Mocha Brownies..not to be neglected!

Those who know me well know that I’m a serial coffee neglecter.

It’s nothing against coffee – I neglect my tea too. I take care to store coffee the ‘correct’ way, and I have a lovely segregated tea box complete with labels for all the different varieties. I can even make tea relatively well – as much as dunking the tea bag and adding a splash of milk is considered praisable. Coffee is Mr B’s forte though – coffee is his thing.

The problems arise for me once the hot drink is made and placed on the bench/coffee table/desk. I start off with good intentions, sipping my way through the first few hot mouthfuls, and then without fail, I’m distracted…

The washing machine beeps, the phone rings, the children start bickering, the dishwasher beeps, the doorbell rings…or I just get up to do something I’ve suddenly remembered, and completely forget to get back to my tea or coffee in a timely fashion.

I’m constantly being reminded by someone ‘Your coffee is getting cold”. “Yes, I know, I’ll get back to it” I reply. And when I do, it’s always cold, or lukewarm at the very least.

It’s ironic because I’ve only been a coffee drinker for the past 5 years or so, and before that I despised iced coffee. I can’t tell if I’ve become accustomed to it cold now, or I’m just so addicted to caffeine that my taste buds don’t care what the temperature is!

Last night I made mocha brownies – partly because I was looking for a caffeine hit that didn’t mind sitting on the bench waiting for me to remember it (hardly a problem in this case!), but also because I wanted to try a ‘Pioneer Woman’ recipe.

Being Australian, I grew up with Margaret Fulton and Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks. As the years went on I discovered Stephanie Alexander, Donna Hay and now a whole host of ‘home cook tried their hand on tv and produces cookbook’ cooks, but there are still so many cookbooks out there whose authors are completely unknown to me.

One name I see popping up all over the place is The Pioneer Woman. Everyone seems to be raving about PW recipes, so I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I have to admit, I was expecting a demure Little House on the Prairie bonnet-wearing type, so after I borrowed one cookbook from the library and had a little squiz at her website, I’d changed my tune.

Ree Drummond is not only hilarious, but leads a pretty full-on ranching life in Oklahoma, home-schooling her four kids and being a pretty impressive baker/photographer/blogger.

Her recipes feature step-by-step instructions with plenty of photographs along the way, and her cookbooks show a glossy ranching life, her family, dogs, horses, and the cattle, of course.

Obviously many of her recipes are heavy on the meat…no problem, I’ll make something sweet. What’s that I see, mocha brownies? Sweet and caffeine in one go? I’m onto it.

The brownies were quick to whip up, but need time to chill completely before topping with the mocha icing. If you’ve got a morning tea deadline, make them the night before. I’d also recommend inviting around your neighbours, postman and long-lost cousins to help you eat them, or take a very large plateful to your workplace, otherwise you’ll be buying bigger sized jeans next week – they are sinfully delicious and contain a truckload of sugar and butter!

I also halved the icing recipe because I literally felt ill looking at the quantities of icing sugar & butter in that alone – it still provided a very thick layer of icing so I’ll stick to my quantities in future too.

Mocha Brownies

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ingredients

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 115g unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 ¼ cups plain flour

Mocha Icing

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 to ½ cup coffee, cooled to room temp
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. In a medium bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, then drop mixer to low speed and add melted chocolate. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour brownie batter into a greased or lined baking pan* , even out the surface with a spatula, and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes. The centre should be just firm.
  5. Set aside to cool – at least an hour.
  6. Icing – Combine butter, icing sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla, and mix until just combined. Add 1/3 cup cooled coffee and whip until it reaches a light, fluffy consistency. If it’s too thick, add more coffee.
  7. Spread icing over brownies – it should result in a very thick layer! Refrigerate until firm, then cut into slices.

Notes

* Original recipe uses an 8-inch square baking pan…I used my 32 x 22.5cm deep pan lined with baking paper and it was the perfect size.

* PW recommends a slice of this with ice-cream and hot fudge sauce for dessert – agahhhh I’m drooling already….

Any other notable caffeine recipes I should know about?

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Choc-coconut Brownies

I’m a bit of a scavenger when it comes to finding good recipes. Aside from the cookbooks sitting atop my shelves, I have a few folders of recipes that are ripped from magazines, newspapers, cornflake boxes, etc. A few weeks ago I bought a packet of coconut flakes and found a brownie recipe on the back, which reminded me of a chocolate coconut slice my mum used to make often when I was a kid. I finally got around to making it today – it was nice to have a recipe with no substitutions or conversions needed!
Choc-Coconut Brownies
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup butter or marg, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
optional – 1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Heat oven to 175 °C. Grease and line a slice tin.
2. Combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla essence in a bowl.
3. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture along with 3/4 cup coconut flakes ( and pistachios if desired), mix all ingredients well.
4. Spread mixture evenly over base of tin, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup coconut flakes over top.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of tin. Cool completely before cutting into squares. 
Does anyone actually wait for brownies to cool first? Half the tin was gone before I even lifted it off the cooling rack!

Now for the verdict…
slightly chewy around the edges, slightly soft & gooey in the middle – just how I like brownies! If you’re a fan of coconut you’ll enjoy this take on a favourite, if you’re not…maybe don’t bother. I didn’t include pistachios this time (because I had none) but I’ll definitely try this recipe again. Not my favourite brownie recipe ever, but nice for a change.