Last month I had the lovely opportunity to meet Anthony Paech, Managing Director of Beerenberg who visited Perth to gauge the brand’s reach in Western Australia and to work out how to convince the general public to eschew the red plastic bottles of the big corporations in favour of his locally produced sauces whose ingredients’ origins you can literally trace back to when and where the farmer toiled.
I dare say a lengthy introduction isn’t necessary but to those who aren’t partial to condiments, Beerenberg is a family-owned producer of fine jams, preserves, chutneys, relish and other lovely accompaniments that can take your basic meal to a whole new gourmet level. If you haven’t already got a jar of Beerenberg goodness in your fridge or pantry, then you would have surely come across those cute-as-a-button mini jars of jams during a hotel stay or plane flight. I know Master 8 enjoyed building pyramids with them, and one or two jars would somehow fall into my handbag and be used later for just so occasions…
Anthony is the sixth generation of his family to head up Beerenberg Farm which is located in the Adelaide Hills (Hahndorf to be specific), and you can certainly tell that there’s a lot of pride and enjoyment in their achievements thus far. I’m certainly looking forward to what else comes out from their farm in the future. You can check out Beerenberg’s range and read about the farm and family’s history via their website and if you live in Western Australia, I have some great Beerenberg goodies to give away. Please check out this post or Facebook page for more details.
As for myself, I was immediately drawn to one of Beerenberg’s newest items: molasses. I’ve always loved what that word conjures up; sticky, dark, gooey globs of sweetness. Of course, those who endured the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919 (think a tsunami involving 8,700 m3 of molasses) probably had other choice words for the stuff but contained safely in a nice glass jar, it makes me smile thinking of what I could make with my share.
Surprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot of obvious cooking uses for molasses. There is the Amish favourite of Shoo Fly Pie that uses molasses but not much else. Perhaps it’s because molasses is an acquired taste for many people. On its own, it’s kinda like eating licorice without the licorice root flavour. Coupled with brown sugar however, it’s a wonderfully moreish experience and most recipes using molasses I found often married the two and threw in some spices as bridesmaids.
We’ll give Shoo Fly Pie a go another time but for the time being, I did up a quick and easy batch of brownies with what I had in the pantry. I think you could add some cocoa powder to tone down the molasses flavour but if you’re a fan of the taste, then the measurements given below will yield you a batch of cakey, molasses goodness.
Molasses & Walnut Brownies
1/3 cup (about 80 grams) butter
1/3 cup (about 80 grams) brown sugar (I used rapadura)
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or half a bean, scraped
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or spice of your choice)
120 grams of sifted all-purpose flour
a pinch of baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
To make: Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in molasses, cinnamon and vanilla then beat in egg. Add sifted flour and baking soda and blend well. If you are using a Thermomix, you can cream the butter and sugar on Speed 4 for a few seconds then all other ingredients can be added and combined on Speed 4 again for 10 seconds. Makes for an airy mixture :) Stir in chopped nuts. Spread batter into a generously greased 20cm square pan. Bake at 175C for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on rack then cut into squares and serve with tea :)