Chill house? Time to take up baking! Chocolate brownies put a smile on anyone’s face, especially if the recipe is a tad healthier than usual. This is a slightly ‘skinny’ chocolate brownie; all the better for it as we enter the Christmas season and its indulgences.
We’ve just had around 36 hours of rain in Malta. Apart from a cyclone a month ago, this is the first serious chilly period of winter proper. As my house is undergoing some major renovations right now, and my entire downstairs is door-less (we’re making do with flapping polythene!), you can imagine the chill that sets in. Limestone being notoriously porous and damp a building material at the best and driest of times. Time to find a heat source. The only one left is the oven. Our aircons and fireplace also having been dismantled for the works.
Jacob always comes home from school ravenous and in search of a sugar fix. I mutter about fruit having sugar and being at least a healthier alternative to the mounds of (empty carb) cereal and toast he stashes away in the first 10 minutes home. I decided then to give him a treat that would at least be semi healthy and perk him up as he enters our not so welcoming home of poly tunnels. Chocolate brownies red velvet style with a good dose of pomegranate juice and some seriously dark chocolate. Not to mention olive oil and agave nectar instead of butter and refined sugar.
Just as we settled down to devour most of the tray (some 14 squares) of chocolate brownies, the rain eased and a wonderful silvery light came in, diffused through our polythene. The perfect light for photographing. With the dash of crimson from the pomegranate seeds and a dusting of icing sugar, the scene looked festive. Something to cheer us as we drag ourselves to the end of term and settle in for Malta’s rainy season.
If you don’t happen to have fresh pomegranates like I did (a gift from my neighbour), try to find unsweetened shop-bought juice. Health food shops tend to do a concentrate unsweetened so use half the volume made up to the 150ml with some water. Alternatively, make the chocolate brownies with beetroot juice for the same red velvet effect.
- 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
- 140ml runny honey or agave syrup
- 150ml pomegranate juice (shop-bought or squeeze 1 or 2 fresh fruit)
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence (Madagascan)
- 150g plain flour
- 2 tbsps cocoa powder (sieved)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Line a 10x10x2" square baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
- Break up the chocolate roughly and place in a bain marie (bowl over a small pan of simmering water) along with the honey or agave syrup to melt.
- Meanwhile, beat together the wet ingredients - olive oil, juice, essence and eggs until thoroughly mixed.
- In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, cocoa powder.
- When the chocolate is melted in the bain marie, mix well into the other wet ingredients, slowly (so you don't curdle the eggs).
- Then, beat the dry ingredients in small batches into the wet ingredients.
- Pour the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 20 - 25 mins until just browing at the edges. Try not to overcook so you keep the brownie centre slightly gooey.