Brownies, pixies and brownie points…

I read “Ladies of Missalonghi” (Octavia, Drusilla and Missy) by Colleen McCullough last week. It was recommended by my sister when we went shopping at Bookworm in Bangalore. I spent a bomb there and this was one of the ‘crackers’.

The story is set in old fashioned Australia in the early period of the twentieth century. For me it was a window to peep into the lives of people then which the author describes very well. The story revolves around Missy, a poor relative to the rich ‘Hurlingford’ family who virtually own the tiny town of Byron rather ‘unrightfully’. Unlike the her mother and aunt, Missy has unconventional looks, outlook and ambitions which blossom when she meets Una. The story is all about how she goes about achieving it through strange means, and though one, rather I would not endorse her ways but in the end one does feel good for Missy. You gotta read the book to know more. The author has a brilliant narrative style, the novel is a short one and makes a good travel companion.

There are quite a few food scenes in the book starting with the poor man’s ‘bulk oats’, ‘potatoes and beans’ which has served as breakfast and meal every single day for the three ladies. There is a part where the ladies make your mouth water with ‘pikelets with jam and cream, a sponge, some little butterfly cakes, and a sour-apple tart cooked with cloves’ made for a special guest who however does not have them because she is watching her figure and happily gobbled by the ladies who would never have treated themselves to such delicacies otherwise.

Now, after reading all those wonderful things which I am sure even the most stringent dieter would find irresistible, what am I, a mere mortal who does not even ‘watch her figure’, to do? Well, I decided to just drown my dripping tongue into that long bookmarked yummy brownies from Diana’s Desserts. If you haven’t been there yet please click on the link and check out her simple yet tasty desserts. Earlier I made vegan scones which were also adapted from the same site and turned out great.

When I chose this recipe ‘P’ said, “its no point saying ‘this is the best’ because you won’t make it again, so I am not going to say anything when I eat them.”

He is right in a way as I just go looking for something that tastes ‘better than the best’ in my hunt for the best but will not look further anymore as Diana does not disappoint – this one is a gem, in my brownie crown, and I set with the other gem I made some time back. As I read through the recipe I was surprised by the method because I have never cooked my flour before baking, and to say the truth I am afraid I was a little skeptical! Shame! I should not have doubted her skills! This one is yet another winner.

The only difference in my approach was to measure in weights rather than cups and teaspoons. We bought a kitchen weighing machine during one of my impulsive compulsive shopping sprees about which I am very happy. I am hoping to conquer my fear of macarons soon..

Going back to the book – while the tarts reminded me of brownies, it suddenly dawned on me that brownies never existed in books till mid twentieth century! Before that all we knew were the brownies that were fictional and said to slip into peoples’ houses before they awaken, and help out with the work. Even these sound more like ‘MUMMIES’ rather than kind brownies.

A little bit of googling tells me that brownies are rather recent entries into the food world. The first one, it appears, was ‘Born in the USA‘ and the earliest recorded brownie recipe credited to one Ms.Meritt Farmer in 1906.

Sometimes we should never tell others when we try out a tried and tested recipe and it goes wrong – maybe we all would have some new item credited to ourselves – how about tandoori pesto potatoes?

Fudgy, gooey, dense and just so mmmm……, and did I say its vegan – I know it doesn’t look or taste, but IT IS!

Recipe: Brownies, adapted from Diana’s Desserts – ‘Non-Dairy Eggless Brownies’
(Please do check the original site as it has some really tasty desserts you might like to make)


22og + 40g – APF
236ml – Water
113.4g – Margarine
75g – Cocoa powder
350g – Sugar (The recipe recommends 450g but this was sweet enough for us)
1/2 tsp. – Salt
1tsp. Vanilla Essence – I used one vanilla pod slit lengthwise
2 + 1/2 tsp – Baking powder

Icing sugar for dusting the tops


Preheat oven to 180 deg. Cel. Prepare a 9″ x 13″ baking tin.

In a saucepan dissolve 40g APF in the water and cook till thick as custard. Set aside to completely cool.

Melt margarine and stir in the cocoa powder till smooth.

Sift 220g APF with baking powder.

Beat sugar, salt and vanilla into the flour custard, and add the margarine-cocoa mixture to it. Mix well.

To this add the dry ingredients. You will find it easier to use a wooden spoon rather than a beater as the mixture turns very thick. This is normal. If you are adding nuts add it at this point.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. (The recipe says 20 to 25minutes, but my oven always takes longer – please check when half done)

Let the brownies cool for about 15miutes before cutting into pieces. They will be slightly moist and set well in sometime.

I was able to make about 20 brownies but then that depends on your individual size.

Verdict – Lip smacking. My son ate it while devouring the charms of Harry Potter:)

P.S: P could not resist saying “This is the best” after all!
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Have your say

  1. Lovely and lovely.I too check out that site.only thing that upsets me is the weight in gms.I am so ‘into’ technology,that if you ask me what is 100/10 then I may have take up a calc.:(
    BTW,tandoori pesto potatoes kahin suna hai,kahin mere kitchen mein nahin?let me see.
    Brownies are choco cake itself,only in US they are called so,bcoz of the color
    Aaj ke lkiye itna hi,mere aloo tandoor mein se bula rahe hain, tada

  2. Its me itself,just now remembered- I have read in a website that you cook flour like a custard so that you can use it as a sub to egg yolk.I was searching for eggyolk subs,then I saw this.I thght it was a bit weird,so I let it go.if you google for egg yolk replacements u will get this.Anyway,now that aapne try kar ke dikhaya,to mein bi try karke dekhti hoon.bas recipe ka intezaar hain ji…

  3. Sweatha, thanks for that info! I wondered why, and yes this did make a great substitute! The consistency of the custard brought that idea to my mind but I dismissed it as there was no base to it!

    Pesto hai, aloo ke liye?

  4. Gorgeous Brownies…Non dairy n eggless cant believe, looks delicious n prefect compared with brownies with eggs n butter…

  5. yummy.. browine i smy all time fav. bookmarked the recipe.

  6. Is it the same story where Missy uses her heart ailment to get her catch and rid of the drab life she had been leading? And she marries & lives in the jungle cabin?
    Then I have read it too. πŸ™‚
    The brownies look super.

  7. I always had a misconception that cakes or pastries with egg are fluffier and spongy as compared to the one without eggs(except Monginis of course)but these pics and recipe is proof enough to prove me wrong.

  8. I’ve read and re-read her thornbirds until the book was borrowed by a friend who just does not want to return t!

    Scrumptious brownies!

  9. Wow brwonies look gr8, soft and moist. Cook flour is something completely new concept to me. need to work on that. Remember to make some cute yummies like this for Blogger meet. πŸ™‚

  10. I have been going to her place for years and years.
    And i have not been there for a while, actually ti totally forgot about the place with all the blogs i visit .
    Thankyou for reminding the place.
    Love the bbrownies they looks superb.
    Wish i had few of those here for my coffee.

  11. Lovely brownies! I’m heading off to Diana’s now to check her other posts.

    And I so absolutely loved Colleen’s Thornbirds. Then I bought Anthony and Cleopetra and it was bad so I never went back to reading her. Will give it another shot.

  12. What ggorgeous clicks!! I can imagine how gorgeous they taste. There should be a building technology where u are allowed 30 sec. sample tastes over the web. How awesome that would be!

    I am so lost with the grams & millilitres:-(

  13. Thanks all!

    Soma, you will get the cups and tsps. at Diana’s site. I could have put it down here but did not as it was available there.

  14. LOVVVEELY!!!!
    Bookmarked πŸ™‚

  15. lovely blog…with a purpose..I appreciate the link to the petitions!

  16. H,
    Brownies looks delicious , and the plus point is that its eggless …
    great going and loved the post..
    hugs and smiles

  17. that looks sooo delicious .. Iam yet to make brownies .. wonderful recipe

  18. OMG, the pieces are decadent and moist !

  19. I’ve not been to that site before, will check it out. Very interesting info. about egg yolks, will look into that too. You should have added some chopped walnuts too.

  20. Mahimaa's kitchen

    vegan brownies? i would like to pick some..looks gorgeous as usual harini.

  21. tandoori pesto potatoes?? LOL. That was very funny. I love that website that has such cool recipes. Your brownies look awesome, though I do not have a weighing machine in my kitchen.

  22. lovely pictures! And they look so very tempting! And this is a really interesting recipe, with this flour custard.

  23. brownie has come out so perfect..chewy and delicious..

  24. the very best brownies for sure! looks so good and mouth-watering.

  25. Looks perfect.. Looks like its time to start baking with a perfect recipe..Thank you..

  26. Thank you all:)

    Smitha, welcome! Glad you liked the blog:)

    RC, I am serious!! I am planning to see how it turns out:)

    PG, Seeing you try out all the new stuff I won’t be surprised if I find the custard thing incorporated! I am just so sure you will come up with something gluten free using these ideas:)

  27. brownies look awesome,..:-)…ur posts always make me drool,..specially,…cake,..nd all…hppy weekend,..:-)

  28. scrumptious brownies………like to taste one…

  29. Lovely, lovely brownie! can’t believe its vegan!

  30. Lovely post and awesome brownies.It is absolutely tempting.

  31. Brownies look amazing! πŸ™‚

  32. Scrumptious brownies! I never knew the technique of cooking the flour to a custard’s consistency to give a moist, fudgy, gooey and dense texture to the vegan brownies.

  33. Gorgeous brownie!
    And I do believe that the brownie was indeed a mistake, the person forgot to add baking powder or something and hence the cake became a brownie. Will keep this in mind to make the next time I’m in the modd for brownies. Also tandoori pesto sounds awesome!

  34. God! mouth watering post! lovely pics…looks absolutely fantabulous.

  35. You’ve done it again. I really admire the way you veganise recipes and make them look so good. If only you were close by………..
    The one thing I really miss the most in Goa (and there are a few) are books. I’m feeling miserable now. πŸ™

  36. Can’t say I’ve read this book by McCollough, but which girl doesn’t remember her epic Thorn Birds? All that forbidden romance surely set every teenage romantic’s heart aflutter πŸ™‚
    Those brownies look just perfect.

  37. Wow, vegan brownies! They look simply delicious πŸ™‚

  38. Yummyyyyyy..Sunshinemom..I am first time here..Loved your space..:)..This brownie mu drooling..I have decided to try this..n that was a Harry Potter book right..I like you even more now..:D

  39. It is an interesting technique for sure. Glad it turned out so good for you! The brownies look awesome!

  40. Loved the brownies, they look fabulous….first time I have seen ap flour used as a substitute for eggs, am intrigued and hope to try this technique soon !

  41. These brownies look delicious!

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