A few weeks ago, something odd started popping up on Australian Instagrams feeds. At first, it seemed like a hoax – Vegemite themed Cadbury bars? Not possible! But alas, it was not a prank - it was the real deal in what seems like the latest in a long line of social media-driven food mash-ups.
But as incongruous as Vegemite and chocolate sounds, the salty and sweet combination is nothing new. Salted caramel has been a popular dessert theme for a while, and Lindt’s Sea Salt Chocolate bar has been on my personal top choc list for many years. And a pinch of sea salt in our cookies and chocolate cakes always manages to allow the dessert to shine!
But Vegemite is not salt. Our national icon has one of the most distinctive, pleasantly-cloying tastes around. It has a rich, deeply caramelized umami flavour which is unlike any other (and which is usually offensive to many who have not grown up eating it). For Aussies however, Vegemite sandwiches are a way of life – it is one of the first sandwich spreads we feed our kids and it is a pantry item most ex-pats can’t live without.
So this week, as I made a batch of my signature brownies for the kids, I decided to rise to the salty n’ choc challenge by adding a big dollop of Vegemite. And I’m sure glad I did. This brownie is intense and delicious and it is going to blow your mind!
Vegemite Chocolate Brownies
If you don’t happen to have any Vegemite on hand, you can use Marmite instead, or just add a big pinch of sea salt flakes. If salty and sweet aint your thing, just omit. This is a damn good brownie recipe which I have adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook – it is also my base recipe from where I venture on many fun brownie adventures…
Makes 12-15 squares
- 200g dark chocolate, chopped (or use dark choc buttons)
- 175g butter, melted
- 1 ½ tbsp vegemite (or 2 tsp sea salt flakes)
- 300g caster sugar
- 130g plain flour
- 3 eggs
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (325˚F). Grease a 20 x 30.5cm lamington tray and line with baking paper.
In a large stainless steel bowl (which is completely dry and clean), add the chocolate and butter and place over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and slowly stir the vegemite into the chocolate until mixed well.
Add the sugar and stir to combine. Add the flour and stir again. Finally, stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. I like my brownies quite fudgey so I like to bake for around 30 minutes. If you like your brownies more cakey, leave in for a bit longer. Ideally, you want the centre to still be soft and the edges not too hard and crunchy. Leave to cool completely (I like to leave it in the fridge overnight which makes it easier to handle) and cut into 12-15 squares (depending on how big you like them). Serve dusted with icing sugar.