Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe

I  started baking for 'The Little Christmas Fair' today and thought I would share my brownie recipe.  I've  tried quite a few and this is definitely the best one yet - it's a combination of different recipes tweaked over the years .  Of course it relies on good quality dark chocolate but it also benefits from being cooked longer at a lower temperature.

The Ingredients

250g caster sugar (the original recipe says 300g but this works well with less sugar)
4 large eggs
225g unsalted butter
225g good quality plain dark chocolate
75g cocoa powder
75g plain flour
100g blanched hazelnuts roughly chopped
75g dried sour cherries or dried cranberries
75g good quality white chocolate - roughly chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/Gas mark 3.

  1. Start by melting the butter and  the chocolate in two separate bowls.  You can melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water but if you have an aga just leave the 2 bowls at the back of the aga to melt away.
  2. Line an 8 inch/20cm square or a rectangular tin with baking parchment.  I used a tin 8in x 12in/20 x 30cm and folded the baking parchment back to around 8inches and  held the baking parchment in place with some paper clips.
  3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the sugar and eggs together.
  4. Gradually add the melted butter - whisking thoroughly.
  5. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the sieved flour and cocoa powder.
  6. Add the chopped hazelnuts, dried cranberries and the chunks of white chocolate.
  7. Turn into the lined tin and bake in a 160C conventional oven (140C fan oven) for around 30 minutes.  My brownies took 37 minutes to cook today so after 25 minutes keep checking.
  8. The mixture needs to have set, but can be slightly gooey in the middle.
  9. Leave to cool in the tin before you cut into fairly small squares - I cut 24 squares.  These brownies are very rich and a little goes a long way.

What I love about this recipe, is that it can be adapted to the ingredients in your store cupboard.  Today, I used pistachio nuts instead of hazelnuts and chunks of dark chocolate instead of  white chocolate. 

Do you have a favourite brownie recipe and what do you add to ring the changes?

A bientôt et bon appétit,


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Market in Aix-en-Provence or Dinner Tonight.......

Summer has arrived and the markets are full of wonderful produce just waiting to be taken home, simply prepared and eaten on the terrace with family and friends and a glass of local rosé wine.  The Place Richelme in Aix-en-Provence is my favourite market, where you can get everything you need for a delicious meal.  The market is held every morning including Sunday but be sure to get there early to get the best pick of the produce. The stallholders start packing up around midday.

Starting with a tomato salad - remove the core from the tomatoes and slice finely before arranging on a plate - sprinkle with some good olive oil and salt and pepper plus a few torn basil leaves.

Followed by some mediterranean fish - get the fishmonger to gut and scale the fish then stuff with herbs and bake wrapped loosely in foil (add a little white wine to keep the fish moist) for around 20 minutes - serve with olive oil and lemon juice and some steamed beans for a light and healthy meal.

In France it's always the cheese course next and these little fromage au chevre/goat's cheese are tasty without being too overpowering - they also make a great addition to a tomato tart.    

Finish off with some ripe peaches peeled and sliced into a bowl - sprinkle with a little liqueur (whatever you have to hand) and add a few torn lemon verbena leaves (verveine) for their subtle flavour.  Leave to macerate for 15 minutes and serve with some vanilla ice-cream and a macaroon .

You can also pick up some delicious freshly roasted and ground coffee in the Brulerie Richelme.

Rebecca's Aix offers tours of the local markets which will introduce to all these wonderful foods and help you get the most out of your time in Aix-en-Provence.  We will taste some local specialities and  meet some enthusiastic producers along the way.   I can help you shop for your dinner or we can  assemble a picnic that can be eaten in a pretty local park.  Please visit my website for more information  Rebecca's Aix Market Tours  or drop me an email at

A bientôt, Rebecca.