If I could get chocolate brownies to every woman on the planet today, I would, since there is no better start or end to any day – but I can’t so here’s the best I can do.
To begin, thanks America – you gave it to us!
Hawaii produce cocoa – their Theobroma cacao trees give us the criollo, the richest flavour variety which is cross bred to produce a chocolate without bitterness or acidity and with an incredibly nutty flavour. As far as I’m concerned it has to go on the list of the top five best of the best and it will probably win. If I can find five worthy to be on my list, that is. The Hawaiin cacao trees, unlike all other types, grow in full sunlight in the rich volcanic soils of Kea’au and Kona on the island of Hawaii and the farmers there plant more trees per hectare, bearing 100 pods per tree, than anywhere else in the world!! So if someone gives you a bag of Hawaiin Vintage chocolate for your next batch of choccies – be very very grateful!!
Chocolate brownies became really popular on the American scene some time after the second World War but have been around since the 19th century. The first published recipe was found in the 1897 Sears Roebuck catalogue. During the depression, recipes for brownies appeared on the cocoa tins and chocolate wrappers- in all probability to lift Americans spirits a little. Milton Hershey, of hershey bar fame, adored chocolate brownies with ice cream and this is called ice cream “a la mode”.
The most famous brownie recipe? It has to be the so-called “haschich fudge” (no kidding) to be found in a cookbook by Alice B. Toklas in 1954 in Britain that contained a whole tablespoon of cannabis resin! She thought it might be fun for ladies bridge club meetings or reunions.
Finally, the best chocolate brownies ever can be bought at Charlies Bakery in 20 Roeland street, Cape Town. Theirs are sublime and certainly the best I’ve ever tasted, so to all you Capetonian foodies, pick up a phone and order yours. Go to Charly’s Bakery for more info.
Herewith my gift, the easiest recipe there is because anyone can make these with ease.
400 g unsalted butter
400 g dark chocolate (75% Lindt is perfect)
6 jumbo eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
500 g caster sugar
100 g honey
250 g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
325 g chopped pecans (or walnuts, macadamia’s, brazil nuts and even hazelnuts)
Preheat your oven to 180 and line your brownie pan, sides and the base, very well.
Melt the chocolate, honey and the butter together in a big heavy based pot on a low heat.
In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla and measure the flour and salt into another bowl. Once the chocolate mixture has melted and cooled, start to beat in the eggs and sugar mixture and also the nuts, adding the flour lastly, bit by bit and continuing for a while after everything has been incorporated until it is smooth and then scrape it out and put into the properly lined pan. Bake for 25 minutes. The top will a bit dry but the inside will be soft, moist and rich.
Cut to taste and eat as is or drown in whatever thick, rich chocolate sauce you prefer.