Wednesday, December 15
Festive Cranberry & White Chocolate Brownie of fabulousness....
Mr PK has many wonderful qualities, indeed there have been occasions when I'm convinced his saintliness deserves a big up from Rome at least. But every so often he drops clangers like "maybe you could whip me up some mince pies for work morning tea?" This uttered to his much less saintly wife as she wrestled a newly free of cat vomit king sized duvet cover back onto the bed in 30 degrees with ambient humidity of about 98 percent. Every Aucklander will be nodding as they read this, not too vigorously lest they get sweaty drops on the keyboard........
The reply "pastry in this heat, are you freakin kidding me?????" was perhaps a tad harsh, but it did get me thinking. It is nice to acknowledge work colleagues, friends etc with something homemade, but not everyone finds baking easy, and even I find jam and preserve making in this weather a bit of a challenge.
The answer? A brownie, full of festive tangy cranberries, rich dark chocolate , and white chocolate bits. These require no fancy baking equipment bar a wooden spoon and small sauce whisk . At a push you could use a fork. Melt, whisk, stir, pour, bake. ANYONE can make these, and they are divine.
I know that sounds ott, but believe me. We attended Christmas drinks recently at our old neighbours house. One of the guests commented he remembered me bringing the most amazing brownies to Marc and Anna's old place (and had I brought some this time??). I could tell it was a while as he had an additional child since the last time I saw him. I chose to be flattered he enjoyed my baking....even if my conversation isn't that memorable.......
Festive Brownies of Fabulousness
200 grams dark chocolate - I use Whittaker's 70% dark
200 grams unsalted butter
250 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
125 grams plain flour
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180C
Melt together the butter and chocolate over a very gentle heat, and add the pinch of salt. Often recipes call for a double boiler to melt chocolate, I don't bother, instead using a heavy cast iron saucepan and low heat. But if you prefer to use a double boiler go ahead.
When the chocolate and butter are melted together take off the heat. Let cool for a couple of minutes while you beat together the eggs & sugar with the vanilla paste. You are simply beating to combine, so a small whisk or even a fork is fine, just make sure all the egg and sugar are well mixed together.
Pour the whole lot into the chocolate butter mix and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the flour and cocoa, I do this by holding a whisk over the saucepan and tipping in the flour & cocoa, then shaking it into the pan. Mix with your spoon until no bits of flour can be seen, and there are no lumps.
Stir in your cranberries & white chocolate chips, the pour the whole lot into a greased cake/brownie tin, lined with parchment paper. I have doubled this mix before and cooked it in a roasting tin also if you are feeding a crowd.
Bake for about 30 mins, depending on your oven. What you are aiming for is a slightly dry cracked top, but still a bit wet in the middle, so if you put your knife into the centre you will have a wee bit of wet mix on it. This will set up as the brownie cools, but still stay slightly moist. This is a good brownie.
Add variations at will, walnuts are fab, as are fresh raspberries, but be careful with nuts if you are sending a batch off to eaters unknown. Making an allergic colleague violently ill probably isn't conducive to good workplace relations, and it certainly isn't in the spirit of Christmas........
The icing sugar sprinkled on top isn't essential, but along with fresh berries it makes the whole plate look really pretty, and takes all of two minutes to achieve. No icing, rolling, piping or anything else, easy.