Best Ever Brownies

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This is honestly my ‘go to’ brownie recipe, it always go down a treat. I first made them when I was stuck what to make for my sister-in-law’s birthday- we were holiday on her birthday and needed something that we could stash in the suitcase without being destroyed during flight. You’ll be pleased to know they survived and were DELICIOUS. They are everything you want in a brownie- rich, moist and chocolatey. Since then, I’ve had not so subtle hints to keep making them- it’s safe to say a lot of brownies have been consumed by my family and friends this summer. They love them though. In fact, I went round a friend’s house recently and took a tray of them with me. Next thing I knew, her mum had tracked me down and asked me what my secret was! Gotta say, I was pretty chuffed with that 🙂 The recipe is from BBC Good Food, and is definitely worth the effort!

185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar

Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g best dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 (most ovens take 10-15 minutes to heat up). Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base.

Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.
With a large sharp knife, chop 50g white chocolate and 50g milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.
Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don’t lose heart. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.
Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. Now your mixing is done and the oven can take over.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. These brownies are so addictive you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished, but if you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

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Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

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Said to taste every bit as good as they look. Give ’em a go!

For the cake:

1 pack oreo cookies
75g self raising flour
25g good quality cocoa powder
100g light brown sugar
100g butter, room temperature
2 eggs (preferably free range or organic)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Place a oreo cookie at the bottom of each of the cupcake cases
Sift the flour and the cocoa together and put aside
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy
Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with a spoon full of the flour and cocoa
Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa
Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for about 10-15 minutes until when you insert a skewer it comes out clean and the sponge is springy when touched
Leave to cool while you make the icing…

Icing:

3/4 (approx.) packet oreo cookies
75g butter, softened
125g icing sugar, sifted
A few drops of vanilla essence

Beat the butter
Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence and beat until a smooth butter icing is formed
Place the oreo cookies into a sandwich bag
Using a rolling pin, roughly smash the cookies into small chunks
Add most of these chunks to the icing and stir so they’re distributed evenly
Spread the icing onto the cool cakes
Decorate by sprinkling the remaining oreo chunks on top of the icing

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Chocolate Cake with a Caramel filling and Chocolate Ganache

I love to bake so I don’t really need a reason to grab a wooden spoon and bake a few treats. However, this weekend was an special exception as it was my Grandad’s 80th birthday celebrations, so the thinking cap went on and ingredients were gathered to make a feast of cakes! So here’s one of the few bakes I did, a chocoholic’s delight: Chocolate and Caramel cake…

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Cake:

35g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml boiling water
2  eggs
185g light muscovado sugar
90ml vegetable oil
100g self-raising flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 160 degrees
Grease and line 2 sandwich tins
Pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder and whisk so there are no lumps
Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk again until smooth
Leave this mixture to the side to cool
Using an electric whisk, combine the eggs, sugar and vegetable oil
Fold in the flour, followed by the cocoa mixture
Split the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for 25-30 minutes
*While the cake is cooking, you can make the caramel filling (recipe below!)*
Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in its tin, before turning out onto a wire rack to continue cooling

Caramel filling:

125g light soft brown sugar
75ml double cream
70g butter
1/4 tsp salt

Heat the sugar, cream and salt in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves 
Allow it to bubble for a few minutes (be careful it doesn’t burn), then remove for the heat and allow to cool completely
Beat the butter, then add the cooled caramel mixture and mix until combined
Leave to chill in the fridge until it is needed

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Chocolate Ganache:

115g dark chocolate
65g double cream 

Gently heat the cream in a pan, take off the heat when it starts to simmer
Pour the heated cream over the chocolate
Leave for a minute for the chocolate to melt, then stir until it is all melted and becomes smooth and glossy

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Once cooled, remove the cake from the sandwich tins
Spread the caramel icing on one of the halves, then sandwich together with the other
Pour the ganaches over the cake so that is drips down the sides, use a spatula to make sure it is distributed fairly evenly

Decorate as you wish! I used small pieces of honeycomb. 

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Oreo Cookie, Lemon Drizzle and Coffee cupcakes completed the baking bonanza. Recipes to follow in my next few posts!

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My Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

The best compliment I’ve received for these cookies is that they beat Millie’s Cookies, and I think that’s pretty good going. Whether I baked them for a bake sale, as a gift or “just because!”, they’ve always gone down a treat and I’m proud to say it’s my own recipe!

For the cookies you’ll need:

90g Light Brown Sugar
90g Caster Sugar
110g Butter
1 egg
120g Self Raising Flour, sifted
30g Cocoa Powder, sifted
150g (75g of each) Milk and White Chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 190 degrees/Gas 6 and grease and line a baking tray
In a bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until creamy
Beat in the egg until combined
Gradually add sifted flour and cocoa powder and stir to make a smooth mixture
Stir in the chopped chocolate, making sure its distributed fairly evenly throughout the mixture
Dollop spoonfuls of the mixture onto tray, leaving space between each as they spread when cooking
Cook for 9-11 minutes, until the very edges of the cookies look firm but the middle still looks gooey/less cooked- this leaves them moist
The cookies harden as they cool, so don’t worry that you’ve removed them too early!
Leave to cool, then remove (this may require you cutting them from one another as they like to spread!) and keep in an airtight tin to ensure they stay soft

Enjoy!

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