Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chocolate Macadamia Brownies - One pan, easy recipe


I am very lucky to have a great cook and food writer for a neighbour, Belinda Jeffery - and this 'one pan' brownie recipe is an adaptation of one of hers - delicious and easy - with the wonderful crunch and taste of macadamia nuts.  (I was recently curious about a dish I read about for pan-fried salmon that required a sorrel sauce made from a 'beurre blanc with a shallot reduction' - might as well have been talking hindustani.  Ring up Belinda, and within one minute gives me the exact recipe - she's my kind of gal).

Macadamias in flower
Around these parts the hills are dotted with plantations of 'lollipop' trees that give it a very distinctive look to the surrounding countryside and, at this time of year, are in full of very fragrant flowers - which will bear fruit - well nuts - macadamias - in about 8 weeks.

Macadamia nuts are about the only native Australian plant that have become a commercial export crop. They are indigenous to this part of the world, occurring naturally in Australian sub-tropical rain-forests.


The edible nut is encased in two outer shells, the inner one  defeats ordinary nut crackers - a brick works!  However, it easier to buy a special 'macca cracker' or buy them directly from the grower at our Farmers' Market.

Chocolate Macadamia Brownies
250 g butter
250 g good quality dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa)
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup wholemeal self raising flour (you can use white flour)
100 g roasted macadamias, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt

1.  Pre-heat oven to 180oC
2.  Place macadamia nuts on oven tray and roast for approx. 5 mins., until just golden
3.  Grease 25 cm square, shallow cake-tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
4.  Break up chocolate and heat in large saucepan (you will mix all ingredients in this so you need a large one) with butter until melted. Give it a good stir - it should be smooth and shiny. Take off heat. Cool until just warm.
5.  Add sugar and combine with hand whisk.  
6.  Whisk in beaten eggs.
7.  Add flour and salt and stir until combined (don't over-beat)
8.  Stir in toasted macadamia nuts
9.  Pour into pan and bake on 180oC for 40-45 minutes.  Test to see if cooked by inserting skewer - if it comes out clean, it's cooked.
10.  Don't attempt to slice up until completely cool - you can even put into the fridge for a while.
Using a ruler helps to cut up into even squares!  If you put them in an airtight tin they will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks - if you are lucky!

TOP TIP: For a delicious desert - simply place a brownie in each bowl, add some stewed or fresh berries and lastly, a dollop of ice-cream/yoghurt or cream.





NOTE:  If you are looking for a plant to use as part of an edible screen or hedge you can't go past the macadamia Macadamia integrifolia.  It grows from 2-5 m, evergreen with fragrant flowers in spring and a good crop of edible nuts.




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