When life gives you lemons, the best way forward is to make a batch of tangy, sweet lemon butter and turn that sourness around. But if those (metaphorical) lemons are still too bitter then sandwich that lemon butter between layers of rich chocolate brownie, dripping with chunks of white chocolate and crunchy macadamia nuts. Sometimes you need to go the extra mile.
It sure has been a while since I last brought you some foodie goodness. April in fact. Life has been pelting me with lemons – a very harsh exam paper for the WSET Diploma subject I devoted my life to over the last 6 months; sprained ribs, due mostly likely to poor posture while studying and too much stress; a major disappointment in my career path; and then two weeks ago my dear little car was stolen from out the front of my house. Stupidly uninsured.
When the police found the car it was caked inside and out in dust and grass, sprinkled with cigarette butts, dosed with graffiti, and definitely not worth repairing. I watched as my first car was loaded onto a tow truck to be taking away for scrap, while tears stung my eyes. One-hundred dollars clenched in my fist the only thing left of the car that has been with me my entire adult life. It was my symbol of freedom as a university student; the little donkey that groaned its way, bursting at the seems, with all my most precious belongings when I moved from Brisbane; the facilitator of my journey into the wine industry. It was just a car but it was a car that carried me though most of the significant moments in my life.
As often happens, these events have prompted me to take a look at what I am doing and where I am going in life. I’m threatening change but what that will be I do not know. Yet, things must change.
You see, I am good at turning lemons into lemon butter but as good as lemon butter is by itself (or dolloped on freshly baked scones), it is not enough. I need to change my life approach into ooey gooey, chocolate oozy, lemon butter filled, nutty crunchy brownies. If only knowing how to start those changes was as simple as a meditative afternoon in the kitchen 🙂
- 200ml lemon juice
- 125g/ 4.4 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 400g/ 14 oz sugar
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 2-3 jars for storing
- 150g/ 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
- 300g/ 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
- 75g/ 2/3 cups cocoa powder
- 150g/ 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
- 200g/ 7oz white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 100g/ 3.5oz macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- Set up a double boiler or bain-marie (about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a saucepan with a heatproof bowl on top)
- Turn the hotplate to a low-medium heat
- Add juice, sugar and butter to the bowl and stir until butter has just melted and mixture is smooth
- Check that the mixture is only just warm before adding eggs, you don't want to scramble them. You may need to remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes
- Whisk eggs and yolks together in a small bowl and then gradually add to the lemon juice mixture
- Stir/whisk regularly for about 15-20 minutes until the lemon butter is thick and glossy.
- Spoon into sterilised jars and allow to cool completely
- Preheat oven to 190C
- Line a 20cm square pan with baking paper
- Place butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until butter is just melted, remove from heat
- Add sugar to the butter and stir to combine
- Sift cocoa, flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl
- Add flour mixture to the saucepan and stir until just combined
- Check that the mixture in the saucepan is only just warm before adding the eggs, you don't want them to scramble
- Whisk eggs in a small bowl and gradually add to the saucepan, stirring between additions.
- Add vanilla, nuts and chocolate and stir to combine.
- 1 cup lemon butter
- Spread half the brownie mixture on the base of the lined tin
- Bake for 10 minutes or until just set, remove from the oven
- Using a teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of lemon butter over the surface of the base until the base is covered with a generous layer of lemon butter. Avoid using pressure to spread the lemon butter as the base is still soft
- Using the same technique, drop spoonfuls of the brownie mixture over the lemon butter layer
- Bake for 35 minutes for soft gooey brownies or 40-45 minutes for more structured brownies.
- Allow to cool before slicing
- I like big high brownies but if you want flatter ones these will taste just as good in a larger tray. Depending on the size of the tray, start checking the brownies 15 minutes after starting the second baking cycle.
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse well.
- Line a baking tray with a tea towel and place damp jars and lids upside down on the tray before heating them in the oven for 15 minutes
- Remove from oven and allow them to cool slightly before spooning in hot lemon butter - do not fill with cold lemon butter as the temperature change will cause the glass to shatter. Handle jars with oven mitts as they are very hot.
- Put the lids on immediately and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge