I was introduced to Caroline Aherne by a mutual friend a while ago – back when Caroline was selling at Covent Garden Market (she’s now at the monthly Real Food Festival market) and at a time when she was thinking about whether or not to give up the day job and make Sugargrain a full time business.
Well, thankfully she did, and since then Caroline’s cakes and confectionery have been garnering praise and awards, including Food Lovers Britain approval.
After dancing around each other over the summer months (work commitments and life in general preventing us meeting) Caroline got in touch and sent me a box of three brownies (well, two brownies and a blondie) to try. My blondie was a peanut Butter & White chocolate one, and the two brownies were White Chocolate & Raspberry and Toasted Nut respectively.
Let’s start with the blondie. Of the three I’d say I was the least sure about this one. Peanut butter isn’t a favourite of mine, and nor is white chocolate, so I was thinking to myself “Well if this one works, the rest should be fab.”
Texture wise, this was classic brownie. A slightly dryer crust concealing a rich, chewy interior. Pieces of peanut and small chunks of white chocolate add interesting texture, with the peanuts taking the sweet edge off the white chocolate. I was indeed impressed. Of the three, this was the ‘firm one’, which is to say that these three brownies were quite different in terms of texture as well as flavour.
Next up was the White Chocolate & Raspberry. (The one with the ‘dimple’ in the middle, which was the result of a raspberry disappearing into the mixture). This was most definitely the ‘gooey one’. When I picked it up it drooped slightly, and when I bit into it it seemed almost semi-liquid. If you bake then you probably know that working with fruit can be a dodgy business, and I suspect this brownie has been perfected over quite a while. The white chocolate is an excellent choice to pair with the raspberries and the tartness of the fruit offsets the sweetness of the white chocolate beautifully, with the darker chocolate notes of the brownie lingering on the palate at the finish. Made with 64.5% single origin chocolate from Papua New Guinea and Belgian white chocolate, it has an impressive pedigree. Definitely one to have with a cup of tea though!
Finally I came to the Toasted Nut Brownie. It’s a little more ‘cake-like’ in texture. Still chewy and moist but the toasted nuts give it a slightly more open texture. Again there’s that classic brownie ‘crust’ hiding a moist, rich interior. The toasted nuts add their flavour to the rich, dark chocolate making this quite a ‘grown up’ brownie. Made with 74.5% single origin Venezuelan Dark Chocolate, plus toasted Brazils and Walnuts, this might be a little too much for younger palates, but itcertainly put a smile on my face.
I haven’t reviewed brownies before, and not only did it make a change to be looking at something a little different, but these three cakes made afternoon tea breaks a bit special. I’ve been promised more (including Caroline’s Beetroot and Chocolate Brownie which I was first told about by our mutual friend), and now I can’t wait!
It’s also worth mentioning that Sugargrain Brownies are both gluten and wheat free, and are made with unrefined Fairtrade sugar, free range eggs and unsalted butter. Caroline also makes some rather lovely cakes, and her other treats include award winning marshmallows (with some rather interesting flavours), fudge, coconut ice and raw chocolate (which I’d also like to get my paws on). Based on this showing I’d have to say that Caroline made the right decision to get into the kitchen full time, and I can see her going from strength to strength with products like these.