Hong Kong is a very transient place, nothing stays the same. Spirals of incense smoke, speaking of centuries of tradition, rise over a city in constant motion and flux. Restaurants and shops you go into everyday disappear over night. Often there’s no warning, no sign, no word from the owners. You turn up as normal one day to find the place gone, the building gutted and deserted, or something else completely different already set up and moved in.
Last night we went back to the area we lived in only last year. We spent a year there, knew the streets, the restaurants, the local characters so well but, going back, I struggled to find the front door of our old building. The shops and stalls, our landmarks in this hectic city, had nearly all gone.
People leave all too frequently too. Many come out here just for a year stopping off to work for a while as they travel. Ex-pats are moved on by their companies and shipped off elsewhere around the world. Others just want to go home. We say goodbye so often but never really get used to it.
Sometimes though, something fantastic happen. Sometimes people come back. Last week two of my best Hong Kong friends arrived back in the country after nearly a year away. They’d left on an amazing adventure to travel and volunteer in India and Nepal. Always thinking they’d come back, never sure if it was the right thing to do. Now though, after months of discussions and dilemmas, they’ve finally made the huge decision to have another year here.
To me, nothing says I’m so happy you’re back, than a big box of gooey chocolate brownies. This is my absolute favourite brownie recipe. Of course I’m not fully faithful when it comes to my brownies. Sometimes I branch out, dabble in creme eggs or cookies and cream, but when it comes down to it, if I had to pick just one, this would be it.
This Nigella Lawson recipe creates gooey, rich, indulgent, deep brownies hiding secret little nuggets of white chocolate, the bite contrasting perfectly with the smooth yielding brownie.
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)
190g dark chocolate
175g Caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
125g white chocolate chips or chunks
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180c and line a brownie tin.
Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a heavy based pan over a gentle heat. Leave to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat into the chocolate mixture until well combined.
Add in the flour and salt, and finally stir in the chocolate chunks. You can use good quality white chocolate chips for this, but my favourite method is to roughly chop up a bar of white chocolate. It gives wonderful, big chunks throughout the brownies.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is cooked and starts to crack and the middle is still soft and gooey. I’ve found the oven time for these can vary dramatically, in my low powered little Hong Kong oven they took nearly an hour until they were cooked enough. Use your judgement, take them out just before you think they’re ready as they’ll keep cooking as they cool.
Once they’re completely cooled, slice into squares, dust with icing sugar and share with friends.