Buoyed by the recent success of the Sticky Penguin brownies, all sorts of ideas for things to put into brownies have been starting to pop into thoughts, usually late at night before dozing off. From the sublime to the probably-completely-ridiculous, invented brownies are suggesting themselves at almost every turn.
Perhaps there’s really nothing new under the sun, and every possible brownie combination’s already been tried and perfected in gleaming kitchens and shadowy corners of the interwebs. But that’d spoil all the fun and novelty of trying out whatever latest idea’s clamouring for attention and a share of the mixing bowl.
The thing I liked about the Sticky Penguins was that the caramel formed a separate layer in the brownie, rather than being stirred through, like most brownie add-ins and variations. The separate layer gives a concentrated taste of the extra flavour, while still having plenty of the proper brownie taste – hopefully a way to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The newest additions to the penguin baking repertoire are Mad Penguins, so called because they’re a little bit... bananas. They’re also a little bit chocolate chip and cinnamon, and a lot of chocolatey-squidgy-goodness in general.
If you want a Mad Penguin around the house, either deny her trifle, or follow this simple recipe...
What’s in them**
198 g butter / margarine (I used low-fat butter blend), cut roughly into pieces the same size as the chocolate
½ cup plus 1 tbsp dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Cadbury's dark cooking chocolate)
3 large eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
¼ cup + 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup plain flour
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
1 - 1½ tsp cinnamon (depending on taste)
Pinch of salt
2 overripe bananas
1 tsp cinnamon
½ - ¾ cup dark chocolate chips***
What to do
1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.
2. Line (but don’t grease) a 9 inch square cake tin with baking paper.
3. In a large bowl on top of a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring the mixture regularly (you can do this directly in the saucepan if you prefer – it doesn’t kill the chocolate enough to interfere with the flavour, but I think the double-boiler approach gives a smoother texture). Once the chocolate is melted and just a few small blobs of butter remain, remove from the stove and stir in the rest of the butter so it melts. Set the mixture aside, and let it cool down a bit.
4. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk lightly with a fork to combine the yolks and whites, and add the vanilla extract. Add the caster sugar and soft brown sugar, and mix until smooth.
5. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the cooled chocolate and mix until just combined.
6. Add the sifted flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt, and mix until the flour is combined, avoiding over-mixing.
7. Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared cake tin and refrigerate for around 30 minutes. (The other half of the batter doesn't need to be put in the fridge). This helps make the mixture a bit less runny before the banana mixture gets added.
8. Peel and mash the bananas until smooth and mix in the cinnamon.
9. Spread the banana mixture on top of the cooled brownie batter, spreading it right to the edges, and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pour the remaining half of the brownie batter on top, ensuring that all the banana is covered.
10. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the sides of the brownie are just coming away from the pan. The top of the brownie should have a crackled crust, almost as if it's formed a skin on top. It's probably ready before you think it is - this is a very fudgy, squishy brownie.
11. Allow to cool in the pan, remove and ensure completely cool, then slice into pieces (I cut each batch into either 16 or 20) with a sharp knife or a pizza wheel.
* Coming up with odd little ways to celebrate the twelve days before Christmas is a
** I use US measuring cups, which are 10 ml smaller (for a cup) than Australian ones. If you don’t have them, and can’t be bothered doing online conversions, taking about a tablespoon out is about the same... and a disorganised baker will get sorted and measure it properly for the next recipe, and update the amounts to provide grams as well
*** Cooking with penguins is a somewhat inexact science, and things tend to get added till they look about right...