Negroni Brownies. “Exsqueeze me? Baking Powder?” (one for the Wayne’s World fans).
What an absolute treat!
Negronis have shot up the popularity chart in the cocktail world in recent years, establishing a rather fanatical cult following. And I am one of them. Being so bitter, they are an acquired taste, but when you do acquire it, they satisfy in a way that some cocktails can only dream of. Made simply, they are equal measures of gin, sweet vermouth and red bitters. However, you can dress them up as much as you want, varying spirits and ratios. If you’re looking for Negroni ideas then check out Negroni, a book by David T Smith and Keli Rivers, which tells you everything you need to know about the drink, as well as offering over 30 different recipes to try.
Negronis are dark and bitter sweet, so a recipe for Negroni brownies has to be up there with other strokes of genius. This recipe is another one from the Liquorsmiths Cookbook and it is a real doozy!
First up, the night before, make your Negroni (the recipe calls for 50ml Old Tom 6 gin, 25ml sweet vermouth and 25ml red bitters, but I used 50ml equal measure for all). Old Tom 6 gin is magnificent. In fact, it’s so good it recently won a ‘Masters’ at the Spirits Masters 2021. The traditional profile is put together wonderfully, with a hint of scotch bonnet on the finish. Put your dried cranberries in to soak and cover. I usually pop a plate on top as its easy to wash up and saves on foil/clingfilm (the less of that I can use, the better). I’d recommend making two lots of Negroni, using one for the cranberries and one for yourself before bed, but I’ll leave that up to you.
The next day, it’s time to make the brownies. Have a quick sniff of the cranberries before you start as they will be smelling absolutely amazing! Now, I ended up mixing up the stages of this recipe a bit, but there we are. Firstly, I sifted and mixed the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt). Then I put the butter and sugar in my stand mixer and set that on low, whilst I beat the eggs and the extra yolks in a jug. After five minutes a slowly added the egg to the butter/sugar mixture and left the stand mixer running a couple more minutes. During this I stuck my chocolate in the microwave to melt.
Once the chocolate was melted, I took the bowl from the stand mixer and began to fold it gently into the mixture. Then I folded in the dry ingredients, then the cranberries and leftover Negroni. The mixture will be beautiful and will smell divine as the spirits meld with the bitter chocolate. Spread this into your cake tin and you are ready to put it in the oven. I only had a 20cm square tin so went with this and it worked ok, other than the brownies were a little deeper so I should have allowed a little longer in the oven.
The recipe states 25-30 minutes and I checked after 25. The mixture still seem quite wet in the middle so I left it a little longer. On retrospect I should have given it even longer than that as they still came out quite wet in the end. Once you remove the tin, put that tin inside a larger one with cold water and ice. The idea with this is that it cools the brownie, which stops further cooking inside and prevents it drying out.
Once they had cooled I cut them up. I cut mine into nine pieces and let me tell you, you want to cut them smaller! These bad boys are super rich so less is more. Small squares for the win. With my greedy eyes I cut larger squares and couldn’t finish it…though it made for a nice breakfast this morning. If you’re serving these as a dessert I’d suggest small squares of warmed brownie with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. Thinking about it, you could make your own vanilla ice-cream and crumble this into the mix. Or maybe chocolate ice-cream…now there’s an idea!
So, what do these taste like? Devilishly good. Dark chocolate and Negroni really is a match made in heaven. As for the gin? That little kick of heat works in a treat in this dish, and it makes an incredible red snapper too.
If you liked the recipe then be sure to check out the Liquorsmiths Cookbook. It contains 100 recipes that are kissed by gin, rum, whisky or vodka. It’s laid out simply and easy to understand, and there are all sorts of tricks and tips throughout.
Liquorsmiths Negroni Brownies
- 23cm square baking tin
- Tin large enough to sit the 23cm square tin inside
- 50 ml Old Tom 6 gin
- 25 ml sweet vermouth
- 25 ml red bitters of Campari
- 100 g dried cranberries
- 200 g dark chocolate 70% cocoa works well
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 whole egg yolks
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 250 g caster sugar
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g cocoa powder
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch sea salt
- The night before, or at least a good few hours before, make yourself a Negroni by stirring together the gin, vermouth and red bitters. Submerge the dried cranberries to soak and cover for the night. I must confess, I actually doubled up (50ml of each) to make my brownies really boozy. You could do this, or you could double up, use half for the cranberries and half for yourself, if you so desire.
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line the tin with greaseproof paper.
- Melt the chocolate. You can break the chocolate into pieces and sit it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl shouldn't touch the water. Once the chocolate has melted remove the bowl. Or, like me, you can cheat and put the chocolate in a bowl, pop that in the microwave and zap it for a minute, then 20 second intervals.
- Beat the eggs and yolks in a jug and pop to one side. Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy then gradually add the egg as you keep beating. Sometimes this can curdle, and if you're nervous about this you can add a spoonful of flour with each glug of the mixed egg. Once all the egg has been added, the mixture needs to be beaten vigorously until it has a glossy sheen and has grown in volume. An electric mixer is really helpful at this point if you have one.
- Carefully fold in the melted chocolate with a metal spoon. Then, sift any remaining flour into the bowl with the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Fold this into the mixture too. Then, pour in the soaked cranberries, along with any leftover Negroni. Fold again.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the prepared tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, which gives you just enough time to kick back and enjoy a Negroni. Test it early with a skewer or knife. It should be sticky, but not completely wet. If your test comes out clean, they are overcooked. If this happens then you can salvage them by making a Negroni, drinking half and pouring the other half over the brownies. Top tip!
- Fill your larger dish with ice and cold water and sit the brownie tin in it. This is a neat trick that helps the brownies to cool faster and prevents them from continuing to cook. When they are cool, slice into squares and store in an airtight container.