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

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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!

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.

Cake Days: Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate and Salty Caramel Cake Recipe Review

salty chocolate and caramel birthday cakeI saw this recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book and it immediately sprang out at me as a great birthday cake. I made it yesterday for my boyfriend’s ex’s birthday and it went down really well with him and his colleagues today! It’s a three layered chocolate cake with a salted caramel and chocolate frosting. The good news is it tastes great although this cake is not for the faint hearted. Definitely big appetites are needed as it is pretty sickly but yummy too. A word of caution – it takes ages to make the cake! Because it is three layers of cake you need to cook the sponge in two batches so that you can put each cake on the middle shelf of the oven. Of course if you have a third cake tin (unlike me) then this will speed things up. It’s also quite a complicated recipe as you have to faff about with alternating adding flour with the soured cream and cocoa powder to form the sponge. I must say though that the sponge baked really evenly and consistently. The cake definitely needs a full 25mins in the oven and for the last sponge I made it needed 27 mins.

Birthday cake from Cake Days by Naomi Longworth

The other thing is that it makes WAY too much frosting and caramel. The recipe only needs six tablespoons of caramel. You could have probably quartered the recipe and still had left over but you would need a small measuring jug to cope with the smaller measurements. Now I am left with loads of caramel. My plan is to buy some Rice Krispies tonight and see if I can make some little cakes so I don’t waste the mixture. I still have about a third of the frosting left – again you could easily pare down the recipe. I am also left with quite a bit of buttermilk and soured cream so if you have ideas of what to do with it then let me know! BTW on the top of the cake I sprinkled caramelised cocoa nibs from Artisan du Chocolat and coarse sea salt. If you want to create a cake that’s a bit different and yummy then this is a good one to go for. Just make sure you have about four hours time to make it!

Easy pancake recipe

Pepperoni and cheese pancake by Naomi Longworth
I decided to make pancakes a night early so here is the Delia recipe on the BBC Good Food website I used last night and some pics to give you some inspiration for different flavours. I can highly recommend cheddar cheese, pepperoni or salami slices with an accompanying salad and sunblushed tomatoes. For dessert, try blueberries, raspberries drizzled with loads of maple syrup. YUM! Delia gives a tip about sieving the flour high above the bowl. Definitely do this because it helps not to get lumps. I actually managed to get a really good consistency for the batter by doing this. Good luck tonight folks! In terms of how well I fared at flipping pancakes – I cut one pancake in half and hit the pan on the back wall  – whoops! and the first pancake I flipped ended up in the pan as a folded mess! Am clearly going to have to practise before next year! Oh and if you want to know what is the difference between a pancake and a crepe then read my post here or if you want to see my mini pancakes based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe click moi.

Raspberry, blueberry and maple syrup pancake

Nigella’s New Year Chocolate Cookies

Nigella Christmas chocolate cookies with chocolate glaze and sprinkles made by Naomi LongworthAfter Christmas I caught up on lots of Christmas cookery programmes like Nigella and Nigel Slater. I thought Nigella’s Christmas chocolate cookies looked yummy so I wanted to try them out. It turned out the programme was a repeat from 2008 and took me a while to find the recipe online – thanks to Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for this link. It was only in American units so I had to convert it. I’ve shared the recipe below which I also had to tweak a little bit (for the chocolate glaze). If you ever need to convert weights from US to UK for different ingredients then this is a useful site – Recipes4Us. The cookies should be baked at 160 degrees for a fan oven, 180 degrees for a normal oven.  Nigella can show you how to make the cookies far better than I can – here’s the YouTube clip.

The cookies turned out well if a bit crumbly so if you make bigger cookies I’d cook them for a bit longer than 15mins. And don’t bother cutting out nice Christmas shapes like I did originally – the cookies just expand and pretty much develop into circles whatever you do! I had fun choosing mini Christmas tree sprinkles and edible gold stars (part of my Christmas pressie!) to decorate the cookies over the chocolate glaze. For the first time, I took these photographs outside and I do think the light looks really good on them (thanks to Jonathan Pollock). More to come on food photography outside! BTW, the boyfriend loved the cookies and kept stealing them when I wasn’t looking (note the lesser number of cookies in the second picture) and they went down well with work colleagues although I ruined their healthy eating regimes on day 1. Whoops!

New Year cookies by Naomi Longworth

Cookie dough

260g butter (2 1/4 sticks)

170g caster sugar (3/4 cup)

33g cocoa powder (1/3 cup)

250 g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate glaze

170g icing sugar (1 1/2 cup)

2 fl. oz of boiling water (1/4 cup)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Christmas sprinkles

Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes

iPhone app Hummingbird BakeryFellow baking blogger Boom Bakery recently tipped me off about the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days app for iPhone. I had been on the look out for a decent cake app for a while so I was excited to give the app a try! The photography and layout of each recipe is great and I love being able to access the recipes even when I’m offline on a train. I think the split of recipes by summer, spring, mother’s and father’s day is a bit arbitrary though. Recipes I’m keen to try are the blueberry crumble loaf, summer fruit cheesecake, and summer berry muffins (you can read the recipe review on Boom Bakery’s blog).

Chocolate sponge cupcake with chocolate ganacheThe boyfriend was in the mood for something chocolatey so I found the most chocolatey recipe on the app – chocolate fondant cupcakes. It’s a simple choc cupcake recipe but once cooled, you have to cut out a 2-3 cm deep and wide part of the sponge. You then fill it with the chocolate ganache which is pure indulgence – 200g dark choc and almost a pint of double cream! I did follow the recipe carefully and ensured the cream came to the boil before I poured it on top of the choc pieces. However, the ganache was rather runny. I put a good dollop in the middle before adding the centre of the sponge. I then poured a lot of ganache on top. I found that you could see the top of the cupcake poking through the ganache which made it look untidy. Once set, the cupcakes are yummy. I’d def recommend leaving them overnight though as it takes a while to set. When I looked at the photo again on the app, it looks like they have actually used frosting rather than ganache. I think it would be worth experimenting with the ganache ingredients/method as it was too runny to decorate with. Nevertheless they tasted great! Not for the calorie faint hearted 🙂

Mary Berry easy lemon cheesecake recipe review

lemon cheesecake by cake takes the biscuit blog

On Sunday I wanted to make a dessert for some friends coming round. After a BBQ with lots of meat, I thought something light and refreshing would go well. I started sifting through my recipe books and found that there were plenty of cheesecake recipes out there but a lot of them were a bit faffy especially if you had to bake one. In the end I plumped for the easy lemon cheesecake recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book because it was super easy. I was impressed about how quickly it could be made.

It says to use a 9 inch flan dish, but as I didn’t have one, I used an 8 inch cake tin which was loose bottomed. The first thing to do is mix the 10 crushed digestive biscuits, 2 oz of melted butter and 1 oz demerara sugar together for the biscuit base. I found that the base did go a bit soggy when eating it so I now want to experiment with baking the base for a short amount of time before adding the filling.

For the cheesecake filling, you mix together 150ml of single cream, 1 tin of condensed milk, almost a pack of soft cheese (175g) and zest of 3 lemons. I used light condensed milk and light soft cheese so this was a bit healthier. Then you add the juice of 3 lemons – I actually put the juice through a sieve to make sure the filling was really smooth. It’s also really important to use a whisk to get rid of any lumps when you add the soft cheese. The lemon juice almost instantly thickens the mixture as long as you keep whisking. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and leave for four hours to set. Just before serving I added strawberries round the edge. If you’re more organised than me then you can make it the night before, which is actually a good plan if you’re preparing for a dinner party. I would definitely make this again because it was faff free. If you want more info on Mary Berry and her other books you can read about her here.

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