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21 December 2014

Now I know what you're thinking. Stop it. Stop it. Mulled wine, and brownies? It can't be done, you say. My friends, I am here to tell you that it can and it has been - and it's kind of just as great as you'd think it would be too.

For the Gin and Tonic Cake lovers among you...let me introduce my Christmas offering. Gooey chocolate brownies steeped in rich, comforting spiced red wine. They're rich and far from light, so are best served is small pieces with heaps of brandy cream waiting in the wings.

Somewhat shockingly, this is the first conventional brownie recipe that I've shared on Pudding Lane. I'm a little old school when it comes to brownies, and believe that cocoa powder is far superior to dark chocolate as your leading lady here. There's something about the deep, rich cocoa and melted butter combination that delights me. As my colleague Liv told me when these badboys were road-tested - totally worth the calories.

I dislike the distraction of nuts and fruit in my brownies, but for the heath-conscious among you feel free to load the mixture up with walnuts, hazelnuts or dried cranberries. I'm obsessed with my new doily stencils - I got the idea from the lovely Lisa Faulkner's demo at the BBC Bakes and Cakes Show in October, and bought my doilys from Simply Vintage. Such a quick and easy way to make your bakes look beautiful.

As this will be my last post before the big day, I'd like to wish you all a beautiful Christmas - I hope you're surrounded by good food and great company. I'll be back just before the New Year, and am always around to chat on my usual channels.
200ml red wine (don't use anything expensive)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp orange essence 
150g butter
250g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
2 eggs
65g plain flour
1 tsp powdered cinnamon

Begin by mulling your wine. Pour the wine into a pan with the cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, vanilla and orange essence, and bubble on a gentle heat until the wine has reduced in volume by half. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 160C, and line an 8x8 inch tin with parchment. In a new pan, melt the butter, cocoa and sugar on a gentle heat. Once the butter is all melted and the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and set aside. Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs for several minutes until thick, pale and volumous. Add the chocolate and wine mixtures, and beat briefly to mix. Add the flour and connamon and repeat. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. They may take a little longer depending on your oven, but they're ready when they have the slightest wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Slice when cooled for a clean finish.  

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