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Create Food 1: Life enhancing Brownies

Brownies 2

Creating food is one of life’s great pleasures. I don’t mean the kind of drudgery cooking involved in churning out family meals in a rush. I mean the leisurely puttering around the kitchen in free time that results in fragrant smells, warmth and treats to eat.  I mean the combining of ingredients that keeps your hands busy and allows your mind to empty of planning and worry. I mean the licking of sweet mixture off fingers, the therapeutic chop,chop,chop of knife through aubergine, the rising sizzle-smell of frying spices.

I like to create food that can be shared. I like ethnic cookbooks which blend into travelogue. I like buying kitchen gadgets on holiday so every use of a measuring cup can transport me back to San Fransisco.   And now I’d like to write about these experiences in a new monthly feature.

Here’s the thing about home baking.  Its easy. Its quick. Its cheap. Unless you want to make it tricky, timeconsuming and decorate with layers of gold leaf and saffron. Yet, everytime I take the simplest of creations to work to give away, people marvel at how fresh, how tasty, how good cakes taste when they are not from a shop. But they never make their own. I’ve never fathomed that out.

So, if you are not a baker I challenge you to try. and there is no better place to start than with chocolate brownies.

If you are a baker, I bet you have a brownie recipe. Several probably.  This is the one where, when you offer one to a friend they smile and accept. Then they put it in their mouth and their eyes go wide and they reach for another one while they are still chewing their first mouthful.

If you are a good friend you will let them have as many as they can eat and an extra wrapped to go home and you will never, ever disclose the fact you put no less than three different sugars in there. Not counting the chocolate. They don’t need to know anything that might induce guilt.  I am not saying this is a daily food for healthy eating. I am saying it is a staple for spreading joy every now and again.

Of course, I have to mess about with the original recipe as posted below.  I like to add extra flavour to the existing gorgeousness by using Black and Green’s Maya Gold chocolate which adds a hint of orange and spices. I rarely remember to stock actual cocoa powder. Purists cooks will howl in rage at this but… Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate Powder works beautufully as a substitute.

100g / 3 1/2 oz unsalted butter

175g / 6oz caster sugar

75g / 2 3/4 dark muscovado sugar

125g / 41/2 oz dark chocolate

1 tbsp golden syrup

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

100g / 3 1/2 oz plain flour

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder


1. Grease and line a 20cm / 8 inch square cake tin.

2. Heat the butter, sugars, chocolate and syrup in a heavy based saucepan and stir until the mix is well blended and smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

3. Beat together the eggs and vanilla essence. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mix.

4. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold int the egg and chcolate mix using a metal spoon.

5. Spoon the mixture int the tin Bake for 25 mins at 180 C / 350  F / Gas Mark 4 until the top is crisp and the edge of the cake shrinks from the tin. The inside of thecake is still soft and stodgy.

6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before cutting into slices.

From Practical Chocolate Cooking

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gwyned #

    My mother-in-law passed on her apple pie skills to my husband and he to our daughter. My mother, a lousy cook and worse baker, did inherit an ability with Christmas cookies, that I have carried on, for years baking over 100 dozen cookies to give as gifts and serve throughout the holidays. Just a whiff of cinnamon or butter mixed with almond extract transports me to simpler times. Butter, sugar, spices – licking the bowl – eating a cookie still warm from the oven – Yum!

    November 14, 2012
  2. Linda Bilsborrow #

    I’ve never been able to separate out the necessary cooking from the pleasurable variety. Though i know pleasure when I eat it – and these Brownies define pleasure, thanks for sharing the recipe!

    November 14, 2012

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