A recipe from Ruby Tandoh’s Cook As You Are

04 October 2021

A warm invitation to relax into and enjoy the experience of cooking and eating.’ Nigella Lawson

Ruby Tandoh wants us all to cook, and this is her cookbook for all of us – the real home cooks, juggling babies or long commutes, who might have limited resources and limited time. From last-minute inspiration to delicious meals for one, easy one-pot dinners to no-chop recipes for when life keeps your hands full, Ruby brings us 100 delicious, affordable and achievable recipes, including salted malted magic ice cream, one-tin smashed potatoes with lemony sardines and pesto and an easy dinner of plantain, black beans and eden rice.

This is a new kind of cookbook for our times: an accessible, inclusive and inspirational addition to any and every kitchen. You don’t have to be an aspiring chef for your food to be delectable or for cooking to be a delight. Cook as you are.

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The very best, fudgiest, most chocolatey brownies are those made with a lot of dark chocolate. But let’s be realistic: by the time your sweet-toothed cravings are baying for brownie blood, you’ve probably already eaten all the chocolate in the house, from a lone Malteser rolling round at the bottom of a blazer pocket to those last Bounties in the chocolate tin. With that in mind, this is a brownie recipe for when you weren’t planning to make brownies at all: a cocoa-based emergency recipe for when the craving strikes but your cupboards are pretty much bare.

A quick note: cocoa powder is not the same as drinking chocolate powder! The latter is bulked out with sugar and often with milk powder, too – ideal for sweet, milky hot chocolate, but it doesn’t have the chocolatey kick you’ll need for these brownies.

Bakes: 8–10 brownies

Ready in: less than 40 minutes, but you’ll need to let the brownies cool before tucking in

Make-ahead and storage tips: page 334

150ml vegetable, olive or coconut oil
175g soft light brown sugar
2 medium or large eggs
3 tablespoons milk, dairy or non-dairy
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
½ teaspoon salt
Special equipment: 15

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and line your tin with baking paper. If you don’t have this exact tin size and shape, a 20cm round tin is very close in volume and is a fine alternative. It’s also worth noting that if you make half of the above quantity, it’ll fit perfectly in a 900g loaf tin – ideal for an emergency stash.
2. Whisk together the oil and light brown sugar in a large bowl (melt the coconut oil first, if that’s what you’re using and if it’s solid). Add the eggs and the milk.
3. Into this wet mix, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, vanilla extract (if you have it) and salt. Stir until the batter is more or less smooth, with no big clumps. Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for 15–20 minutes. When ready, it shouldn’t be liquid or wobbly if you shake it, but a knife inserted into the centre should still come out with a small amount of gooey batter on it. Give them a few minutes more if necessary, but err on the side of fudgy and underdone rather than cakey and overbaked. Once they’re completely cool, cut into pieces and serve.

Variations and substitutions:
To make vegan brownies, forget the eggs, and use 150ml non-dairy milk instead of the 3 tablespoons specified above. For a gluten-free version, make the brownies as above but use a gluten-free plain
flour blend in place of the plain white flour.

These are also delicious made with butter! Just swap the oil for 180g melted butter, and decrease the amount of milk from 3 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon.

Swap the soft light brown sugar for caster sugar if that’s all you have.

Occasionally I make these with miso, which adds a gentle salty, umami edge. Leave out the salt in this case, and whisk 1–2 tablespoons white miso into the batter, to taste.

If you or your family don’t consume caffeine, you can of course use a decaffeinated coffee or leave the coffee granules out altogether. At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a coffee aficionado and don’t keep granules in the house, just use strong espresso in place of the 3 tablespoons milk (or a long black or white coffee in place of the 150ml non-dairy milk, if you’re making the vegan version.)

As far as additions go, the world’s your oyster here. I kept the ingredient list as short as I could get away with, but if you happen to have walnuts or pecans, chunks of dark or white chocolate, freeze‑dried berries or fudge pieces in the cupboard, by all means, chuck them in.