Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Food Adventures: Cheer us up Brownies

As I may have mentioned before, I love to bake. And I hate not having an oven. However, I'm finding that with a bit of creativity, it's still easy to make yummy cakes, even in Japan. And so far, the mixture that seems to be least fussy on cooking times/temperatures seems to be Chocolate Brownie. I'm guessing it's because it's tastiest when it's a little gooey, and so the changeable rice cooker temperatures don't affect it as badly as they do a Victoria Sandwich cake, cupcakes or biscuits (although, you can make all of those fairly successfully in a rice cooker too, they just aren't quite as good as when they're made in an oven, and certainly aren't as consistent.)

So, I thought I'd share my favourite Chocolate Brownie recipe. I think we got this recipe out of a Beaver (in England, they're young Scouts) annual, about 15 years ago, and my Mum and I have been making it frequently ever since. It's really chocolatey and gorgeously gooey, while still retaining a good cakey-ness. It's also so easy and, as I mentioned above, pretty foolproof. 

The name 'Cheer Us Up Brownies' was coined by a friend of mine, when he added the recipe to the book my friends and family gave me for my 18th birthday. Judging how much they managed to cheer up a couple of very wet and bedraggled English teachers last night after they'd walked home in the storm, I'd say it's a pretty accurate name. Who can be sad when there's a chocolately mess to be devoured?!

If you want to make it into more of a dessert, serve them warm with cream or ice cream and some sort of berries (raspberries are best if you can get your hands on them). John and I just usually munch them as they are straight out of the oven  rice cooker. Don't expect them to last long.


(If you're using an oven, I suggest doubling the amount below. If you're using a rice cooker, this amount should be about right, but maybe cook in 2 batches if you have a really small one)
50g margarine or butter
50g dark chocolate (if you live in Japan, the best is to be bought at Daiso, 2 50g bars for your ¥100)
50g self raising flour OR 50g plain flour plus 1/2tsp baking powder
100g castor sugar
1 egg

Optional extras:
If you like your brownie really REALLY chocolately and gooey, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a splash of water.
If you want to be super indulgent, you can add 50g chocolate chips/chunks.
Some crazy people like walnuts in their brownie. They suggest 50g is a good amount. I suggest 0g is better.


Melt the chocolate and marg/butter together. Microwave fine, just use a low/medium heat and stir frequently.

Stir in all the other ingredients, plus any/all of the optional extras you fancy.


For those lucky enough to have an oven:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4/350°F
Grease or line a baking tray, either about 7"x7" (15cm square) for the amount above or about 7"x11" (15cm x 22cm) if you followed my advice and doubled it. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife stuck into it comes out almost clean.

For those of us with rice cookers/bread makers:
Lightly grease the cooking tin. Pour the mixture in and cook until a knife stuck in comes out almost clean. On my machine, I set it going on rice cook, leave it through the cook and steam phase, then repeat. After 2 cycles it's perfect. I guess it'll vary with different machines though.

It might not win and beauty contests, especially when you have to kind of pour it out of the rice cooker bowl, but it tastes damn good.


  1. Chocolate Brownies have made me lots of friends over the years!!!! Glad you are sharing the love :)

  2. Hi! Thanks for sharing. I'm a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Thailand and I'm sure these chocolatey treats will be like a little slice of home over the next two years. Can't wait to share the recipe with my friends.

    1. Wow, how exciting! I hope you are having an amazing time in Thailand!
      I hope you manage to make these OK. Pretty much any cake recipe works fine in a rice cooker, you just might need to make half the mix and be patient with cooking it!

  3. Ayu (a gaijin in the land of the rising sun)21 January 2013 at 09:01

    If you're in japan, better get dark chocolate bars in supermarket or okashi ya (sweets shop). They are sold at 50ish to 80ish yen per bar.
    Nutella brownie recipes can also be made in rice cooker *currently omnomnoming one (made by my bf) while typing this :)