Friday, 18 March 2011

Bake off with Chocolate Brownies

Prize winning Chocolate Brownies

This week’s Blog writer is Grandma Abson’s great granddaughter, who is keeping up the family tradition of home baking.  She writes :

With the revival of home baking, it’s becoming more popular to make rather than buy cakes. Our team at work has followed suit and we have a regular ‘bake off’. Whilst it’s all in the name of fun, the competitive ones amongst us take it very seriously. We even have a spreadsheet to track the scores each person has been awarded. Each participant is marked on taste, creativity and presentation. This week it was my turn and I decided on Chocolate Brownies (after giving up on my quest to cut out Chocolate for Lent after 2 days – whoops!). I used a recipe adapted from a great book called ‘In the Mood for Food’ by Jo Pratt The Brownies were just the thing to curb the Monday blues. Final scores are not yet in but so far looking good! Here’s the quick and easy recipe.

Chocolate, Cherry and Walnut Brownies
200g butter
200g dark chocolate (chopped)
3 large eggs
300g granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g plain flour
a pinch of salt
100g dried cherries
100g walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30 cms rectangular baking tin with greaseproof or parchment paper. Melt the butter and chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave. With an electric hand whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until they are lovely and thick and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter. Finally stir in the flour, salt, cherries and walnuts. Pour into the baking tin and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is cracking and the centre is just set. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm or, if you can resist leaving them, cold.    

Extra tips: 
  • Substitute cranberries and pecans or apricots and almond flakes. 
  • Add 2 tablespoonfuls apricot or raspberry jam to the mixture in the tin and swirl it round before putting in the oven to bake
  • Add white and milk chocolate chunks to the mixture if you are a hard core chocoholic.
  • If you prefer plain Brownies or are allergic to nuts, just leave out the fruit and nuts.
Meryl says : Make sure you don’t overcook them. Grandma Abson would have used a cake skewer to test if they are ready. But this time, rather than coming out clean as when testing cakes, the skewer should have a gooey mixture attached to it. Brownies should be firm to the touch but still a bit like the texture of fudge. They will set once they are cool. Chocolate Brownies will keep for about 3 or 4 days but it would be amazing if you still had any left by then! And finally ...thanks to this week’s guest writer.
Chocolate Brownies for Easter chicks

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