My rug samples were spread around me, saved from the dusty factory floor by a sheet, not quite white but not yet grey. The flourish of colour making a vibrant splash against the cheerless concrete. Beautifully patterned, each careful tuft had been meticulously costed by my Indian supplier and the negotiations were about to begin. Electricity was intermittent in this small rural community and the usual whir of the air conditioners was missing from the general factory noise. In the hot sticky atmosphere I wondered how fast we could get the job done, longing for the hotel bar and bath. With a nod from the owner a young Indian boy entered with a tray of dark milky tea. The spicy aroma hit me long before the drink was in my hands, cinnamon, fragrant cardamom, peppery cloves and sweet nutmeg. A milky drink with a perk from the tea and a miracle of spices to enliven even the most lethargic. This was my first taste of Chai.
I used a 15 x 30 cm baking tin (6 x 12 inches)
- 2 cloves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 6 cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 105 g plain flour
- 120 g chopped walnuts
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 240 g 70% dark chocolate
- 100 g good quality milk chocolate
- 2 star anise
- 220 g unsalted butter
- 115 g dark muscovado sugar
- 120 g light muscovado sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 vanilla pod seeds
- Preheat oven 180c , 160c fan, gas mark 4, 350f and grease and line a brownie tin
- Grind the cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms in a pestle and mortar, discard the papery skins of the cardamoms.
- Add to the flour and salt in a large bowl with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and walnuts, mix well and set aside.
- Place the chocolate, butter and star anise in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir to form a dark glossy mix, leave the star anise to steep.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until airy and lighter in colour.
- Remove the star anise from the chocolate mix and pour into the eggs and sugar stirring constantly. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate, stir until just combined, do not over mix.
- Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a crust forms on the top and the sides just begin to come away from the edges of the tin.
- Leave in the tin to cool then cut into 12 pieces or smaller squares. Wrap individually and keep in a tin for 3-4 days.
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