Back in 2015, B is For Brownie took its first steps as a new business, thanks to the passion and boundless enthusiasm of Founder and Head Brownie Baker Lou Cox.
Lou had been working closely with fine, luxury chocolate during her time at Hotel Chocolat, and came up with the idea of creating an incredibly flavourful brownie using only the very best single-origin chocolate.
During those early baking tests, Lou tweaked and experimented with various flavour and ingredient combinations, including testing recipes for both gluten-containing and gluten-free flour mixtures.
Luxury and quality are non-negotiable. These are extreme brownies baked for their flavour and texture rather than their looks. A real indulgence with an ongoing commitment to using only the finest, quality ingredients, ensuring that B is for Brownie continues to offer something really different from the rest.
The B is For Brownie story began in 2014, when Lou was suddenly struck by the urge to bake late one autumnal October evening, “I always kept a mental list in my head of my next bake and that night it was the turn of the chocolate brownie. Strange that I should not have made one before then, I had certainly eaten plenty.” Says Lou.
Before baking, Lou consulted with a trio of faithful foodies, “I consulted with Nigel (Slater), Nigella (Lawson) and Hugh (Fearnley-Whittingstall), a trusted trio and selected a simple brownie recipe from each. I baked them all and all were amazing as I had expected, but I thought there had to be more to it.”
Lou always had an eye for experimentation (especially when it comes to food), stemming from her degree in science and her development work for Hotel Chocolat, “I knew a bit about chocolate and ingredients and understood the process of experimentation,” she says.
Due to her perfectionist nature, Lou knew that although the initial recipes tasted good, it just wasn’t quite where she wanted it to be – so she continued to bake and refine along the way with the simple goal of baking better brownies.
To refine the recipe Lou began by tweaking each element individually during each bake, focusing on three core elements:
Lou knew that each of these elements needed to be exactly right to create the perfect balance. For example, too little sugar would impact tenderness and moisture, and increasing the chocolate content tended to create a tougher, dryer product.
“This became the focus of my experimentation, pushing up the cocoa content whilst retaining that tender brownie feel.” Says Lou.
During each batch a different chocolate was used, and Lou noticed how this could radically change the taste of each brownie.
“With that thought still in my head I baked with a single origin chocolate from Madagascar and was amazed by the intensity of flavour and the red berry notes, gentle acidity and the buttery flavour.”
“It was at this time that I realised what I wanted to do: bake amazing brownies with single origin chocolate and experiment with flavour.”
The Star of the Show
Once we’d managed to refine and perfect the recipe we use now, Lou knew she was on to something special.
Of course, the single most important ingredient in our luxury brownies is the star of the show: chocolate.
We select the finest Madagascan and Colombian single-origin chocolate for its exceptional characteristics and unique flavour. This is precisely why our brownies are so distinctive and memorable.
The heat from the baking process stimulates and intensifies the character of the chocolate, which highlights the complexity resulting in a brownie that packs a far bigger flavour punch.
We source our Madagascan chocolate from the cacao grown in the forests of the Sabirano river basin, located on the Northwest coast of the country. It’s rich volcanic soil results in delicate red fruit notes and a pleasant acidity.
The Colombian cacao used to make our chocolate is grown and harvested under the forest canopies in the tropical climates of the Tumaco forests in Nariño, Colombia. This particular chocolate showcases a gentle kick of acidity and floral, smokiness.
Cacao is similar to wine grapes or coffee, in that the local terroir or climate and soil conditions heavily contribute to the unique and exceptional flavour of the cacao. The beauty of this is that the the brownies will capture the change in flavour and aroma with each cacao harvest.
The Supporting Cast
Although we’ve now got a wide selection of finely honed products, in many classic and seasonal flavours we have never strayed from our early commitment to source only the very best ingredients.
- Eggs – a crucial ingredient in our recipe, as each slab contains two whole eggs to maintain texture and richness. We only use the freshest free-range eggs.
- Butter – we only ever use unsalted butter in our brownies, so we can measure out how much sea salt the recipe needs to enhance the character of the chocolate.
- Sea Salt – the sea salt in our recipes is Guérande coarse sea salt, which is harvested by hand using traditional methods on the salt marshes of the Guérande peninsula. This salt is milder than many other sea salts, which makes it richer in flavour and softer on the palette.
- Sugar – most brownie recipes include processed white sugar. This process removes the molasses content, which ultimately results in a mass produced, often bland product. We instead use unrefined light soft brown sugar. We found that this produces a delicate, almost treacle-like molasses flavour.
- Gluten-Free Flour – Our flour blend contains gluten-free ingredients, such as rice, potato, tapioca, maize, and buckwheat. Although we tried blends containing both gluten and non-gluten, we adored the rich, silky texture of those brownies which contained gluten-free ingredients.
The future for B is For Brownie is exciting! We’re looking to move to new premises to serve our growing customer base, and we’re always testing and experimenting with brand new flavours – particularly around Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter.