45 min – vegetarian – winter/spring/summer/autumn
Both my boyfriend and I are suckers for a cup of hot, strong coffee with something sweet on the side. Ideally we have a little dish of brown sugar cubes to go with it. We dip a sugar cube in the coffee, let it absorb all the liquid it can take, and then place the cube on our tounge and leave it there to dissolve. That said, this is something that doesn’t happen too often. It happens when we’re at a family party to celebrate someone’s 70th or 80th birthday, because that is where coffee is served with brown sugar cubes as far as I can understand. Cakewise our tastes are probably a little older than our bodies, I think – the cakes and sweet treats I tend to like is often to be found in old peoples homes for dessert, or on the desserts table at grandparents’ birthdays.
We are also suckers for a decent piece of chocolate to go with our coffee. A little less sugar, but just as much, if not more, flavour. My personal favourite is any variety of plain, dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent. The bitter taste goes into your mouth, then the hot coffee joins it a few seconds later and melts it all together. It really is an amazing experience.
So imagine if you combined all of this into one piece: the sweet from the sugar, the bitter from the chocolate and the strong coffee. How could I resist that? I couldn’t. So here it is: the coffee brownie. It is a brownie, with espresso and broken up pieces of dark chocolate added to the batter, served with either ice cream or whipped cream, salted peanuts or fresh raspberries. Or strawberries, for that matter. I imagine most kinds of fresh red berries would go well with this, unless maybe the most sour ones like redcurrant. The cake is not very sweet tasting all by itself, but it is definitely not bitter. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream, or let it cool and serve it with whipped cream with a few vanilla seeds or vanilla sugar mixed in. Sprinkle with salted nuts. A steaming hot cup of coffee finishes it all off and completes the story - your guests will ask you for the recipe for this one (at least the grown ups will, and the kids who like the subtle taste of coffee).
I use one espresso shot in this cake, made with my little Bialetti coffee maker as I don’t own an espresso machine. This could easily be substituted for any sort of strong coffee made with either a french press, with a filter coffee maker or you could use your favourite instant coffee – just make sure it is quite strong. The amount of coffee is so small that it won’t be bitter, but the taste of coffee will stay in the background and compliment the chocolate.
- Coffee brownies -
Makes 1 brownie pan, 24×34 cm or about that size
100 g butter
200 g good quality dark chocolate (for the batter)
300 ml caster sugar
1 espresso shot
4 organic eggs
200 ml all-purpose flour
100 g dark chocolate, broken up in pieces
a handful fresh berries, salted peanuts or cashews
ice cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.
Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl by boiling water in a pot and placing the bowl with your ingredients in the boiling water. That way it won’t burn at the bottom of the bowl. Once melted, add caster sugar and stir it all together. Add the eggs one by one, and stir between each egg. Add your coffee/espresso and stir until you have a smooth, even mix. Sift the flour over the bowl, then carefully stir until all of the flour has been mixed evenely. Chop up the remaining chocolate and add it to the batter. Pour batter into a greased pan (I prefer to use butter for greasing).
Cook for 30 minutes, or until the cake is evently cooked. It should be a little sticky in the middle.