A chip off the old (chocolate) block

In Recipes on February 9, 2012 at 3:56 am

When Europeans discovered the so called ‘new world’ they also discovered chocolate.  How the natives felt about these strangers from what they considered an alien new world is anyone’s guess but it seems the secrets of extracting chocolate from cacao beans were generously given to the intruders.  In ancient Mayan culture chocolate was consumed in liquid form from a paste made by fermenting, drying, roasting and winnowing the cacao beans to produce what are known as chocolate ‘nibs’.  These were then ground on a stone and mixed with water and other flavorings to make a drink.  The same process is still used today to make the chocolate nibs needed for chocolate production.

For a couple of centuries chocolate was consumed all over Europe but only in liquid form.  Somewhere along the line sugar was added and the mixture was heated – the Mayans had consumed their chocolate cold and unheated.   It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the processes needed to make solid chocolate were discovered.  The process used to manufacture cocoa powder from the nibs was discovered by a Dutchman named Van Houten in 1828, this was the first step to making solid chocolate.  Further refinements in the chocolate making process were made by the Fry and Cadbury factories in England in the middle of the century.  Finally, the discovery of a process  to make powdered milk by evaporation  was discovered by Swiss chemist Henri Nestle´ who collaborated with a Swiss chocolate manufacturer to produce the first milk chocolate bar.  These new processes were quickly adopted by the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania and chocolate production on a mass scale began.

One good way to use chocolate is to make the American classic chocolate brownies.  These have become quite popular here in Australia in the last couple of decades and are surprisingly simple to make.  Here’s my recipe.

Easy to make and your friends will love them

Double Chocolate Brownies


250g unsalted butter (cubed)

200g block dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa solids (broken into pieces)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 free range eggs (lightly beaten)

60g chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)


Grease and line a 25cm x 25cm cake tin with baking paper.  In a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water melt the butter and the chocolate.  When melted mix well and add the chopped walnuts.  In another bowl, sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder.  Mix through the caster sugar.  Add the melted chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the eggs and combine well until the mixture is smooth and glossy.  Pour into prepared tin and bake in a pre-heated 180c oven for 25-35 mins or until the top is springy to the touch but not too crisp and the middle is not too gooey.  Serve warm with cream or ice cream or cold dusted with cocoa or icing sugar.


To make Triple Chocolate Brownies add some white or dark chocolate bits to the mixture at the end.  The brownies can also be iced if you wish.

  1. Those brownies look really fantastic! Also, thanks for the little history lesson, I learned a couple of things, which is always nice.

  2. Awesome recipe. Looks like it would be delicious 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

    Here is a brownie recipe you might like also.


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