From some of my past posts, you’ll know that I’m constantly in London. I don’t live there, I live in Bristol, 118 miles from my favourite chocolate shop of all time. Big claim you may think but so true when you try out these brownies. My love goes back to last Easter when I tried a Simnel Brownie and it BLEW MY MIND! Of course, these amazing brownies could only be from the one place a Paul A Young brownie.
Visiting one of his shops (there are three in London and also stocked in the wonderful Fortnum and Mason) is a decadent treat which I for one could spend a day happily breathing the chocolate air. Making their beautiful chocolates, truffles and brownies by hand (not a tempering machine in sight), with incredibly high-quality ingredients and inventive flavours that mean you’re always in for a treat. I genuinely wish there was a shop in Bristol so I didn’t have to smuggle the brownies from London.
So when recently my cousin emailed me to say she saw Paul was doing a brownie masterclass in Fortnum and Mason and how it was a shame it was a Tuesday evening and because I would be in Bristol it was sad I couldn’t make it. BUT hang on! I was coming back late the Monday night from Berlin (which I am trying to write up as well!) and would still be in London – yips!!! I did not pause for a second and booked my cousin and myself on the course. It was £55 each and some of my friends thought I was mad but they had yet to taste a rich fudgy morsel of Paul’s brownies. It’s fair to say me and my cousin (who I have been doing a lot of cookery courses and eating with recently) was super pumped to learn the secrets straight from the master.
Paul A. Young Brownie Masterclass
We turned up to the beautifully decorated Fortnum and Mason Pop-up bakery, including a bank of sexy shiny KitchenAid Mixers, the iconic Fortnum and Mason duck shell blue counter tops and a tempting selection of ingredients laid on for us. Then greeted by Paul himself, it’s fair to say I had a slight Wayne’s World moment (brilliant film!), ‘We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!’ Chocolate and Brownie God and such a nice guy. There was only eight of us in the class so we managed to pick Paul’s brains on how to make the perfect brownies.
Paul talked us through the process and some handy tips that make a lot of sense such as if you want moist brownies, don’t add cocoa powder as it will dry it out. Then we got to make our own, with some of the most golden egg yolks I had ever seen!
It’s All In The Details
A really important point about Paul’s brownies is the cooking of time of the brownies, it’s minimal. Just enough to set the mixture alongside a small amount of plain flour, for our 8x8in tin, they were in the oven for only 10 minutes. I think me and my cousin need to be brave when we cook these again, not to overcook them at all. Also, another point is they need chilling overnight to firm up and cut with a hot knife. They are so fudgy that trying to serve them warm, you would get a fondant type pudding, but not really the best brownies you’ve ever made, which is the goal here.
The base recipe is so versatile, you can have some real fun with the toppings. Paul is currently supplying Fortnum and Mason with a Rose and Raspberry Brownie (which we got to try, the rose was perfectly balanced without being soapy against the tart/sweet raspberry) and a Sichuan flower pepper, stem ginger and chilli brownie. They have grated marzipan on top in the past with marinated spicy fruit, Salted Caramel and Cocoa nibs, even for Valentines Day this year a variation of the classic brownie with chipotle chilli, Maldon sea salt and muscovado sugar – yum! For my brownies, I went for more chocolate (standard) and Sichuan flower pepper – hey when in Rome. The pepper gave slightly citrus notes without the fire you would expect with black pepper. A nice addition.
While the brownies cooled slightly to be put into very posh Fortnum and Mason boxes and bags, we got to try some that Paul had made earlier (in a very Blue Peter style). They just confirmed my love for the brownies. Now I had a serious dilemma of having a tray of delicious brownies and facing a two-hour train journey back to Bristol without tucking into them and chilling them overnight. This was a herculean task for me. But trying different flavours managed to stem my chocolate want and need overnight till I could hack into mine!
I’ve purposely not included the recipe as I would truly recommend you buy Paul’s brilliant book, it recently won World’s Best Chocolate Book and has the FoodNerd approval. I just pawed over this gorgeous book trying to decide what to try out of it, obviously as well as making the brownies!
My housemates and I inhaled my tray of brownies and now putting in requests for the next flavours I need to try- might be crunchy peanut butter, so keep you posted on my efforts. But I have truly seen the light and now have THE method to make the best brownies from the master. Thanks to Paul and everyone at Fortnum and Mason for such a lovely evening and can’t wait to try out Paul’s chocolate course next- with my cousin of course! Fancy trying out another brownie recipe, how about these Stollen Brownies?
What would you flavour your brownies with?
Fortnum & Mason
181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1A 1ER
Tel: 020 7734 8040
Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates
143 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 8WA
Tel: 020 7437 0011
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