Bitter Brownies

This recipe is very dear to me as it is a very personal one. Some people have little keepsakes of their departed family and friends but I have only this recipe. It is, if you will, a memory rendered in cake, of my dear Aunty Box.aunty box

Aunty Box lived a life shrouded in mystery, and cardboard. She could be glimpsed shuffling between the trees in the local park, bulky and brooding in her cubist apparel and tissue box slippers- with one fist firmly gripped around a dark ale she would sway on unsteady feet, eyeing the statues suspiciously or chastising the local pigeons.

My family didn’t like to talk about Aunty Box- they said they had done everything they could but she refused to help herself. Why would she need help though? She had the sky above her head and the ground beneath her feet and all the essentials she could ever need just hidden away within boxes.

Her clothing came from boxes, her food too, she was transported by boxes, her thinking was dictated by boxes, even her home was a box. She was not even alone- there were folk local to her who lived within boxes, boxes piled on top of boxes within big boxed-in communities, where people lived only a few corrugated inches from touching but rarely spoke to one another. Which suited Aunty Box just fine. She was not one for social niceties or small talk.

Aunty Box died, of course, as people have a reliable tendency to do. It was a sudden and surprise as all deaths are, especially for the workers at the recycling depot.
Though her end, I feel was most poetic to her lifestyle. From a box she lived, within a box she died and from her death there came many new boxes.

The Guinness soaked currents, the fragrant oiliness, the heavy set body and very subtle hint of chocolate that can’t quite mask the overriding bitterness, mmm. Memories.brownies


  • One 500ml bottle of Guinness
  • 1 Handful of dry raisins
  • 1 ½ Cups of plain flour
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Corn Flour
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup hot chocolate powder
  • 1 Cup of soft brown sugar
  • ½ Cup of all the other left over sugars in the cupboard
  • 1 Cup of olive oil


This recipe takes a little prep- it is essential you do not drink any liquids at least two hours before you start and have preferably not had an alcoholic beverage for at least 2 weeks.

Turn the oven on to about 225 degrees and line the first baking tin you find with baking paper.

Pour a little of the Guinness into a saucepan with a handful of raisins. Boil them for a bit then leave to absorb the stouty flavours.

Sift together, into a big bowl, the flour, baking powder, cornflour, salt and hot chocolate powder. (You can use cocoa powder if you A. have some to hand B. prefer to actually taste the chocolate flavour in the brownies)

In a different bowl, whisk up the various sugars, beer and oil. At this point you might note that the olive oil is very fragrant- don’t worry, this doesn’t ware off with baking and is a very strong flavour when eating! Yum!

Note the rest of the bottle of Guinness is potentially going warm/ flat. Take a small sip, realise your thirst and drink 3 quarters of the bottle.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet into it. Gently fold it all together.

Pour the slop into a baking tin and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 second then remove.

Drain raisins and hastily scatter them on top of the mixture, making sure to prod a few of them below the surface. Replace in the oven.

Take out to cool about half an hour later- or when you notice the baked-black aroma issuing from the oven.

Leave to cool then enjoy with, or as, your evening meal!


The rest of the Guinness if there is any left. Perhaps a second bottle?


Mama Cass Elliot – Make Your Own Kind of Music (on repeat)

If you would like an ‘alternative’ version of the recipe I recommend In Vegetables We Trust

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