A foolproof Brownie recipe

Just thought I would do a quick blog post to share this brownie recipe with you all. It’s such an easy and foolproof recipe, and they always taste delicious.

I made them twice last week to take to friends for dinner and they always go down a storm. Great as a dessert, warm with ice cream or just on their own with a nice cuppa. I also tend to make them for friends when they need a little cheering up, they’re a great pick me up ; )

Enough of my rambling I hear you cry, just give us the recipe. Here you go, it’s adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe (from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book).

First up, grease and line a baking tin. I always use a square 22cm (approx) one, unless I’m making a double batch. Preheat the oven to about 180c (I usually have my oven about 160-170 as I swear it’s hotter than it says)

Ingredients
7.5 oz soft unsalted butter (or hard baking marg works just as well)
7.5 oz dark chocolate
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (don’t scrimp on the quality of this, use a good one and you only need a capful)
10 oz caster sugar
4 oz plain flour

Method
Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan.

In a bowl whisk the eggs together with the sugar and vanilla.

Once the chocolate has melted, let it cool slightly then beat in the eggs and sugar mixture. Then add the flour.

Scrape into your lined tin and bake for about 20 mins or so. I usually find 22 mins is spot on but it depends on your oven. The trick is to take them out when there is still a wobble – leaving them all gooey inside.
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My top tips for planning a lounge

Now I’m sure they are just being nice but my friends often say how relaxing our lounge is. It’s a lovely compliment as we did put a lot of work into it. We wanted an elegant, yet cosy living space and that’s quite a tough balance to pull off. I’m by no means an expert but I’m often asked for advice on colours or furnishings and how we planned our room so this got me thinking recently about my five top tips I could share for designing a new living space…

1. Live in it first.

There’s always that temptation when you first move into a new home to make changes or go crazy with the paint brush but I really think it’s important to just live with it as it is for a while, especially for a lounge or main living space. See how the house flows, how you want to use the space and also how the light can change in a room throughout the day. If you’re just redecorating a room in a house you’ve lived in for a while you’ll already know all this – and that’s possibly why you’re wanting to redecorate.

2. Focal point.

You might have a feature that’s already part of the space that will be key to your new room scheme. For us this was our fireplace, which was why we choose to have cupboards and shelving designed and built to work alongside it. It’s worth sitting down and thinking about how you want the room to work around a focal point that already exists. If you don’t have something, or perhaps have a more contemporary home – think about what you want the eye to be drawn to when you walk in. I’ve a bit of a pet hate about TV’s being the focal point of the room, but that’s just a personal preference. I’d much rather have a sociable living room which will work for a number of uses.

3. Furniture

Very obvious I know, but always think about what furniture you want to incorporate. For a lounge – seating will clearly be key, have you got enough of it? If you don’t have a lot of room, think about soft furnishings (big cushions you can pull out for extra seats when there are extra bums) or furniture that has a dual purpose. We bought a gorgeous Laura Ashley footstool, which we can also use as a coffee table (with a tray on) or for extra seating when there are lots of us. Think about your storage options too – do you want to hide stuff away for a more minimalist look or display your finds for all to see (you all know I go with the latter!).

4. Colours

It’s tempting to reach straight for the paint charts – but I think if you spend a bit of time thinking through the design of the room first it pays off. Colour is very much down to personal choice – and your choices will no doubt reflect your personality. Colour can really affect the mood of the room – so think about what type of atmosphere you want to create. When I’m testing colours for a room I always put a bit on every wall as you’d be amazed how different they can sometimes look depending on light. Check test patches too in the morning and evening light as again at different times of the day colours can look different. Remember that different paint finishes can also change the way a colour scheme looks. I always use eggshell on our woodwork for example as I’m not keen on a gloss finish.

5. Enjoy it.

Lastly, there’s nothing like that feeling when a room is finally finished, the paint is dry, everything is in its place and you can sit down (in my case ideally with a glass of wine) and enjoy all your hard work. Be proud of it and show it off.