Having never received cake in the post before, it was lovely to be sent a batch of brownies from Sugargrain (aka Caroline Aherne). What was even lovelier (and for reasons that will become apparent, really lovely) was that about a week later I received a second box containing two more Brownies, made ‘in the cooler months’.
First up was this impressive looking chunk of cakey loveliness – a Beetroot brownie. My first introduction to Sugargrain was when a mutual friend told me about these brownies. She waxed lyrical about how moist and delicious they were, and we went off to the market at Covent Garden to try one. Well sitting here with my reviewer’s head on, I am still very impressed with this rich, moist slab of cake – but is it a brownie?
To my mind, a brownie should have that slightly drier ‘crust’ which serves as counterpoint to the moist, chewy cake that lies beneath. This ‘brownie’ doesn’t have that. Instead, it’s a rich, gooey, melt-in-the-mouth confection with the beetroot adding texture andsubtle flavour to themix. It’s loaded with chocolate, sweet, sticky and delightful, but I’m still not sure it qualifies as a brownie.
No such qualms about Brownie number two, however. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Brownie Nirvana.
This little beauty is Caroline’s Spiced Milk Brownie, made with cardamom. It has that classic crust on top, slightly lighter in colour and concealing a rich, chewy interior. And what an interior – it’s like chewing milky chai. The subtle blend of spices, the milkiness of the cake, the richness of chocolate, and the delightful tang of cardamom make this one of the best (if not the best) brownie I have ever tasted. It’s just made for afternoon tea, and I didn’t want it to finish. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of cake, I would have to come right out and say that if I could eat one of these every afternoon, I would be a very contented person indeed. It’s sublime.
This is one of those things that really puts a smile on your face – not just because it’s a joy to eat, but also because it’s being made by a woman who up until a year or so ago was baking in her own kitchen and selling part time on markets, unsure of whether to take the next step and go ‘full time’. Well luckily for us, she bit the bullet and now everyone can get their hands on little marvels like this.
Brownie fans take note – you’ve not lived until you try the Spiced Milk Brownie.