These quick and easy brownies are rich and delicious. I’ve swapped out the flour for ground almonds to make them gluten free which means they’re even more moist than your usual brownie, and that can only be a good thing! I love the brazil nuts in these but you could sub in any nuts you like, or dried fruit and chocolate chips.
225g dark chocolate
2tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
100g roughly chopped brazil nuts
pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line a brownie tray.
Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally.
Allow the chocolate to cool then whisk in the vanilla, sugar, eggs and ground almonds. Keep whisking until the batter becomes thick and light, then fold in the brazil nuts.
Pour the brownie mix into the prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes (the top should be crisp and the middle gooey).
Leave the brownie to cool and firm in the tin then sprinkle with sea salt, slice up and serve.
Yep, I’ve jumped on the detox January bandwagon, and here’s the first of my healthier bakes; butternut squash, date, blueberry and cinnamon muffins. A quick scroll through my blog and it won’t come as a shock that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to ‘free from’ baking, but I’ve actually surprised myself with what can be done without the conventional sugars and flours I’m used to. The fruit in these muffins add sweetness and the almonds create a moist and soft texture making them a great (and still tasty) alternative to the sugar packed treats I’m sure we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. Give them a try!
Ingredients (makes 12):
200g finely grated butternut squash
100g melted butter
100g chopped dates (softened in a little boiling water)
2tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
60g ground almonds
175g buckwheat flour (or self raising if you don’t need a GF option)
200g fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Place the squash in a bowl along with the melted butter, dates, date water and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.
Add the baking powder, spices, ground almonds, flour and blueberries. Stir gently into the wet ingredients until just combined then distribute evenly between the muffin cases.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
I know, I said I would post something healthy and nutritious, but I’m not (yet). I made these sticky gingerbread bars with maple buttercream and pecan praline over Christmas and completely forgot to share the recipe (despite taking photos etc). I know they’re a little unseasonal now but it’s still winter so why not hang on to all that is spicy and indulgent?!
For the gingerbread:
250g soft dark brown sugar
80g black treacle
180g golden syrup
375g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
pinch mixed spice
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the maple buttercream:
100g soft butter
600g icing sugar
100g cold maple toffee sauce (shop bought OR made by melting together 75g butter, 50g golden syrup, 3tbsp maple syrup and 75g dark brown soft sugar, bringing to the boil then adding 50ml double cream and a pinch salt)
For the pecan praline:
100g granulated sugar
100g roughly chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 170c (fan). Grease and line a square brownie tray (about 20x20cm).
Melt together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Stir occasionally then take off the heat and mix in the milk. Leave for 10 minutes to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Stir the eggs to break them up and incorporate some flour, then start gradually adding your buttery syrup liquid. Continue mixing (I do this with a wooden spoon) until all the liquid has been incorporated and you have a lump free batter.
Pour into the prepared tray and bake for 45-55 minutes. When it is ready a skewer should come out with just a few moist crumbs attached when inserted.
While the gingerbread is cooking, make the maple toffee sauce (if you’re not using shop bought); the method for this is in the ingredients list above.
Once cooked turn the gingerbread onto a wire rack to cool.
Now make your pecan praline. Simply place the pecans and sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat gently until the sugar begins to melt. Tilt the pan occasionally to coat the nuts but don’t feel tempted to stir or the sugar will crystallise. Once the sugar reaches a deep golden colour remove from the heat and pour onto a piece of greaseproof paper to set. Once hard and cool break up the praline into small pieces (or a course dust if you prefer).
Your final step is to make the buttercream. Put the soft butter in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until light. Gradually add the icing sugar and keep whisking until you have a pale and fluffy buttercream base (this will take 5-10 minutes).
Once you’ve reached this stage add the milk and toffee sauce and whisk again until it is fully incorporated. The finished buttercream should be light brown in colour.
To assemble the gingerbread bars simply slice the cake into 12 fingers and drizzle with any remaining toffee sauce you might have (optional) then pipe on the buttercream. Top with the pecan praline and serve.
I know, it’s January; cue the health kick and gym session right? Wrong. I was trialling this cake for a client today and just had to share the recipe despite the diet-crazed time of year… the sponge is so light and moist and the cherries pair perfectly with the vanilla bean buttercream. I will be posting some healthier bakes and dinner ideas soon, so why not make this as a bit of a last hoorah (at least until the obligatory post-Christmas detox is over).
For the sponge:
400g soft butter
400g golden caster sugar
400g self raising flour
6 large eggs
250g greek yoghurt
2tsp vanilla extract
For the buttercream and filling:
240g soft butter
800g icing sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
250g good quality cherry jam (homemade is always preferable!)
handful fresh cherries
Preheat the oven to 160c and grease/line three 7 inch cake tins.
Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together with an electric whisk until really light and fluffy (this could also be done in the bowl of a stand mixer).
Now add the eggs one at a time (with a little of the flour if you like to prevent curdling) and whisk well between each addition.
Once the eggs are well incorporated, sift in the flour and fold to incorporate. Finally, stir in the greek yoghurt.
Distribute the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until springy to the touch.
Leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream, whisk the butter until it’s light, then add the icing sugar a little at a time and beat until it lightens in texture and colour (this could take about 10 minutes). Once you’ve achieved a fluffy consistency add the milk and vanilla and whisk again to incorporate.
At this stage you may like to ripple in a little of your cherry jam to create the streak effect but that’s up to you.
Time to assemble! Place one cake down and top with a generous layer of buttercream and spoonful of jam. Repeat until you’ve used up the sponges then cover completely with buttercream, swirling in some remaining jam as you go. Decorate with fresh cherries (and some glitter if you’re feeling fancy).
I can’t decide if this looks impressive or a complete mess (I’ll let you choose); either way, it’s a delicious tower of salted dark chocolate and coffee cream profiteroles decorated with coffee nib white chocolate shards and gold shimmer spray- the perfect look-at-me centre piece!
Ingredients (makes enough profiteroles to cover a 30cm cone):
Preheat the oven to 200c and grease 2 large baking trays. Sift the flour onto a piece of baking paper.
Place the butter and water in a saucepan and gently melt together. Once melted bring to the boil and tip in the flour all in one go. Mix rapidly with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and looks glossy. Place in a bowl and leave to cool to room temperature.
Break up your eggs in a jug then gradually whisk into the cooled butter mixture until it reaches a dropping consistency (where it drops off a spoon after about 5 seconds).
Pile the choux into a piping bag and pipe even piles onto the greased baking trays (leaving room for expansion). If they have little points just tap them down with a wet finger to create an even shape.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and well risen then poke a hole in each one with a skewer. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to dry out then cool on a wire rack.
Make the fillings- for the coffee filling, whisk together the cream, coffee and icing sugar until soft peaks form. For the chocolate, whisk together the cream and icing sugar in a separate bowl.
Melt the milk chocolate and dark chocolate in heatproof bowls over pans of simmering water.
Once the profiteroles have cooled, fill half with coffee cream (using a fine nozzled piping bag) and half with the sweet cream (in the same way).
If you would like to decorate with white chocolate shards, now is a good time to make those. Simply melt the white chocolate and spread over a piece of baking paper. Sprinkle with espresso powder and beans and set until solid and breakable.
By this time, the chocolate should’ve cooled a little. Dip the coffee filled profiteroles in milk chocolate and the sweet cream ones in the dark. Sprinkle the dark chocolate pastries with sea salt.
Now it’s time to assemble. Take your cone and cover it with any leftover melted chocolate. Stack up the profiteroles layer by layer to cover the cone completely. You may need to wait a few minutes between layers to allow the profiteroles to set.
Each Christmas I make a gingerbread house, so here’s the 2016 effort. My inner perfectionist would say I’ve done better in previous years and that it’s a bit messy, however, I should probably just get over it (big life problems..) and accept that it’s pretty good considering it’s nearly 2ft tall and all edible. Hope you like it, and Merry Christmas!
To give the illusion of someone being home, I built fairy lights into the house and created windows with melted sweets (there were lots more windows at the back… I probably should’ve given their placement a bit more thought). The lights have a strobe setting as well which I enjoy- kind of makes it look like a weird woodland acid rave house (but a festive one).
All the best for the new year everyone, and happy baking!
This dairy and gluten free upside down cake will brighten up your winter meals with it’s perfect balance of sweet and citrus flavours. The polenta gives it a course texture but the oranges and almonds make it moist and it’s perfect paired with a big dollop of (dairy free) creme fraiche.
2tbsp vegetable oil, for greasing
3tbsp runny honey
1 whole orange, sliced
5 eggs, separated
225ml sunflower oil
225g caster sugar
zest 1 orange (reserve the juice)
zest 1 lemon
200g ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp (gluten free) baking powder
For the syrup: 1 pomegranate (seeds only), 200ml reserved orange juice (top up with water if you don’t have enough), 50g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c. Generously grease an 8 or 9 inch cake tin with the oil and place a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom.
Drizzle the base with the honey and arrange the slices of orange on top.
Place the egg yolks, oil, 175g of the caster sugar and the orange/lemon zest in a bowl. Beat until thick and pale then add the polenta, almonds and baking powder and stir together.
In a separate (very clean) bowl, whisk the egg whites until they come to soft peaks then add the remaining 50g caster sugar and whisk until medium/stiff peaks form. Put one large spoonful of the egg white into the other ingredients and mix to loosen, then fold the rest in.
Carefully scrape the finished cake mix into the prepared cake tin (don’t drop it in from a height or you will push out all the air you’ve incorporated!). Level off the top carefully and bake for 30-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Simply place the orange juice (and water if needed) and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved bring to the boil for about 5 minutes- once the syrup has thickened slightly take off the heat and add the pomegranate seeds. Set aside.
When the cake is ready, turn out of the tin and drizzle with syrup. Arrange the pomegranate seeds on top.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of dairy free creme fraiche/yoghurt.