Do you need an emergency brownie recipe, stat? The kind of perfectly fudgy, throw-them-together-in-one-bowl, no creaming of butter/ sugar/ melting of chocolate, self reliant squares of indulgence that can right any wrong, right now?

If so, skip straight to the bottom. I have something that might help.

I have been making a lot of these brownies in these weeks of silence. I’m sorry. Life got full. Full not in the ‘gracious, I’m satisfyingly sated’. Full in the ‘awkwardly distended, leave me alone on the couch for a while’ sort of way. Sorry.

There were the renovations, which are 90 % done (grand reveal soon)  and have been a muddle of harried last minute decisions (who knew selecting a splashback could cause so much angst) or that installing a silent-ish German rangehood could invoke so much hand wringing amid stoic tradesmen. Then there’s the Kondo-esque process of find homes for things that were packed in boxes for months (some years) and then tying up loose ends (my kingdom for sliding doors that functioned as advertised).  There’s been croup, which wove its way through every member of this household over a three week period, leaving a feverish trail and brittle house guest of a hacking cough in its wake.

And in the middle of that there was Christmas.

I love Christmas. I do. I get sentimental and starry eyed, love planning menus and hosting loved ones. Come to my table. I shall feed you. There are so many delicious choices to be made. Shall we purchase a bone in leg of jamon instead of a ham? Why yes, yes we shall. Tomato bread and pink wine and manchego for all. Shall we make three of my favourite flourless Christmas cakes? One for gifting, one for eating and one for rumpling through ice cream for pudding? Yes, yes we shall.

Yet- rude confession to follow.

The festive season as a mother-of-a-small-person has the strong potential to- (gasp)- be less fun than it used to be.  Those weeks at the close of the year have the sticky potential to slide into a festival of  facilitation. Yes there’s the twinkle lights and the lovely things to eat and drink. There’s the family to clutch close and the smiles to light up small faces. But it’s also the packing everything up and toting over excited offspring around to a multitude of spaces and crossing fingers they’ll sleep where they lie (and the hours of wakefulness when you eventually get them home).  It’s the wrapping,  it’s the washing up, it’s the unpacking. It’s the dawning realisation that beyond the people on your Kris Kringle list there’s the the unwritten social code which says that you need presents for the ladies at the creche at the gym and the day care centre- and gosh darn it, how many teachers does one two year old come in contact with?

On it rolls until 4 pm on Christmas Day when there’s nothing you want to do except hide in a corner with a box of brownies, a bottle of sherry and shut the door on your brand new pantry for some sweet dark, solitary silence.

Or maybe that’s just me (GRINCH).

So here’s what you need. You need these brownies. You need them because they can easily be packed up and gifted to the day care staff as presents when you realise on the last day that you’ve neglected to purchase something and you frankly cannot face the mall once again. You need them because they are an excellent base for an ad hoc trifle (layer with custard, drained morello cherries and cream- done). You need them because they are fudgy and squelching, but still hold together enough to be eaten with one hand.

You need them because you can use whatever flour you have on hand. My preference is oatflour, because it has a lovely sweet nuttiness and is lower GI than wheat (though really, these are brownies, so let’s not get silly about this), but spelt flour, wholemeal flour or plain flour will all work. You need them because you can use a sugar substitute and lob in any mix in which you feel drawn to.

And you need them because they are so gosh darn easy and so terrific for morale.

This I can vouch for certain.

It’s a new year and I’m back.

Oatflour Emergency Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

Shopping/foraging

1/2 cup/ 110 g of liquid coconut oil, or light flavoured olive oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup/ 115 g sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup/ 30 g cocoa
2/3 cup/ 70 g oatflour or spelt flour
1/2 cup your mix in of choice (chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruit)

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease and line a 20 cm square baking pan with parchment paper.

2) Whisk together the eggs and the oil in a large bowl.

3) Add the sugar/sweetener and whisk well to combine.

4) Add your dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5) Transfer to a baking dish and scatter over your mix ins.

6) Bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out with a few little fudgy crumbs on it. Allow to cool in the container for 10 minutes, then cut with a clean knife. Store in the fridge and eat when an emergency strikes.