Sunday, 9 June 2013

recipe: cocoa & walnut brownies

After dinner on Friday I got the urge to bake. This was an urge arising from a combination of factors. Firstly I wanted a treat for with film night. Secondly was wifely guilt. When The Husband got in from work I'd shown him this blog post (not to read - I'm still too self-conscious for that) just to show him the pretty pictures I was proud of having inserted. He saw the picture of the cake and ran (honestly, actually ran) into the kitchen thinking I had baked it that day. So I suddenly felt like perhaps it would be nice to actually bake something for the two of us. Thirdly, I thought it might be good to blog about! Brownies were an obvious choice, quick and simple (or they would’ve been had I not developed the blogger's habit of step-by-step photography), perfect for a quick sweet treat, and destined to fill the house with the bewitching aroma of baking.

During a particularly hectic week recently, I was craving brownies, but had no chocolate in the house (which was possibly why I was craving brownies!). I then found that we had no eggs either - as I say it was a hectic week. I found this recipe and thought I would try it, but, as another commenter noted, although it was simple and the smell and texture was great, there was, to me, a noticeable aftertaste from the vegetable oil. They still got eaten (I'm not sure quite how bad a chocolate brownie would have to be for me to bin it) but I knew it wasn't a recipe I'd use again.

This time we had eggs, and walnuts, so Smitten Kitchen's recipe looked hopeful, and although I have reproduced it below, I didn't alter it at all, except to make double the quantity. It was a complete success, very straightforward - I did try the microwave technique with no problems, and as I say, had I forgone the photography these would have been in the oven within ten minutes. Even including stirring it forty times to incorporate the flour, which I diligently did, and found it quite therapeutic.

So that made a lot of brownies. Over forty I think. Of varying sizes, I am not a precise slicer. They weren't all for us, much to The Husband's disappointment, although we had plenty left. Some I took round to my mum and stepdad, with him eating two while I stood there chatting, and Mum texting me later to say how good they were when she had tried one too. Another batch were for Mum's neighbours who are having a rough couple of weeks and have family visiting. Some more were on offer when my friend visited on Saturday.

That's one of my favourite things about baking, and why I always make large batches. It’s easy enough to double up most recipes, and giving some unexpected goodies to let someone know you’ve been thinking of them is always a nice feeling, and generally makes people smile. So here is Smitten Kitchen's recipe, in quantities big enough to share far and wide, perfect for spreading some brownie based love.

Recipe adapted (very slightly) from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients (Makes 40-50 brownies)

280g unsalted butter
500g caster sugar
130g unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 medium eggs, cold
130g plain flour
150g walnut pieces


1.     Preheat oven to 180°C and grease baking tins (I used three – it depends how thick you like your brownies!)
2.     Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on full power in 15 second bursts – stirring each time until butter fully melted and ingredients combined.
3.     Add vanilla, then one egg at a time, stirring thoroughly after each one.
4.     When well-combined add flour, stir until it has disappeared, then stir well for 40 strokes (Smitten Kitchen’s magic hint!)
5.     Add nuts and stir well. Pour mix into baking tins and spread evenly.
6.     Bake in oven until an toothpick/knife inserted into centre emerges slightly moist – this took 30 minutes in my oven.
7.     Leave to cool, then transfer from tins to cutting board and cut into squares.

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