Easy brownies

There is something so festive about brownies. Perhaps it's because they are, fundamentally, American, and American food is all about that first, frontal-lobe taste-hit, (I'm also thinking, here, about pancakes the USA way, fluffly and dribbled with maple syrup, eaten with crispy bacon), and to hell with the calories.
I guess that's why Americans taking eating to the other extreme as a reaction to all this out and out yumminess: Giles has just come back from New York, where he's been writing about the Calorie Restriction Society - a movement whose followers eat hardly anything and never cook anything to more than a lukewarm temperature.

Anyway, before all that, there were brownies. I've searched high and low for a good brownie recipe - I find that a lot of them are comically over-indulgent: sticky, gacky, grossly super-sweet, like a hilarious mis-translation of American over-consumption. A real American brownie, to my mind, ought to be more light and cake-light and should be eaten not in a massive daunting slab, but in a small-ish square, popped in the mouth to accompany a cup of weak diner-style filter coffee. Mmm.

This recipe, below, from the New Penguin Cookery Book, is perfect. The nuts used here are walnuts, but you could use hazlenuts instead if you prefer.

Makes about 16 bits
125g butter
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour
30g unsweetened coco powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g walnuts bashed or chopped
1 tbs milk

Preheat oven to 180 (gas 4) and grease a baking tin. I use an 8in loose bottomed square tin from John Lewis but you can use any tin, really - the size only affects how deep your brownies will be.
Cream the butter and sugar until they go pale, then beat the eggs in one at a time.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and then fold them into the butter and egg mixture.
Then add the nuts, milk and vanilla extract.
Pour into your tin and smooth the top.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Edible glitter fans can shake a little into some icing sugar and dust the brownies for a sparkly finish.

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