The Unbeatable Combination Of Midnight Feasts & Chocolate Brownies

Posted: April 24, 2014

Why is it that a midnight feast is so much more pleasurable than just whatever it is you are eating? The anatomy of midnight feasts, followed by a recipe for my favourite midnight snack – the chocolate brownie.

A few weeks back, British tabloids were having a jolly old time featuring Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson’s latest woe: that she has been refused entry into the United States, thanks to ‘fessing up to some drug use in a recent court case. While I really feel bad for this blow to her career etc etc, I cannot help but wonder if the gorgeous chef will use this time to come up with the next season of Nigella’s Feasts. Or any of her other shows featuring some super cool ingredients and decadent dishes.

In my view, she made cooking HOT! While I uniformly love her desserts and cannot wait to see what magic she is going to create with a little bit of chocolate, some butter and a whole lot of sugar, my favourite part of her shows are always when she comes stealing downstairs in the middle of the night and raids her fridge.




During every show, my son and I try to guess what will she be pigging into at the end of that episode and the times we get it right, our glee is uncontrollable!

Isn’t there something rather naughty about the thought of slinking about the house, trying to sneak in a bite or two of that particularly yummy dish that you firmly put away – because your mum said you had to or because the Silent Voice of Reason reared its ugly head and made you say ‘no’ when your mouth was trying to say “hells YEAH!” and inhale a few more bites?

The Midnight Feast episodes in the various Enid Blyton boarding school novels were always some of my most beloved scenes. I remember reading the St. Clare’s and Malory Towers books and discussing with my friends at school, with more than a twinge of jealousy threading through my voice. Though the items in question weren’t always what tickled my taste buds (boiled eggs at midnight? Ugh! Tins of sardines? Blech!) the idea of it was something fantastical.

I am reasonably certain I am not alone in this. When the Women’s Web Facebook community was asked if they had to raid the fridge in the middle of the night, what their first choice of item would be, the response was phenomenal. Chocolate ranked way ahead of everything else in popularity, with cakes and doughnuts and ice cream clipping at its heels. Some health fiends wished for apples, almonds and cashews and cheese but most of my fellow women wished for diet busters.

So what is it that is so attractive about a midnight fridge raid? Unless you are in the third-trimester of your pregnancy or have just come off a late shift at work, it is the illicit pleasure you gain out of it. There is something tantalisingly naughty about eating something when the whole household is fast asleep. This fun can only multiply if you discard all rules of civilised behaviour and dig in from the main container. Serving yourself a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Choco Fudge Brownie into a small bowl and eating it quietly is not on the same plane of satisfaction as getting the whole carton out and wading into it with the biggest spoon in your kitchen, trust me!

And that wedge of strawberry cheesecake tastes way better well past Cinderella Hour, when you are surrounded by darkness than when you eat a dainty piece the previous day. Heaven seems much more nearer when you are licking the last of the chocolate mousse with your fingers, believe you me. If you are lucky enough to catch a scary movie at that time, then there’s nothing better!

So, go on, share your secret food stories. Do you finish off the half-opened bar of chocolate while your hubby is sleeping and blame it on his lack of memory the following morning? Are you one of those that prefers the glow of the refrigerator light to the glare of the tubelight? Go on, tell us!

Decadent Chocolate Brownie Recipe

In the meanwhile, here I leave you with my go-to recipe for my favourite decadent midnight snack, The Chocolate Brownie.

It is very easy to make and quite fool-proof. I closely follow David Leibovitz’ recipe and the few changes I have made are to accommodate my oven and the kind of brownie I like.
This recipe works best with an 8″ square baking pan.
Ingredients
Chocolate, broken into rough chunks – 1/2 cup
Butter – 200 gms
Sugar – 2/3 cup
Eggs – 3
Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
Chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup
Maida – 1/2 cup
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Orange zest (optional) – 1 tbsp
Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C. Butter the cake tin and line it with baking parchment.
2. Over a very low flame, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly add the chocolate to it and stir with a wooden spoon till both melt into a gloopy mass.
3. Take the pan off the flame and add the sugar. I like to whizz the sugar for a few minutes in my mixie before adding it to the butter-chocolate mixture as this aids in better incorporation.
4. Next, add the eggs one by one and continue mixing with a whisk. Add the vanilla and stir.
5. Add the nuts and the orange zest of you are using it.
6. Lastly, add the salt and flour. Mix well in a figure of eight pattern to make sure everything has been mixed well.
7. Transfer the contents onto the greased pan and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remember the brownies should have a ‘just-set’ texture and not be over firm and ‘cakey’.
8. Take the pan out and let it cool down for 30 mins. Lift the brownies off the pan gently and cut into chunks.
9. Enjoy warm brownies with vanilla ice cream for a perfect midnight dessert.
Worth getting out of bed for!

Pic credit: Prescott Pym (Used under a Creative Commons license)

Mother, writer, foodie, margarita lover, Lavanya is the exception to the rule that women are

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