My stepmother used to bake the most amazing flapjacks and sunflower seed cookies when I was small, parcelling up a few with a handwritten letter and posting them to my sister and I. Like Proust's madeleine - the sight of a sunflower seed cookie takes me straight back to the wonder of receiving treats in the post.
When someone I love has a birthday, I get busy making a tray of brownies to parcel up with their present and imagine that same look of delight as they unwrap the chocolatey scented package and tuck into a gooey slice. If I can't be there with them on the day, it's the next best thing!
For my lovely sister Amelias birthday, I used the Mocha Muscovado Brownie recipe in my book and gave it a twist by swapping the coffee notes for orange and rose and scattering over some Montezuma's orange and geranium chocolate. I also used coconut sugar throughout for a deeply caramel tone with a little less sweetness than cane sugar. They were pretty darned incredible (she said modestly!), orange and chocolate are old friends, but the exotic fragrance of geranium and rosewater takes you away from Terry's chocolate orange territory and drops you somewhere in the Middle East. If you're thinking that these brownies have anything Turkish delight about them however, I can reassure you that they are hedonistically chocolatey, without a hint of soapiness.
Amelia asked me the next day whether I had put anything extra into the brownies. As a respectable upstanding person, I assured her that there was nothing but good clean chocolate in them and wondered why on earth she would ask me that. Apparently, she had shared them with her colleagues, who felt inexplicably giddy for the rest of the afternoon! I wondered if it could have been the nourishing teff flour, heady geranium and rose combination, or sprinkle of sea buckthorn berries that had made them giddy, but couldn't really pin it down to anything. I guess it was just a little magic alchemy, that you'll have to try for yourself.
Orange & Rose Geranium Brownies
Using the Mocha Muscovado Brownie recipe in River Cottage Gluten Free (or find it here, in the Telegraph article featuring the book) simply make the following substitutions:
- Swap muscovado sugar for coconut sugar
- Swap 70% chocolate for 50-60% cocoa content plain chocolate
- Swap 4 tsp of strong coffee or coffee liqueur for 2 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tsp of Iranian rosewater and add the zest of an orange to the batter too.
- Swap coffee flavoured chocolate for Montezuma's orange & geranium chocolate
- Optional - after drizzling the cooled brownies with melted chocolate, I also sprinkled some dehydrated sea buckthorn berries over the top from Arctic Power Berries - although you could candy some orange peel and sprinkle this over the top instead.
- I used Shipton Mill brown teff flour.