The Random Recipes challenge this month is ‘Random Birthday Number’ where we use our birthday to choose the matching book on the shelf and select a recipe to make. Seems simple enough but the Random Gods have not always been kind to me. This time though, World’s Collided and I was able to combine a pre-planned activity with a random activity! But more on this in a moment…
My birthday is on the 13th so I followed the instructions that Dom from Belleau Kitchen provided and pulled out ‘marie claire food + drink’. I love this book and remember when I bought it I also bought a copy for my brother. Although we live 1000km from one another, over time we have realised that we like many of the same recipes. This is a great book for entertaining, with sections on ‘morning’, ‘grazing’, ‘afternoon tea’, cocktail hour’ (yeah baby!) and ‘after dark’. Published in 2001, it was quite a revolutionary concept to have small sharing plates and all day grazing. This is something that Australia has really grown into and it makes sense given our great weather and outdoor lifestyle. Flicking through, it’s starting to look a bit dated like a ‘Women’s Weekly Cookbook’ but it’s not quite out of regular circulation just yet.
The Worlds that Collided were Random Recipes and the 2013 Variety Bash. For readers in the northern hemisphere, let me explain….Variety Clubs of Australia is a children’s charity who run a ‘bash’ in most states of Australia every year. People pay to join the event (all money to the charity) so they can hair around the countryside in ridiculous outfits and ancient cars that must be at least 30 years old, seeing the sights, annoying the locals and pestering the wildlife as they raise even more money for Variety. It’s called a ‘bash’ as when you go to the outback and push your car to the limits of endurance, that’s called ‘bush bashing’. Why am I telling you all of this? Because my friends Sam and Kirsty have a beaten up old ambulance that they are entering. In an effort to raise the $8000 entry fee, Sam and I ran an ‘Alice in WonderVan‘ cake stall at work.
Thankfully, I was able to select a Chocolate Brownie from marie claire food + drink, to contribute to the stall. This is a very easy recipe and highly adaptable, as you will see from my notes. The brownie does not rise much as there is no SR flour or baking agent but it is chewy with a slightly crisp top.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 125g dark chocolate
- 4 eggs
- 300g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
- 60g roughly ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
- optional – 1 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
- Melt butter and chocolate gently in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy and all sugar is dissolved. It may seem like a lot of sugar but this is what helps to give the brownie its crust.
- When chocolate is cooled, add to eggs and mix well.
- Fold in sifted flour and cocoa, add hazelnut meal and chopped nuts if using.
- Do not over mix, fold until just combined.
- Pour into a greased 20 x 30cm baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Place in oven pre-heated to 180c and bake for 25 minutes or until the edge begin to pull away from the baking tin.
- DO NOT overcook. The top of the brownie will have a faintly cracked, almost meringue like crust. It may not appear cooked but as long as a cake tester comes out clean, it is ready. The brownie will continue to cook as it cools in the tin – we are after moist and chewy, not dry and crumbly!
- Allow to cool in the tin, cut into small squares and dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder
I was on a roll with these so I adapted them in a few different ways:
Chilli Choc Brownie
Adding chilli to the chocolate brownie gives it a fruity dimension and a kick. You’ll need decide exactly how much chilli to add based on your tastes and the strength of the chilli. Below is my suggestion
- Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of chilli paste to the butter and chocolate as it is melting (fat carries flavour)
- Add 1 – 2 pinches of chilli powder and cinnamon to the flour
- Optional – add 1 tablespoon of Ras el Hanout to the flour
- Adding the above three ingredients gives depth to the chilli flavour, using a variety of flavourings
- Prepare as above
A blondie is a pale brownie. Recipes often use white caster sugar to keep them as pale as possible but I think it’s nice to have some colour. They’re blondies, not ghosties!
- Replace dark chocolate with white chocolate
- Reduce butter by 25g (making it 100g) – there is a higher fat content in the white chocolate hence less butter
- Replace caster sugar with soft brown sugar
- Omit cocoa powder & replace with 1/4 cup extra plain flour
- Optional – add 1 cup chopped macadamias
- Prepare as above – these brownies may need a few more minutes as they are moister
We raised $250 towards the entry fee but they have a long, long way to go. Next year, the Queensland Bash is the XXX ‘Sun, Saddles & Surf’ from Emerald to Mission Beach via the Mt Isa Rodeo. If you would like to donate to Alice in WonderVan, they sure can do with your contribution. Please click on this link!
I love it When Worlds Collide.