family · health and wellbeing · recipes

Quake

Presently based in Mexico City, my daughter endured the terrifying experience of an earthquake. Standing in a queue on nightclub stairwell (where most twenty-somethings living on the other side of the world from home should be) the quake hit. Fearing its likely collapse, she had the presence of mind to push herself and those ahead of her off the stairs and into the club – where they safely waited it out.

Although she was physically unscathed, the experience has remained within her protective recesses. The nights are very hot in Mexico and for maximum sleeping comfort the minimum in sleeping attire is required. Never sure now when the next tremor may strike, she keeps a pair of pants within arm’s reach next to her bed should she need to evacuate to the street in the wee hours. Affectionately termed her ”earthquake pants” they provide the security she currently needs to sleep well through unsettling circumstances.

And today I thought, we all need earthquake pants, something or someone we know we can reach for when life trembles. I am lucky. I have some very sound quake strides that have supported me, so I urge you to think about what are yours. For many the fabric is woven from religion, a parent, a partner or a social network. Whatever guise your pants may be, cherish them and keep them close.

I hope I am the earthquake pants for my children.

Maybe you also have a pair fashioned from the strongest material available, but have not yet discovered them or have forgotten they are there, folded securely within you. These are the pants that you slide into when the fault lines of life shift and separate beneath you. Their warp and weft threads are tightly bound by the inner strength of your human spirit – and nothing, not even a shift in the physical earth will ever separate them.

If you are experiencing or have endured your own personal instability, this is a lovely piece to help restore calm.

 

And here is the recipe for this brownie, with all of its cracks, splits and crevices.

Cranberry and Mixed Nut Brownie

125g dark chocolate
175g butter
3 eggs
275g caster sugar
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
small handful of dried cranberries
150g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced).
  2. Grease and line a slice tin with baking paper overhanging the sides.
  3. Place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and melt over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly and cool for a few minutes once melted.
  4. Beat eggs and sugar.
  5. Blend this mixture with the chocolate mixture and fold through all of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour into lined tin and bake for around 30 minutes.
  7. Once completely cold, slice into portions, which if you have no will power to withstand, like me, share out or place in the freezer for a rough day.

 

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recipes

Tim Tam

Tim Tam Brownie

It is better to give than to receive. I know this because I had the opportunity to watch a friend blissfully devour umpteen pieces of brownie I baked her for her birthday. A work colleague actually,  from a neighbouring shore who has developed a passion for Tim Tams – what better birthday gift than to present her with a packet, hidden in a brownie?

There aren’t too many than can pass up a Tim Tam or a chunk of brownie either. Such a perfect match the two have made. Soft chewy brownie with crisp chunks of chocolate biscuit – a devilish treat. Combine this with the recipient’s pleasure and you’ve created yourself one happy day.

tray of Tim Tam brownie

Do you feel like indulging? Thought so. Here is how they are done. Start with the basic brownie recipe I use, and leave out the honeycomb. Once the batter is made, dab about four heaped spoonfuls onto the base of the lined tin and smooth over to form a bed for your Tim Tams. Lay out an entire packet of the biscuits over the base. Now top with the remaining batter and smooth over so the Tim Tams are hidden inside. Bake for 30-35 minutes, and when the brownie has cooled, slice into blocks. Dust with cocoa powder.

brownie mix

Postscript: and then it occurred to me that there are a host of other chocolate biscuits on the shelves ……

recipes

Honeycomb

chocolate coated honeycomb

Ever wondered what to do with all that leftover honeycomb and chocolate you have? Nor have I, but if there’s ever a reason to stockpile it, this brownie recipe is the one. Shards of brittle caramelised sugar amongst fudgy chocolate brownie – pair this with a nice cup of tea and you have what I would consider to be the ultimate treat.

As autumn slides in, and with it the cooler evenings, what better way to see you through the complexities of Downton Abbey life than a cup of tea and a good chunk of this.

chocolate honeycomb brownie

In fact, I’m sure if Mrs Patmore had culinary associations with those ‘across the pond’, the resulting recipe exchanges would have made possible the serving of this racy brownie to the drawing-room, and all manner of crises may have been averted.

If only Tom could have chowed down on a piece of this scrumptious bake, I’m sure he would be less inclined to espouse his unpopular political opinions (unfortunately alienating him from his English in-laws). Edith’s recovery from her jilting would have been far more expedient had she been offered a slice,  and the stress caused by the recent financial crisis that almost had the Abbey thrust on the open market, would have swiftly been alleviated. Perhaps if Bates could have been slipped a piece through the bars, there would have been more joy in his life than simply Anna’s letters, and even the sourpuss O’Brien might have seen the positive after a good munch.

And, despite its American origins,  I’m sure Granny would have secretly loved it.

Not a Downton fan and haven’t a clue about anything I’ve just written? Don’t be concerned. If your blood is red (not blue) and you’re up for a bit of luxury in the evening, then here are the steps to take:

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
180g butter
200g dark chocolate
3 eggs, beaten
100g chocolate coated honeycomb, roughly crushed

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a rectangular pan with baking paper.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder. Mix well.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate and pour into dry mix with the eggs. Mix until smooth.
  4. Stir through 3/4 of the honeycomb. Pour into baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle remaining honeycomb evenly over the top and bake for 35 minutes or until firm. Slice when cool.

instagram cadbury

Postscript: Just wanted to include a snap of an old friend who has accompanied me on many baking adventures and who gave a standout performance in this batch of brownies – Cadbury.