These aren’t just any old chocolate brownies . . .
At last, I am a complete woman. It has taken a long time but the opportunity came and I grasped it with both hands and my cleavage. Yes, I made Nigella’s chocolate brownies.
It was supposed to be like it was on the telly – an exercise in femininity, intellectual ease and voluptuousness. I was up for a bit of suggestive finger-licking followed by a night-time foray to the fridge to lick out the bowl.
That’s not quite how it happened.
Chop a milk chocolate bar into small chunks, the recipe said. Have you ever attacked a bar of cold, thick chocolate with a knife?
You could take someone’s eye out with a flying chocolate nugget. No wonder the recipe said approx 5oz. It shot off the chopping board at random angles and, nearly a week later, I’m still finding bits of what could only be described as a milk chocolate meteor shower.
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The rest of the instructions were more straightforward. I melted enough unsalted butter to clog the Dartford tunnel with cholesterol, added sugar (yes, I am still trying to lose weight for the wedding), and then worked in the cocoa powder, flour and bicarbonate of soda.
I’d had to go out and buy bicarb as part of my herb and spice replenishment project.
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A few days earlier, I emptied the shelves and discovered there were things in there that were so old they didn’t even have sell-by dates.* But then, how often do you need Cream of Tartar and, more to the point, what is it and what does it do?**
I also had to chuck out the rose water (2005) and the glycerine (undated).
I was nearly there with the brownies. They just needed four beaten eggs and a small splosh of vanilla essence, plus the chocolate chunks before going into the wrong-sized tin (I wasn’t buying a new one just for a one-time only event) and being baked.
I looked round the kitchen. The floor had been gritted with chocolate and cocoa powder and some inaccurate pouring meant my recipe was now soaked through with sticky wetness. My cleavage, specially cleared for the occasion of cooking like Nigella, was a mass of spattered brownie batter and there was a small collection of milk chocolate particles in the well of my underwired bra.
This didn’t happen when she did it. She looked perfect.
I attempted to clear up but kept getting stuck to the floor and when my recipe dried, it welded itself to the kitchen table and I had to damp it down to peel it off and lost some of the text on the page. It would be worth it, I told myself. When my husband saw them, his eyes would open wide with delight, just as they do when Nigella leans into the camera with her buns. The brownies tasted great, I’m happy to report but when I presented a plate of these icing sugar-dusted calorific delights to my husband, was he feasting his eyes upon a new Lynne – a darkly, glowing goddess of the culinary arts?
If he did, he didn’t mention it.
* Sell-by dates were introduced in 1980 and phased in over a period of time.
** Cream of Tartar is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate and, in cookery, is best known for helping stabilise and give more volume to beaten egg whites. Nothing worse than an unstable egg white.