Tag Archives: brownies

Rash promises and kitchen derring-do: turkish coffee brownie layer cake


This is a cake of two tales. And the tale of two cakes.

Story the first.

Once upon a Saturday night, there was a Pimms cocktail-addled promise to make a layered birthday cake. Which I promptly forgot about until Sunday evening (the birthday was on Monday).

It was the prettiest Pimms cocktail I had ever seen, with three different types of citrus, strawberries, mint, a dash of this and a splash of that. An English-summer-meets-tropical sunset mash of colours and flavours.

But if I have to bake a cake every time I have that cocktail, I may just switch to a martini.


Story the second.

Once upon a Sunday evening. With a sense of wild, reckless adventure, and no little trepidation, I poured cake batter into teacups and put it into the oven.

Wild recklessness, because I picked up the teacups from an op shop, with no knowledge of whether they were oven safe. Trepidation, because We could have had a Turkish coffee brownie flavoured explosion in the oven.

(But, looking on the bright side of life, a Turkish coffee brownie flavoured explosion might have led to a new oven. One with an accurate temperature gauge, a working oven light, and a steam function for baking bread.)


Cakes I & II

We didn’t get a new oven.

Instead, we got brownie cakes. I inverted the teacup cakes so they became domed-shaped single-serve mini layer cakes. With just enough space for one candle on top.

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Not your average box mix brownies


Lately, it feels like life is spinning, rushing past, so, so quickly, and I barely have time to say “woa!”.

Times like this, I like to bake and cook, take time out, slow down, and feel (slightly more) grounded. Baking and cooking helps me to remember that I don’t have to do everything at work before we head off on holiday. Other people will step in and help out, because they are good colleagues, smart people and good friends, and we’ve always helped each other out.

But, when baking starts at 9 or 10pm at night, I’ve been at a loss about what to bake. Nothing that takes too long (baking past midnight is fun but slightly surreal), or requires the Bosch kitchen mixer (our neighbours will start to give me odd looks). And I don’t want to beat eggwhite by hand and develop hausfrau muscles in my right arm only (that would be funny, but surreal and possibly impractical clothes-wise).

Last night, I found the answer. Box mix brownies – with home made box mix.


I was thinking about house warming presents for some friends we’ve known forever. They have never wanted very much, and have always been happy with what they have. Instead of giving them the usual wine glasses or home furnishings, we wanted to give them something that won’t end up cluttering their modestly minimalist life.

And last night, it came back to me: box mix brownies. I give them the mix of dry ingredients and add-ins, and all they need to do is add butter and eggs. Home made brownies within 30-40 minutes, including baking time.

I used an Alice Medrich cocoa brownies recipe to make up a box mix. I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, where Deb explained how she was converted to the idea of a good cocoa brownie, where cocoa is intentionally used in preference to blocks of dark, shiny chocolate. I was intrigued, and this idea lingered in the back of my mind like one of those cat pictures that never quite stop doing the rounds of office emails.


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Fudgiest fudgy brownies (GF)


Of men and brownies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are two camps of brownie-eaters: those who prefer cakey brownies, and those who prefer fudgy brownies. I am definitely in the fudgy brownie camp, especially if the fudgy part is ever slightly toothsome (i.e., not too soft or squishy) and comes with a crackly top. Nuts and chocolate chips optional.

This is one of those fudgy-crackly brownies.

The back story

Saturday was Australia Day, when we welcome new Australian citizens, have any number of backyard barbecues, and enjoy a public holiday on Monday. The long weekend was also a perfect opportunity for a trip away to beautiful Tasmania. But, after four nights away from home and eating out in restaurants, we were both hankering for a good home-made meal. I was also hankering for snacks that came from our oven rather than a cafe’s cookie jar.

I baked some super-fudgy brownies on our first proper evening back at home.

I usually take my baking to work, to share the love and the calories. Since a colleague and good friend is gluten-intolerant, I tried a gluten free version of Alice Medrich’s magical brownies recipe, from Gluten-free girl and the chef.

I have been captivated by Alice Medrich’s recipes since I stumbled on her book, Bittersweet, in a chocolate cafe in Canberra. Over the next few months, I went to that cafe every weekend, and lingered over my coffee while reading Medrich’s book. Sadly, that chocolate cafe had to close down when its landlord wanted to renovate the building, but my love affair with Medrich’s chocolate recipes endured. 

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