I love brownies! They are the one dessert that if done well, in my opinion, can fix any bad day or at least start to turn it around in the right direction.
There used to be a restaurant in Halifax called “La Cave” which specialised in cheesecake. On arrival you were greeted by a “dessert or dinner this evening?” Obviously the dessert option was the regular choice for my group of friends. Their cheesecake was award winning but it was their brownie that stole my heart. A warm rich chocolaty brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, a shot of Tia Maria, warm chocolate sauce and chopped nuts. It is no wonder that since then it has been my dessert of choice or my bad day pick me up.
There are so many different types and textures of brownies to choose from too! Squidgey, gooey, firm, cake-like or fudgey and rich, made with cocoa or with melted chocolate – it all comes down to preference. My friend Tony shared my enthusiasm for brownies and we regularly discussed what constituted the best brownie and where you can find one in Dublin. My personal preference – slightly crispy around the side, soft and gooey in the middle or questionably undercooked and chocolaty. So the search in Dublin began, which naturally lead to the idea of looking for the perfect brownie as I set out on my travels. And so it began in October of last year.
But first my Dublin favourites. I have two. Hansel & Gretel Bakery on Clare St and Busy Feet Cafe on South William Street. Whether gluttonously devouring the Busy Feet brownie while walking down the street or in the cafe warm with ice cream it is a true gem of my brownie.
My first stop in my travels was Cape Town, South Africa where I spent two months. Ample time to sample the local delicacies and search for that perfect brownie and find it I did. Thursday evenings on Hope St is the City Bowl Market Clothing, wine, speciality food including a delicious ostrich burger and the best brownie I have had yet on my travels. Le Petite Moo Brownies create every type of brownie that you can imagine from nutella, blondies, amarula, white chocolate, the classic and the one that took me, a gluten free sea salt and caramel brownie. It was a mix of sweet and savoury and was so gooey that your fingers were covered with the evidence of your indulgence. We frequented that market almost every Thursday to try a different brownie from their selection but none for me ever topped that first one.
I flew back to Nova Scotia for the Christmas Holidays and while there was enough home baked goodies around I didn’t really venture out to searching for a brownie I did find one which was different and tasty. It was at one of my favourite places in Halifax; the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. It has an amazing array of fresh produce, delicious foods, coffee, crafts, jewellery and always a street musician or two filling the air with music. I found a snickers brownie there which was a bit more like a bar than a brownie but still yumm. Brownie base, caramel and nut filling with a ganache topping. Shared three ways it went down a treat.
My search then headed to Asia. I was rather skeptical of finding a brownie that fit the bill but I tried a good few and a month in found a treasure in Indonesia. On Gili Trawangan, there is a little cafe called Kayu Cafe where they make a Dulce de Lecé brownie. It is chewie and made with dark chocolate and a swirl of dulce de Lecé through out. The sun was shinning, we were sitting on the balcony over looking the beach and sea drinking an orange, pineapple, and strawberry fruit juice, it was the morning after a night out and I was eating a brownie that I had been craving for the last month. It felt truly like I had walked into paradise.
Now I’m in Australia and as I feel like Australians have a bit of sweet tooth I have no doubt I shall find some delicious brownies on route. I spent my first few weeks in Sydney and quite a bit of that time was spent in the Sydney State Library – partially under the guise of trying to plan what I wanted to do but the other reason was the library cafe’s brownie. The building itself is lovely! The old building looking like you have stepped back in time to a Victorian library; high ceilings, ladders to reach ceiling high shelves and a wrap around balcony. Complete with a map on the floor as you enter the building. The new section is all open plan, glass and has a nice little cafe with amazing brownies. They are heavy so can work to tide over any hunger pains you might have while studying. They do a raspberry and chocolate one, your classic with dark chocolate chips on top and supposedly a caramel one but I never saw that one. The classic is worth the trip to the library in itself even if they don’t have an exhibition on in the upstairs gallery or you don’t need to study or use the wifi. Rich, not too sweet, moist and chock block full of dark chocolate it enters my top brownie list hands down.
So as of now, my top brownies are as follows
Gluten Free Sea Salt & Caramel Brownie, La Petite Moo Brownies ~ Cape Town, SA
Busy Feet Cafe’s brownie – with or without ice cream ~ Dublin, Ireland
Classic brownie – Sydney State Library Cafe ~ Sydney, Australia.
Pop by and give them a try if you are in the neighbourhood. You won’t be disappointed and I hope that they make your day a little brighter or you can for a moment step away from the busyness of everyday life and appreciate, what I believe are, little bites of happiness.