Recipe: Squidgy Chocolate Brownies & Cheltenham Science Festival
Well hello there. For those here exclusively for the brownie, you can cut straight to the bottom of the page, but if you fancy hearing my chat then read on...
I just had a fantastic weekend at the Cheltenham Science Festival. One of the leading science festivals in the UK, it welcomed over 6000 children through its doors to celebrate science, engineering, maths and technology last week. I'm obviously a MASSIVE engineering geek already but Cheltenham took it to the next level with inspiring talks, ingenious demos and experts round every corner!
Walking into the speakers' green room, it was a who's who of science communication: Dallas Campbell (Bang Goes The Theory, City in The Sky), Richard Dawkins (it's RICHARD DAWKINS) and Hugh Hunt (Dambusters, First Night of Television) were just a few favourites that I was able to meet.
I was lucky enough to headline (a terrifying word) the variety night in front of a 600-strong crowd on Saturday. Fair to say it was a nerve-wracking experience, especially as the other performers were hilarious and superbly talented.
I had 15 minutes where I challenged Greg Foot and Katie Steckles (our hosts for the evening) to a gingerbread skyscraper construction challenge, all whilst chatting through the bakineering principles to achieve perfection! Feedback from the audience was fantastic and a real confidence booster. Watch this space for bigger and better bakineering things to come!
In other news, at the start of this week, BBC Radio Ulster broadcast their "Sing Out" program, this week featuring me talking all things choral (listen here). On Wednesday morning, I'll be on your screens with a delicious midweek meal on ITV's Lorraine then this Sunday, I'll be in the main demo tent at the Big Bake at Markeaton Park in Derby.
In case you missed it, I'm running my first ever course at Carlton Towers Cooks School in Yorkshire in July ( more info here ). I'll be showing you the tips and tricks of patisserie and am relishing the prospect of meeting you guys.
Now to my recipe for this week - gorgeously gooey fudgey chocolate brownies. Dead simple and definitely a treat! Credit where credit is due, the inspiration for using a mixture of sugars (for a moist texture) and pretzel topping comes from the lovely Martha Collison!
Ingredients - makes 25 small brownies
100g walnut halves
175g unsalted butter
65g cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
140g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
25 mini pretzels (optional)
20cm/8" square brownie tin
Preheat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C. Grease and line the 20cm brownie tin. Roast the nuts on a baking tray for 5 minutes then cool on a wire rack - this helps draw out the oils (flavour) in the nuts.
Melt the butter over a low heat in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat once melted and sieve in the cocoa powder. Mix until smooth then sieve in the sugars and stir until well combined - the mix may look a bit grainy at this stage - that's ok!
Beat the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl then add to the mix and beat until well combined. Sieve in the flour and salt then fold together until no lumps of flour are left.
Chop the roasted nuts roughly and fold through the mix. Tip into the lined brownie tin and level out the top with a spatula, being sure to tease it into the corners.
Set the mini pretzels on top of the batter spaced evenly apart and press gently into the mix.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted halfway between the middle and the side of the tine comes out clean. The middle should still be a bit soft and moist.
Leave to cool in the tin on a cooling rack completely before slicing up. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long...)