I’ve loved brownies for a long time.
They really weren’t a thing when we were growing up in country New South Wales. Jam drops, pikelets and chocolate crackles were more our speed as kids.
Brownies were an abstract, mythical, American sitcom thing. Something that nice lady from next door tried to deliver to Uncle Martin on ‘My Favourite Martin’ on the little black and white portable set in the spare bedroom, the same TV we watched Doctor Who and Monkey Magic on.
I can’t be sure what it was about the idea of brownies that piqued my interest.
I was fascinated by whatever those things were from that age, about six or seven I suppose but I was well into my late teens before I got to actually try one.
Not a cake, not a biscuit. Soft in the middle, but with a crusty sugary top. And dark, dark brown and dense with chocolate like nothing I’d had before. The White Wings packet chocolate cakes just didn’t compare.
I was visiting the big smoke for school work experience and spending the day in the city with my Aunt and Uncle.
We were walking up the labyrinth of subways from Town Hall Station towards the Queen Victoria building and stopped in to a coffee shop tucked into a corner.
We’d made an early start to catch the train ‘into town’ from the leafy northern suburbs. It was time for a restorative morning tea before we wandered around the department stores and headed to the Virgin Mega Store to spend my pocket money savings on new cassingles. Yes, it was the mid 1980s, and yes I was probably wearing acid wash denim something or other.
That slab of chocolate brownie plonked on a doily lined plate was a treat that I’ve been low-level obsessed with since that day in 1988.
I’ve spent a lot of time since I really began cooking for myself at university working first on a good chocolate cake recipe, and later a perfect recipe for brownies.
There have been countless versions of chocolate cakes. Recipes copied from newspapers and magazines. Mixtures trialled from famous cooks and TV personalities.
Recipes poorly converted from US standard measures into Australian metric – cups and tablespoons and sticks of butter guessed and variously estimated.
The results were good, not so great, hideous and fantastic.
I’ve used expensive chocolate, drinking chocolate powder, milkshake syrup, compound chocolate chips and blocks of Cadbury’s purplest offerings.
I’ve sifted, mixed and combined; stirred, blended and folded my way through a diabetic coma inducing array of iterations to come up with what finally has become a standard, almost-never-fail recipe.
The bigger the batch and the bigger the pan I cook it in, the better it can be – I often triple or quadruple the base recipe and freeze a bunch of brownies to thaw out later.
I’ve used the brownies as the base for wedding cakes, chopped up in bite-size pieces as a sweet treat at cocktail parties, and even in a trifle with a good slug of rum with raspberries, cherry jam and whipped cream. I’ve even used the batter as a cheesecake base – that’s a winner right there.
The secret to a scratch-made brownie really is putting the ingredients together in the right order.
Beat the eggs well and add the dry ingredients a little at a time until completely combined. Add the slightly cooled melted butter and mix well until the gooey mixture has changed colour.
Pour into a lined pan and coax the thick batter into the corners.
Set aside for five minutes so the brownie has a chance to settle evenly into the tin so as to prevent lumpy uneven rising.
The proudest iterations of this recipe are the newest to our range of Irons and Craig treats we have available in our online store.
We’ve packaged the ingredients we use at home into a simple one step Brownie mix, that gives a squidgy, rich and sweet brownie in about 40 minutes, with only minimal washing up. And we have recently been able to include a slab of delicious brownie into some very special hampers on their way to a big team of people who have been at home for weeks in the Melbourne COVID lockdown. Their very thoughtful company Chairman lives here in Yamba and wanted to be able to welcome everyone in their Melbourne teams back to work with a morning tea hamper – including goodies from our range including the Squidgy Chocolate Brownies.
Those ready to eat brownies are still only for special orders, but baking them at home makes your kitchen smell fantastic anyway.