Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Hazelnut crackers




I was trying to work out a way to pretend this was a festive recipe. I didn't need to try hard. It's a Christmas cracker. Moreover, it's a nutcracker! Yay. Sadly there we wave goodbye to Santa (and to exclamation marks, this isn't Instagram); this has nothing to do with yuletide cheer, but it does work ridiculously well with cheese and beetroot. So... Boxing day buffet?


My current favourite starter. Again, the low light makes food look weird.
I made this because my new favourite winter starter is roasted beetroot served with a cheese mousse, a smoked beetroot gel (recipe coming) and a hazelnut and raspberry salad. It was crying out for some snap. Initially I thought of making elegant long thin things but that's a faff I don't need and I always end up breaking some just before service. Making one huge cracker is at least unusual (apparently not in Spain, a guest informs me) and I like the 'breaking bread' aspect of it as I hand it to a guest on a wooden platter and ask them to pass it round the table.

It's an unleavened affair, so a doddle to make. This would be ideal as a first recipe with a young child. So long as you can roll it fairly flat and get it into an oven it will be edible, probably delicious, and the heterogenous appearance will hide all manner of fluff and 'pickings' that inevitably find their way into the baked goods of the under fives.

The tricky business with nuts is finding the flavour. It sounds counterintuitive but nuts don't taste that nutty. Think of the almond cakes you've eaten - strong almond flavour? Nope. Two ways to address this: toast the nuts, it enhances the nuttiness; and use a nut oil. You can think of this almost as an essence. You do get what you pay for though. Worth splashing out. It will last for months.

Make four or five for a family party or buffet and expect some 'oooh'. These have a high impact to work ratio. They'd probably look great on Instagram, backlit and tied with a taupe bow with some nuts casually spilled on gingham. But sod that.

This recipe also works well with walnuts. Just be sure to find unsalted nuts and a decent walnut oil.


Hazelnut Cracker.
Makes two big ones, enough for 16.

Take 120g of blanched hazelnuts and toast in a 180°C oven for six to eight minutes. You want golden brown. Allow to cool. Set aside 20g of whole nuts. Blitz the remaining 100g in a blender, stick blender or little chopping thing (like I do) until they resemble breadcrumbs. If you can't find blanched use whole nuts but after toasting you'll have to roll them around a fair bit to remove their brown papery skins.

In a bowl, mix with a good pinch of salt (about 2g) and 200g of plain flour. Now add a good glug of hazelnut oil, maybe two tablespoons. OK, most people don't have hazelnut oil so toasted sesame would do at a push but the flavour will be a little... vulgar, so use less. Hazelnut oil is expensive but a larger supermarket will stock it. I buy it online. Don't be tempted to skip the oil, it's probably the most flavour giving element of the mix. It also gives crispness and shine to the finished cracker.

Add enough water to just bring the dough together into loose balls - around 75ml - dribble it in. Be cautious. Any more and the dough will be sticky and a pain to roll out. It should look like this. Scoop the dough together and roll it around a bit with your hands to bring it together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Once rested, split the dough into two balls. Each makes one cracker. Roll out the cracker onto lightly floured Silpat or baking paper as thin as you can/dare - about 30 x 20 cm but it doesn't have to be a straight sided oblong; I think the weirder the shape the better. Just remember that too thin and it may fall apart when baked. Now take the 20g of whole nuts you set aside and gently crack them into pleasing chunks. Sprinkle over the dough and press in with your hands. Roll once or twice more. The dough might tear but I like this. Gives a pleasant filigree effect.




Bake for about ten minutes in a 180°C oven, turning once to avoid an overbaked side. All ovens have hot spots. I say about ten minutes. You need to check. You might want a pale bake or a high one. I like to catch it in the middle when the edges look just past golden. Be aware that overbaked nuts are bitter and as unpleasant as a late night Nigel Farage. 

These are great with soft (Tunworth!) - or blue cheese. Forget the Stilton; get yourself a truckle of Mrs Bell's Blue for Christmas. That'll be something.







Sunday, 12 August 2018

Apricot tart

Just before the oven. A dusting of icing sugar to help caramelise the edges.
"Why don't I eat these more often?" I think whenever I finish a dish of apricots. I haven't yet found a decent answer. At their amber blushing best for the next few months, apricots have a wonderful aromatic balance of sweet and sour.

Apricots can be poached in a simple sugar syrup and served up with a little of the reduced poaching liquor and maybe some crème fraiche but I had a longing for a glistening squidgey, fruity, almondy tart.

And then Jim (my butcher, oddly enough) gave me a job lot of apricots for free. Just past their best apparently. So I had no more excuses not to bake.

Apricot tart.
serves 8 generously

Four parts to this tart: base, frangipane, apricots, glaze. You'll need about 35 good sized apricots.

The base is simple enough: shop bought, all butter, puff pastry. Roll it out. Cut it large enough to overlap the 27cm tart tin and refrigerate until needed.

Frangipane. Soft almond paste that complements apricots so well. In a bowl, beat together 120g each of soft butter and caster sugar. Once pale and fluffy, add 120g of ground almonds. Add in 1 egg and one egg yolk, a little at a time. Finally 25g of plain flour and the very finely grated zest of one (smallish) lemon. Keep the naked lemon.

Apricots. Cut in half about 30 ripe apricots and discard the kernels. If they aren't ripe and slightly soft, don't bother. They should smell of apricots and not packaging.

Assemble. Pipe or spoon the frangipane into the pasty base and arrange the apricots sideways on in circles or however you wish. Cram them in. They will shrink. Dust lightly with icing sugar to aid the delicious and attractive caramelisation of the fruit.

Bake at 210°C for about 30-40 minutes. Remove when: the pastry edge is golden, the fruit is soft and slightly charred and the frangipane is risen and browning. Trim the edge of the pastry with a sharp knife if you want a neat tart. Or don't bother if you really like pastry.

While the tart is baking, make the glaze. You must have a glaze. It transforms the tart. For reasons unknown, a glistening tart is so much more attractive than a plain one. You can of course glaze with some apricot jam, thinned with a little hot water. Nah! I wanted to maximise my apricot flavour and jams are often surprisingly insipid things. So I blended about three apricots with some sugar syrup (boil water and sugar 1:1). Yes 'some' sugar suryp - a deliberate imprecision. Do it to taste. Depends how sweet or tart your apricot blend is. Sieve and heat gently in a pan. Add some lemon juice (from that naked lemon) to taste. Now add a teaspoon of thickening  arrowroot mixed with a little water and bring the glaze to the boil. Allow to cool before brushing all over the tart top.

Something creamy goes well with the tart. Perhaps some sweetened vanilla cream or ice cream?








Thursday, 26 April 2018

Orzotto of barley and Jerusalem artichokes



Orzotto. As risotto is rice, an Orzotto is... barley (orzo in Italian). However don't confuse 'orzo' with 'orzo' which is a type of pasta (AKA risoni because it looks like, er... barley).

And this is why I try and use English terms in my kitchen. So let's start again.

This is a barley pottage, with Jerusalem artichokes, two ways: little boiled chunks and deep fried crispy skins. It's an excellent use of the whole tuber. Because these are not artichokes, they are the root of the sunflower. In yet another linguistic confusion, some poor, confused 16th century scribe heard girasole and wrote Jerusalem. Girasole is Italian for sunflower. In fairness, our made up man was quite devout and maybe the plainsong had been really loud that evening. You know how monks liked to pump up the jam?

This recipe belongs to chef David Everitt-Matthias. I was looking for new ways to serve barley, a great staple. Barley is easier to both cook and serve than rice. It's much more forgiving and even benefits from pre-cooking in a way rice just doesn't. Add more water to cooked rice and you often end up with... glue. Barley sucks it up and remains toothsome. 

Jerusalem artichokes are one of those like-nothing-else flavours. I love their distinctive  taste. I keep seeing them described as 
sweet and nutty but that's misleading, at least to my palate. Their distinctiveness is partly because its storage carbohydrate is inulin instead of starch. Note: INULIN not insulin. This is a low calorie carb... so we obviously need to deep fry them or serve with lots of butter. Ha. 

Some may bang on about the unique health benefits of inulin but that's not my gig at all. However, one incontestable benefit of inulin: its digestion can be quite gaseous in some people. So that's the after dinner cabaret sorted!

Barley and Jerusalem artichoke pottage
Serves six as a starter

Start by baking your tubers. Place six 100g Jerusalem artichokes (JAs) on a baking tray and roast at 140°C for an hour.

Stop. That's what David says. Mine took two hours. Maybe his were long and thin. Mine weren't. Less surface area = more oven time. Mine were all kinds of sizes too. Just take them out when they're done.

Aw. Cute.
 Bake until tender. Allow to cool. Split the JAs lengthways into two or four if they are large, scraping out the soft flesh. I found a blunt knife was the best tool for this. It is a faffy job. Takes half an hour maybe. You can't rush it as you need the skins in reasonable shape for deep frying. Cut up the flesh into coarse chunks and reserve for later.

If you've ever made a risotto, the rest will be familiar and very easy. If you haven't, it will still be easy and you'll have learned how to make risotto.

In a small saucepan, bring about a litre of chicken stock to the boil. You know how I feel about shop bought stock so I'll just presume you've made your own and we'll never speak of it else.

In a decent glug of rapeseed oil (for its nutty flavour but use any oil or butter) fry a diced onion until it's translucent. We're not looking for colour. Add a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves and fry for a couple of minutes more. Now pour on 150g of pearl barley and fry for a few more minutes. Smell. You should be able to detect the roasting grains.

Pour on 150g of white wine (about a quarter of a bottle) and simmer until most of the wine is reduced. Now add the boiling stock, reserving about a quarter. Cover and simmer very gently, stirring occasionally until the stock has been absorbed. This will take at least half an hour. I sometimes use the rice cooker for this last stage. Try the barley. It's probably too hard. You can leave the barley like this for a while, prepped, until you wish to eat. Stick it in the fridge overnight if you like. It'll be fine.

Final additions: mascarpone, butter and Parmesan.


When it comes to dinner, gently reheat the barley and add the rest of the (reboiled) stock. Simmer until absorbed. Taste. You want a little firmness. Add more stock, water or even more wine if it needs it.

Deep frying the skins
While the grains are a-swelling, heat up your deep fat fryer to 180°C or heat up some oil. Without a temperature probe, you're using guesswork. Add the skins and fry until crisp and golden. No more than five minutes. If that. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. 

Once you're happy with the texture: season with salt and black pepper and a little dried thyme. Stir in 50g of mascarpone, 30g of grated Parmesan and 30g of unsalted butter. Mix well.

Now add the crispy skins on top.

I followed David's example and served the pottage with goats cheese and a peanut & parsley pesto. It would also be good with some beetroot puree and perhaps some toasted halloumi.
















Monday, 16 April 2018

Carrot cake ice cream

Little balls of sunshine

Josie's asking her dad: who's the fat pirate?
It all started in Lower Slaughter, with Thomas, the son, and Josie, the daughter. I was on the wine, they (of course) drank only water.

Enough of that. Ever been to Lower Slaughter? It's utterly beguiling at first. All honeyed Cotswold stone buildings with Farrow and Ball trim, aside an ancient brook that feeds a mill. But then you realise this is an empty village, frequented only by coach loads of "it's so pur-dee" Americans and Range Rovers of chippy city people.

Like us. Except, without the Range Rover.

Belinda and I were having dinner with Gaby and Alan from Bristol (it was their anniversary) and their children Josie and Thomas. For dessert, Josie ordered ice cream. I leaned sideways into the children and said quietly "I make ice cream. Next time you come to ours I'll make any flavour. One choice each."
"Any flavour?"
"Anything."
"Any? Really"
"Yup."
"Chocolate." said  Josie.
"OK apart from chocolate... and vanilla. You can get those anywhere."

Some time later we had two agreed choices. For Josie, carrot cake ice cream. For Thomas, cream egg. I'm still working on the Creme Egg version. It'll probably be a big chocolate egg filled with white and yellow ice creams, flavours to be determined. But first, for Josie, carrot cake.

Carrot cake ice cream
Makes approx 1.5 litres.

I could have made a base ice cream and added lumps of carrot cake. Nah. I wanted something that tasted OF carrot cake not just featured it as a minor attraction. That meant carrots, cinnamon, walnuts. I googled. There were no recipes. I had fallen off the map.
Start with the carrots. We need to reduce the water content. Obvious way is by baking them. This also sweetens the carrot by caramelising the natural sugars. Water is the enemy of ice-cream. Water = sorbet or granita. Too much water gives you a grainy ice cream.

I also wanted a crunch element. This would be walnuts, as found in many a cake. I wanted to caramelise the nuts to ensure they stayed crisp... and just for flavour.

There are three main elements to this:
carrot and orange puree
cream
walnut praline

This makes a lot of ice cream, enough for 20 scoops, but it's a fair amount of effort to make and the roasting time (and energy) is about the same if it's five kilos or 500g. Let's go big.




I roasted a kilo of carrots for two hours at 160°C. Choose ugly cheap ones. If they start to burn (more than this), cover them in foil. They look brown but that burn is all natural caramel flavour. Just as with steak. You don't want ash, but deep dark brown is all good. Taste it and see. You'll see from the second picture that the roasting removes nearly two thirds of the weight... all of it tasteless water. That's the benefit of pureeing: the concentration of flavour. This must be one of the few ice creams with fibre! I've noticed it doesn't melt as fast as my custard based versions.

Remove the stalk nibs and roughly chop the carrot. Blend them with 420ml of glucose syrup (three supermarket tubes), two tablespoons of golden syrup and 400ml of freshly squeezed orange juice. You want the zesty flavour. Both glucose and golden syrups are invert sugars (ish). This reduces the tendency for crystallisation. Blend well until smooth. Sieve to make sure, especially if your blender is a bit pony. You should now have about a litre of this. Cool colour huh? Cover and refrigerate.




Now make the walnut praline. Basically toasted nuts in toffee. Roast 150g of walnut pieces at 180°C for ten minutes. You want a good deep colour and a crisp nut. Allow to cool then break them down into small pieces using the back of your hands. 

The praline is simple but needs constant attention. Make it in a heavy pan with a light coloured interior. You need to see the colour change in the sugar. I have a lovely old tinned copper pan.

Mix 200g caster sugar with a few tablespoons of water. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat then fire up the hob. Big burner. Watch carefully as the sugar changes colour from clear to amber to deep gold to well... caramel colour. Don't stir and be careful. This stuff will be approaching 180°C. I tend to move the pan around to like a clock. Burners are never even. Have a sink of cold water handy. You can carefully lower the pan in the water to stop the cooking if needs be. The darker the colour, the more bitter the flavour. But this isn't bad bitter. That's what caramel means. Just not black. 


Sugar dissolved. Up with the heat. Note the colour change just starting on the right.


Caramel. If you have a probe, this will read around 180°C.

Stir in your roasted nuts and pour the praline onto some baking paper, or preferably silicon. It will cool quickly to a solid. Break this into pieces and blitz into small chunks (and some sugary dust) pour the whole lot into an airtight container. Praline, like all burnt sugar products, deliquesces quickly. It takes in water from the air. Leave it out too long and your delightful amber jewels will meld together in a most unhelpful way.

Walnut praline.
When you're ready to churn... mix the chilled carrot puree with about half a litre of double cream. I say 'about' because I'm not yet fully minded. More cream makes it creamy and god, I love creamy, but it obviously diminishes the carrot flavour. Vanilla, this ain't. So taste. See. Decide. You need some cream (at least 300ml) otherwise you're making sorbet. You might want to sweeten with more golden syrup. Remember chilling reduces our perception of sweetness so it should be slightly sweeter than you like. Terrible instruction.

Now add a big pinch of cinnamon. Taste. A small pinch of salt. Yes. Salt. Stir well. Taste.

Churn in your machine. You may need to churn in batches. Towards the end as things are firming up, pour in the nuts. Chill in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.


Pain d'épices. Isn't it magnificent?
To serve. Big scoops in a bowl. It's a... satisfying ice cream with enough flavour and texture to live by itself. But... I like a faff and we had friends round. I made a pain d'epices (French spiced bread/cake) and toasted slices. "It's ice-cream on toast!" Exclaimed Matt. I was pleased though because Helen correctly guessed the flavour on her first spoonful.

I drizzled the toast with some sweetened Philadelphia cream cheese. You see the link? For added interest and for more cakey, toasty notes, I added some chocolate granola (like this one but made with butter not coconut fat) in a smudge of orange syrup. I'd forgotten how much I love pain d'spices. I must also do more with gingerbread.

This was the development dish. I suspect I'll serve the ice cream as a pain d'spices sandwich topped with the sweet Philly and surrounded by the granola and candied carrot pieces.

Josie's not tried it yet. I will update you when she does.




Fennel Fritters



I adore these. Call it tempura if you like. Or fritto misto, bahji, no-name pak. Every culture has this dish of vegetables deep fried in a light batter. For some reason we don't seem to do it much in the UK. Fennel  is transformed by deep frying. Yes, OK, arguably all veg are (chips!) but fennel's delicate flavour and texture works so well here. I put this as a side with pork, chicken or fish. Cut smaller, it's also great as a 'nibble', served ow-ow-ow hot, straight from the fryer. 

Batter matters. There are many variations. I use an egg white and cornflour. It sticks well and puffs delightfully. I always seem to have spare egg white in my fridge; a consequence no doubt of my many adventures in ice cream.


Fennel Fritters
Serves six as a side.

Slice the tough bottom off a large fennel and any stalky ends. Slice the rest lengthways quite thinly, a few mm. Leave on any green fronds. These look and taste great.

Mix up a batter by whisking two egg whites to floppy. Add a tablespoon of cornflower and whisk well. It should feel  like gloss paint. 

Roll the slices of fennel around in the batter and drop individually into oil heated to 180°C. If you put it all in together, that's exactly how it'll come out. The fritters will float tenaciously as the batter bubbles so keep them dunked under. After a couple of minutes, turn the fritters in the oil. Remove after another couple of minutes or until golden.

You can of course take them out just before ready and then refry just before service. Especially useful if, like me, you have an open kitchen and don't necessarily want that chip shop vibe.










Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Mrs Judy Bell and a multi part tart of very fine cheeses

Mrs Bell's Blue

"Hello, can I speak to Katie please?"
"Speaking."
And I am singed with excitement. This is Kate Bell; sister of Caroline; daughter to Judy Bell, maker of one of the UK's finest cheeses: Mrs Bell's Blue. Sounds like a jazz ballad, tastes like... minimum ten week matured, ewe's milk. Katie said the quality of the milk they get is very high and they work with their farmer to ensure consistency. Milk obviously varies with the seasons.


Katie and Caroline of Shepherds Purse Cheeses 
This is an exquisite cheese; nothing like a shouty Stilton, this whispers in your ear: cream... nuts... a gentle zing of piquant blue. Follow me, follow me... it sings. Ahhh. Closer to a top quality Roquefort but... even better (and less salty).

I first tried it in Holtwhites Bakery last Christmas (thanks Kate). It was the start of a long relationship. Mrs Bell's Blue with some fruit bread and a dab of plum relish was my festive highlight (all available at Holtwhites).

I rang Katie to check if I could use a picture off their website. She said yes. So this is her and her sister. They make the cheese to their mother's recipe as part of Shepherds Purse Cheeses up in Thirsk, Yorkshire, the company they now run. Mrs Bell's is one of seven. Six of which I've not tried. However... Joy! They also do a complete mail order service so we can soon all be unwrapping our septuple of truckles.


Blue cheese tart
I wanted to make a tart to celebrate the cheese. Why a tart? Cooking a blue convinces many a reluctant guest to try its dairy goodness. I especially wanted to serve it with pickled pears and a hazelnut salad. I've now fed this to over 50 friends and guests and NONE have disliked it. This includes at least ten of the 'not keen on blue' brigade. All loved it.


Trouble is, if you churn blue cheese into a tart mix, you tend too get grey tart. Not cool. Especially this particular 'you really should throw those pants out now Steve' shade of grey. So I decided to make a cream cheese tart and then layer the blue on the top in thin slices. This also preserves the cheese's distinctive appearance. Of course, top loading like this means you can use different cheeses easily. Hell, you can even use two or three in the same tart. I've tried this with small cubes of Ticklemore goats cheese. Works well too.


Mrs Bell's Blue Tart
Serves 10 (so long as some don't mind t'ends)

First the pastry. This is most of the faff. I make a cheese and thyme, egg enriched shortcrust, using a food processor. This is robust, easy to handle and crisps up well. You can of course do this by hand and let's be honest, if you do, you'll probably know more about pastry than me.

Cheese and thyme pastry.

In a food processor add: 125g cold unsalted butter to 250g of plain flour. Blitz to breadcrumbs. Add a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, picked off the stalks, 30g of finely grated parmesan and a good grind of black pepper. Blitz until incorporated. Add one beaten egg. Pulse until incorporated. Now dribble in 40ml of cold water as you pulseuntil the mix starts to ball up. You may not need all the water. You may need slightly more. It should be a stiff dough. Don't add salt by the way. The parmesan does that job.

Remove the dough and knead a little to make it elastic and smooth. Not long. Flatten in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour or more. You can also freeze it.

T'tin for t'tart
I use a loose bottomed 23cm oblong tart tin with sides of about 3cm. Obviously you can use a round one.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until thinner than a pound coin/Euro. No idea what that is in the USA. Sorry. Drape into the tin and gently push the pastry into the corners. overlap the pastry on top. Don't cut it yet as the tart will shrink down the sides and you'll have something more akin to a big cracker than a tart. Prick all over the bottom with a fork (of the pastry you fool!). Line with greaseproof paper (easier if you scrunch it up first) and fill beans/rice/coins to bake blind. Bake for 18 minutes at 180°C. Then remove the blind filling and bake open for another seven minutes. The inside base should be crisp and browning. I can't bear pallid pastry. Now brush the insides with egg wash and bake for another three minutes. The case should now be light and crisp. The egg wash helps waterproof the pastry preventing any unwanted sogginess.

While the pastry is still warm, trim the edges with a knife.





Cheese filling.

The filling is a doddle.

Beat four egg yolks with 200ml double cream and 250g of cream cheese and a good pinch of salt. Note: If you're making a goats cheese tart, you may want a huge handful of finely chopped chives. 

Pour this into the tart case. 

Finely slice up 200g of Mrs Bells Blue cheese (or some other cracking British blue) and lay over the top of the mix. You should be able to completely mosaic the surface.

In the middle of the oven, bake at 180°C for at least eighteen and up to maybe twenty five minutes. I don't know why it varies so much. You want a little wobble; a sexy judder, when you excite the tart. DON'T bake it firm. The filling will set. It's all cream cheese and egg yolk remember.

Remove and allow to cool. Serve it warm or at room temperature. It won't cut well when hot. 

This demands some acidity and crunch which is why I went for a pickled pear and a roasted hazelnut salad, with a dressing made from the pear pickling liquor and some good quality, nutty rapeseed oil.


This is the Ticklemore goats cheese. See the little chunks?



Monday, 11 December 2017

The New River Dining Brownie




Terrible name: brownie. The Americans christened it. They aren't noted for their imagination in naming desserts. It's cooked so what shall we call it? A cookie. It's a pie with Key limes. Key lime pie! Ice cream in a split banana. Banana split. See. But surely they could have done better than this. It's brown. What shall we call it? Sheesh. It was Fannie Farmer apparently. Yes, a real name. She has form. It was her who popularised cups, the insane volumetric measuring system that reigns still today in the US. 

This delicious, fudgy dessert started as chocolate cookie but then Fannie made them as a tray bake and the brownie was born. I am very proud of my version but I use the same recipe as everyone else... with some tiny twists. I'm not being modest; they are tiny. Across all the books and the web, there isn't much variation. So if the recipe is the same the world over what makes a good brownie. Two things:

1. Quality of ingredient, but especially the chocolate. See those pale brown commercial things? Not enough cocoa. That's the chief brownie sin. They should be dark in colour; interestingly dark, like the back corner of a Jazz club. I use Valrhona, the world's best in my opinion. Also one of the most expensive. If not, use Lindt or Green and Blacks. Brownies are not good cheap. The chocolate should be dark - 70%. Milk chocolate is just too sweet and lacking in cocoa. 

2. Baking time. The other brownie sin is dryness. They should be gooey. If in doubt, under bake. They'll still be edible and delicious. You just might need a bowl. Commercial brownies are often light and dry from too much lost moisture. Don't let yours be. Their weight should sink a cardiologist's heart.

I use dried cherries and pecans but any nut will do. Pecans have a pleasing and easy crunch though. I've baked with soaked sultanas when I couldn't find cherries. They work but lack the tartness.


Brownie
Makes 20 dessert size or 40 kid friendly bites.


Wonderful shiny mix. Don't eat it yet.
Soak 75g of dried cherries in hot water.

Melt  250g unsalted butter. Remove from the heat. To the warm pan add 250g of the best dark chocolate you are willing to afford. Stir in to melt the chocolate. This is my way; much quicker than the bowl perched over boiling water and mine's never split.

Mix together in a large bowl: a pinch of salt, 80g of best quality cocoa powder, 80g plain flour, a teaspoon of baking powder and 320g caster sugar. Into this, mix the still liquid buttery chocolate. Add four large beaten eggs and then the drained cherries along with 75g of chopped pecans (or any nut). Finally add two teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in a little boiling water to make a paste.


Line a shallow 25cm baking tray (needs a decent side) with baking paper. Actually I use two oblong baking trays but that's only to ease cutting and improve presentation. The mix will rise about 20% when baked so don't brim the tin.


Baked
Bake for no more than 25 minutes at 180°C. The mix should be risen with a very thin crust but still sexually soft. Be brave. Being made of massive amounts of butter and chocolate, they will harden a lot on cooling. Just like your arteries! Allow to cool before trying to extract from the tin.


These demand to be eaten with vanilla ice cream or at the very least a gloop of double cream/blob of creme fraiche. This is not the time to be worrying about calories. In the supper club it's usually with some crystallised pecans and a salted caramel sauce; a proper, bitter caramel.