March 3rd, 2022


I hope you are all doing okay. It is heavy times, and with Covid spreading around New Zealand (my family included) and the heartbreaking situation in Ukraine, it is difficult to focus on little else.  Although life carries on, as it has to with a young family and work to navigate. I will admit for someone who likes to plan months in advance I am not finding this time the easiest. Like many of you I have put plans on hold, some that may now never come to fruition. It is frustrating and disheartening, but also a big lesson of letting go and trusting. I think this is one of my biggest life lessons so it feels particularly difficult. 

It is times like this that I turn (even more so) to cooking and my garden to find some comfort. The dahlias continue to bloom and bring some joy – oblivious to the problems of the world – and the autumn berries are plump for picking. Recent rain followed by the warm sun has sweetened up the thornless blackberries*, along with a welcome second flush of sweet raspberries. I wish I knew the name of my raspberry variety to recommend as I think they are quite the best.

The raspberries fruit in spring and then again in autumn, with the second harvest having by far the best flavour and yield. It began with a few raspberry canes from a local market stall, and with their nature to spread it has now become a sprawling and thriving raspberry patch. Most of the fresh-picked autumn berries are eaten straight from the vine or added to after-school smoothies. So I have to be quick to get some into the baking tins. I will also squirrel some away into the freezer for the cool winter days when sun-kissed summer fruit is a real treat.

I hope the recipe that follows brings some comfort, maybe even some relief or brief escape. Highly recommended served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of runny cream.

*See my recent recipe (Ice Cream Cake) for more about our homegrown thornless blackberries.


Blackberry & Bay Chocolate Brownie

Blackberry and bay are a wonderful match. I often add bay leaves to berry jam for a herbaceous almost spicy flavour note that matches particularly well with blackberries. In this recipe, the bay leaves gently infuse the butter and chocolate - for a subtle hint use one leaf, for a more pronounced flavour use two. Always use good quality chocolate for baking, one that you enjoy eating too. I like to use at least 70 per cent cocoa solids for a decent chocolate flavour. If you are after a sweeter brownie then use chocolate with a lower percentage of cocoa solids.
Servings 12 Brownies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes


  • 100 g butter
  • 1-2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 150 g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup 100g raw sugar
  • cup 65g plain flour (can use spelt or gluten-free flour)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup 120g fresh or frozen blackberries (or other berries)


  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC). Line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tin with baking paper, or a tin with similar dimensions.
  • Place the butter and bay leaves into a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly with a spatula until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse - keep warm.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the eggs and sugar, whisking vigorously for 1 minute until fluffy and aerated.
  • Lift the bay leaves from the chocolate, scraping clean with a spatula, and discard. Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture, whisking to combine.
  • Sift over the dry ingredients, then use a spatula to briefly fold together. Add most of the berries, reserving a handful for the top, and continue to fold the mixture until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and dot over the remaining berries.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. It is OK if the middle is still a little soft as it will set as it cools.
  • Cool in the tin then cut into 12-18 pieces - this brownie is rich so smaller portions are recommended. Store in an airtight container and consume within 3 days.

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