Remember that time last year when I made lemon poppy seed shortbread and wrote this long, confusing post about triangles and tangrams and things falling into place? Well, it's happened. Things have fallen into place, and I can finally tell you what it was all about.
We bought a house! Not just any house, either. A beautiful, idiosyncratic art deco townhouse. A house with an architectural, light-filled kitchen, stained glass windows with triangular patterns and a small garden with a fig tree and a grape branch. A house I'd been dreaming of since I moved to Bruges four years ago, and the one that has haunted me ever since we learned it'd be put up for sale last spring.
(The universe does crazy things sometimes.)
It was one of our neighbors who told us that a house in our neighborhood would become available soon. She'd given us an address, and while we knew it was close to the house we'd been referring to - in what if's and imagine that's - for years, we didn't dare hope it was the one. I remember scanning the street numbers as I rode my bike to work the next day, eyes peering and heart racing, and I remember the crazy excitement that followed when I learned that it was, in fact, the house.
I cannot begin to explain the confusing dance of dreams and questions and doubts and hopes and plans and insecurities that played out in the months to follow. We spent over half a year in nervous anticipation, waiting to finally see the inside of the house and incapable of looking at another. Once we got a glimpse of the interior, our love grew stronger and the roller-coaster of hope and disappointment ever more intense. Was or wasn't this house out of our reach? I still can't believe that it wasn't.
It's crazy how much energy and how many emotions this house has already cost us, and I'm sure it will bring us to our knees so many more times in the future. It's old. It needs work. It's not the right size and it has weird quirks and major limitations. But it fills our heart. To the brim. And I can't wait to share it with you all.
Now, let's celebrate with more triangular treats.
• This recipe is adapted from the beautiful and inspiring Alternative Baker book, by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. I admit that I've long been skeptical about gluten-free baking, but Alanna just makes me want to try and explore all kinds of alternative flours. It's a must-have, this book!
• Chestnut flour has a tendency to clump, so make sure to sift it. I had a difficult time sourcing tapioca flour, called for by the original recipe, so I used potato starch as a substitute. 2 scant tablespoons gave the best results, but feel free to try the original 2 tbsp of tapioca flour instead.
• These brownies are super, super fudgy. Let them cool completely before slicing and use a warm knife to do so. Rinse and dry the knife between each slice.
milk chocolate chestnut brownies
adapted from Alanna Taylor-Tobin's Alternative Baker
makes ca. 16 brownies
70 g unsalted butter, cubed
230 g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
50 g chestnut flour
2 scant tbsp potato starch (or 2 tbsp tapioca flour)
3 large eggs, room temperature
150 g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 175°C and position a rack in the center. Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) square baking tin with parchment paper.
2. In a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30 second intervals), melt butter and milk chocolate and heat until the mixture is warm (not hot!) to the touch. Remove from the heat and keep warm. In a small bowl, sift together chestnut flour and potato starch.
3. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, brown sugar and salt on medium-high speed until airy and distinctly paler in color, 5-7 minutes. Lower the speed to low and add vanilla extract, followed by the chocolate-butter mixture. Mix on low until completely combined.
4. With the mixer running on low, add the chestnut flour and mix until a few dry flecks of flour remain. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing by hand until all the flour is incorporated.
5. Pour batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center is puffed and a skewer inserted into the center of the brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then lift the brownie out of the pan and use a warm knife to slice into even pieces.