Ultra gooey chocolate brownies

Chocolate brownies are an all time favourite of mine. The biggest trick to brownies is knowing how long to cook them for as well as using good quality dark chocolate. Unlike cake, they should still be gooey on the inside while being cooked on the outside. I must admit my timings failed a little bit with these brownies, they were a little too gooey in the middle but nevertheless they taste absolutely delicious.

The cue to make brownies for me was being given a bar of Morrisons value chocolate at a graduate recruitment fair (thank you Morrisons!) In order to make these brownies I did a 50/50 split of the value chocolate to 85% dark chocolate in order to even out the sugar a little bit. Of course I would recommend using 100% good quality chocolate but if your budget does not allow that then this ratio, for me, works just fine.

A nice way to finish these brownies is by dusting using sugar over the top or they make a great desert slightly warmed through and served with natural yoghurt and fresh fruit.

Credit for this recipe goes to Jamie Oliver.

choc brownies 1

Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter

200g good quality dark chocolate (anything with at least 70% cocoa solids)

50g walnuts

80g cocoa powder

65g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free range eggs

choc brownies 2

Method:

1) Preheat your over to 180oC/ gas mark 4. And line a 24cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2) Melt the butter and dark chocolate together by placing the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Be careful not to let the water touch the bowl.

3) In another bowl mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

4) Mix the chopped walnuts into the melted chocolate mixture and add the mixed dry ingredients.

5) Lightly beat the eggs then, beat these into the mixture until you have a silky mixture.

6) Pour the mixture into the baking tin.

choc brownies 3

7) Heat for about 25 minutes until the brownies are baked on the outside but still soft in the middle.

8) Allow the brownies to cool in the tray before transferring them to a chopping board and chopping into squares.

Lemon drizzle cake

lemon drizzle 4With all of the beautiful weather we’ve been having recently I wanted to make a light fruity cake that would be perfect to pack into a picnic basket. This recipe was based on a Mary Berry recipe that I saw a while ago on Vivianna Does Makeup.

Personally, I am not  big fan of the traditional thick sugar topping so I have kept mine very thin but have added lemon essence to the mixture to make up for this. If you would like a thicker topping I would double the topping mixture and remove 1 teaspoon of lemon essence from the cake.

lemon drizzle 1

lemon drizzle 2For the Cake:

225g salted butter, softened

225g caster sugar

275g  self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

finely grated rind of 2 lemons

2 teaspoons lemon essence

Method:

1) Line and grease a 20 x 20 x 5 baking tray and preheat your oven to 150oC

2) Cream the softened butter and caster sugar in a bowl

2) Beat the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl and gradually beat this into the butter and sugar mixture

3) Add the lemon essence

4) Fold in the flour and baking powder ensuring you remove as little air from the mixture as possible

5) Fold in the lemon rind

6) Tip the mixture into the greased baking tray and place in the center of the oven for 40 minutes

7) Once you have left the cake to cool slightly makes holes all over it with a skewer or knife

8) Make the topping (see below)

9) When the cake is slightly warm drizzle the topping over the cake and wait to set

10) Cut into squares. I made 25 out of mine

lemon drizzle 3

For the topping:

Juice of 1 lemon

100g granulated sugar

Method:

1) Add the lemon juice to the sugar and mix to form a paste. You may find that you do not need all of the lemon juice depending on the size of your lemon

 

 

Chocolate, banana and strawberry smoothie

Chocolate, strawbery and banana smoothieI have been wanting to make smoothies for ages but due to the lack of a blender, I never have. The nagging feeling that I would use it once and it would never leave the cupboard again prevented me from buying one. Since I’ve moved back to my parents (there is a blender!) I have been going mad with them. I’ve made this one pretty much every day since I moved home. It just tastes so good! I’m having it for my breakfast and am actually finding that I wake up looking forward to its rich chocolaty goodness. Fruit in blender Ingredients:

150ml chocolate soy milk

handful of strawberries (about 5/6)

1 banana

170ml Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Method:

1) Chop up the fruit

2) Throw everything in a blender

3) Serve

How easy is that?! A delicious and easy breakfast that can’t be too far off two of your five a day.

Carrot cake

finished cake

Since having the most delicious carrot cake at Dirty Coffee in Shoreditch I have been wanting to make one equally as good. This amazing recipe has been passed to me from one of my mum’s friends. The cake is everything that carrot cake should be: rich, moist, studded with nuts and coupled with a velvety indulgent frosting.

For the cake:

200g grated carrot

170g soft dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

200g wholemeal self raising flour

3 teaspoons mixed spice

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Grated zest of one orange

115g sultanas

55g desiccated coconut

55g pecan nuts

For the syrup:

Juice of zested orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice

85g soft dark brown sugar

Method:

1) Line and grease 2, 8 inch cake tins

2) Heat oven to 170OC

3) Cook the pecan nuts for 8 minutes then chop coarsely

4) Whisk the eggs, sugar and oil until all of the sugar has completely dissolved. This will probably take around 3-4 minutes

5) Add the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the mixture and fold

6) Add the rest of the ingredients and fold into the mixture

7) Divide equally between two baking tins and cook in the oven for 30 minutes

8) Whilst the cake is cooking make the syrup by whisking the syrup ingredients together

9) As soon as the cake comes out of the oven put holes all over the cakes using a skewer then pour half the syrup mixture over each half

10) Allow cakes to completely cool before removing them from the cake tins

For the frosting:

225g slightly salted butter

70g caster sugar

450g full fat cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Method:

1) Whisk the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy

2) Whisk in the full fat cream and vanilla essence

3) Spread over one half and place the other cake on top then spread onto the top (I put a really thick layer in the middle but alternatively you could do a normal middle layer and frost the sides)

I just added a few bits of chopped pecan and orange zest on top to pretty it up a bit.

 

Peanut butter cup cupcakes

Peanut butter cup cupcake

These turned out much better than I expected! I used (and slightly adapted) an american recipe meaning that all the ingredients were in cups not grams. What I hadn’t previously realised was that a cup of flour weighs a very different amount to a cup of peanut butter. Now that I think about it this seems very, very obvious!

Having converted each quantity into grams and ml (has anyone else found that different websites say different things?!) I was sceptical of the final result. The result was however a gorgeous soft cake that filled the senses with the smell and taste of peanut butter with each bite. I’ve received nothing but compliments from baking these and I hope you experience the same results.

(makes 12) 

For the cake:

150g  plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

165g crunchy peanut butter (you could use creamy if you’d prefer)

115g butter (at room temperature)

135g light muscovado sugar

2 medium eggs

1tsp vanilla essence

60ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

Method

1) Preheat your oven to 180oC

2) Using a whisk, cream together the peanut butter, butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy

3) Beat in the eggs gradually being careful not to let the mixture curdle

4) Beat in the vanilla essence

4) Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and gradually fold into the mixture, alternating with milk (The mixture does look quite runny, I promise this is fine!)

5) Divide evenly between 12 cupcake cases

6) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top has turned golden brown and a skewer comes out clean

7) Allow to cool

For the frosting:

320g icing sugar

65g coco powder

90g butter (at room temperature)

8 tbs double cream

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

1) Whisk the butter in a bowl until light and creamy

2) Beat in the icing powder and coco powder alternating with the double cream

3) Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes

Much Love

Nikki

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