Annabel Crabb’s relaxed and humorous approach to entertaining is refreshing. In a new cookbook, Special Guest, she and co-author Wendy Sharpe show how to turn easy basic fare into something of a celebration.
exclusive extract from the queen of desserts’ new book
Everyone has their favourite brownie recipe, I know, but I urge you to try this one, because it might just succeed to the throne and become your king of all brownies. The idea of slipping hibiscus into chocolate brownies could only have been thought up by a home-worker, really. Here, for your enjoyment, is Wendy’s rst-person account of inventing the hibiscus brownie: “During a particularly scrambled chaotic week and with the cupboards in crisis, I consumed little outside kimchi and coffee, but when that was gone, I moved on to nibbling the dried petals of hibiscus tea. And, actually, those things are surprisingly delicious – tart and tangy. If you can’t nd them, or this combo sounds like a step too far into weird-food world, then stick with some muscaty sultanas and walnuts: old school, maybe, but just right, especially with a dash of cream.”
125g unsalted butter, softened 250g caster sugar 2 eggs 75g ( ½ cup) self-raising flour 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped 20g dried hibiscus flowers, finely chopped thick (double) cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and dig out your baking tin that best approximates 25cm x 20cm. Tear off a sheet of baking paper roughly the same size and, using wet hands, screw it up into a ball, then unfurl and use to line your tin (this neat little trick helps to stop the baking paper jumping around so much).
2 Using an electric mixer, cream 100g of the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed until combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa and fold in gently. Melt the remaining 25g of butter in a small heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate, then immediately remove from the heat. There should be enough residual heat to melt the chocolate, but you might need to swirl the pan a bit, or give it another 5 seconds on the heat to melt the last bits. (This is my way of melting chocolate without a double boiler: the butter acts as a protective buffer to shield the chocolate from the hot pan, and also helps the chocolate to glide out of the pan more easily.) Pour the melted chocolate into the batter, then add the hibiscus flowers and fold everything together until just combined.
3 Scrape the brownie batter into your tin and use a palette knife to spread it out to the edges of the tin. Bake for about 20–25 minutes until mostly set but still with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares. Over time, you will work out whether you like your brownies gooier or chewier and adjust the cooking time accordingly (less for gooey, more for chewy). Me, I like them both ways. Serve at room temperature, or ever so slightly warm, with cream.