There is something about brownies which is just so addictive. Chocolatey, chewy, gooey, fudge-like, sweet…. Just yum.
Although I am not a star baker when it comes to brownies – I think it takes a lot of skill and practice to get them just right – I did find a recipe by Nigella Lawson for Emergency Brownies. And they are perfect, because no one will judge if they are a bit overbaked or under baked, because guess what? You eat them almost straight away. They are the brownie for emergencies.
Apparently the chocolate brownie was already invented more than a hundred years ago. The Chicago socialite, Bertha Palmer – married to the American businessman, Potter Palmer – active in the women’s, artistic and Chicago civic affairs, apparently once asked a pastry chef for a dessert suitable for ladies. She asked for a cake-like confection, but smaller than a piece of cake, also to be included in boxed lunches. It had to be served at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Today the same recipe is still used in the Palmer House Hotel, with walnuts and an apricot glaze on top and according to Forbes this was where the chocolate brownie was invented.
Nigella Lawson and her emergency brownie recipe
In her recipe book, At my table, Nigella Lawson, has this recipe for Emergency Brownies. She starts by saying: “This is for those times you urgently need a brownie, but don’t want to make – or rather, can’t justify making – a whole batch”.
The recipe makes two generous squares or four more modest rectangles.
- 50g soft unsalted butter
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 15ml (or a tablespoon) maple or golden syrup
- 3 x 15ml tablespoons plain flour
- 3 x 15ml tablespoons cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50g walnut pieces
- 50g dark or milk chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 170˚C/150˚C Fan.
- Put the butter, sugar and maple/golden syrup into a small heavy-based saucepan and gently warm, stirring once or twice, until the butter’s melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Fork together the flour, cocoa and salt to mix, then beat into the butter and sugar pan with a wooden spoon or spatula until smoothly combined.
- Whisk the egg with the vanilla – casually by hand – then stir into the pan, giving a final little whisk, if needed, to make sure everything is mixed together thoroughly, before folding in the nuts and chocolate chips. (I sometimes only use chocolate chips)
- Pour and scrape the bubbly brownie batter into a foil tin (I used one of my smaller bread tins) measuring approx. 18 X 11 X 5cm.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until it is beginning to come away at the sides and the top has dried a little just around the edges.
- Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool – but not completely. In her recipe Nigella says: “I leave them for 20-30 minutes (and that’s difficult enough) so that my first bite gets them when still warm, but just set enough to cut into two squidgy squares. If your need is not so great, or you want them to go further, cut each square in half again.”
You’re mouth must be watering by now, so happy baking.