From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
225 g butter
275 g caster sugar
100 g pecan nuts (roughly chopped)
275 g plain chocolate (finely chopped, at least 70% cocoa solids)
100 g self-raising flour
75 g cocoa powder
for the fudge suace:
150 ml double cream
25 g caster sugar
25 g butter
175 g plain chocolate (finely chopped, at least 70% cocoa solids)
vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3). Place 25g (1oz) of the butter and 25g (1oz) of the sugar in a small heavy-based pan with the pecan nuts. Cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until the pecan nuts are lightly toasted and caramelised. Spread out on to a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper and leave to cool before breaking up a little.
Place 100g (4oz) of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the remaining butter and set a pan of simmering water until melted, then stir to combine. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl until stiff and holding their shape, then whisk in the remaining sugar until you have achieved a stiff sabayon that can hold a trail of the figure eight. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the sabayon and gently fold in. Add the melted cooled chocolate mixture with the remaining finely chopped chocolate and the caramelised pecan nuts and continue folding gently until all the ingredients are just combined.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a deep-sided baking tin that is about 30cm (12in) x 23cm (9in) and at least 5cm (2in) deep and that has been lined non-stick parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the tin around and bake for another 10 minutes until the top is crusty but the centre is still a little soft.
If serving warm about 10 minutes before the end of the brownie cooking time make the fudge sauce. Place the cream in a pan with the sugar and butter and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes until thickened and beginning to become syrupy, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from catching. Remove from heat and leave to cool a little.
Meanwhile, place the chocolate for the sauce in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Whisk into the sauce until smooth and well combined. This is ready to serve warm or transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely, then cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed. It should keep happily for up to one week.
Remove the brownies from the oven and leave to cool slightly before lifting out of the tin with the parchment paper. If serving warm cut into portions or leave to cool completely and serve cut into portions when cold. To reheat the fudge sauce transfer to a pan and gently heat through, or pierce the clingfilm and heat in the microwave. Arrange the warm or cold brownies on plates with the hot fudge sauce and scoops of the ice cream or whipped cream to serve.