There are foods in the world which are the equivalent to Marilyn Monroe – irresistible, full-bodied, they are inevitably, irrevocably liked and desired by all. A no-brainer, their intelligence is kinaesthetic, multi-layered sensuality that makes our body think, connect with others at some primordial level.
Think a juicy, savoury beef burger with slightly caramelised surface. Roast pork with crackling where even the sound is tasty. It’s the combination of fat, salt and sugar that make us yearn for this kind of food, they are addictive, it’s proven. Texture is often the unacknowledged fourth factor that we in the West rarely realise, but food companies know so well (the billions M & S spend I tell ya).
Chocolate brownies are definitely the Monros of the world of addictive foods. Sweet, lush, gooey, they have taken over the world. Even my fellow Russkis call them Браунис – Braa-uneez.
I have attempted in the past to give a Russian lift to the American brownie by serving it with sourcream and ‘our’ berries. But this time I’ve managed to combine the classic Brownie elements with Eastern-European ingredients to an unashamedly spectacular result.
Buckwheat brownies with sunflower seed and salt butter.
I use gluten-free buckwheat flour which gives the cake an airy consistency. But what makes a real difference is the addition of sunflower butter – an equivalent to Tahini, essentially a paste of sunflower seeds (which I buy in Whole Foods) – sunflowers being so reminiscent of the Ukrainian land (arguably not quite in Russia yet…).
You can easily make the brownies in a baking tray or for an extra effect try a silicone mould which makes adorable little balls, looking like lollipops. Salt is an important ingredient here, you can just about taste it, it offsets the sweetness.
Life (and love) without a bit of salt eh? Just think – Marilyn Monroe as a lollipop…
What you will need:
- This would make 16-18 medium size brownies (or if using the silicone mould as above, this quantity would make at least 2, probably 3 rounds)
- 150 gr butter (unsalted)
- 175 gr granulated and same amount brown sugar (but I've tried 250gr and worked well too)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbs sunflower butter
- 90 gr buckwheat flour (sifted preferably)
- 60 gr cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1/4 tsp salt (important)
- handful of seeds, eg sunflower, pumpkin
What to do
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and flour a 8-inch (or similar in size, not that crucial) baking pan
- Melt butter and mix with sugars
- Take off the heat and mix in one egg at a time
- Add the vanilla extract and sunflower butter. Mix well
- Mix the dry ingredients separately and fold them into the wet ingredients above
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan/mould and bake for no more than 25 mins (if using the mould follow the enclosed instructions, ie fill to the very top of the bottom mould, cover the the top or 15 mins for the mould. once cooked, leave in the mould for 15 mins, insert the sticks and carefully take out).