Recipe: My Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

This is not a recipe I share lightly. I’ve been making this recipe for yours, but have always kept it a closely guarded secret. You’ll understand when you make these, because they are far, far too good to share.

To me, the ultimate brownie is gooey. Not overly fudgey, but almost like a solid mousse. It needs a paper-thin crust on the top, slightly firmer sides, and a few chocolate chunks thrown in for good measure. It should be insanely chocolatey and rich, but not too sweet. It should absolutely NOT be crumbly and cakey.

And so this is my ultimate brownie. For a fudgier version, simply cook a little longer and keep in the fridge. For a cakier version, look elsewhere.

It’s insanely rich, to the point a square is a little too much, though cutting into 16 feels a little mean. It’s delicious served on it’s own, even better served with ice-cream. This particular batch were baked for a dinner party, and served with a tahini and honey ice-cream, sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Every bit as delicious as it sounds.

Trust me, if you’re a fan of a good brownie, make these. You won’t be disappointed.

Recipe (cuts into 9 or 16, depending on how generous you feel!)

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 180g dark chocolate – I favour using Cadbury’s Bournville in brownies as it melts well, is a good price and I love the flavour
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder – I use raw cacoa powder, however if you use a normal cocoa powder I would recommend reducing the sugar by 10-15g.
  • 100g chocolate, chopped into chunks – we used more dark chocolate for these, but white chocolate works really well
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g golden caster sugar

Cream and line a 20cm square tin. Cut the butter into small cubes and tip into a medium bowl along with the dark chocolate. Melt slowly over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once completely melted leave to cool to room temperature.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and add the sugar. Whisk together with an electric mixer (we used our KitchenAid) until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. The mix should be roughly doubled in volume. Slowly pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mix, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula until the mix is one colour – be careful not to knock too much air out of the egg mixture.

Sift over the flour and cocoa powder, and continue gently folding until you have a fudgy looking mix. Stir through the chocolate chunks, then add to the prepared tin. Bake at 160C for 25-30 minutes, or until just set (the middle of the mix should no longer wobble when you shake the tin) with a papery crust. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the tin, then lift out and cut. If you’re impatient, cutting whilst still warm will result in a gooey mess – still delicious, but not exactly presentable.

For me this is the perfect brownie – gooey and rich, in need of a spoon for be eaten. Add different types of chocolate chunks, stir in some walnuts – or even use as part of my S’more brownie recipe. You won’t be disappointed, except when you’ve finished the batch!

How do you like your chocolate brownies? What’s your go-to brownie recipe?

Recipe: Super Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

Yep, peanut butter fudge. It’s as glorious as it sounds. Rich and sweet, with a salty bite and the occasional crunch of a peanut mixed in with the smooth melting texture of a classic fudge.

It’s also ridiculously easy to make and hugely addictive to eat – two factors which are extremely dangerous given that I’ll be having wedding dress fittings in the next few months. I wonder if they can make the waist elasticated…?!

Back onto the point. This really is a doddle to make. There’s no measuring the precise temperature of the mix, no boiling for hours on end. A quick mix, a slow melt, rapid boil, more mixing and then time to set. In fact, the most complex part of the recipe is (to me) lining the tin! I told you it was easy…

So easy, in fact, I’m almost embarrassed I’ve never made fudge before and was actually rather scared when Lucy at the Ginger Whisk Cooking School told me I was going to be making it. I’ll be reviewing the class I took with her in more detail soon, but this recipe is based on hers (in her new book!) and it’s an absolute cracker!

Recipe (made roughly 15 decent sized chunks)

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 50g whole milk
  • 100g peanut butter (the cheapest brands work well – both myself and Lucy used Sainsburys Basics with sucess)
  • 120g icing sugar

This amount of mix fits nicely in a ‘takeaway container’ (aka those microwaveable plastic containers than are always so useful!) so line one well with greaseproof paper.

Pop the butter, brown sugar and milk into a warm pan and warm over a very low heat, stirring, until all of the sugar is dissolved. Once the mix is no longer gritty you can increase the heat. Boiling for 1 minute gives a softer fudge which I prefer, whilst anything longer up to 3 minutes will give a crumblier, more ‘tablet’ style that’s equally as delicious.

After boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until combined. Beat in the icing sugar (you should beat until the mix is nice and smooth) before pouring into the prepared tin, levelling the top and leaving to cool. Slice into squares and enjoy!

In this photos I sprinkle the molten mix with freeze-dried raspberries before cooling (pressing them in slightly and singing my fingers in the process). Absolutely delicious as they added a sharp kick that broke up the richness, reminding me of the somewhat classic ‘peanut butter and jelly’ combination. You could just as easily keep the fudge plain or, as I plan to for Christmas presents, drizzle with chocolate. Because chocolate.

Have you ever made fudge? Did you expect it to be so easy?!

Recipe: Banana Nutella Muffins

I’m pretty sure this was one of the first recipes I posted on this blog – it was my study-snack of choice during my first year of university (and I’m pretty sure it was what originally bribed Libby to be friends with me!). Banana and Nutella is a flavour combo that will never, ever get old and it’s a personal favourite of mine.

I’ve tweaked my original recipe slightly here, reducing the sugar

Moist banana muffins, made a tad sturdier than a standard banana bread with the addition of oats. A generous amount of Nutella swirled through. Hazelnuts sprinkled on top for crunch (and to add Instagram-appeal, let’s not lie). There is simply nothing better than these – and they are so, so easy! Okay, so spooning nutella onto banana slices and transporting to mouth is *slightly* easier, but trust me on this. You will be thankful for the tiny bit of extra effort you put in when you first bite into one of these. Particularly if it’s still warm from the oven…

Recipe (makes 12, I scaled down for these photos)

  • 200g plain flour
  • 30g oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 110g butter, melted
  • 3 large very ripe/brown bananas
  • 3-4 tbsp Nutella
  • 2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts

In one bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. In another combine the eggs, melted (then cooled) butter, and bananas (mashed until slightly lumpy). Add the dry mix to the wet mix and quickly stir through – you want it to be just combined, though a few lumps are absolutely fine.

Divide most of the mixture between 12 muffin holes (lined with cases) – each one should be about two-thirds full. Melt the nutella slightly, either in a microwave or in a small bowl suspended in a larger bowl of warm water. Blob a teaspoon of nutella into each muffin, hen top each equally with the remaining batter. Swirl the muffin/nutella together slightly using a cocktail stick, then bake at 180C for around 20 minutes. Try to let them cool before eating – or at very least be careful not to burn your fingers…

Perhaps the best thing about this recipe is the smell whilst these muffins are baking. The flat smelled irresistible! That smell of banana bread baking (which is quite possibly the best baking smell ever anyway) with a hint of nutella filled both our flat, and the communal hallway. Sorry neighbours!

What’s your favourite muffin flavour combo? 

Recipe: Freezer Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

This post comes with a safety warning – do not read if you lack self-control.

 photo Cookies_zpsu63tirlo.jpgBecause having freshly-based cookies available with around 10 minutes notice is a bad, bad thing if you’re trying to get into the ‘slimming’ outfit you bought for a wedding. It turns out I have zero self-control when it comes to these cookies, though it’s not surprising. These are thinner cookies (for UK readers, they’re more Millie’s than Ben’s), chewy on the outside but softer within, and packed absolutely full with chocolate.

I blame exams on the fact that these disappeared unreasonably quickly – two study days a week plus the stress of an impending exam means any kind of sweet treat isn’t going to last long! And (I say defensively) with a stand-mixer it’s all too easy to just whip up another batch whilst on a break from pricing models and credibility theory…

 photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 11_zpsxafi791w.jpg photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 12_zpsmhiia8ls.jpgRecipe (makes lots of cookies, on the last bake we got 39 plus plenty of raw cookie dough)

  • 250g butter
  • 220gcaster sugar
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 415g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water (plus a little more if needed)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 400g chocolate – here we used a mix of milk and white chocolate (just cheap bars, roughly chopped into chunks)

The dough takes mere minutes to  whip up in a kMix*! Beat the butter slightly until soft, them cream together with the two types of sugar. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and gradually beat into the butter/sugar mix. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warm water, before adding to the mix along with the salt. Stir in the flour and chocolate. Drop large spoonfuls (we used tablespoons) of the mix onto lined baking trays and roughly roll into a ball.

If you’re baking them straight away, pop into the fridge for around 10-15 minutes to firm up before baking for 10 minutes at 180C. If you’re freezing them, freeze on the tray for an hour or so, before removing and freezing in a resealable bag. Bake from frozen for around 12 minutes at 180C.

 photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 9_zpsvpu4ua8t.jpg photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 10_zpsqngvkgbm.jpgObviously, you don’t have to make chocolate cookies (though why wouldn’t you?!). What I do recommend is switching out some of the chocolate for other ingredients – we’ve tried nuts (peanuts are especially good if you add a blob of peanut butter to the dough), crystallized ginger and even adding a spot of chopped chilli in. Next on my list is an adaption of these Beer & Bacon Cookies

Are you a cookie fan? Do you think you’d have the self-control to keep a batch in the freezer?!

Recipe: Cinnamon Buns

I think Cinnamon Buns are one of my all-time favourite sweet treats. It has to be good though – a flaky supermarket cinnamon swirl won’t cut it. It needs to be soft and bready, heavily spiced, sweet, sticky. There’s a Swedish Cafe in Putney that makes insaneelyyyy good ones (Blabar is also damn Instagrammable!) and quite honestly it’s a good thing we’re moving a teeny bit further away. Longer walk = more room for cake, right?!

 photo Cinnamon Rolls_zpseyjrrgca.jpgOne thing I’ve never done, however, is bake my own. Up until a few weeks ago that is! I’ve always shied away from sweet bread recipes. Enriched doughs tend to be horribly sticky and my slightly intolerant nature means I’m likely to swear and strop at it rather than lovingly knead until smooth. I subscribe to the generally knead-free bread bible written by James Morton, but this approach doesn’t exactly work for sweeter recipes.

 photo IMG_8322_zpsaizebahe.jpgEnter my new Kenwood kMix Stand Mixer.*

The dough hook means I don’t need to get up close and personal with sticky dough, my worksurfaces stay smear-free and I genuinely get to keep me cool. A definite bonus given this last week of heat – kneading dough is the last thing I want to be doing! However if you don’t have the lifesaving mixer, simply knead by hand for 15-20 minutes until smooth…

 photo Cinnamon Buns 19_zpsjkzjxhju.jpg photo Cinnamon Buns 6_zpsish6ndaw.jpgThe end result is a soft, bread-y roll, heavily spiced, sticky-sweet and totally delicious. I enjoyed mine for dessert, for breakfast, as a snack. Warm, cold, alone, with ice-cream, dipped into hot chocolate. All delicious. Very addictive. You have been warned!

Ingredients (Made 8 hugeeee ones)

  • 65g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 325g plain flour
  • 10g dried instant yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 100ml “blue” (full fat) milk
  • 45ml single cream – mix together with the milk
  • Filling: 40g caster sugar, 60g unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • For glazing: 1 medium egg, 30ml golden syrup, 2 teaspoons caster sugar

Make the dough: beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Mix the flour, a pinch of salt and the yeast together. Gradually add the milk and cream, and the flour mixture, alternating and mixing well. The dough will be sticky! Then knead until smooth. Cover with a clean tea towel leave to rise for an hour before rolling out to a rectangle (around 1.5cm thick).

Fill and shape: beat together the sugar and butter for the filling until light and fluffy. Spread over the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon. Use a knife to cut the dough into strips, around 1.5cm to 2cm wide. We went for 2cm and they were a little big for my liking! Roll up the strips like a snail and place on a baking tray (line with greaseproof!). Leave to rise for around 45-60 minutes, then brush with beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes at 200C.

Glaze: mix the golden syrup with an equal amount of water. Brush over the rolls, sprinkle with the sugar and allow to cool slight. Best eaten within a day or so – though they freeze quite well (and make a good on-the-go breakfast…).

 photo Cinnamon Buns 20_zpsircskul6.jpg photo Cinnamon Buns 12_zpsblutyly7.jpgNow, whilst I wish I could take all the credit, this recipe was inspired by The New Nordic (the perfect coffee table book!); I’ve removed the cardamon as I’m not the biggest fan, cut down the sugar a little and of course upped the cinnamon! Yum, yum yum! I’m craving these right now as I sit here typing!

What’s your favourite sweet treat?

Recipe: Chocolate Beetroot Loaf Cake

This is my all-time favourite chocolate cake recipe. I find most chocolate cakes too cakey, too dry, not chocolate-y enough. And whilst I love brownies, sometimes I want something lighter. This is the perfect in-between. Rich with a deep chocolate flavour, moist, but light enough to eat with a cuppa.

 photo Beetroot Loaf_zpsfuiuq3of.jpgPlus the fact that it contains beetroot makes me feel a little healthier. Sure, it’s still just oil, sugar, chocolate and a bit of veg – but at least it’s got the veg right?! Having said that, I just it as an excuse to demolish most of the loaf in just two days so perhaps not the best way of thinking…

It’s super-simple to whip up – just a case of blitz-ing the beetroot, melting some butter, mixing it all together and throwing in a tin with some chocolate chips. However I’m lazy, the mix is super-thick and it can split if you don’t add the oil gradually. Rather than give up, I just shove it in my new Kenwood Stand Mixer* which means I can literally have this in the oven in under ten minutes. Washing up included. It’s rather dangerous on study days when I’m bored and peckish!

 photo Chocolate Beetroot Loaf Cake 4_zpsnzk1kzub.jpg photo Chocolate Beetroot Loaf Cake 6_zpsf4lbb2f7.jpgIngredients

  • 1/2 vac-pack of beetroot (around 150g), roughly chopped. Use the rest to make a risotto or delicious salad!
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 250g sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 100g dark chocolate – either a bar chopped roughly, or chips

Blitz the beetroot in a food processor until you have a rough puree, then tip into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Add rest of the ingredients, except the oil and chocolate, and mix. When combined (it’s a thick mixture, so using a stand mixture makes it easier – though doing it by hand = extra calories burnt = more cake), add the oil gradually whilst continually stirring. Once the oil has been added, stir through the chocolate and tip into a lined 900g loaf tin. Pop in the oven and bake for around 50 minutes at 190C (stick a skewer in – if it comes out gooey the cake needs a little longer!). Leave the loaf to cool on a rack before slicing.

 photo Chocolate Beetroot Loaf Cake 3_zps6ghbw5yy.jpgI like to serve it with a spoon of natural yoghurt and some raspberries (it makes the perfect lazy brunch!), but it’s also so, so good just on it’s own. Bonus if it’s slightly warm and melty too…

*I was gifted a kMix Stand Mixer as part of a baking collaboration with Kenwood. All opinions are my own – I really love cake, and I really love things that make baking cake easier!

What’s your favourite chocolate cake recipe?

Recipe: Oven-Baked Crumpets for an At-Home Brunch

Now, I love me a good brunch. Whether it’s a delicious black-pudding benedict at The Dynamo, or something more sweet and stack-like in the form of pancakes, there’s nothing better than a lazy start to the weekend filled with delicious food.

 photo Crumpets_zpsuwngwxie.jpgBut, ya’no, I’ve got a wedding to pay for. Savings to build up for eventual house purchases. Coats I’m lusting after in M&S. I’ve also got study to be doing approximately 90% of the year. Unfortunately weekly brunch trips aren’t in my budget – time or money wise. But no matter, because we’ve started trying to make time, just every couple of weeks, to do brunch-at-home.

Stay at home brunching could ever be considered better. I mean, you get to stay in your PJs, don’t have to remove the smudges of yesterday’s make-up, and there’s no one (bar your fiancé) to judge quite how many cups of tea you drink. Win all round me thinks!

This recipe has become one of my favourites. It’s quick and easy. The batter can be whipped whilst the kettle boils, then left to rest whilst you snuggle in bed with your first cuppa and the papers. It can be thrown into the oven whilst you shower, or have your second cuppa. Served with a full table of toppings, you’ve got an effortless brunch to be proud of. And (bonus point!) any leftovers freezer extremely well, ready for reheating in the microwave for mid-week breakfasts.

 photo Oven Baked Crumpets 17_zps6gimqjb6.jpgIngredients (recipe adapted from Jamie’s Breakfast Crumpies)

  • 250g strong bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon caster sugar (if you’re definitely going with sweet toppings, possibly up this slightly to a 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 5g yeast
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease 6 holes of a muffin tin with a little butter. Pop the ingredients in a bowl and add 300ml of water (it should be the temperate of a warm, not too hot, bath). Whisk everything together quickly, then leave to rest for around 15 minutes.

After resting, the batter will have thickened and be sticky to the touch. Spoon until the greased muffin tips (almost to the top) and level it. Bake for 25-30 minutes – they will be risen, golden and slightly crisp on top. Cool slightly, before splitting and topping with your favourite fillings.

 photo Oven Baked Crumpets 10_zpsdahw23u5.jpg photo Oven Baked Crumpets 14_zpsd948a3rd.jpgFillings. The fun part. I’ve tried lots and, whilst nutella is bloody yum when these crumpets are still warm, I don’t think anything can beat a good salty butter. My current favourite is actually a goat butter. Not only are goat’s one of my favourite animals (seriously, they’re so cute!) they also make pretty fab alternative dairy products. It’s pretty obvious I’m a fan of goat’s cheese (particularly with beetroot), but I was pleasantly surprised by the milk and yoghurts from St Helen’s Farm* too. For me, though, it was this butter that stole the show. Salty, rich, and it melted into an almost creamy consistency. Lathered onto my crumpets along with a touch of honey and an extra sprinkling of salt – that’s my perfect brunch right there…

What’s your favourite brunch treat? What would you prefer to top crumpets with?

Recipe: Homemade Focaccia, Two Ways (Rosemary & Seasalt and Red Onion & Feta)

When exam season rolls round, one of my favourite things to do is bake bread.

 photo Homemade Focaccia_zpsfflgjlps.jpgFirst up, there’s the procrastination aspect. Everyone loves a good way to get out of studying – and why not make something yummy in the process? But there’s other slightly more sensible reasons to. It forces me to take regular breaks. Almost like the pomodoro approach, I can concentrate for forty minutes whilst the dough rises, have a quick break whilst I knead it, then get back to work. But then best thing for me? Kneading really helps with with my RSI. So exams = lots of homemade bread in this house. And right now my ultimate favourite is focaccia.

 photo Homemade Focaccia30_zpsiydr3nif.jpg photo Homemade Focaccia31_zpspcxgppw8.jpg photo Homemade Focaccia34_zpstn8i4uwy.jpgIt’s super easy, doesn’t require too much shaping, can be eaten hot from the oven (priorities!) and it is damn delicious. I like it on it’s own, dipped into balsamic vinegar, made into a sandwich (sliced lengthways and filled with pesto and salami – it’s amazingly good), as part of a meze board or even dipped into soup. I can imagine it would with great with my tomato-free bolognese too!

As with most of my bread recipes, I’ve adapted this from James Morten’s Brilliant Bread. I just love his approach to baking bread, how simple his recipes are, and the amount of explanation he gives to the science behind it. By far the best bread book I’ve tried, though I’m still yet to be successful with sourdough!

 photo Homemade Focaccia8_zps7jd1br8n.jpg photo Homemade Focaccia7_zpsfiyjzawb.jpgIngredients

  • 500g bread flour
  • 7g salt
  • 7g yeast
  • 400g water (around the temperature of a warm bath, nothing too hot!)
  • 40g olive oil
  • Toppings – either sea salt, extra oil and half a packet of fresh rosemary, or use some of my red onion chutney and a sprinkling of feta).

Mix the water and olive oil together. Weight out the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl. Rub them together, then quickly add the water-oil mixture and stir to combine. James gives a health warning here, and I agree – the mixture is very wet (particularly compared to the bagel dough). Don’t add any extra flour. Instead, wet your hands slightly and give it a little knead. Cover the bowl with cling-film and leave to rise for an hour.

Drizzle one hand with a little olive oil, then use this to separate the dough from the bowl. Knead for a few minutes (I keep it in the bowl, saves me making too much mess!) – you want the dough to be able to support itself, and it should also feel a lot smoother when you are done. It doesn’t need to be perfect though! Re-cover and rest for another hour – or if you’re not studying, you could throw it in the fridge for 8-12 hours instead.

Add around a tablespoon of olive oil to a baking tray, and make sure the base is fully covered. Tip your dough into the tin and flatten it out – you want to try and fill the whole tray, so you might need to give it a quick knead first. Leave to prove for a final half hour (or again, throw in the fridge for 8-12 hours).

Once proved, make indentations in the dough by pressing all the way down to the tray. Sprinkle with your chosen toppings, drizzle over a little more olive oil, then bake at 220C for around 20 minutes, until golden and crisp on top. Try to let it cool a little before tucking in!
 photo Homemade Focaccia1_zps256af1n8.jpg photo Homemade Focaccia26_zpsptceqbc8.jpg

Do you make your own bread? What’s your favourite procrastination method?

Recipe: Toffee & Pecan Banana Loaf Cake

This is banana bread like you’ve never had before. Banana bread on steroids. Banana bread so deliciously sticky and gooey it nearly has to be eaten with a spoon, so much so it’s definitely more cake than bread.

 photo Toffee Banana Pecan Loaf_zpsrdfxtaqw.jpgIt’s also one of my favourite bakes of all time.

Inspired by this GoodFood recipe, it’s sweet, squidgy (love that word!) and crunchy all at once, it’s extremely easy and pretty quick to make. The only difficulty and time-consuming bit is chopping the toffees – and if you use fudge instead it’s a whole lot easier. I found the best way to chop actual toffees was to warm a knife over a pan of boiling water (I was doing mashed potato for dinner at the same time!), then chop under a tea-towel to stop toffee shattering everywhere. Then everything pretty much goes into one bowl, gets a quick mix, thrown into a loaf tin, scattered with nuts and toffee and baked. The result is a pretty good looking cake, even when your toffee does sink right to the bottom.

 photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf6_zpsflako6rz.jpg photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf12_zpspxjmyuni.jpgIngredients

  • 200g mashed ripe banana (around 2 bananas – I tend to buy bananas in bulk, ripen excessively then slice and freeze)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 100g/4oz toffee yogurt (I use MullerLight – just under a full pot, so the chef gets the leftovers!)
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 200g flour
  • 1&½ tsp baking powder
  • 75g pecan nuts
  • 150g chewy toffees

Roughly chop the pecans and toffees, then set aside. Mix together the bananas, eggs, butter, toffee yogurt and sugar, until well combined. Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture, then fold in around three-quarters of the pecan nuts.
Spoon the mixture into a 900g loaf tin (greased and lined), before sprinkling on the remaining nuts and all of the toffees. Bake for around an hour at 150C until loaf risen and no longer soggy in the middle (just a skewer to test!). Cool in the tin- trust me, molten toffee is not a good thing to get on your fingers! Slice up when fully cool – and just blast in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up if serving with ice-cream.

 photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf15_zpsumfwa8hx.jpgI find this cake perfect for so many occasions. Stick in some candles and you’ve got one of my favourite birthday cakes. Slice up and it makes a sell-out charity bake. It’s delicious served warm with ice-cream, and I’ve had it (with and without yoghurt) for breakfast too – it’s “banana bread” after all!

Have you been baking lately?

Recipe: Chocolate, Orange & Ginger Cookies

One of my favourite festive treats (who am I kidding, I love everything festive as long as it doesn’t contain dried fruit!) is a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. The combo of zingy orange and creamy chocolate is one I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, and these cookies captured that AND took it up a notch. Adding ginger and a touch of cinnamon gave a warmth and kick to each bite that really brought these cookies to another level.

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies_zpsqeg8azcp.jpgThis recipe came about way back at the beginning of December, when I attended an event put on by the Co-Op and Sorted Food to address the Cooking Gap. The ‘gap is basically young people showing a massive lack of cooking and food skills. Having lived in halls for a year of my university life, I totally get this – one of my housemates bought a BBQ chicken pizza from Asda, left on the kitchen side for a week, popped it in the fridge for another week, then cooked it. Didn’t smell great! I know I didn’t get much cooking skills from school (though they did teach me how to make a white sauce, so eternally grateful there!), and I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking with my mum either. For a completely self-taught 23 year old I would say my cooking skills are pretty good, but I know so many people who just don’t cook. At all. Fingers crossed the guys at Sorted manage to change that!

 photo 2016-12-06 19.27.23_zps7alwpdtd.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.26.39_zpsblmovsag.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.25.49_zpssocdhfwc.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.23.48_zpsnwyiofpt.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.09.05_zps3vpebhtj.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.07.50_zpsovidos5h.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.01.35_zpstdfukjww.jpgIt was a pretty fab event too. I was super-jealous of their kitchen, got a little too tipsy with Tanya and had a delicious white pizza made for me, then drizzled with honey. Bit of an odd combo, but it totally worked!

Now to the cookies. Soft in the middle, crisp at the edges, sweet, spicy, filling and a good chocolatey hit. Pretty much the perfect cookie…

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies24_zpsdooclw9s.jpg photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies23_zpszebjbask.jpg photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies22_zpsml0ot5ok.jpgIngredients

  • 50g candied ginger
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 1 orange (zested, plus half of the juice)
  • 60g butter
  • 90ml sunflower oil
  • 180g soft brown sugar
  • 50g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5tsp baking powder
  • 0.5tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5tsp ground ginger
  • 120g plain flour
  • 240g porridge oats

 

Place a clean large mixing bowl on a set of scales and reset the scales to zero using the tare function.

Add the butter, oil, sugar, orange juice and honey to a bowl, then crack in the egg and beat together until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, baking powder, and ground spices to the mixture; beat evenly to combine. Add the flour and the oats, stir, then add in your candied ginger, chocolate and orange zest. Mix everything together well.

Spoon blobs of about a tablespoon of the mixture onto baking trays (line with greasepoof). Roll into a ball and flatten slightly, but leave plenty of space between them as I found they did spread slightly. I also found the mix realllyyyyy sticky, so keeping my fingers damp helped here! Bake for 12-15 minutes at 175C until they are golden around the edges, cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies25_zpsbxo1wmj1.jpgI’m not ashamed (well, maybe a little) to admit that I ate them for breakfast. Though they are perfect with an afternoon cuppa too. Or a post-dinner snack. Or just because…

What’s your favourite type of cookie? Do you think the cooking gap is important to address?