.

6) Pour in the chopped pistachios and gently stir through.

7) Bake on the middle shelf for approximately 25 minutes, test the top of the brownies by very gently pressing down in the centre with your index finger, the top should be nicely set and slightly spongey, but you should be able to feel a softer centre beneath.

8) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

To make the ganache:
1) Pop the grated dark chocolate into a bowl and set to one side.

2) Heat the double cream in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Then, immediately pour this over the grated dark chocolate.

3) Leave it for two minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then stir gently (by hand with a spoon, to avoid air bubbles) until the consistency and colour is even - and the ganache starts to thicken.

4) Allow to cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The ganache should be a thick sauce and almost cooled to room temperature.

5) Pour over the tray of brownies and evenly spread across the top with a palette knife. Sprinkle the green pistachio kernels over the ganache.

6) Allow to cool completely to room temperature. If you're in a hurry for the ganache to set, you can pop the tray into the fridge (after about 30 minutes of sitting at room temperature), for approximately 30 minutes.

7) Once the ganache has set, slice the brownies with a sharp knife and carefully lift out of the tray. Enjoy!


  1. Yikes these sound (and look!) amazing! What a treat :) xoxo

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment :) they were amazing - I took them to a friend's birthday party at the weekend and the whole lot were very quickly demolished! I keep pining for them this week....

  2. These look INSANE. I absolutely love pistachios, and you just can't beat a good brownie. This looks like the sort of thing I'd savour with a teaspoon. Wonderful!

    1. They were indeed INSANE! All good desserts should be enjoyed with a teaspoon :)