As the title of this post suggests this was not a planned piece of baking. I found myself sat on the sofa on Wednesday evening with little more than a couple hours of TV watching or general lounging in my near future. With my dinner requiring me only having to cook some sausages I did not even have much to do in that regard, then all of a sudden the urge to make something sweet took me. Now I am not much of a dessert or baked goods cook, not because I don’t have a sweet tooth because I really do, instead it is because this area of cooking requires more precision and skill than I possess. Maybe I am being a little hard on myself there, but there is some truth in that statement. When making desserts and baking there is a much tighter margin for error than my non weighing, instinctive (winging it) style of cooking will allow for. This is not to say that I do not enjoy making sweets, there is a lot there to be enjoyed especially when you are left with a mixing bowl full of cake mix that is surplus to requirements and a spoon or finger with which to scoop it up. I just find cakes and things a bit more of a challenge and am often disappointed in the results as they are not quite as attractive or impressive as I had hoped, although they still taste pretty decent it has to be said. Brownies have been a source of disappointment for me as despite their simplicity I’ve not managed to get that proper gooey, luscious texture that makes the brownie such a special thing. On this fateful Wednesday evening I decided to try and put this all behind me and make some brownies with whatever I had in the cupboards, hence the title of this post “Impromptu Brownies”.
After having a bit of a scout around I managed to rustle up what I thought would be enough ingredients to get baking with. As I did not have any dark chocolate these brownies would get their flavour from cocoa alone which is fine, some chunks of chocolate would have been a bonus but not essential. I had a mix of sugars to use consisting of golden caster, light muscovado, and some normal caster sugar that I had put some vanilla pods in. Finally I went with a mix of plain flour and ground almonds as I thought the almonds would assist in giving me the correct texture. I also decided to spruce these bad boys up with some frozen cherries we had in the freezer and some almond butter to sort of give a Bakewell brownie theme. So here is a list of the ingredients with actual weights used, see baking changes everything!
- 150g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 250g melted butter
- 80g cocoa
- 400g mixed sugars
- 4 eggs
- tsp vanilla extract
- tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- frozen cherries
This could not be easier to make and took me about 10-15 minutes to put together. All you do is mix together all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl whilst melting your butter in a sauce pan (or microwave if you have one, I don’t). Pour the melted butter in and mix, then add the eggs one at a time mixing each in fully before adding the next – not for any reason just because it is quite satisfying to see the mixture come together gradually than all at once. I did all my mixing by hand but you could use a cake mixer for this, again I find it more satisfying to do it manually. Once you have it all mixed it should be nice and thick but still runny enough to pour with a little encouragement from a spatula. At this stage I then added a couple spoonfuls of the almond butter for flavour and then prepared by tin. Tins are another area that hinder my baking as I do not have a massive selection of sizes which I am told is quite important. This means that whenever I follow a recipe I tend to ignore the part that says which size of cake tin to use which as you can imagine can have pretty disastrous results. Anyway that is my problem and not yours and can be easily remedied. I greased and lined a large square cake tin and then placed the cherries in the bottom before pouring over the brownie mixture and spreading out evenly trying not to end up with all the cherries in one corner whilst doing so. I then placed my mixture into a pre-heated oven at around 180-200C for around 25 minutes whilst I occupied myself with what remained in the mixing bowl.
I have to say that I am pretty pleased with the outcome of this as the brownies had a pretty good consistency and moistness to them without resembling sponge cake more than what they intended to be. The flavour was good with a hint of almond and chocolate, although I think it I make them again I will use a little more cocoa and also add some chocolate chunks. But they were very satisfying for such an unplanned piece of baking, maybe all of my baking should be unplanned. I took them into work (not all of them obviously) so that Tim and the rest of the team could give them a try and everyone seemed pleased and there are still a couple left for Yolanda to enjoy on her treat day tomorrow.
Phew, my first sweet things on my blog were not a total disaster – result!