Category Archives: Brownies and Slices

Damn the man (save the empire) brownies (with rye flour for virtuousness)

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For those days when the world feels against you.

Make these, eat a few, and the world will be somewhat restored. If nothing else, your friends and family will love you forever.

Damn the man (save the empire) brownies

Adapted from Poires au Chocolat, who adapted it from Paul A. Young

For the caramel:

150g light brown sugar

80g double cream

20g butter, unsalted

a generous pinch of salt, about 1/4 tsp (optional)

For the brownie:

100g unsalted butter

200g light brown sugar

75g golden syrup

4 eggs

210g dark chocolate (70%), roughly chopped

70g rye flour

30g cocoa powder

First, make the caramel. Place the sugar in a saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then increase the heat and boil until the sugar turns a dark golden colour and is quite thick. Because this recipe uses light brown sugar, do not use a sugar thermometer as by the time you reach caramel stage your sugar will be black. (It reaches somewhere between soft crack and hard crack stage when you need to remove it. I do this by smell and colour, catching it just before it turns.) Take the caramel off the heat and add the double cream. It will bubble violently. Stir, checking that you don’t have any pieces of sugar. (If you do, return to the heat and heat gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Alternatively, strain the end product.) Then add in the butter (and salt if using). Set aside to cool.

For the brownies, line a long, rectangular tin with parchment (mine is 28cm long) and preheat the oven to 170C. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan and melt over a low heat, stirring to ensure no sugar burns on the edges. Once everything is emulsified and the butter is melted, add in the dark chocolate and switch off the heat. Let this sit for a minute and then stir in the chocolate. If there are any pieces not melted, switch the heat back on very low and stir until everything has melted. Set this aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add these into your chocolate mixture, stirring until incorporated. Then fold in the rye flour and cocoa powder. Pour the mixture into the lined brownie tin and use a spatula to ease it into the corners. Pour the caramel all over the top, and then swirl this in.

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Bake until the mixture is glossy on top and set. This takes about 20 minutes. A knife inserted into the mixture will come out clean (any caramel on the knife is okay). If you shake the tin, it should wobble only ever so slightly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes. Transfer to the freezer and cool for a half hour. Turn the brownies out of the tin (I do this by pulling the parchment loose on either side and then sliding them out, face upwards) and slice into small squares. This makes approximately 36.

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Eat. (These keep well in the freezer, never really freezing solid and developing a fantastic texture that is silky smooth).

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And just in case you need to be reminded about Empire Records: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2-LdSfXo14  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC1Vfoq3PvU

x

 

Raspberry and White Chocolate Blondies

I’m sure this must happen to other people but I am always amazed at how quickly the year disappears. It seems I have blinked and missed the summer almost entirely. It felt so autumnal one morning this week that I started to panic. I changed the main page picture on the blog to reflect mid-summer raspberry making in an attempt to capture the last moments of sunshine (and because I was rather over those madeleines) but it made me wonder, where has the year gone? I realise quite a lot of it was spent at my desk, thinking and writing but even the last month, sans-PhD, has flown.

My mom was here visiting and that went past like a whirlwind and now it is nearly September and I am starting to prepare for a conference and wondering where? where did the time go?

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I realise this is a random introduction to a post on white chocolate blondies but it has been on my mind for a while now. If anyone has any ideas of how I can recover from the speed of this year, let me know. But in the meantime, I’m going to tell you about these blondies. I’m so officially obsessed with them that I got up early (early!) on my day off so I could tell you all about them. (Maybe that is the key to more time? Become an early riser? I am by nature a night owl but am always striving to get up early in the mornings, it is a quiet time of day that I like so much but rarely manage to see. I don’t know? Maybe?)

The key genius of this recipe is that you brown the butter. Yes, I know, we’ve talked about brown butter before but brown butter and slightly caramelised white chocolate is a thing of magic in a way I did not fully understand before. So you cook the butter until the milk solids have split out and started to sputter and fizz and then you just keep the pot on the stove, cooking away until the butter turns a lovely nut-brown colour and smells nutty. Then you add in half the white chocolate and allow it to sit in the butter whilst the butter cools and you assemble the rest of the batter. The resulting blondie is squidgy, fudgy, gloriously caramel in flavour with the odd white chocolate chip for additional sweet creaminess and raspberry for tartness. Make it now!

Raspberry White Chocolate Blondie
Adapted from Olive Magazine
200g butter, unsalted
150g white chocolate, chopped roughly
200g light brown sugar
100g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
100g buckwheat flour
100g rice flour
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a brownie tray with parchment – I use a tray that is 27cm x 20cm.

Place the butter in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the butter is brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat. Add in half the white chocolate and leave to cool.
Whisk the sugars and eggs together until slightly pale and thick.
In a separate bowl, place the flours and salt together. Add the vanilla into the egg mixture then fold in the flour.

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Pour the butter mixture into the batter and fold in. The batter is quite thick. Break the raspberries up a little with your hands and stir half into the batter.

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Pour the batter into your lined baking tin and scatter the rest of the raspberries and white chocolate on top.

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Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the blondie no longer wobbles at the centre and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool before slicing and eating.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies

Despite the plethora of brownie recipes on this site, there is no recipe for blondies. This is obviously an oversight on my part. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want a little sugar, white chocolate and syrup in a sticky square? Add in a tart raspberry and it’s like Christmas come months early. Or summer perhaps? (Given how I lost the fine-motor coordination in my fingers after my run this evening, I think that is a pipe dream. The run was necessitated by the consumption of three (yes, three) of these sweet, sticky more-ish squares this afternoon. And the need to do something that didn’t entail me sitting down at a desk. Getting out and about stretches muscles my body mostly choses to forget it has these days and reminds me I am not quite a vampire, yet. There is a blog post coming soon about the madness and embodiment of final-stage PhD writing up – and the endless consumption of Haribo starmix – but this is not it. It is Friday, after all.)

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These are super duper easy to put together. A melt-and-mix method that means you can have blondies in an hour. (Mostly because they take ages to bake.) I’ve made these wheat-free, for not other reason than I felt like it. Feel free to substitute all the flour and ground almonds for regular cake flour. But try this version too! I imagine these would work perfectly with an ice-cream, possibly raspberry ripple perhaps? As it starts to get warmer I begin to long for an ice-cream machine… Anyways.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies

150g unsalted butter
100g creamed honey
50g golden caster sugar
150g golden syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g white spelt flour
50g rice flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
100g white chocolate
1 cup raspberries (either fresh or frozen)

Line a square baking tin with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 170C.
Melt together the butter, honey, sugar, golden syrup and vanilla.

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Set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, mix together the spelt flour, rice flour, almonds and baking powder. Roughly chop the chocolate.

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Whisk the eggs into the syrup then fold in half the flour mixture. Put the white chocolate and raspberries into the remaining flour and mix lightly with your hands to coat.

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Fold this into the syrup mixture.

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Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes – until the cake is set and a skewer comes out clean. It may start to get quite dark on top halfway through so cover with foil if necessary (and you’re worried about it burning). Allow to cool in the tin for half an hour before turning onto a cutting board and slicing. Makes 16 pieces.

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Blueberry Almond Brownies

I wrote (or re-wrote I guess) the introductory chapter to my thesis this week. Given that I haven’t written the conclusion yet, this is probably pre-emptory and it is likely to change once the whole thesis is written and re-read but it felt like the right time to write it, in the scheme of things. I only have two chapters left to revise – the methods chapter and the conclusion – and somehow, this week, I had to write the introduction.

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Part of what happens in an introductory chapter of a PhD thesis is an autobiographical account of the researcher – how you came to the research, your history, how you ended up writing this particular thesis. I’ve had to think long and hard about how I ended up here – three and a half years in, writing a thesis on food experiences. As it happened, I re-read Food and the Self (de Solier, 2013) last week because part of the introductory chapter also includes a discussion on foodies. I realised that quite a lot of my identity and self-formation is tied to this blog and the production of food (both on this blog and in real life). Perhaps this is unsurprising to y’ll – as A- said to me recently, ‘you really do like to feed people, don’t you?’

De Solier found, amongst the foodies she interviewed, that production – that is, cooking and blogging – was just as important to their self-formation as consuming – that is, shopping and eating (both at home and in restaurants/cafes). I find that is the case with myself too. This space is important to me, to my sense of who I am and also of who I might be. I hadn’t realised quite how much importance the blog played in my identity until I started to read de Solier and think about my own personal narrative. It is also why writing my PhD has been so hard, because I have had to be critical about many of the things I believed to be good about food (things like food education, cooking, food gardening, eating well) – things I still believe to be valuable but which I now approach with a wider, more skeptical stance. This stance acknowledges differences in class, culture, race and gender much more than my previous (pre-PhD) self and is now incredibly wary of anyone who makes sweeping statements regarding the benefits of something (whether it be food-related or not).

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Quite how much I enjoy producing food (and cake in particular) became evident this week when I rejoined a professional kitchen. A- told me on Thursday that I looked very happy and I realised I was. I had just spent several hours making cake and cheesecake and brownies that people were going to buy and I felt an immense sense of personal satisfaction about the whole experience. It was odd because some small part of me has often tried to deny this about myself (possibly because it means I will never really have any money) – I really like feeding people – and this realisation is also reassuring in a way. After so many years of wondering who I am, I finally know – I am someone who makes cake. (Or, in the case of this post, brownies.)

These brownies have been all over the interwebs in the last few weeks. They’re from Claire Ptak’s new book, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, which is amazing. I read many cookbooks (and I own a possibly ridiculous number of them) but this is definitley one I am going to add to my collection. These brownies are fudgy and dense, fragrant with roasted almonds and every now and then (like a treasure) a sweet hit of blueberry. Claire describes them as being reminiscent of Cadbury’s fruit and nut and they are, but they are better.

Blueberry Almond Brownies
From The Violet Bakery Cookbook (although I originally saw this in The Guardian)

200g whole almonds
225g unsalted butter
375g dark chocolate (70%)
3 eggs
375g golden caster sugar
75g rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
75g dried blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a rectangular baking tray that is about 2cm deep.

Place the almonds on a baking tray and roast until fragrant – around 15 minutes.

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Melt the butter in a saucepan, remove from the heat, and add in the chocolate. Over a very low heat, and watching like a hawk, allow the chocolate to melt. When it is almost all melted, turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes – there should be enough heat to melt the remaining chocolate. (Claire recommends melting the butter/chocolate over a double boiler but I don’t have any bowls/saucepans that fit together well and so this is my method. You can also melt it in the microwave in 30 second bursts.)

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Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt together. Pour in the butter/chocolate mixture and fold together.

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Roughly chop the almonds and then add those and the blueberries into the chocolate mixture.

Pour into the baking tray and spread the mixture right to the edges.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes. The original recipe said 25 – until the brownie is set around the edges and wobbles at the centre. My oven is hotter than most and so this only took 22 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour. Then place in the freezer to firm up for another hour. Slice into pieces and serve. These make really good Friday breakfasts.

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References:
De Solier, I., 2013. Food and the Self, London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

A while ago, David Lebovitz blogged about these brownies. Then I bought a book called The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, which is an excellent little tome, all about the history of American baked goods – like why Boston cream pie is called a pie when it is clearly a cake – and it included this recipe. Then I made brownies from Tea with Bea and I was so disappointed with them (far too much going on there for me – the Princess thinks they’re amazing) that I found myself longing for a simple brownie. One without bells and whistles on. This is that brownie.

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I had to take dessert to a braai this evening and between myself and another tutor the options were cheesecake or brownies. She chose the cheesecake so I made these. (I was going to take the Tea with Bea ones but decided against it. They’re best when frozen and therefore too complicated to serve when you have no control. Also, the Princess is slowly making her way through them so I figured no loss making others.) I was surprised by the lack of chocolate and other general ingredients in the recipe. But it makes 16 portions when cooked in a square cake tin and the brownies are dense and chewy, filled to bursting with walnuts. It’s a one pot mixing affair which I love! I converted the measurements from their American designation. I also used golden caster sugar (because it is my default and I don’t particularly understand the notion of ‘sugar’ as it seems every recipe I read these days is very specific). I also used 70% dark chocolate and not the unsweetened variety called for here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen unsweetened chocolate for sale anywhere. I shall look when I’m in Chicago in three (!!!!) weeks.

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

Adapted from The Secret Lives of Baked Goods

Makes 16

1/4 cup plain flour

pinch of salt

60g dark chocolate

115g unsalted butter

1 cup golden caster sugar

2 eggs

teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a square 21cm tin with baking paper. Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan on a low heat, stirring to prevent the chocolate from burning.

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Once the mixture is smooth, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar. The mixture will look like it’s split but do not despair.

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Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then fold in the flour and salt. Lastly fold in the walnuts. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35 minutes, until the brownies are risen and shiny and a skewer inserted comes out mostly clean.

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Cool in the tin on a wire rack completely before slicing.

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Caramel Brownies

I am going away on Wednesday. Home, to be precise. For the first time in a year. To say I am excited is to underestimate my capacity for excitedness. I have a day of fieldwork and focus groups tomorrow and then I will be free, for three whole weeks. Of course I mean this in a PhD-free kind of way which means that there are books and transcriptions going with me as I cannot actually not work for three whole weeks. But I will be working in the sun. And there might be a thunderstorm. And there will be steak. And wine with bubbles. And friends.

But first there are these brownies. I know. This blog has at least four brownie recipes on it – and at least two other caramel brownie recipes. If you think a fifth is too many, I apologise and we can part ways now. But if you choose to stay, you will not be disappointed. These brownies are epic. Bitter, truffley, chocolateness rounded out with a salted caramel finish.

And they’re wheat-free. You see, the other thing I’ve been doing in the last few weeks of silence is not eating wheat. There. I said it. I feel like a traitor. This blog, after all, is about the good things in life. But I’ve decided to do an experiment and go wheat-free for a month. I want to see where I end up. The good news is that I still feel compelled to eat chocolate brownies. We’re not going all salads and vegetables on this blog. I’m just adapting things. And experimenting. So, about these caramel brownies.

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This recipe is adapted from one on Poires au Chocolat, a blog I read fairly regularly. It’s entertaining and the recipes always look like something out of a shop. Emma’s recipe has regular flour in it though so I experimented with ground almonds and spelt flour and have ended up with truffle-like brownies, almost bitter from chocolate but cut through with the sweetness of the caramel. (Although there’s a bitterness to my caramel too because I took it quite far along the caramel stage…) One is enough but there is the temptation of a second. The texture is just insane.

Caramel Brownies

Adapted from Poires au Chocolat

For the caramel:

75g golden caster sugar

60g double cream

10g unsalted butter

1/8tsp sea salt

For the brownies:

100g butter, unsalted

200g golden caster sugar

50g dark brown sugar

275g dark chocolate, 70%

4 eggs

40g ground almonds

30g refined spelt flour

Make the caramel first by placing the golden caster sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. (I use golden caster sugar because that is what I have in stock but beware, it reaches caramel stage faster than ordinary caster sugar). Heat, without interfering, until the sugar starts to caramelize around the edges, then swirl the pan to distribute the melting sugar. Continue to swirl as the sugar darkens and cook until it’s a deep golden colour. Take it off the heat and pour in the cream. Stir and return to the heat if necessary to combine and melt the last of the sugar. Add in the butter and lastly sprinkle on the sea salt. Leave to one side to cool.

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Preheat the oven to 160C. Melt the butter, sugars, and golden syrup together until the sugars have dissolved and everything is combined.

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Chop the chocolate roughly and add in to the mixture, off the heat. Leave to sit for a few minutes before stirring. Beat the eggs lightly and then beat into the mixture. Lastly fold in the ground almonds and spelt flour, be careful not to over-mix as there is a risk the mixture will split. Pour this into a lined baking tin (either square or rectangular will do). Pour the caramel over the brownie mixture.

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Use a knife to swirl the caramel mixture into the brownie mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes. You want the mixture to be set, so it wobbles like a custard or chocolate tart. If you over-bake it you’ll lose the truffle-like texture. A knife inserted won’t come out clean. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin and then place them in the freezer overnight.

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The brownies will be risen when you take them from the oven but will sink back down once cooled and will pull away from the sides of the tin and shrink slightly in the freezer. Allow to thaw slightly before slicing into squares. Store them in the freezer, individually wrapped in baking paper and clingfilm. Allow them to thaw for about 15 minutes before eating.

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Spice Brownies

I am supposed to be writing. Perhaps you can tell? I am supposed to be writing field notes. I went back into the field yesterday. I sort of feel that another week off would sort me out and then I’d be full of energy but sadly, the school system here disagrees and so I got up yesterday at 6am to go and find out about food in my new school. The school is awesome and I had a really good, if overwhelming first day, but when I got home I found I couldn’t write anything. I made a whole lot of notes whilst I was in the field, surreptitiously writing during breaks, around the corner and in the staff room (which is strangely mostly empty) but when I got home I found that I couldn’t put finger to key board. So I didn’t write anything last night and now this evening I’m supposed to be writing an account and I just have a total block against it. So I made these brownies instead – at least my procrastinating results in edible food products. It doesn’t help that Word has decided to go on the blink and although I’ve now managed a good thousand words, the document just won’t open so for the moment, I can’t write any more. So I’m going to tell you about these brownies and hope that the computer starts to cooperate later.

These brownies are adapted from Baked Elements, which I’ve mentioned here and here. I had a sudden craving for very dark chocolate brownies and these are made with chilli powder which adds a kick of spice that gets you at the back of your throat right at the end. They’re dark, dense and totally addictive. I made only half the recipe as I wasn’t sure about the chilli. I also changed the sugars to suit what I had in the cupboard. I ended up putting the brownies into the fridge to firm up slightly and the result is a squidgy, soft texture. They’d be rather good, I think, as a dessert at the end of a dinner party, possibly served with just vanilla ice-cream.

Spice Brownies
Adapted from Baked Elements
1/2 + 1/8 cups plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp ancho chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
130g dark chocolate
35g milk chocolate
115g unsalted butter
1/2+1/4 cups golden caster sugar
1/4 cup golden granulated sugar
2 1/2 eggs
Makes 16 small squares

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a square baking tin with parchment paper. I halved my usual tin using a foil barrier which worked fairly well.
Combine the flour, cocoa, chilli powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter and chocolates together – you can do this in a microwave (I did) or over a double boiler. Whichever you choose, make sure the mixture doesn’t get too hot. To do this successfully in the microwave, buzz the mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring and giving it time to cool in between. Whisk the sugars into this mixture, followed by the eggs. Try not to over combine things. Stop mixing when it’s all come together.

Mix the flour into the chocolate mixture. The book advises not to over-mix this either and recommends leaving some of the flour not entirely mixed in. The mixture obviously splits easily which is why you can’t mix it too much.

Pour the mixture into your baking tin, smooth it out with a spatula and bake for about 30 minutes.
The brownies are done when the mixture is risen slightly and a skewer inserted brings out a few dry crumbs. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Now I shall return to field note writing.