Hello Winter, my old friend…

How I have missed your icy winds, my rosy cheeks, your rain drops, my wind-swept hair, your unpredictability and my old foe… Hunger. While I love Autumn with its cooler temperatures, the vivid colours as the leaves change, the return of scarfs, coats and boots and more excuses for baking, this year that’s where I’d like it to stop. Oh wait, too late. Winter is well and truly upon us if today is anything to go by.

I know, I know, it’s pretty mild in Sydney compared to almost everywhere else and no, I haven’t forgotten what real Winters feel like (hello Canberra!) but this week I just cannot seem to get warm. And let’s not mention my ever-growing appetite. Not even the jar of white chocolate, coffee and pecan cookies I baked last week has been enough to placate my grumbling stomach. Still, I guess there is no better time to feed the beast provided I still remember to hit the gym!

While my search for the ultimate brownie recipe will have to continue, this recipe is pretty damn tasty and the perfect thing to bake on a rainy, miserable afternoon. It’s an old school Donna Hay number I think and I’ve used it for years, adding bits and pieces along the way. This time it is hazelnuts and espresso, last time it was Nutella and macadamias. Next time it will be… white chocolate chips and raspberry me thinks! Whatever the additions, it always seems to turn out well and put a smile on my face.

Hazelnut Mocha Brownies
(makes about 24 large squares)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 250gm butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 200gm hazelnuts, halved
  • 2 shots espresso, cooled
  • 2 tsp coffee essence
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius. Grease a 30cm x 20cm tray.
  2. To remove the skins from the hazelnuts, place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Cool slightly and place on a clean tea towel. Rub the hazelnuts to remove the skins and chop into halves.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl. Add the sugar, butter, eggs, hazelnuts, espresso and coffee essence and mix until combined.
  4. Pour into a tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

I don’t ice mine but you could if you wanted or just slap on some Nutella!