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Recipe: Christmas Comes Early

Before I introduce this variant on the BBC Good Food Best Brownie Ever Recipe (more details on the post where I made them into apple and cinnamon bars), I have to admit that I fucked them up slightly: oven temperature was too high, which meant the brownies cooked too fast on the outside and split on the top. On the other hand, given my trepidation concerning them cooking properly at all, I don’t think it went too badly.

Christmas Brownies

Wait, why the fuck am I making Christmas anything, it’s the middle of August?

  1. This never stops the bloody shops, as soon as the Back To School sales stop there will be Christmas shit in shops.
  2. I want to make sure I’ve got it right when the time comes to thrust these babies at alarmed friends who have had years and years of my voluble insistence that I will kill them with my cooking.

So, once again:

Christmas Brownies

I imagine when they don't crack you can also decorate them, if that's your bag.

I imagine when they don’t crack you can also decorate them, if that’s your bag.

(Serves 3, don’t be a greedy fucker)

Ingredients

  • 35g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 12.5g ground allspice (it’s more than you think)
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 62.5g salted butter
  • 75g cranberry jelly (this hides in the condiments aisle for some reason even though it is clearly jam)
  • 25g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, candied peel, etc)
  • 25g chopped glacé cherries (if you don’t like glacé cherries either double up the dried mixed fruits, substitute something similar, or have a long hard think about what’s wrong with your life and your choices, you weirdo).

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 180C. Not 185C as I apparently inadvertently did, which would be stupid.
  2. Throw sugar, butter, and cranberry jelly into a pan and melt them together while stirring.
  3. You should end up with goo. Turn off the heat and stir in the egg. Break the egg first otherwise this really will not work.
  4. Sieve the flour and ground allspice into the mixture and then stir it in persistently until the mixture is basically smooth and thick; this takes a bit more effort than with the apple bars for some reason.
  5. Wang in your dried fruit and cherries, stir them until they’re evenly distributed in the mix. Potentially hold some back and chuck ‘em on top later so they don’t all sink to the bottom like mine did? I dunno.
  6. Scrape your goo into 3 x ramekins or 2 x (ovenproof) mugs or a small tray, whatever you fancy, really. Put them on another tray, and put that tray in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove your Christmas whatsits, wait for them to stop being painfully hot, serve with custard or ice cream or brandy butter or whatever it is that counts as Christmas Accompaniment in your house.

Added bonus: these are nowhere near as calorific as the chocolate version so if you’re being bullied into Watching Your Waist by whoever, you can mark them down as 313 and not, like, 500.

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Recipe: Baking so simple even I can do it.

I would not go so far as to suggest that my cooking is legendarily bad; so far I’ve not killed anyone with my gumbo despite their fervent wishes and the other day I made soup. I did misspell “recipe” three different ways in the header, mind you, and I’ve never been able to master the arcane art of bakery until now, because anything that involves letting the thing I am cooking get out of my sight ends in crispy blackened disaster.

The “until now” part was generously provided by the BBC. The original recipe of best-ever chocolate brownies with raspberries (here) has been experimented with on this blog before, by the Resident Australian. This produced Far Too Many Brownies, which thanks to the inclusion of Paul A Young cocoa powder (I will happily shill for this company, everything they sell is amazing) and the unwise addition of salted caramel butter as a kind of icing, were entirely too rich for people to eat more than one. Tactical error: I hate food waste like leaky ceilings and whichever dick it is who likes to drive down my road playing Turkish pop music at deafening volumes out of their car window after 10pm.

Happily it turns out that maths.

I mean, it turns out you can reduce a recipe size with maths. I halved the recipe and halved it again (no more than that because I’m not in the game of trying to figure out how to halve an egg), and now instead of making two trays of brownies it makes 3 ramekins of brownies, effectively enough for three people. Which is exactly how many people there are in my house, and thanks to previous  consumption we have the required number of glass, oven-proof ramekins of exactly the right size. My advice is obviously to buy and consume some Gü rather than specifically buying ramekins, or just use an ordinary coffee mug and accept that you’re going to have two larger brownies instead. Kind of romantic!

Anyway, the quartered, romantic division of the recipe I linked to is as follows:

50g dark chocolate
25g milk chocolate
62.5g salted butter
100g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
35g plain flour
12.5g cocoa powder
50g raspberries

And then follow the same instructions as in the link.

Last night I decided to put a spin on this and made one batch of these:

I don’t normally put food on the windowsill, it’s just the only place that has any light at the moment.

For this I made three incredibly simple changes: switched out the amount of cocoa powder (12.5g) for ground cinnamon (everyone was convinced this was going to be too much but instead: bang on the correct amount); switched out the combined 75g of chocolate types for 75g of jelly-like apple sauce from a jar; and instead of 50g of raspberries I had 50g of chopped apple, which is just over a quarter of an apple and meant there was still a large amount of apple left to eat – I’d suggest that means if you’re making the full amount you still only need one apple.

Moderately concerned while I was making it that somehow the apple sauce in place of chocolate would prevent the brownie from becoming adequately cohered, but it worked out pretty much perfectly and smelled fantastic while it was cooking.

In case you’re too lazy to follow the link, the instructions are:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Melt sugar, butter, and chocolate or apple sauce (depending which version you want) in a pan together.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in your egg.
  4. Sieve in the flour and cocoa/cinnamon (depending), and stir them in until the mixture is like smooth goo. This should take less than a minute.
  5. Wang in your fruit, be it broken up raspberries or chopped apple bits or whatever really. Stir that shit in.
  6. Put the goo in the ramekins/tray/coffee cup/whatever you’re baking it in, stick that in the oven.
  7. 30 minutes later remove your excellent brownies and wait for them to cool enough that you can insert them into your face hole.

And this is why it’s so incredibly simple that even I can make it in my insultingly tiny kitchen at 9.30 at night while not entirely paying attention and still have enough brownies for my whole household to eat in bed. Next stop: gonna try and make a Christmas variation.

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Cordialgeddon

Witness the fruits of my labours.

Apparently I am the only person in Haringey who can correctly identify elderberries and understands that they are edible and in fact make a wicked purple cordial as well as a very syrupy wine, and also has the patience to strip half a tree while waiting for the bus, and then remove those fiddly little fucks from bunches and stew them.

I bought the Voss water because I liked the bottle, and it’s turned out useful.

Spiced Elderberry Cordial Syrup is the recipe I used, adjusted for quantity and what was available in my house (I put in cinnamon and cloves because my love for cinnamon bears no resemblance to reason). This involved turning my hands, one of my t-shirts, and a certain amount of the kitchen a vivid dark purple, and now I feel like my mother: the smell of stewed fruit is probably reminiscent of many people’s childhoods, but I do sort of wonder how common that really is in London.

(in an attempt to avoid editing and plotting/researching, we made brownies yesterday as well).

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February Links Post

Things my friends have done

Things I have done

Things strangers have done

  • Begun the process of reconstructing sounds from brainwaves, apparently. I cannot work out if this is cool, terrifying, or both.
  • Compiled a gorgeous selection of photographs of the most beautiful and innovative bookshops in the world. I am sad about the lack of representation of Hay-on-Wye, but deeply envious of some of the ones that are on the list. Portugal especially have apparently nailed “awesome bookshop”.
  • Interesting fellow on OKCupid showed me his music (this is not a euphemism), so naturally I am going to share it with the internet: Add Gray Fun. The two tracks I’ve listened to are sort of sparse and build tunes out of discord, which I’m very fond of as a feature in electronica. Professionally speaking I think they definitely need mixing & mastering – some work on the levels – and would personally have an annoying faff with reverb in places but overall I rather like it.
  • This fuzzy-haired scientist has an apparently supportable theory that cats make us bonkers. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all.
  • This Tumblr user is using police photo-fit software to try to recreate the faces of famous literary characters as described by their authors. What a fantastic concept!
  • Josie Long takes on UniLadMag and does so wonderfully.
  • When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite. Fascinating to me, and I do have a copy of a book with a title along the lines of “Same Sex Unions in Medieval Europe” waiting for me to finish reading the thousands of other books I’ve acquired and get around to it.
  • Written about The Invention of Heterosexuality, which examines how other areas of social change during the birth of psychiatry as a profession led to the creation of sexual identities connected to biological urges, and the value judgements that come with them.
  • People Like Me, a very depressing list of unfair treatment you can expect to receive if you’re viewed as being “unacceptably” fat.
  • A handy little interactive graph for women to use to determine which clothing size their measurements make them at any given clothing shop.
  • An Eight-Step Guide To Self-Editing Your Manuscript. On, completely unrelated, a very pretty blog.
  • Via that link, a useful website for determining how often you use particular words. I am cringing just imagining what would come up on mine.
  • And an io9 article about what the problem is with adverbs
  • As a confirmed over-emotional weenie about the city I live in who buys maps and cries every time she lands back at Heathrow and owns an embarrassing number of books of London photography, this post about London set to music is rather moving.
  • This fascinating blog over at Tiger Beatdown about how reality television and blogging have destroyed the ability of readers and viewers to appreciate the difference between performance and reality.
  • A very funny review of what sounds like a very awful movie (Splice).
  • In a rather timely coincidence, not long after I whined that I’d be more inclined to eat healthily if healthy food were more convenient, a friend of mine discovered COOK, who have made that leap for me.

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