Can you say “no” to a brownie ?

Almost everyone seems to like brownies, and almost everyone seems to have a recipe for them…from children’s cookbooks to real “cheffy type” writers, they all at some point seem to give a recipe for these soft squishy little chocolate cakes.


I’ve been longing to do a taste comparison, or rather a quest for the best, and an evaluation of the rest!  But since brownies are not exactly diet food, unless perhaps you are in training to be a sumo wrestle, it’s hard to justify having more than one batch at a time in the house. I can’t justify it on cheering myself up grounds either, as I’m never going to have that much chocolate in the house in one go, and baking away the blues never entails (for me) making more than one cake or batch of cakes. Finally it doesn’t fall into the category of “budget” cookery. Chocolate is a luxury ingredient except when you are using up odds and ends of bars, or you are using coco powder.


Fortunately we are coming up to Christmas and I have quite a few “thank yous” to make to people who have made the last few months bearable. Chief amongst these being the lovely Mrs Zee who has battled with HR to make sure I get paid correctly.


So between now and the 25th December I aim to make at least 10 batches of brownies for sharing with friends, family and at times complete strangers.

The first batch despite my concerns has seen to go down quite well with my work colleagues. They agreed that they were different to brownies made with chocolate, but were nice all the same !



Leftover Chocolate Cake

“Appetite for Cake” is a title borrowed from a chapter in Appetite by Nigel Slater, a book championing escaping from the tyranny of recipe following. The chocolate and hazelnut cake mentioned there is the perfect cake for baking away the blues.

Because I can’t predict in advance when I’m going to feel down and because there is not a lot else I can save money on in my life at the moment, when I bake a cake it often has to be “pot luck” using up whatever is in the cupboard. Nigel’s cake is known in our house as “Leftover Chocolate Cake” because I make it with whatever chocolate I have to hand, including from time to time cadbury’s chocolate buttons!

I have made it at least twice to cheer myself up. The first time was in July. Can’t remember why, but I needed to bake and I needed to taste just one slightly warm slice of Nuttychocolate comfort…if it hadn’t been for the need to bake I’d probably have settled for Nuttella on toast…I left the rest of the cake on the Flapjack Queen’s doorstep, which very briefly made her the envy of friends as they all wished they had a cake fairy.This version had a mix of hazelnuts and almonds chopped roughly and a measure of rye flour as I didn’t have sufficient plain flour.

Second time I made it, the Teenager was staying over. He liked it so much that he asked for the recipe as it reminded him of a snickers bar. This variation was with milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate and some chocolate gingers that have been in the fridge since Christmas plus fair trade mixed nuts donated by the Flapjack Queen who had spotted the blues descending on me. A variation on the recipe is here . According to Appetite it started life as a wholewheat nut and chocolate cake from a recipe by Tamsin Day-Lewis.

It is a rich comforting hug of a cake, especially nice warm and can be varied endlessly depending on the contents of the cupboard, your mood or the nature of the blues. It is a wonderfully forgiving cake too, it doesn’t matter if your ingredient’s are not the freshest (my Rye flour has a 2006 date on the bottom) but nuts must not be rancid, as it’s not that forgiving a cake!

In honour of this cake I almost called these pages “Definitely contains nuts…”