‘Broken cakes’: Making brownies for every mood and occasion with Leah Hyslop

Hosted by

Dark, rich with no nuts, food writer Leah Hyslop calls herself a member of “Team Fudgey.” Photo by Lauren Mclean.

English food writer Leah Hyslop says America is home of the brownie, but the chocolate squares caught on in the U.K. in the 1990s, appearing in coffee shops in bakeries. 

Classifying herself as a “brownie equal opportunist,” Hyslop says her ultimate brownie is fudgey with lots of dark chocolate, and without nuts interrupting a silky middle. Since brownies are low in flour, brownies are dense and weighted down by chocolate, sugar, and butter. 

The Brownie Diaries” features recipes for lemon blondies, an Easter brownie, and a holiday brownie with apricots baked into them that are ideal for spring.

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies

If I could only eat one brownie for the rest of my days, this would be it. Dark and rich, without nuts or other extras to distract from its bewitchingly oozy centre, I promise it will fill any hole in your life.

I have eaten these by myself in bed when I’m sad; dressed them up fancy with caramel sauce when I’ve got people round for dinner; sent chocolate-splotched packets off to family and friends; and exclaimed like a triumphant archaeologist when I excavate a forgotten stash from under the peas at the back of the freezer. This was the first recipe I developed for the book and though a mother should never have favourites, this one comes close.


  • 200g unsalted butter, chopped into rough cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids), roughly broken into pieces
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 50g plain flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to sprinkle


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20cm square tin with a little butter and line with baking parchment.
  2. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over a low heat and melt together, stirring frequently, until combined. Stir in the sugar, then take off the heat. Leave to cool for 5 minutes or so, until warm to the touch rather than scalding hot.
  3. Add the eggs to the pan and quickly stir to combine. Now beat, using a handheld electric whisk, on a medium-high speed, for about 3 minutes (alternatively, use a balloon whisk and some elbow grease); the mixture will become thick and velvety. This will help create a delicious crust.
  4. Sift over the flour, cocoa powder and salt, and gently fold in with a spatula or large metal spoon until just combined. Transfer the mixture to your prepared tin – it will be rather thick – making sure to spread the mix into the corners. Bake for 30–35 minutes. The brownie should be set on top, with a few cracks around the edges. Let it cool in the tin for at least two hours before cutting into squares. I like these with a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt on top.

“Brownies are super subjective,” says Leah Hyslop, which made writing “The Brownie Diaries” quite hard. Photo courtesy of Bloomsbury.