26 January 2010

Edible Gifts

I approach books about edible gifts the same way I approach picnic books. I buy them not so much for the recipes as any food can be a gift or a picnic, or even a picnic gift; I buy them to see how they are packaged.

Edible Gifts by Kay Fairfax is one of those slim volumes beautifully produced by the British firm Ryland Peters & Small. Their niche is to produce beautifully photographed books on a very specific subjects. They produce a series of food books are beautiful and small additions to any library. The major complaint about these books is the comprehensiveness of the recipes. Most of the recipe books linger between 25 and 50 recipes. A lot of people complain that there are just too few recipes, but in a book that is looking at Edible Gifts, truly the magic is in the photos.

I have recently been talking to several people about brownies. It is one of those serendipitous events where everyone you talk to, seems to be talking about the same thing. There was the over-cooked brownies in the convection oven, the blondies conversation, the discussion as to whether those “brownie pans” on the television really work, and my question, “When are they going to make a brownie pan that has NO edge?” as I like the chewy middle.

Here are some brownies that everyone should like, edges and all.

170g butter
3 free range eggs
325g golden caster sugar
75g cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g plain flour, sifted
250g dark chocolate drops, or finely chopped if using a bar
150g nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)

Chocolate Cream

100ml double cream
125g dark chocolate drops, or finely chopped if using a bar

Cake tin, 28 x 18 x 1 cm, lined with baking parchment extending 5cm beyond the long ends.


1. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan

2. Put the eggs in a bowl, whisk lightly, then whisk in the sugar. stir in the melted butter, cocoa and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the flour, stir through the chocolate and the nuts if you are using them.

3. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake in a preheated oven (160c) for 25-30 mins. until just firm in the centre and still moist at the bottom.

Do not overcook the brownies, they are not meant to have the consistency of a cake and should be moist and gooey in the middle. They will dry out as they cool.

4. Remove from the oven and let stand, still in the tin, on a wire rack, until completely cool.

5. Using the overhanging paper, carefully lift the brownies out of the tin onto a flat board and peel off the paper. Dust with cocoa powder or cover with chocolate cream. Cut into squares.

Chocolate Cream

1. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat until; just simmering. Add the chocolate and stir till smooth and glossy. Cool in the fridge for about an hour till firm enough to spread over the brownies.

I’ll eat the middle if you eat the edges.

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