Monday, 13 July 2009

Ashes brownies

I think that this blog demonstrates that I have a tendency to indulge random moments of enthusiasm for specialist ingredients. This explains the Liquid Smoke, the nori flakes, the wheatberries, sumac and berbere all tucked into our cupboards. Some of them have become welcome additions to our regular dinners, but others are a little, well, specialist. Another flight of fancy led us a merry dance around every specialist food shop we could find in Australia a couple of summers ago because I had read a few nice recipes which used wattleseeds. No matter that they were all for ice cream, and we don't have an ice cream maker; I thought that being Down Under was enough of an excuse to *need* some of those seeds. I am happy to report that we did eventually find some, but somewhat abashed to admit that two years later the jar has yet to be opened.

Wattleseeds grow wild in Australia, and their seeds form part of traditional cooking. Since acquiring my seeds I have collected several interesting recipes - for wattleseed damper, for example, and Gundabluey Brownies. The quality that had attracted me to the seeds in the first place was their coffee/chocolate flavour, so I particularly liked the idea of adding them to brownies. Something made me pick up the jar the other day and I realised that it was getting perilously close to its use by date. This prompted me, at last, to do something with it.

Fortunately I had a good opportunity. Munchkin Gramps and The Scientist share a love of cricket, and they generally go together to watch an international fixture at Headingley. This year they missed out on Ashes tickets in the ballot, but they did manage to get some for the fourth day's play in the first Test at Cardiff. Grandma S always sends them off with a tasty picnic, but since they were setting off from our place this year, the honours came down to me. Given how heated the competition gets at Ashes matches I thought that I would do my bit for spreading cultural amity and make them some Aussie Ashes brownie bites. The first Aussie chef that came to mind was Bill Granger, and lo and behold, I found a recipe of his for brownies in his bill's Food. It was actually an unusual brownie recipe as it involved mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combining, rather than the usual creaming method. I also Aussie'd them up by adding a tablespoon of wattleseeds. I halved the recipe and chose a pan which would make them come out quite shallow so as to make little bites to nibble on through the day.

Knowing that the wattleseeds were in there I thought that I could detect a slight coffee note to the batter. Neither The Scientist nor Munchkin Gramps noticed it, but they both came back extremely enthusiastic about how good they were. I liked them particularly because they actually cooked through in the time they were supposed to - always a bonus with a brownie recipe, but an unfortunately rare one! Since the day's play consisted of the Aussies knocking the ball all over the place and then us fluffing a few wickets before the rain fell I was glad that I'd provided some sort of pleasurable diversion. These are the new go-to brownies in our house, and I will definitely add the wattleseeds again. After all, I have a whole pot, and only a few weeks to use them up!

Wattleseed Ashes brownies (based on bill's food)

I halved this amount. I also froze what wasn't needed for the picnic, and stored what was in the fridge overnight, just to give them the best chance to firm up. It seemed to work.

370g (2 1/2 cups) caster sugar
80g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
60g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
250g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g chocolate chips (I used a cut up bar of dark chocolate)
1 Tbsp wattleseeds - or more

Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 2-3

Stir the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips and wattleseeds.

Pour into a lined tin (the full batch goes in a 9 inch/22 cm square one) and bake for 40 to 45 mins


Johanna said...

From the title I thought maybe the brownies had ashes in them - but these look delicious - I have some wattleseed and use it in place of coffee in quite a few chocolate recipes to give extra depth of flavour - I would advice throwing it in lots of chocolate baking if you want to use it up - or maybe some wattleseed scone or choc chip cookies! I know the feeling of buying esoteric ingredients - too many of mine pass their use by date - in fact I am amazed when they don't

Ricki said...

Wow, these look amazing! As a Canadian enamored of all thingsk Antipodean, I have been wondering about wattleseeds for ages! I've looked around a bit here and haven't found any. . . guess I'll just have to take that trip to Australia!