Tonight I’m going to the lovely Susan’s house for dinner. After faffing around on recipe websites for two hours in search of a gift to bake and take, I’ve circled back to the trusty Midnight Brownies.
Way back in 2000 the brilliant Claire Robertson of Loobylu had a Celebrity Chef feature on her website. Because there were less people online wittering about their lives back then, I managed to squeak in as a “celebrity”!
Over 14 years later I still get search requests for “midnight brownies” on this blog. Claire’s website has gone through evolutions since that time, but I found the page in the good ol’ Wayback Machine. Thanks to Claire for letting me use her original illustrations here!
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This recipe was created out of a desperate need for some sort of chocolate. As university students we’d often be up late writing essays in blind panic or watching crappy TV shows like Renegade or Sunset Beach. Inevitably the chocolate cravings would seize us, and since we were always too poor and lazy to go out and buy some, I used to knock up a batch of sweet and gooey Midnight Brownies. You don’t have to make them at midnight of course, but somehow they always taste better when you’ve whipped them up in a famished frenzy. They’re cheap, easy and scrumptious. Just like your average uni student.
200 grams butter
½ cup Cadbury’s cocoa powder (nothing else will do)*
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (the cheap and nasty stuff)**
1 cup of plain flour
* These days I use Green & Blacks because I’m a middle-aged fusspot.
** I use vanilla extract now, see *
1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Gently melt the butter and cocoa over low heat on the stove. Add the brown sugar and keep heating gently and stir it til its all one melty chocolatey mess.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the egg and vanilla essence til it all looks smooth and glossy.
3. Gradually add in the flour. Stir it up to buggery and taste numerous times to make sure it’s okay.
4. Taste again, just to be sure.
5. Pour the lot into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Doesn’t matter what shape the tin it is.
6. Whack it in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, depending on how ferocious your oven is. Watch them closely. Sit in front of the oven with rapt attention as if you were watching an episode of Bold and The Beautiful. You do not want burnt brownies.
7. Gather teaspoons and flatmates around pot and scrape up every last drop of batter. Use fingers and/or tongues if you’re bunch of savages (we were).
8. Get too impatient to wait and remove from oven after about 20 minutes. The top of the brownie should be slightly firm but when you poke it with your finger it should still be nice and gooey underneath.
9. Wait about 15 seconds for it to cool then eat. Also works well as a poor-mans mud cake for dessert with some strawberries and cream.
10. Next day, heat piece of brownie for 20 seconds in microwave and serve with glass of cold milk for delicious but nutritionally unsound breakfast.