In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, add the sugars, and stir well to combine. Turn the heat off, and leave the mixture to cool for 10 or so minutes. The mixture can’t be too hot or it will cook the eggs in the next step.
Add the butter sugar mixture to your kitchen mixer and use the whisk attachment. Start the motor and, while beating on a medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Leave the mixture to beat on a medium speed for 10 minutes. This will help create the meringue-like crackly top we covet.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 24cm x 24cm square baking pan. I like to put a bit of butter or oil in the bottom so the paper doesn’t slide around.
While the mixture is beating, melt the chocolate using a double boiler. As a refresher, a double boiler is a steel bowl placed over a small saucepan of water on a medium heat. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, or it might overcook the chocolate.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder with the espresso and hot water. Add the vanilla bean paste and salt, and mix thoroughly until a runny paste forms.
Once the chocolate has melted, gently stir in the bloomed cocoa mixture. Mix until just combined – it will begin to stiffen, so don’t stir more than necessary.
Turn the motor off on the kitchen stand, and add the chocolate mixture to the bowl. Mix on a low speed until just combined. The mixture should be silky, smooth and medium brown in colour.
Add the almond meal to the brownie batter, and stir until just combined. The mixture contains beaten egg whites, so stirring more than necessary will knock them out and create less of a shiny, meringue top. Once combined, pour the mixture into the pre-prepared pan, and place the brownies into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Allow to cool before slicing, and for best, most delicious results, allow to cool completely before eating. Brownies are best made the night before – see the introduction for links and tips.
I like to sprinkle my brownies with a little extra sea salt, but you do you.