The intense heat and shrill scream of the cicadas in August makes way to the mellow chirp of grasshoppers. The rice has turned a golden yellow green and the days are punctuated by the beep beep beep of reversing rice harvesters as they manouver around the small rice fields. Figs are in season, hiding amongst large lobed leaves. Some mornings I wake to find figs left to sweeten on the branches have disappeared overnight, probably in the hands of monkeys.
For the first Anna’s Kitchen at Ayabe Tokusankan this summer I wanted to go for something very yummy. This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe, I toned down the chocolate and sugar content but they are still extremely chocolately and very morish. Nigella suggests that you can freeze scoops of dough to have ready to bake at anytime, however we never seemed to have any left over dough. Next time…..
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 150 g plain flour
- 30 g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125 g soft unsalted butter
- 115 g sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 200 g dark chocolate chips or chunks
- Chopped hazelnuts or flaked almonds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C
- Melt the 100g dark chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix together.
- Beat in the vanilla extract an egg.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
- Finally stir in the chocolate chips/chunks, and nuts if using
- Scoop out equal-sized mounds with a dessert spoon and place on a lined baking sheet with plenty of space between each one.
- Do not flatten them.
- Cook for 18 minutes, testing to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
- Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies
Anna’s Kitchen recently took part in Ayabe Tokusankan’s Yasai Matsuri (Vegetable Festival). Of course, a vegetable recipe was called for and I chose to use sweet potatoes, that are just coming into season, and locally grown and dried red beans. I decided on a dense, fudgy brownie, adapted from a Hemsley and Hemsley recipe that uses no flour and maple syrup instead sugar.
Any floury beans can be used, black beans, kidney beans or red ingenmame, available here in Japan, but avoid soy beans which are too waxy. The best way to prepare the sweet potato is to bake it whole in the oven. Then split the skin and scoop out the flesh.
- 2 x 400g tins cooked black (or red beans), drained (or 480g cooked beans if soaking and cooking dried beans).
- One medium sweet potato, cooked (baked or steamed)
- 230g unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 4 medium eggs
- 90g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 150 – 175ml maple syrup (to taste)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 130g chopped walnuts
- 100g chocolate chunks
- Preheat the oven to 170°C
- Rinse the black beans and drain
- Melt the butter or coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat
- Place the drained beans, sweet potato flesh, eggs, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt into a food processor or large bowl and use a hand blender. Pulse a few times and then blend until smooth
- Add the melted butter, slowly and blend
- Taste the mixture, add more maple syrup if needed
- Then, stir in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving a few, and the chocolate chunks, if using
- Grease and line the inside of a 24 x 20cm baking dish, pour in the brownie mixture
- Sprinkle over the remaining walnuts (if using) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the brownie feels firm and springy and its surface is cracked.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares, they become even more dense and fudgy if left in the fridge
Local paper Ayabe Shimbun