Easy Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Yesterday I made easy traditional chocolate brownies from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. All in the name of the Wimbledon Final! You can make these in one hour tops! I would recommend using Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate and only cooking the brownies in the oven for 25mins at 165 degree fan oven. All ovens do vary so experiment for yourselves. The recipe suggests 30-35 mins at 170 degrees. It also depends how gooey you like your brownies! They went down really well at the BBQ I hosted yesterday and my colleagues seem pretty happy with them for a post-lunch snack!
Hummingbird Bakery brownie recipe

How to make blueberry smoothies

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Homemade blueberry smoothies

Having made this recipe over four times and refined it I thought it was high time I shared it on the blog! Whether you’ve got frozen blueberries in winter or fresh blueberries in summer, this makes a super refreshing and healthy drink to make at the weekend.

I’ve adapted the BBC Good Food recipe so here is my version:

140g frozen blueberries – add raspberries too for extra colour and taste

1 ripe banana – great way to use up old bananas!

3 heaped tablespoons of low fat Greek Yoghurt

100ml milk – add more if you need to decrease the thickness

Teaspoon of honey to taste – however try making it without the added sugar to make it even healthier.

Method:

  • Cut up the banana in to small chunks and add to a large measuring jug
  • Add your frozen blueberries
  • Add in 3 dollops of low fat greek yog
  • 100ml of milk
  • WHIZZ up with your stick blender. We bought this one from John Lewis for £20 and it’s really good and simple to use
  • Slurp down with a yummy brunch of scrambled eggs with avocado on the side
  • Voila! Brunch bliss!

For more blueberry-inspired pics head over to my Instagram feed!

Cafe Review: Brew, Northcote Road, Clapham, London

Clapham coffee Brew CafeAt the weekend I popped into Brew on Northcote Road in Clapham for a coffee. Boy it’s good coffee, great taste, strong and a lovely bit of barista art on top. They do great brunch food too so it’s a good all-day place (their website has some lovely brunch pics). Cake wise I plumped for a carrot cake which was enormous and you could definitely share it with a friend. It was nice and moist but I thought it was lacking a wee bit of flavour, perhaps cinnamon. They also had a gigantic red velvet cake on display too. My friend tried a Lamington which I hadn’t come across before. It’s an Ozzie cake with sponge, a layer of chocolate and dessicated coconut covering it. It was a bit dry so I reckon you’d be better to stick to their other tray bakes and layer cakes. All in all the coffee made it worthwhile. I’d defo head back to try some more of their cake range and sample another brunch dish. Some other ladies were busy drinking prosecco with their cake so it’s a fun place for a late afternoon meet up before you hit the bars.

lamingtonBrew cafe carrot cake

Clapham coffee Brew Cafe

6 Valentine’s Day Recipe Ideas

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Vanilla and Passionfruit Cheesecake by Simon Hulstone

1. Passion? You said it with this vanilla and passionfruit cheesecake from chef Simon Hulstone. Passionfruit puree can be bought from Amazon and you can buy fine leaf gelatine leaves from Tesco. Not sure whether these will be bronzed though!

Poiresauchocolat

Dark Muscovado Truffles By Poires Au Chocolat

2. Or how about making some delicious dark chocolate truffles for your loved one? Much more thoughtful than bought choccies. I recently reviewed these Paul A Young dark muscovado truffles which were easy to make and yum! Poires Au Chocolat made some lush ones pictured here.

3. Take your other half to a Valentines afternoon tea – why not? I recently sipped hot chocolate downstairs from Rabot, a cacao restaurant in Borough Market in London and their afternoon tea menu caught my eye. Think cacao-infused drinks, brownies, banana bread and gin-cured smoked salmon sandwiches.

4. Concoct a raspberry courting cake – inspired from my Lancashire roots, the mascarpone icing tastes amazing.

5. Bake some love bug cookies – these look very cute and bright – perfect to cheer up your partner on a wintry February day! Ready to roll red icing can be bought from supermarkets and you’ll also need some 8cm and 6cm heart cutters (you can get a set from Lakeland).

6. And if baking eludes you then make your partner a Valentine-inspired cocktail. Rasmopolitan or Raspberry Chocolate Kiss Martini gets my vote!

For more inspiration you can read my previous year’s baking ideas. What will you be baking this Valentine’s?

Paul A Young’s Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart Recipe Review

Paul A Young sea-salted chocolate and pecan tartI was leafing through Paul A Young‘s Adventures with Chocolate recipe book and decided I HAD to bake this dark chocolate sea-salted and pecan tart (recipe online here)! The photo was just too irresistible! I made this for a week day dinner party last week but it did require baking it over two days so I’d recommend considering it for a weekend dinner party. The pastry is easy to create and using a food processor makes it super easy. I used medium yolks. I left it in the fridge for over an hour then rolled it out and left about a couple of inches spare so that the pasty overhung my dish and then cut off a bit of the excess. Next up another rest in the fridge for 15mins. I actually think it might be worth resting it for half an hour as I found my pastry did shrink a bit in the oven.

chocolate pastryI cooked the pastry at 160 degrees in a fan oven which was defo the right temperature for my oven atleast. I baked it for the full 20mins then another 8 mins and let it cool overnight. The next day I made the filling and popped it in the fridge before the dinner guests arrived. Now time to make the topping. Pour 100g of caster sugar in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Then don’t touch it. I know it sounds bonkers how can dry sugar turn liquid but it’s like magic! Keep that spoon far away from this sugar! Literally don’t touch it. Very slowly you’ll see the edges of the sugar start to liquefy and change colour. Give the pan a little shake to encourage the non-melted sugar to merge with the liquid bits. Very slowly you’ll start to get a nice golden brown caramel emerge. This Guardian article gives some nice tips on how to make different types of caramel.

chocolate and pecan tartThen pour it over halved pecans. It forms a lovely gooey caramel and quickly hardens. These are fab to sprinkle over the choc filling and it gives it a lovely crunch and texture and breaks up the monotony of the dark choc colour. Place on a big cake plate and watch your dinner guests’ eyes fill with glee! It serves 8 people as it’s very rich but boy was this a wonderful dessert!

Paul A Young’s Muscovado Truffles Review

Paul A Young Muscovado TrufflesPaul A Young. Is that A for Awesome, A for Alchemist or A for Adventure? Turns out he’s an English creative flavour alchemist or quite simply, a chocolatier. This was a fairly easy truffle recipe, it just requires plenty of time for cooling. You basically make a chocolate ganache. It looked super silky smooth, like something out of the Chocolat movie. You do have to let the cream and sugar mixture cool a bit (e.g. a minute) before you pour it on the dark chocolate pieces otherwise apparently you’ll get a split ganache. I didn’t have 64% Madagascan chocolate but I can assure you it turned out just fine with 70% Green & Black’s dark choc.

Once you’ve made the ganache whack it in the fridge and watch a film (preferably one that lasts for two hours). To make sure it’s set, put the bowl over your head. Well that’s what my BF did to me and luckily for me it had set!! Next up, mix up 50g of cocoa and 50g of muscovado sugar in a mixing bowl. Get lots on your fingers, then take a teaspoon of the cooled ganache and roll it in a ball. Mine were quite dainty, the boy’s were like boulders. Paul A Young’s look quite rustic. Then I popped them into little cellophane gift bags with little ribbons. Paul A Young recommends making a batch of these and keeping them in an air-tight container – I thought that was a good idea for unannounced visitors and effortless domestic goddess chicness. *Warning* these are not calorie free. They’re incredibly rich so one truffle will do in any one sitting!

dark muscovado trufflesTo try out the muscovado truffle recipe it’s published online here. For a few more details on the method this Guardian article is pretty handy.

So you want the recipe book? It’s called Adventures with Chocolate and you can find it here on Amazon. I received the book as a pressie a couple of years ago so I’d recommend as a gift for foodie lovers. I will be trying the dark choc and pecan tart recipe next week. Lush! And if you want to go to one of Paul’s chocolate tasting and making workshops you better get in there quick! Last I checked the next one available is in March!

Jamie Oliver New Year Nuts

Festive nuts

Nuts! It’s the first day back to work. Well what better way to keep hold of that festive mood than to make some festive nuts. I gave these away as pressies for Christmas but they’re equally lovely as New Year treats or to chomp through during Dry January. This is a Jamie Oliver Honey-Roasted Nuts recipe which went well. I bought most of the nuts from Asda and a few from Sainsburys and I bought Kilner Jars from Robert Dyas (350ml ones). I doubled the recipe to make four jars. The nuts I used were pecans (they burn more easily than the others so keep stirring the nuts at regular points), unsalted cashews, peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts (cut up in to halves), and almonds etc. 20mins was plenty of time in the oven. I used twice as much smoked paprika and it turned out really tasty. Jamie says use sweet smoked paprika but I couldn’t find anything saying ‘sweet’ on the label. Other tips? Personalise with this NotontheHighStreet ‘baked with love’ label maker and some festive ribbon. Nom nom nom.

Happy Easter!

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Here’s a yummy Victoria sponge cake from Mary Berry (made by my Mum) with Waitrose vanilla icing and homemade raspberry jam from my sis-in-law and decorated by me!

Baking Bonanza!

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This weekend has been full of baking, decorating and eating cupcakes! I made these Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my best friend’s birthday yesterday. They went down a treat! I can definitely recommend using Green and Black’s cocoa powder and the decorations were from Just Bake and I also received the other sugar flowers in my Christmas stocking. A few people have asked me where I get the boxes from – you can buy them online from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts.

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Since I had made a double quantity of chocolate frosting for 20 cupcakes (I doubled the sponge recipe) I still had some left so tonight I russled up some more vanilla cupcakes. This time they’re for Easter and I’ve used Smarties eggs. The one in the middle is for a colleague who has given up chocolate for Lent. I used caramel dipping sauce from Waitrose – it’s a bit like dulce de leche and tastes delicious. Last weekend I baked some shortbreads from the Great British Book of Baking and it tastes fab to add a dollop of caramel to those! If you’re wondering how I’m not the size of a house making these cupcakes, I made it to my first spin class tonight in eight years. I think the endorphin kick spurred me into baking again tonight!

Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge

Angel Cupcake_Naomi Longworth_compressed2To celebrate the third anniversary of Cake Takes the Biscuit, I decided to invent my own cupcake and enter the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge to boot. I started researching my ideas for American home-style baking whilst on a recent trip to Australia. My American friend out there talked about her childhood memories of angel food cake, a super light fluffy cake made with egg whites. So I set upon creating Angel Cupcake – a light and fluffy vanilla sponge, reminiscent of angel food cake, with a lemon curd frosting to symbolise luscious Californian lemons and topped with a sprinkle of strawberries, one of America’s most important fruits.

After three nights of baking perfecting the sponge recipe, making lemon curd and trying out different backgrounds for the photograph, I finally managed to submit Angel Cupcake to the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge with two mins to spare. Look out next week for the full list of ingredients and method so you can try out the recipe yourself! My colleagues and friends thought the cupcake was a hit because it was super light and the lemon curd frosting was delicious. So glad it was worth all the long hours of baking!

Angel Cupcake by Naomi Longworth

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