I’m getting the summer itch already.. can’t wait for the sun to come out and bring the bright colours with it
Jessica Biel is a girl after my own heart. Not only does she make me nostalgic for the days when 7th Heaven was the height of kids entertainment, she also seems nice and like she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
I like the fact that she lets Justin Timberlake pick her red-carpet clothes. It might be weird and anti-feminist if he put her in a burka or something, but he is very good at it. Good to know he can become a lady-stylist if all of his other seventy five careers simultaneously implode.
Back to Jessica: I love her Sundance outfits and she’s still got one of the best, shiniest ombre hairdo’s going. Heart.
Clever girls that she is, she has made bundles of cards with pretty watercolour designs and recycled brown kraft envelopes (eco-friendly) and set up her own etsy shop to sell them, all in her spare time while studying a course that I can barely pronounce at Yale. Sisterly bias and general liking her aside, I think they’re brilliant.
Allison Williams is on the cover of this months Company UK, capitalising on the success of HBO’s ‘Girls’, as well she might. After two Golden Globe wins the Girls are everywhere, and according to the interview Allison is also enjoying her moment as fashion’s newest ‘darling’. It would be so very easy to hate her in girl-envy, but I choose to love her instead. She’s amaze-balls.
I am interrupting all the prettiness to bring you some unsolicited chocolatiness. I am sure that many people have made New Year’s Resolutions to eat more brownies in 2013.
The recipe I use for these brownies has been around forever – it originally came from a super-cute children’s cookbook with illustrations of teeny tiny people cooking: the mini cartoon cooks wore little chef-hats and used regular-size utensils so the wooden spoon was around twice as tall as them. What a hoot.
Anyway, my sister used to make these in my formative years and so obviously I think that this is exactly what a brownie should be like. They come out fudgy on the bottom and crinkly on top. I have noticed in many other recipes for brownies, the ratio of chocolate to other ingredients tends to be much higher than it is here but I prefer this less densely chocolatey taste where you can taste the caramelized-buttery-sugariness cut through. However, you should notice from the above that I am completely biased so you should probably have a crack at them and see for yourself. I have made these so many times now that I kind of do it on auto-pilot so the below is what the recipe has evolved into over time. I can’t find the cute little book to confirm it.
This recipe is very flexible – you can change the flavourings (eg. peppermint essence or orange zest instead of vanilla), or add in chunks (white chocolate, walnuts or bits of fruit). One thing to be careful of is the texture, in case the chunks you add in go too gloopy when they are cooked. For example, I love making these with whole raspberries but it makes them super-gooey so, if you want to cut your brownies up and transport them neatly, cutting the raspberries up small first makes them less squelshy.
100g (3.5 oz) chocolate
113g (4 oz or 1 stick) butter
200g (7oz or 1 cup) brown sugar (I use white when I don’t have brown and the brownies turn out fine – just a little less fudgy)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g (3.5 oz or 5/6 cup) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt*
Handful walnuts, chopped
My other favourite flavours / stir-ins (leave out walnuts / vanilla and instead add…..)
Handful of raspberries
Half handful each chopped pistachios and white chocolate
Lime or grapefruit zest and a handful of chopped strawberries
Peppermint essence and a few crumbled candy canes
Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line an 11″ x 7″ with parchment or foil.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave (in a microwavable bowl for 2 minutes on high) or in an old-fashioned double-boiler.
Mix in sugar with a wooden spoon until fully combined and then mix in the eggs. The eggs will need a good bit of mixing to make sure you have no yucky egg lumps. Add in the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined, then stir in the vanilla and salt (or any other flavourings you want to use) and any additional chunks you’re using.
Pour into prepared baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking once they get to twenty minutes. There is nothing sadder than an over-baked brownie. You want to see the edges going a bit crinkly before you take it out but the middle should still be fudgy – it will solidify a bit as it cools.
*If you’re using flaky salt, mix this in with the eggs to dissolve it before adding to other ingredients so that it mixes through the batter evenly.