I do love a good chocolate brownie and for me that means dense and gooey – none of this crumbly cake-like stuff – and redolent of top quality dark chocolate. I want the texture to be rich, fudge-like, just short of too sticky to hold and I want to taste the natural flavour of the cocoa bean from which the chocolate was made.
When such a brownie can be mine for twenty-odd quid and a day or two’s wait for it to made to order and sent to me by post, there’s absolutely no reason not to indulge from time to time. And of course, it means I can spread the love by sending lovely parcels of deliciousness to friends – for a birthday or anniversary, as a thank you gift, as a get well message or just because I know someone who will utterly adore them!
B is for Brownie offers such a service, selling handmade single origin chocolate brownies across the UK via an online shop.
I recently tried their offering (see my review below) and had a chat to founder Lou Cox. I also have a box to giveaway to a lucky reader, and a reader discount code to share too.
B is for Brownie | Interview
When did you decide to launch a business selling your brownies to the public? And when did you launch?
My decision to go into brownie baking happened in the autumn of 2014. I was on a mission to produce the very best brownie that I could. There was lots of experimentation during which I discovered that you could taste the character of different origins of chocolate in the brownies and that seemed like the most obvious route for me to take. The online business launched in August 2015.
How did you come up with the name and brand design for B is for Brownie?
My partner came up with the name and it just sounded right. I worked on the brand design with a very talented web designer called Sarah Webb. I didn’t initially want a black and white design, but in the end the logo looked so clean and fresh and timeless that I went with it.
All your brownies are gluten free. Was that a conscious decision based on a personal need to avoid gluten, a desire to be suitable for gluten-free consumers or simply that your favourite brownie recipe happened to be gluten free?
During the development stage I decided to offer a wheat free version. When I baked with wheat free flour I was so impressed by the texture that I felt that the brownies actually benefited from being wheat free, so that’s the recipe I now use. I don’t shout about it, it just happened to be the best thing for my brownies.
Where do you source the chocolate for your single original chocolate brownies, and how do you select it?
I source by flavour, it must have plenty of character to shine through in the baked brownie. I prefer chocolate without vanilla and soya lecithin where possible.
For your Grenadan brownies, you actually make the chocolate yourself from the bean, before using it in your brownies! Why did you decide to take this approach? Can you tell me more about how you chose these Grenadan beans and how you make your chocolate?
I just wanted to take the whole process further and I enjoy experimenting. I have a science degree, and spent nearly six years working for Hotel Chocolat within the development team. So felt confident in my abilities to take brownie baking to the next level. I simply chose the Grenadan beans for their character and also from a practical point of view I am a very small business and cannot justify buying tens of kilos at a time. The bean to brownie is intended to be a limited edition brownie baked simply without any additional flavour to show case the cocoa bean. I intend to change the bean origin from time to time.
The process for making chocolate is very simple but a little time consuming. Basically you roast some beans, allow to cool remove the shell, grind to create small nibs then heat the nibs and add to a grinder and grind for 4 hours. [You can read more about Lou’s methods and equipment in Lou’s recent blog post, here.]
Which is your best seller?
The sea salted butterscotch without a doubt!
How do you develop new brownie flavours?
Firstly they need to be able to withstand the character of the chocolate, secondly I tend not to blend flavours through the brownie batter as this would mask the flavour of the single origin chocolate. I like the contrast or harmony between the topping and the chocolate. Sometimes you get more topping than brownie and sometimes more brownie!
Can you tell us about flavours currently in development and coming soon?
I’ve just developed The Hazelnut Gianduja Brownie for which I am making the gianduja myself – roasting and blending hazelnuts with chocolate and sea salt – before submerging chunks into a brownie slab just before baking.
I’m also looking at a Rum & Raisin brownie for summer / Father’s Day. I am soaking flame raisins in spiced rum before baking them into the brownie.
Sum up your brownies in 5 words or less.
Immensely dense, intensely good. Truffley (not really a word I know!)
B is for Brownie | Review
My brownies arrive securely packed in a sturdy box that should fit readily through most letterboxes. Inside, the brownies are beautifully wrapped in branded paper tied with ribbon, and also in parchment paper, so they arrive safe and sound.
Lou hand-makes the brownies to order so they are freshly baked when posted and remain in good condition for about a week after arrival. You can also freeze some of the pieces if you like, to spread the enjoyment out; I froze a couple of mine, wrapped tightly in some of the parchment paper they arrived in, and can confirm that they freeze and defrost well.
The slab Lou made for me is single origin Madagascan chocolate and she created a mix of flavours so I could get a feel for her range. Fingers crossed that a similar assorted brownie slab will be available for order in her shop soon as I love the idea! From left tor right the flavours in my slab are Sea Salted Fudge, Raspberry, plain Madagascan and Hazelnut Gianduja [coming soon].
Unlike many flavoured brownies I’ve tried before, Lou doesn’t mix her flavourings into the batter as she is keen for the flavour of the single origin chocolate to shine through. Instead, she adds ingredients as toppings or – like the Hazelnut Gianduja – pushes a layer down inside the batter so it bakes into the middle. This tactic works really well and the flavourings complement rather than overwhelm the chocolate. And with chocolate this good, that’s a very good thing – the delicious red berry fruit notes typical of Madagascan chocolate sing on the palate.
I love all four that I try but I think my favourite is the raspberry jam – the fruit accentuates the natural flavours of the cacao so perfectly!
Most of the B is for Brownies range is priced between £18 and £23 per 500 gram slab. The Goldie is the outlier priced at £30, not unreasonable given the brilliant bling of 23 carat gold leaf that adorns it. Delivery is an additional £3.35 per box.
Hint: If ever you want to get in my good books, a box of Lou’s brownies would go a long way towards ensuring your place!
B is for Brownie | Giveaway
B is for Brownie are offering a box of single original brownies in their latest flavour, Hazelnut Gianduja, to a reader of Kavey Eats. The box will contain a 500 gram slab of handmade chocolate brownies and includes delivery to a UK address.
HOW TO ENTER
You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:
Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What new brownie flavour would you like to see B is for Brownie developing next?
Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @Bisforbrownie on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a box of single origin chocolate brownies by @Bisforbrownie from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KE-BIFB #KaveyEatsBIFB
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)
RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS
- The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 24th June 2016.
- The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
- Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
- Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
- The prize is a B is for Brownie box of Hazelnut Gianduja brownies. Delivery to a UK address is included.
- The prize is offered by B is for Brownie and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
- One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
- For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey and @Bisforbrownie at the time of notification.
- For Blog comment entries, entrants must provide a valid email address for contact.
- The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
- If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
B is for Brownie | Reader Code
If you would like to order a box of single original chocolate brownies for yourself or a friend (and I’m telling you, you or the friend will love you for it!), B is for Brownie are offering 15% off to Kavey Eats readers. Enter KAVEY2016 on checkout; valid till 30th June 2016. Discount applies to contents of cart; delivery cost remains the same.
Kavey Eats received a review box of chocolate brownies from B is for Brownie.