I've been making brownies for as long as I can remember. My mom used to bake them with my sisters and me when we were little, using them to teach us fractions and to occupy us in one place, with one mess - and once they were baked, to teach us self-control. and moderation. I used to think that brownies were an all-afternoon affair. And then I discovered that in actual fact they take all of 5 minutes to mix and then a half hour to bake. Given this, I am not sure why brownie mixes exist, but then I make everything from scratch. In high school, I went through a phase of making brownies multiple times a week with a friend. The recipe I grew up with is excellent, but it was then, and afterwards in University, that I began playing with it, adding fruit here, or a spice there, or tweaking the ingredients slightly. With a teething baby, I needed something easy to make and chocolatey the other night, so I decided to make brownies. It being blood orange season, one thing led to another and...
2 c sugar
1 c oil
1/2 c cocoa
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c blood orange juice (the juice of 1 blood orange, really)
Orange peel of the orange you juiced, the pith removed and sliced into thin strips.
1 tsp (generous) of vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 c milk
1 blood orange, thinly sliced
1) Beat the eggs and sugar together. Add oil, and combine. Add the cocoa and flour and stir. Add orange peel.
2) Mix in vanilla and juice. When WELL combined (you don't want to curdle the milk) stir in the milk. Start with a small amount and add more until you get the desired consistency.
3) Pour into a brownie pan, or a cast iron skillet will do very well, which is what I used. Arrange orange slices over the top and bake for 25-35 minutes at 175°C (or until done but still gooey in the centre).
These are the best brownies I have ever made. The flavours, intensity, texture and consistency were all perfect, both when they were fresh out of the oven and the next day. I baked them in my heirloom skillet, which belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother. I have been promised that I will be haunted by them both if I mistreat the skillet. Well, I think in this case they would have enjoyed it, so the haunting is not set to begin yet!
Book Pairing: This recipe I associate with listening to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It is about Savannah, its society and characters (of which there are some fantastic ones!) and an Occurrence during the author's time there. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this (and can't wait to see the movie now), and while making the brownies, I was listening to the very end of the book. Coming to the end of a good book is always bittersweet, and this was. It is satisfying getting to the end, but then where does that leave you? You've left the people and places behind and emerged out the other end.
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