Oh, Spring you tease, you temptress. You lift your hem and reveal your creamy white flesh only to cover yourself as quickly as you flashed us. The weekend before last we were given a hint of what we hoped would continue but only a day or two later we were plunged back into arctic temperatures again. Well, arctic might be a bit of a stretch... you'll get used to my exaggerations.
In my opinion, there's only one thing to do when the drenching rain and fierce cold keep you inside - bake. The oven warms the kitchen efficiently and the aroma is enough to lift anyone's spirits. Not so long ago I would have ducked to the shops when I fancied a sweet treat. Now, in my effort to get back to basics, I bake them myself. Not only is the process enjoyable and the finished product satisfying, you also know exactly what you're putting into your body.
These double chocolate and pecan brownies are as good as any I've had from a bakery (if I do say so myself). They're moist while retaining the most amazing texture through the chunks of dark chocolate and the roughly chopped pecans. They're super easy and quick to make too.
180 g unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
few drops of vanilla bean extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100 g plain flour, sifted (if you can be bothered - I rarely can)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
100 g dark chocolate, very roughly chopped
100 g pecans, roughly chopped
pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C before lining a 20 cm x 30 cm tin with baking paper. The baking paper will keep the whole divine slab together when you're ready to slice into squares. Mix butter and cocoa in a large bowl, then add sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients (told you it was easy) remembering not to chop the pecans and chocolate too finely. This is especially important for the chocolate as you want the chunks to hold their shape while cooking, providing you with a glorious bitter-sweetness as you bite into the brownie. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes (this will give you a firm brownie on the outside while retaining a lovely, gooey consistency in the middle).
If you can, allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares. While you may think a warm brownie is a thing to die for, I promise you, you'll get the full flavour and texture desired once the brownies have cooled. Oh, and be prepared to moan out loud when you eat them. It's an unavoidable reaction.
As it happens, it's a beautiful day on the farm today, but Oliver and I have been struck down by a stomach virus and are unable to enjoy it - thank you Sod's law. The sun shines through our living-room window mockingly. A grey and drizzly day would suit our moods better and it kills us to be at home and unable to get out into the garden. As such, I'll keep this post brief and tell you all about our spring planting next week.
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