I really had high hopes of getting back to a regular blogging schedule. Evidently that hasn’t happened, and even Sunday Smiles has completely flown out of the window. With two months until I’m supposed to be handing in a 40,000 word thesis, I’ve accepted that a regular blogging schedule is unlikely to magically throw itself together any time soon. So I’ll stop peppering the blog with excuses and apologies for not posting, and just hope that you, my lovely regular readers, will hang in there and put up with some seriously sporadic posting. Will a pretty picture make up for it a bit? Let’s give it a try:
That’ll be the view from a recent evening walk I took with one of my housemates. Which is obviously not what I’ve been doing instead of blogging. Perhaps not so surprising that I absolutely love it here, eh? Moving swiftly on before you all hate me… I’m sure you’re aware that it was St Patrick’s Day the weekend before last. (Oh that’s why the internet was suddenly almost entirely decked out in green…) A couple of my housemates and I went to visit one of our other housemates who is doing research up north (my current housing situation is currently somewhat convoluted and there’s a fair bit of subletting involved) for St Patrick’s weekend. I, of course, brought baked goods. And gin, obviously. But lets focus on the baked goods.
I wanted something vaguely Irish-themed since it was St Patrick’s and all, and had an urge to bake brownies (which are also easy to transport – win!). I looked up my favourite brownie recipe (coffee & walnut brownies, since you ask) to see how I could Irishify (totally a word) it. And it hit me: Irish Coffee & walnut brownies. Oh yes.
Confession time: I didn’t actually use an Irish whisky – there wasn’t any in the cupboard so I used Glenfiddich, my usual baking whisky. Luckily the brownies turned out so scrumptious that nobody picked me up on it. The whisky flavour does come through subtly and goes wonderfully with the other flavours in the brownies. Success! I’m submitting these brownies to this month’s AlphaBakes challenge, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes. The special letter this month is “I,” so that’ll be I for Irish Coffee… That totally counts as an ingredient, right? I’m also attempting to sneak my entry in because I totally thought the deadline was today… It was yesterday. Thankfully, I’m way more on the ball with my thesis due date…
Irish Coffee & walnut brownies
Makes 20 brownies
Adapted from Le Larousse des desserts
I used Glenfiddich as that’s my usual baking whisky, but just use whatever you favour – an Irish whisky would obviously be ideal… You can also use freshly-brewed espresso rather than instant coffee if that’s what you have at home. These will keep for a several days in an airtight container, though they’re so moreish that I doubt they’ll last that long! These are probably best enjoyed with a coffee – an Irish Coffee, obviously.
70g walnut pieces of halves
140g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp espresso-style instant coffee
4 tbsp boiling water
3-4 tbsp whisky
1 tbsp cream
60g all-purpose flour
150g caster sugar
1. Line a 20 x 25 cm baking tin with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to fan 170°C.
2. Roughly chop the walnuts, then dry toast them in a small frying pan until fragrant, taking care not to let them burn. Set aside to cool.
3. Break half the chocolate into pieces and add to a medium heat-proof bowl with the cubed butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). In a little ramekin or glass, dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water. Add to the chocolate and butter mixture along with the whisky and cream and melt together, stirring occasionally. When all melted together and smooth, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
3. Sift the flour into a small bowl. Roughly chop the remaining chocolate into small chunks and stir into the flour, along with the cooled toasted walnuts.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until well mixed and a little foamy. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture. Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula then pour into the prepared baking tin. Smooth the top of the mixture if necessary and bake for 18-22 mins until a knife point comes out with a little mixture still stuck to it.
5. Cool for about 20-30 mins in the tin until just warm, then remove and allow to cool fully on a wire rack before slicing and serving.