It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves my chocolate brownies.
This is not really surprising: they’re 80% chocolate and 20% butter and sugar, so there isn’t much to dislike. Until I found this recipe, I wasn’t really a brownie person – I hate the taste of nuts, and people are always sneaking them into brownies. My signature recipe was always millionaire’s shortbread; but the brownies have won out, largely because they take so much less time to make and are incredibly incredibly popular.
My mum is a recipe magpie, so it’s impossible to know when or where the recipe originally comes from. She keeps a number of gigantic folders full of recipes, which are a rag tag collection of typed favorites, cuttings from magazines or newspapers and photocopied pages from various cookbooks. A few years ago I found the brownie recipe between a cake mix splattered scribble about how her best friend makes victoria sponge and a recipe for banana cake that we no longer use (we found a yummier one with chocolate).
I’ve baked them a lot of times since then! Knowing that my chocolate brownies are a universal winner, they were a very safe recipe to cook up before my interview with David.
I was still in shock that I’d actually got an interview. David was the first person to give me an interview for a ‘graduate’ job in Cornwall. I specialised in Medieval Literature at Oxford, and unfortunately that doesn’t exactly scream practical or employable. Also my new job title is actually ‘Marketing and Studio Co-ordinator’, and my marketing experience is patchy at best. In fact, my work experience is pretty patchy – I’ve done an awful lot of waitressing, which isn’t necessarily what employers are looking for in a graduate. I saw the advert via GradCornwall at the eleventh hour and sat and banged out a covering letter as fast as I possibly could. My Mum has always lectured me about submitting applications last minute, but I’d actually found a job that had “enthusiastic about food” as one of the requirements. I am VERY enthusiastic about food. Even better, David was looking for someone to write copy. I can tell you that all an english graduate really wants is a job where they actually get to use some imagination and write. I was actually looking at a job that involved writing about food; I had to submit an application, even if there was a risk it’d just go straight in the bin.
As it turned out, it didn’t! I got a call on Sunday morning to invite me to interview that week. I would have to do a mystery task and a five minute presentation on ‘the skills I would bring to the job’, for which I could bring examples of my work. I had approximately zero examples of work to bring to the interview, but I felt that I could safely pass my baking off as an example of my enthusiasm for food, rather than as a rather obvious bribery attempt.
I took the comedy route with my presentation and pulled together a powerpoint with a number of funny (in my mind at least) gifs, relating to my various skills. I was a lot more confident in the brownies than in my presentation skills – they went over beautifully. My record remains at 100%. Everybody loves those brownies.
The mystery task was some copywriting to accompany some of David’s photography. This was honestly a little bit of a relief! The most important thing all students learn at Oxford is to write well about something they know nothing about. (The second most important thing is to talk as though they know everything about it to someone who literally wrote the book) The other important thing I gained is an encyclopaedic knowledge of The Lord of the Rings, but this has less practical uses. Thus, although I knew nothing about wood fired pizzas, three minutes on google equipped me to write like I knew everything.
Similarly, I was pretty confident on my interview – I’m used to being grilled about things I don’t know much about and I’ve met a lot of academics who are far scarier than David and Debbie. In hindsight, I managed to hit some great buzz words completely by accident – I talked a lot about blogging, which is one of the key aspects of my job, and I also managed to namecheck a couple of companies who David works closely with. I left the interview desperately hoping I’d done enough – David is so obviously enthusiastic about everything he does but is also pretty down to earth – I knew that he’d be someone who would be great to work alongside. He’d also mineswept the rest of the brownies I’d brought along, so it was pretty clear he was a man after my own heart.
When I got the phone call to let me know I’d got the job, I was over the moon, and when Debbie from Unlocking Potential told me David just wanted more brownies, I knew that they’d definitely worked their magic!
Dream Job Brownies (for bribing potential employers):
350-400g chocolate (any will do, I’ve made them with cadbury and with 99p a bar value chocolate, you can go dark if you prefer)
2 tsp instant coffee
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
75g self-raising flour
250g chocolate chips/chunks/whizzed up chocolate (I like to use large chunks, as they are quite crunchy, but you can really mix it up – any chocolate you like, white works quite well)
You need to preheat the oven to about 190 degrees and line a tray bake tin – there’s no need to worry about how big the tin is, as deep brownies work just as well (though they need cooking for a while longer)
Melt the butter and the 350-400g chocolate. Theoretically you should use a bain marie, but a microwave is fine as long as you don’t burn the chocolate.
Mix the hot water and coffee and let it cool slightly before adding the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Then add the chocolate mixture (this should have cooled slightly).
Add in the flour and chocolate chips and then pour the mix into the tray.
In the first instance, bake for 25 minutes and then keep checking. Once you can skewer them and the skewer comes out clean, they are done!
I tend to over bake mine slightly, because I like a crunchy crust, but the less time they spend in the oven, the softer and fudgier they will be!