I am not so adventurous that I would mix chocolate with a savoury dish but if you are into that, Niki Segnit gives some food pairing ideas in her wonderful book 'The Flavour Thesaurus'.
In the meantime, I give you today my recipe of chocolate and hazelnut brownies. I tasted some delicious brownies years ago and since then, I have been looking for the perfect texture and flavour in brownies. So I decided to just make my own with hazelnuts as I like the pairing of the chocolate with them. I would not claim they are THE perfect brownies, but as long as it is for me, I guess that is what matters (I am a bit demanding when it comes to flavours and taste, I just love food so much). They should be thin and quite fudge-like, so they nearly melt in your mouth. I hope you like the following recipe!
Ingredients (please note this recipe makes two batches)
200g chopped good dark chocolate (70% cocoa minimum)
250g diced unsalted butter (plus 2 tsp for buttering the tins)
2 tbsp brown rice flour (buckwheat flour works too)
2 tbsp cocoa powder (plus 2 tsp for dusting the tins)
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 large free range eggs
200g caster sugar
100g chopped hazelnuts (the ready chopped and roasted ones you can find in the shops are very nice too)
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
1. Butter a 20cm x 20cm square tin. Dust with one teaspoon of cocoa powder. Tap the excess out. (If you have two tins, repeat the process with the second one; if like me you do not, reserve half of the batter and bake it later. A 20cm diametre round tin works well too, no need to rush outside and buy a new tin just for the recipe!)
2. Place a saucepan (filled with only 1/4 cold water) over a low heat and let it simmer. Put a large bowl (glass or metal) on top of the saucepan. It should not be in contact with the water, and the water should not boil. This is to start the process of what is called bain-marie.
Put the chopped chocolate and the diced butter in the bowl. Let it melt and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the texture is lovely and silky.
3. Once melted, take it off the saucepan (and the heat). Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix well together.
At this stage, I would let it cool down for 5 to 10 minutes (the eggs are next and it is better that they do not start cooking while the mixture is hot).
Then, add the eggs one by one and mix well after each of them.
4. Incorporate the flour and baking powder in the batter. Then, fold the chopped hazelnuts in it.
Divide the batter between the two tins (or pour half in your tin and keep the rest for the next batch).
Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check every now and then how the cake is doing; when finished, it should still be slightly gooey in the centre. Take it out and let it cool down for 30 minutes before unmoulding.
(Please note I use an electric oven and the baking time might vary slightly depending on whether you use a gas oven or an electric fan oven.)
Cut your brownie in squares. Serve it hot or cold (when cooled down properly, the brownies are delicious and fudge-like) with vanilla ice cream (and maybe some hot chocolate sauce on top... that would be very indulgent but why not!).