Monday, 17 June 2013

Coco-Cocoa Brownies: A Guest Post

Yesterday I got back from holiday. I went to the Lake District, which is in the North (having grown up in Devon, Oxford is north, but this is North, a nearly-Scotland sort of North).

While I was there, I went completely offline. I left my laptop in Oxford and turned my phone off. I found it hard - I hadn't realised that I fill every gap in my day fiddling on my phone and I felt naked without it - but I really needed a quiet break.

I went up to the Lakes because I was doing a weekend course with Ivan Day, who is a world expert on the history of British and European food. Ivan's a fascinating man - I could sit and listen to him talk and tell stories for days. His house is a treasure trove and the food was absolutely wonderful - some of the best I've had in ages.

As you might have guessed, I really recommend his courses. You can see them here - I'm hoping to go on the sugarwork one in the autumn. On the second day I gave in and took my phone (in airplane mode) so I could take a few photos to remember it by: this is the raised pie and the savoy cake we made and this is the glorious garden we were churning ice creams and water ices in.

Anyway - to the point. A few months ago I received an email from Zita of Zizi's Adventures, asking if I could write her a guest post while she looked after her newborn son. I met Zita a few years ago at Food Blogger Connect - she's from Hungary and writes about vegetarian food.

Back when I wrote the post I'd just started making Alice Medrich's famous cocoa brownies. For Zita I decided to try an extra virgin coconut oil version with brown sugar and a touch of toasted coconut on top. They have a thin crust and a soft, tender middle.

Edit 25/05/16 - I made these recently using the same weight of butter as coconut oil and showered a big handful of chopped hazelnuts on top. Different to my favourite super-rich brownies but definitely a nice change.

To read the little interview and see the recipe, click here.

Three of Zita's posts I like:
Milk Pie - Baking with my Grandmother
Roasted Apricots with Lemony Mascarpone
Strawberry Leather


  1. Hello Emma. I'm glad you enjoyed your break and I'm very envious - a week of peace and baking in beautiful surroundings is my idea of bliss at the moment. The course sounds fascinating and the dishes you made look like works of art. Thanks for the link. I must investigate. The brownies look really delicious too.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful post. This holiday and course sounds amazing!

  3. My word, those brownies look so rich and incredible....

  4. The course sounds wonderful - I had a look at the other courses on offer and it sounds like a fantastic opportunity!
    Glad you were able to enjoy such a restful (yet interesting weekend) - I have become accustomed to having my phone in my hands at all times and it's such a bad habit. I am making a point of leaving it in my bag when I am walking somewhere and taking a book with me for my lunchbreak so I don't spend all my time hunched over the screen of my phone!
    I bookmarked Alice's brownie recipe a while ago as I was so intrigued by her use of cocoa powder only - I now definitely need to get round to baking these! I like your coconut twist on these as well!

  5. I love the Lake District. Its very peaceful and beautiful. I was once challenged to go a week without my phone as I was constantly on it. I didnt even last an hour till I cracked. Amazing how they vecome part of our lifes. Almost like a survival kit.



    p.s those brownies look delish

  6. Your trip away sounded awesome. I agree it's hard to leave technology behind, but it's so wonderful when you do xx

  7. Ooh the course sounds absolutely fab! And I love the photos in this post - the light is so dramatic.

  8. Wow such gorgeous photos! I have been unplugged for awhile but look forward to getting back to it soon. I've never tried Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies but I definitely will now with your coconut additions. They look so good!

  9. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen19 June 2013 at 12:31

    Those pics about the food from your vacation are amazing Emma! Love the pie detail and the old ice cream maker. And these cocoa brownies have been on my to do list for the longest time. Heading over to read the guest post.

  10. Found the best app for sharing recipes ever! It’s called Heirloom Recipes my sister just got it today and emailed me a recipe and I got the free version to try it and OMG I imported the recipe right into the app no typing or anything! The email had the link to the free one: I’m going to put this recipe in it and send it back to her so she can make them for her kids. This recipe will diffidently help me win the best aunt award. Thank you so much!!!

  11. June 2013 at 05:09

    i walked thru the lakes district many years ago when i travelled around the UK. it was a highlight of my trip - such beautiful, big landscapes. thank you for the memories! and i love the look of this dark, rich brownie - perfect for the winter weather we have here now.

  12. Karen @ lemongrovecakediaries20 June 2013 at 08:59

    Hi Emma, The Lake District looks beautiful. I would love to do the sugar work classes, what an amazing experience.....alas too far away for me. Thanks for the interesting post!

  13. Emma! So good of you to take a break. I've been feeling the same need. And what a gorgeous landscape you were in - looks heavenly!
    We're at the beach in Santa Barbara for a couple of weeks and while the landscape is nothing like your gorgeous Lake District, it is expansive and peaceful. I'm savoring it all.
    When are you and your mum coming back to California?
    Missing you two,


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