Christmas – that magical celebration when a mince pie, a mango, a cold glass of wine or a ham sandwich can all be consumed at any time of the day or night without judgement – is just around the corner.
But with all those all those Christmas parties to attend, all those presents to buy, and all those cherries to eat, it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘spend, spend, spend’ mentality. So, it’s crucial to keep in mind what’s really important and to stick to your limits so that you don’t spend January alone indoors eating baked beans while you pay off your credit card.
Before you get too depressed and decide to cancel Christmas all together, fear not, help is at hand. A great way to save money on presents, and to show someone that you really care, is to make the gifts yourself. I doubt anyone would be disappointed to receive a gorgeously wrapped parcel full of something delicious that you have taken the time to make for them.
When it comes to homemade treats, it’s hard to go past a chocolate brownie – moist and gooey on the inside, cakey on the outside. You can easily whip these up in one afternoon, but perhaps cook up a double batch because you’ll definitely want to keep some for yourself!
Chocolate & Cherry Brownies
Makes around 30 small brownies
• 175g unsalted butter
• 200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken up
• 1 can of cherries in syrup
• 75g cocoa powder, sifted
• 100g plain flour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 300g caster sugar
• 4 eggs
• Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a regular rectangle baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate. Mix gently with a spatula until melted and smooth, add your cherries (minus the syrup), then remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Add your melted chocolate mixture and stir with the spatula until well and truly combined. Beat your eggs, add them in and mix well.
Pour the gooey mixture into your baking tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure that you don’t overcook the mixture as you want it to be moist and gooey inside. Let the brownie cool in the tray for at least 30 minutes. It’s much easier to cut up when it has cooled down.
Carefully place the brownie onto a chopping board and cut into small squares. You may find it easier to use a sharp knife dipped in hot water between slicing to prevent the brownie sticking. Dust with icing sugar and you’re good to go.
For more thrifty cooking tips and recipes visit operationjamjar.blogspot.com