All those healthy crackers, oat cakes and cheese biscuits – well it had to happen! There just came a moment when it seemed stupid to ignore dreams of Indulgence ! It began in USA in the Deep South which is the home of sugar after all. I was standing in a large grocery store waiting in line as you do. Shopping in theses places is not for the faint-hearted – vegetables are well hidden behind rows of sodas, freezers, snack and confectionery in all colours of the rainbow. I’ve had several traumas in such places; the worst being the time I tried to buy a bottle of red wine.
‘Lady, do you realise you have a bottle of alcohol in your basket?’
‘Yes I do – I need it to make Boeuf Bourguignon’
‘You do understand this is the Lord’s Day and no alcohol can be sold’
‘Sorry, there was no notice and the bottle was on the shelf with all the others…..’ ( I choked down the smart responses about the Lord turning water into wine )- I was at a severe disadvantage here…
Ah never mind ! On a rather better day, I noticed a magazine called ‘Cookies. Of course US is also the home of the cookie – sugar laden, massive concoctions which most of us would see as cholesterol contaminators, heart attack hasteners. However the wait in line was long, the picture on the front was appealing and I was hungry. I put it in the basket. Flicking through the index I could see ‘Double chocolate chunk fudge brownies’, ‘Peanut butter and chocolate shortbread’, ‘Nutty butterscotch chocolate bars’ even ‘Potato chip cookies’ and many more from the ‘land of no restraint’ I was fascinated and hooked – surely I could convert these to UK measurements and provide delight, indulgence and maybe a little restraint without becoming too puritanical?
Here is one of my favourites.
Cappuccino Brownies with White Chocolate Topping
225g/8oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 large tsp cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
225g/8 oz castor sugar (demerara or white)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water (then cooled)
115g/4oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
55g/2oz unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp milk
175g/6oz sieved icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mk.4
Grease and line base of 28x18cm/11×7 inch shallow baking tin. (I use two 8″ square tins when I want to make two small batches.
The original recipe suggested tipping everything into the mixer bowl and letting it happen! As I am either a purist or a coward I do it the following way.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (it really does happen!)
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl
- beat the eggs with a fork
- Add spoonfuls of the flour mixture alternately with the beaten egg. Mix thoroughly each time until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the dissolved coffee and mix again
- Put the mixture in the prepared tin(s) and bake in pre-heated oven until risen and firm to the touch.
When the cake is cool – you can prepare the simple and so delicious topping.
Place the chocolate, butter and milk in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and add the sifted icing sugar. Beat until smooth and allow to cool down a little as it will be easier to handle.
Using one of those gorgeous and indispensable silicon spreaders – just smooth the white stuff over the cake. Once that is done, you are free to lick the spatula and the bowl (unless you have children in which case you might have to share!)
Take out your little shaker – add some cocoa powder and sprinkle it gently over the top to get a marbled effect. You can do this with a spoon – personally I am a bit too clumsy and end up with snowdrifts of cocoa – a shaker was a great investment.
Cut into squares or slices once the whole thing is cool.
As this makes a large quantity (most US recipes do for some reason – maybe they cook for the neighbourhood?) I often make the basic quantity and freeze half for another time. This may sound mean – but I have no will-power and a waistline to maintain. The cooked brownies also freeze well in the unlikely event you have any left.
There are more brownies coming this way – next on the list will be ‘Vanilla chocolate fudge bites’ The US magazine advises there are ‘so chocolatey and rich that it’s best to serve them in small bite-sized squares’ Wow!