Espresso brownies

I have just finished my (paid) work and am bracing for school home time. It’s been a mixed bag of a week which saw me in tears last night at the thought of making dinner AGAIN (#everyfuckingnight, I swear to God people, every.fucking.night). Sure, there may have been some hormones involved but let’s just put that day to bed.

These are on the front cover of Food52’s baking book from which I want to bake every single recipe. Hey, maybe that’s a challenge I can set myself? And are so very good.

You need a big baking pan – 33 x 45cm, 13 x 18 inch – so get onto that. You could of course just split the mixture between two smaller ones but as to what size they’d be don’t ask me because, well, numeral.

It makes a lot – 24 large brownies, 36 smaller ones. It uses eight eggs. EIGHT EGGS! When I started cooking as a kid and then with a fair amount of gusto as a teenager I’d show mum a recipe and without fail there’d be an exclamation about how many eggs were in it. Were eggs expensive back then? Was there some sort of price collusion in the 80s I was unaware of? Anyway, it uses eight eggs.

Now, even though in the recipe’s intro it talks about how this is the 35th version of  these brownies the recipe creator June Jacobs has created, I still didn’t follow it exactly. Just follow it exactly OK?

Espresso brownies.
Espresso brownies.

Espresso brownies
Rich, fudgey brownies with icing on top, as if that's even allowed.
  • 3 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 eggs (EIGHT eggs!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder (use a strong espresso kind)
  • 2 cups toasted nuts (I left these out, totally fine without it)
  • 2 cups choc chips
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup cognac (I KNOW! Fancy like)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup choc chips
For the brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C and butter the sheet pan
  2. In a mixer beat the butter and sugar together but you don't want it all fluffy - these are brownies remember, not a cake, you don't need a heap of air in the mix
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping as you go
  4. Then add the vanilla and salt
  5. Mix the flour with the coffee and cocoa powder and nuts
  6. Add to the butter mixture
  7. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out THEN sprinkle over the choc chips
  8. Swirl the choc chips in a bit (I ignored this and added them with the flour and all the choc chips sunk to the bottom, so yeah, maybe the recipe is right)
  9. Bake for 23½ minutes (don't you love the precision! I did mine for a bit longer because I didn't have the right sized tin and was winging it)
For the icing
  1. Combine everything except the chocolate in a saucepan and stir fairly constantly until it comes to the boil
  2. Let it boil for a a minute or two.
  3. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth
  4. Pour over the cooled brownies
  5. Drown your troubles.


Mocha Meringue Cake

A divine mocha mousse sandwiched between two meringue discs.

Ok, something fancy for a change.

It’s been so invigorating having my cooking mojo back but let’s face it, cooking dinners tends to focus on the functional in this house and I just had a hankering to make something requiring a bit of technical skill and that was a little bit fancy.

I was rearranging my cookbook bookshelf and the June July copy of Donna Hay fell out with this on the cover. I basically had to make it immediately. I swapped out the white chocolate for milk because it was all I had and the mousse probably didn’t set as well as it should have because I didn’t have enough whipped cream. I also used almond meal instead of hazelnut meal because it was what i had in the cupboard. But guess what, it was BLOODY DELICIOUS.

It’s not technically challenging, but there are steps and waiting/cooling times so go in with that knowledge.

Mocha meringue cake
Mocha meringue cake

Mocha Meringue Cake
Total show pony dessert
Serves: 8-10 slices
The meringue
  • 2 tsp strong instant coffee granules
  • ½ tsp boiling water
  • 1 tblsp cornflour
  • 1 cup almond meal (any nut meal will work a treat)
  • 4 eggwhites
  • 1½ cups icing sugar
The mousse
  • ½ cup pouring cream
  • ¼ cup strong instant coffee granules (yes, ¼ cup)
  • 400g milk chocolate (original recipe is 300g white choc, 100g dark choc)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ cups thickened cream, whipped
For the meringue
  1. Preheat the oven to 120C and draw 2 x 20cm circles on baking paper
  2. Dissolve the coffee in the water
  3. Combine the cornflour with the almond meal
  4. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form
  5. Add the sugar in spoonfuls and beat until thick and glossy
  6. Scrape down the sides then add the almond meal mix and whisk until just combined
  7. Turn the baking paper upside-down (so the pencil doesn't transfer onto the meringue) and place on two baking trays
  8. Spoon the meringue onto the two circles and smooth with a pallet knife or spatula
  9. Bake for 1hr, then turn off the oven and leave in there for 2 hours or overnight
For the mousse
  1. Put the ½ cup of cream and the coffee in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
  2. Once the coffee starts dissolving add the chocolate and stir every now and then until it's all melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly (I basically waited until it was blood warm)
  3. Whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks
  4. Mix the egg yolks into the chocolate then fold through the eggwhites
  5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (or in my case a few hours because I made it all out of order!)
To assemble
  1. Grease and line a 24cm springform tin
  2. Place one of the meringue discs into the bottom of the cake pan, top with mousse and then the remaining meringue
  3. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours
  4. Dust with icing sugar


Coffee Streusel Cake

I have a very large soft spot for cakes that have a streusel/crumble topping on them. It’s located between my boobs and nether parts and expands with little effort and is sometimes affectionately referred to as Terry. Terry Tummy. Terence when I’m fed up with the reality I can not eat whatever I want whenever I want without ‘issues’ ensuing.

This recipe comes from my MIL who used to make it a lot apparently. I am dirty with her that ‘a lot’ was clearly happening a long time ago because she hasn’t made it while I’ve been part of the family. And that’s 16 years. Just kidding. I have been looking for this kind of recipe for months, so when she brought it out at a family lunch the other day, I was stoked.

Coffee Streusel Cake

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans but walnuts or macadamias would work)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and flour a 26cm springform tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream
  5. Combine the nuts with the brown sugar and cinnamon
  6. Spoon half the batter into the cake tin and spread to the edges (the cake batter is quite thick)
  7. Top with half the nut/sugar mixture
  8. Spoon over remaining cake batter, then top with remaining nut/sugar mixture.
  9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until cooked when tested.

Next time I’m going to ever so slightly cut the top layer of nut/sugar/cinnamon into the batter with a palette knife.

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