Experimental brownies

One summer, aged eighteen, I worked for the NAS International Biological Program, counting tardigrades and copepods in tundra soil samples. Most everyone else was a graduate student earning money during the vacation and the Arctic biome around Barrow/Utqiaġvik was a very long way from home. Mothers and girlfriends would send cardboard boxes of brownies, wrapped carefully in waxed paper, and we would await these despatches eagerly. The recipient would offer the box around before taking the letter and remains back to their Quonset hut bunk.

These brownies aren’t conventional. And I’m not completely sure the recipe was a total success. But I wanted to use up a few things while still fresh, and came up with this. All measures are approximate. If you don’t want the alcohol, substitute with fruit juice. Note that there is no extra sugar in the recipe, you might want to taste it along the way, and the fat content is high.

  • Ingredients:

3 fudge candy squares, 5oz/140g butter, 6oz/170g Rodda’s clotted cream, 2 eggs, 5oz/140g self raising flour, 3½oz/100g dark chocolate, a handful of dried cherries, a handful of nutty granola, a tablespoonful of milk, the same of crême de Cassis (or similar liqueur).

  • Method:

In a thick bottomed pan on the lowest possible heat, melt the fudge, butter, cream, milk and chocolate together. Leave to cool somewhat then beat in the eggs. Fold in the diced cherries and the flour. Turn in to a lined square cake tin or other container. Smooth the surface, then sprinkle over the granola (chop the nuts) and any left over cherries. Bake at 180°C for 20-30 minutes. After 20 minutes test the brownies for doneness – and remember to take them out a little before you would a normal cake, ie when the toothpick still has crumbs stuck to it. Leave to cool, then cut into 16 squares. Share.

It was the tail end of the Arctic summer, 7°C max and windy. A very cold place, even by Alaska standards. As the long days began to shorten, duck hunting season commenced. Families were leaving the town and heading off towards the point on off road vehicles with giant tyres to catch the birds crossing into Alaska on their fall migration. Along the way, the beach was dressed with giant jellyfish. Further inland, the Arctic loons were nesting and mosquitoes attacking.

I should pick some traditional Iñupiat music to accompany this recipe …

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