Happy Birthday brownies – revisited

Happy Birthday Sophia!

Sophia’s birthday brownies

The first encounter was in 1964. The Palos Verdes Girl Scouts of America visited a televised cooking demo downtown.  We were all very excited to be there.  I wasn’t really listening when the woman on stage said she was going to make brownies and needed a helper.  Then I heard her ask for Mandy Gay.  ‘Oh God, please help’,  I thought.  Stumbling through the rows and onto the stage I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen.  Fairly new to Los Angeles, and never having made more than a bowl of Rice Krispies in my life, I found out what a professional this woman was, gently pushing me in front of one bowl after another and whispering ‘just stir’ and ‘now we are going to’, while continuing to smile engagingly at the audience. The rest of the day is thankfully forgotten.

This recipe comes from one of my favourite books, Cooking Texas Style by Cindy Wagner and Sandra Marquez.  My copy was purchased at the Alamo in 1991.  I have been making the brownies ever since.  Some years I get confused about cups and ounces and am still not totally sure what a cup of butter is but have done my best to translate the recipe into metric units.  I’ve made some changes – halving the sugar – but if you want the original quantities, the BBC has a comparable recipe.

Be warned that this makes a high fat brownie!  All the better for freezing and storing, although mine never make it that far.

Arabella’s birthday brownies
  • Ingredients:  225g butter (yes, really! ), 115g self raising flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 180g dark chocolate (60-70%), 225g light muscovado sugar, 4 medium eggs, whisked. 40g ground almonds, a pinch of Jamaica allspice, ground ginger and or cinnamon. 100g chopped or flaked nuts (pecans, almonds or hazelnuts).

Method:  cut the butter and chocolate into squares and melt in a bowl in a warm oven.  Leave to cool, then sift the flour and baking powder into the chocolate, follow this with the other ingredients and stir together well.  Pour into a greased and lined 20cm square baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 170°C.  Cut into 16 squares. Serve cold with slices of fresh mango, ice cream and champagne or warm with grilled oranges, a bit of rum and of course candles (well, it is a birthday)

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