There’s a cooking feudal system within our house. I’m at the top (obviously) – the Henry VIII of the cooking hierarchy. Alex and Lucia form the knight/bishop/nobleman inbetween, and at the bottom – the culinary layman – lies Guy. Meals for him consist of ryvita with mustard, fried mince with ‘shit chucked in’, and Fox’s chocolate crinkles.
However, last week they decided it was time we dispelled of this derogatory system that declared the boys culinary novices, and so both of the resident males took on the skill of baking for a very brief amount of time. Here’s my documentation of their efforts
- Alex’s 3 ingredient oat and raisin cookies
An attempt at healthy baking as part of a gym-driven health kick. Very nice try at being both healthy and frugal, if only they were edible.
I think Alex’s face below conveys the experience of biting into them accurately. Kind of like biting into a rubber ball. A good bounce on them. Useful if you have a wonky table and need something to put under, or maybe as one of those rubber stoppers you attach to a wall to stop the door banging when you open it.
2. Guy’s fudge
Mm. Fudge. Colour was fine, taste was actually fine, but texture resembled extremely thick orange juice with bits.
One of the more disconcerting things I’ve tried in my lifetime. What the bits consisted of, we’ll never know.
3. Healthy baking attempt no. 2: Alex’s banana chocolate brownies
Undeterred by the kind of animal-dropping-like attempt at cookies, Alex ventured over to the dauntingly large world of the healthy brownie (via, fittingly, a recipe from Ambitious Kitchen). This one I think was made of some sort of combination of banana, cocoa powder and yoghurt, and we gave it a 4/10. Chocolatey, yes, but dryer than a fart in the desert (had to consult Alex as to whether that simile was too crude but it’s my blog and it made me laugh). Maybe it needed less cooking, but regardless it definitely needed a bit of sweetness.
4. The Final Bake: healthy baking attempt no.3 – A quite nice batch of brownies
Eager to develop his recipe for a guilt-free brownie, Alex returned to the kitchen again – this time, armed with oats. The result of this one was much more pleasing, with the bulk from the oats providing more stodge than the spongey yoghurt ones. Squidgy, chocolatey and satisfying, though again lacking in a bit of sweetness. 7/10 in the brownie world.
So that concludes the week-long cooking frenzy that overtook the house – almost. I, cocky bitch that I am, had to come along and strut my brownie-baking stuff. So I made these babies (which I’ll include the recipe for later). Despite my belief that no brownie is a brownie unless packed with sugar, butter, a little flour and proper dark chocolate, I was requested to bake a ‘healthy brownie’ and so a healthy brownie I baked (although I would take a look at the ingredients list and judge for yourself how ‘healthy’ these brownies are – 230g butter and 150g maple syrup doesn’t sound too virtuous to me). Unanimous decision, these won. 10/10.
Even better the next day, these kept for about 4 days without drying out and crumbling. I didn’t have the two cans of black beans required, so I subbed one can for a can of butterbeans and it made no difference as far as I can tell.
Order restored, I retain my monarchical status in the kitchen.
Black Bean Brownies (adapted from The Hemsley Sisters’ recipe from The Art of Eating Well)
2 tins of black beans (or as I did, a tin of black beans and a tin of butterbeans)
85g unsweetened cacao powder
150ml maple syrup or honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
130g chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line a 24x30cm baking dish.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Melt the butter in a pan and set aside.
- Put the drained beans, eggs, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract into a food processor with a pink of salt. Blend this until smooth.
- Add the melted butter whilst the machine is still running (slowly as to not scramble the eggs). I don’t have a big food processor at uni, so I used a stick blender for all of this – just make sure you pulse it really thoroughly so you don’t end up with rogue beans in your brownie.
- Stir in most of the chopped nuts and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin. Tap the tin on the counter a few times to spread the mixture out evenly. Sprinkle on the remaining chopped nuts.
- Bake for around 40 minutes, until the surface is slightly cracked.
- Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares. Best serves cold as it makes them even more fudgy.
Conclusion: For the ultimate indulgent-but-not-too-indulgent brownie experience, avoid brownies with yoghurt and oats, and opt for the more out-there sweet potato and bean. Plants & pulses never fail.