I spent a wonderful 24 hours in Dublin on Friday night and had the privilege of attending the 11th Trailblaze event held in the Grand Masonic Lodge. A stunning setting for the night of the Winter Solstice. We were welcomed into the lodge by the Christmassy smells of mulled wine and festive nibbles from The Cake Café. Such a treat. As we were led upstairs to the room where we would spend the next 3 hours, I couldn’t help but imagine what it was all like back in the 18th century. The Grand Masonic Lodge in Dublin is the second oldest lodge in the world and as you enter the main room upstairs, the walls are adorned with enourmous paintings of the Free Mason Elders. The night began with Brother Morgan telling us the history behind the Free Mason’s and where it all began. Clare and Cathy from Trailblaze then introduced each speaker. The theme of the night was ‘Secrets’, each speaker revealed a secret about themselves, other people, institutions and some even revealing the secrets about life. I was blown away by it all. At the end of the night, Clare Mulvany spoke once again and her words have stuck with me, ‘Ireland has so much potential, but it is up to us to make it happen’. Not a truer word spoken.
So on rising after a deep 11 hour sleep, where I seem to have missed a major gale force wind blowing all night, I somehow was craving brownies. Brownies for breakfast, ’tis the season and all that jazz. We, like many families around this time of the year, have a surplus of Cranberries in the fridge. Ready for making cranberry sauce for the big day or to add into a batch of brownies. It was all an experiment but a successful one at that.
These brownies are rich in taste and light in texture with the added burst of cranberries and a touch of crunch from the almonds.
Cranberry and Almond Brownies
½ cup Ground almonds
¼ cup Cacao powder
1 tspn Baking Powder
½ cup 72% dark chocolate
1/3 cup Coconut Oil
½ cup Local Honey
4 free range eggs
2 tspns vanilla essence
1/3 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 flaked almonds
Pinch of fresh sea salt
Heat oven to 180°C
Grease and line a 19 x 19 cm baking tin.
Mix the ground almonds, cacao powder and baking powder in a bowl.
Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Add the melted chocolate mixture into the almond meal.
Pour in the honey and mix in the eggs.
Add in the vanilla essence, salt, cranberries and almonds.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, depending on your oven.
Cool in the baking tray on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with dessicated coconut and slice.
So now to brave the shops and the final dash of last minute Christmas shopping to be done.