Let me introduce you my second guest, Emma who writes the wonderful dessert blog Poires au Chocolat. I’m amazed by her recipes, photos and videos. She has a degree in English Language and Literature but she also studied pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in London. She offered to share a sweet recipe with us. Here is Emma…
“These are tender cake-style brownies with a little crisp crust. I usually make them with butter but I thought it’d be interesting to see how coconut oil worked – I’m so glad I tried it out. Feel free to throw in some nuts or any other add-ins (probably around 100 g would be right) – though I like these plain.”
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s recipe in Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy)
Ingredients (makes 12 brownies)
– 200 g light brown sugar
– 130 g coconut oil
– 65 g quality unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
– 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 2 eggs, cold from the fridge
– 65 g plain flour
– 1 tablespoon of toasted shredded coconut or handful of toasted coconut strips
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Line an 8″ square tin with greased foil or baking parchment.
Place the sugar, solid oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt into a bowl and suspend it over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir together as it melts and keep heating until the mixture is uniform and hot to the touch. Sit aside to cool until the mixture is lukewarm.
Once the mix has cooled, beat in the eggs one by one, then stir in the flour. Beat for forty strokes – when you’re done, it should be silky, thick and generally glorious. Pour into the tin and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and risen a little. Leave to cool then slice into bars.
Interview to get to know Emma a bit more…
Where are you from? Where do you live?
E: I grew up in the countryside in Devon, England. I now live in Oxford, where I went to university. My mum has lived in the Swiss Alps since I left home (I’m the only child of a single parent, so she wanted a change of scene at the same time and we’d spent several winters there already) – so I also spend a lot of time there.
What is the name of your blog?
E: Poires au Chocolat.
How long have you been blogging?
E: I’ve been blogging for four years, since I was 19.
When did you start cooking/baking?
E: My mum taught me to cook and bake from a young age. I was always allowed to play in the kitchen (there’s a funny story from when I was three about a perpetually hungry house guest who used to sneak food from the fridge in the night and a pot of vegetable scraps I’d been cooking for my doll…). I also spent a lot of time cooking with my grandma as I grew up – making jam and that sort of thing.
Who (where) did you learn cooking/baking from?
E: As I said above, I learnt most of my savoury skills and basic baking skills from my family. I’ve since augmented my baking knowledge by reading, lots of practice and attending culinary school for six months.
What is your signature dish?
E: I’m not sure I have a signature dish to be honest – I guess baking and desserts in general.
What is your favourite vegetarian/vegan meal?
E: I’ve been craving ratatouille with couscous recently (perhaps an odd pairing, especially as we usually add cheese such as gruyere or strong cheddar on top).
Where do you get inspiration from?
E: From books (old and new, recipe and reference, fiction and non fiction), blogs and the ingredients themselves.
What was the most memorable food you have eaten during your travels?
E: I ate some really wonderful food when I spent six weeks in California last year – there were so many fresh, delicious dishes and interesting ideas. Other than that, I’m addicted to gelato.
Name three things you always have in your fridge!
E: Butter, milk and homemade jam.
Is there a food that always reminds you of home?
E: My mum makes an amazing fish pie with salmon, any firm white fish, a little bit of smoked fish, scallops and prawns in white sauce with a crisp herby-cheese-breadcrumb topping that always reminds me of home (though I guess this might not be the place to talk about that recipe!). It’s one of the few dishes she makes that I don’t seem to make myself.
What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Is there anything you want to share?
E: I’m not sure, really. Perhaps that I’m not a particularly adventurous savoury cook? I tend to make the things I’ve eaten all my life (and, contrary to my insistence on their use for baking, I never use scales to make them – I was taught by eye, not recipe).
All photos are courtesy of Emma Gardner.