My mum is a good cook. A really good cook. Mary-Jane’s baked goods are legendary among childhood school friends, and in fact, it’s not uncommon for one or two of them to stop by her house even now, heading straight to the kitchen and asking how the family are getting on through a mouthful of cake. And her savoury dishes? Well, let’s just say my brothers and I start most meals exclaiming “ohmygod” as we shovel food into our mouths, fighting over who’s taking the leftovers to work.
Mum is shy about her her culinary prowess, and she’ll deny that she’s anything special in the kitchen. But I beg to differ, and so would every person who’s ever eaten something that’s been taken out her Aga and served up on mismatched kitchenware.
That’s why I’m really excited to have her as a special guest on this blog today…
My beloved, talented, knowledgeable mum is far more of an expert in the kitchen than I am (and I suspect cooking for a family of six for 30+ years has lots to do with that), and she truly sees cooking for her friends and family as the ultimate expression of love. A little act of service, if you will.
She’s kindly agreed to share her gooey chocolate brownie recipe ahead of Valentine’s Day, so if you’re wondering what to do, make or give to someone special, you’ve plenty of time to test this recipe out for yourself. You can find Mary Jane on Instagram at @cookedbymj , and I’m sure she’d appreciate a comment below if you enjoyed reading her first post! Over to you, mum…
Valentine’s Day Gooey Chocolate Brownies
“When I was young (a very long time ago) I remember the thrill of sending and receiving Valentine’s cards. It seemed secretive, flattering and fun. But these days, I’m somewhat ambivalent about Valentine’s Day. I expect that my tendency towards ‘bah humbug’ comes from my advancing age and the commercialism of the day… And, I know I’m sometimes too serious by nature, but I can’t help but feel a pang for the lonely and the lovelorn who won’t receive anything.
However I’m reminded that it’s easy to be a bit jaded as middle age begins to bite, and that I’m lucky indeed to be able to send my love (of some thirty six years) a jokey, teasing card.
Overall I think it’s good to tell someone that you love them whenever you can, whatever form that love takes; whether that’s a secret someone you cannot stop having seriously romantic thoughts about, or your partner, your child or your friend – all of whom hopefully already know how much you love them. But such a reminder can only be a good thing, right?
With all this in mind, I humbly present the recipe for the only Valentine’s offering I’ll be making this year: our family’s favourite chocolate brownie recipe. The highest accolade I’ve ever received from its grateful recipients comes from Lee’s Mum – (she’s Canadian, so knows a good brownie when she tries it) – who kindly said it was the best British brownie she’d eaten. It’s incredibly simple and quick to make, infinitely variable and I’ll also give the dairy free version below. If it were low calorie (which it most certainly is not), it’d be perfect.
You’ll need a square cake tin or roasting tin (20cm by 20cm is ideal, with sides at least 4 cm high) and a sheet of baking paper. Line the tin with it and scatter with squares of white chocolate first.
Ingredients for Gooey Chocolate Brownies
100g dark chocolate, broken into squares
100g milk chocolate, broken into squares
100g white chocolate, broken into squares
6tbsp cocoa powder
250g caster sugar (yes, you read that correctly, 250g…)
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp self-raising flour
Take a pan and melt butter and cocoa powder together over a low heat until melted, stirring to combine. Remove from heat.
Place sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat lightly.
Add sugar, egg and vanilla mixture to melted butter and sugar and stir thoroughly.
Add the flour and stir until all of the flour is absorbed into the mixture.
Stir the dark chocolate pieces into the mixture and stir to melt.
Spoon the mixture over the white chocolate in the tin and roughly level it out.
Stud the top of the mixture with the milk chocolate chunks.
Cook at gas mark 4, 180c (160c if fan assisted oven), or the lowest shelf of AGA baking oven – mine takes 33 minutes, but you should check yours after 25 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it – dry, burnt brownie is horrible.
The cooked brownies should have a dull, lighter surface and a slight wobble at the centre – remember it will continue to cook a little more as it cools. When cool, it’s lovely served with ice cold milk, a cup of tea or coffee, fresh strawberries or raspberries, cream, ice cream or custard.
Dairy Free Gooey Chocolate Brownies
Replace butter with ‘Vitalite’ (my most successful replacement dairy free spread).
Replace milk and white chocolate with same quantity of dark chocolate.
Very soft squidgy eating apricots, prunes, mango – chopped and sprinkled into the bottom of the tin are a lovely addition if you like a little fruit with your gooey chocolate brownies!”