Maple Bacon and Pecan Brownies

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Now I know what you’re thinking, bacon in a brownie? Are you sure?

Trust me the combination really works. It’s a bit like bacon with pancakes only this time with a kick of chocolatey goodness. Make sure you get the bacon super crispy to add some crunch. Utterly moreish.

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So here’s how (makes about 20 squares):

  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 75ml maple syrup
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 225g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 2 medium eggs

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Preheat grill to medium and grill the bacon on a baking sheet until the fat is golden, then lay the rashers on kitchen paper to allow them to crisp up. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line square tin with baking parchment.

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Cut the bacon into small pieces using scissors and put into a bowl with the maple syrup and pecans. Mix together the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl. Put over a pan of simmering water and heat until the mixture is melted and smooth. Leave to cool slightly. Then beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Sift in the flour and beat until the mixture smooth. Stir in the bacon and pecan mix.

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Pour into the baking tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly hard on top. Leave to cool before cutting into squares.

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Recipe from Good Housekeeping. 

Boozy Chocolate Truffles

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I made these boozy chocolate truffles for a Christmas party but they would be perfect for any impending New Year celebrations. Made using dark chocolate, double cream and a big ol’ swig of coffee liqueur, these truffles are wonderfully luxurious. Cover them in rich cocoa powder and your guests will think they’ve been crafted by a Belgian chocolatier, not by you in your kitchen.

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Here’s how (makes about 30 truffles): 

  • 300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 284ml double cream
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp coffee liqueur  (I used Tia Maria)
  • 100g cocoa powder

You can also try brandy, rum or bourbon. Add more or less liqueur according to your taste.

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Put the cream and butter in a saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches simmering point. Break up the chocolate into squares and place in a large bowl. Pour the simmering cream over the top of the chocolate and stir together until completely smooth. Add the liqueur to taste. Cool in fridge for at least 3 hours until the truffle mixture hardens.

To shape the truffles, scoop a ball of the chocolate mixture out using a melon baller. Then roll the truffle mixture between your hands until it forms a ball. Roll in the cocoa powder and chill.

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Enjoy and Happy New Year!!!!

Recipe from BBC Good Food. 

Double Chocolate Spider’s Webs

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I realise that Halloween was a week ago but thought I’d share this with you anyway.

Firstly, a word of warning. Molten chocolate is notoriously difficult to work with so be prepared for things to get a bit messy. A lot of chocolate ended up on my face and on the floor.

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Here’s how (makes 12 cupcakes): 

Chocolate Sponge

  • 190g plain flour
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 bicarbonate soda
  • 40ml sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 vanilla extract
  • 100g white chocolate chips

Spider’s Web decoration 

  • 2oog white chocolate
  • 50g dark chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 170C (150C fan) and line a cupcake tray with paper cases. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, vinegar, vanilla and 125ml cold water. Mix the two together until smooth adding in the white chocolate chips and spoon into the cupcake cases until two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until skewer comes out clean.

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Whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, melt the white and dark chocolate over a low heat. As soon as the cupcakes are out of the oven cover the top with white chocolate. Then carefully spoon the dark chocolate into a piping bag using the smallest nozzle you can find. Pipe three concentric circles of dark chocolate on top of the white chocolate. Using a skewer, drag a line from the centre of the circle to the outer circle. Repeat this until you have eight lines coming from the centre to the edge.  As you do this the dark chocolate with drag through the white chocolate creating a spider’s web effect.

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Very messy but lots of fun!

 

Peanut Butter Squares

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I love Peanut Butter. It’s my guilty pleasure. There’s nothing better than smothering a slice of hot toast with a thick layer of the stuff.

This isn’t quite toast and peanut butter but something a little (sorry I mean A LOT) naughtier. It’s sort of like a millionaire shortbread but with a saltier, crunchier biscuit base. I found the recipe whilst perusing Lorraine Pascale’s cookbook and thought I’d give them a go.

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Here’s how (makes about 25 squares):

  • 150g melted butter
  • 200g melted dark chocolate
  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 300g crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Line a 20cm square loose bottomed baking tin with baking parchment. Blitz the digestive biscuits and sugar together in a food processor until they form fine crumbs. Then add the melted butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix together until everything is well combined. Tip the mixture into the baking tin and spread out evenly pressing it down with the back of a spoon.

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Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Then pour over the peanut biscuit mixture until evenly spread. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove from the baking tin and cut into 3cm squares and serve.

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Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

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Its strawberry season which means that at the moment they taste extra sweet and juicy. They are also (not surprisingly) even more delicious dipped in chocolate. It was friend’s birthday last week so as a little post-dinner treat I thought I’d make a batch of white and dark chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate coated strawberries. Simple but the combination of white and dark chocolate strawberries works beautifully.

*Both cake recipes are from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

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Here’s how:

Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 12)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Sponge (makes 12) 

  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 vanilla extract

White Chocolate Icing:

  • 50g melted white chocolate
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 25ml whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Dark Chocolate Icing:

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 40ml milk

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Chocolate Coated Strawberries:

  • 24 strawberries
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C (150C fan) and line two cupcake trays with paper cases. To make the vanilla and dark chocolate sponge mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the sponge bounces back. Leave to cool.

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To make the white chocolate icing, mix together the sifted icing sugar, butter, vanilla and milk together until smooth. Then slowly pour in the melted chocolate. To make the dark chocolate icing mix all the ingredients together until smooth.

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For the chocolate coated strawberries, melt the white and dark chocolate separately in a clear bowl over simmering water. Keep stirring then dip each strawberry into the chocolate. On the vanilla sponge pipe a swirl of dark chocolate icing and pop a white chocolate strawberry on top. Do the same for the dark chocolate sponge but with white chocolate icing.

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Chocolate Caramel Cake

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A few weeks ago I made some chocolate buttermilk and salted caramel cupcakes. They went down a treat! It was my brother’s birthday so I thought I’d double the recipe and make a chocolate caramel layer cake. As it was Easter I decorated it with some Mini Eggs. I know it doesn’t look like a boys birthday cake but it tasted pretty good.

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Chocolate Buttermilk Sponge:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 335g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp cocoa powder,
  • 170g butter, melted
  • 180ml buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg white

Caramel Icing:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 600g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C(160C fan). Line and grease a 20cm round cake tin. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa and 6 tablespoons hot water until it forms a thick paste. Add butter, buttermilk, egg, and egg white until well combined. Add in the flour and mix until smooth. Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Leave to cool before slicing in half.

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To make the caramel sauce, melt butter, sugars and syrup in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Add cream and cook for another few minutes until it forms a rich, caramel sauce. Leave to cool.

To make the caramel icing, mix together the icing sugar and caramel sauce. The icing should be nice and runny so that you can pour it over the cake. Spoon 1/3 icing between the two layers of cake. Then pour the rest of the icing over the top. Let it drip down the sides and leave to harden before serving.

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Recipe adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes.

White Chocolate and Fudge Brownies

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These are possibly the most indulgent brownies you will ever taste. I think what makes them so utterly delicious is how soft and squidgy they are on the inside. The white chocolate and fudge pieces melt forming a beautiful molten mixture which then slowly solidifies as it cools down. Pure brownie heaven.

Here’s how (makes about 20 brownies):

  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate chunks
  • 100g white chocolate chunks
  • 100g fudge pieces (I often use Waitrose’s Cook’s Ingredients)
  • 80g cocoa powder (Green & Blacks is the best!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100g self-raising flour

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Pre heat the oven to 180C (160C) and line a 20x20cm baking tray with baking parchment. Beat the eggs together with the caster sugar. In a separate bowl melt the butter and sift in the cocoa powder. Then pour the butter mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and sift in the flour.

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Then comes the best bit! Pour the chocolate and fudge chunks into the mixture and fold in. Pour the mixture into the baking tray, spread out evenly using a palette knife and bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is hard. Let the mixture cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Cherry and Chocolate Energy Bars

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I’m currently training for a marathon. Long distance running means that you end up burning lots of calories (approximately 100 per mile) so need to make sure that you are well fuelled before and during runs. It also means that you don’t feel too guilty about having a few more treats during the week. So I thought I’d concoct some yummy marathon energy bars. The cocoa powder is packed full of antioxidants to keep you healthy whilst dried cherries contain anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce muscle soreness during training. The golden syrup and digestive biscuits have an extremely high sugar content so will give you a quick injection of well needed energy. They also taste pretty good too.

I am also raising money for an incredible charity called Zimkids which helps support orphans and vulnerable families in Zimbabwe. You can donate by clicking this link and any donations would be very much appreciated (however small). Thank you and keep running.

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Here’s how (makes about 20 bars) (200 calories per bar): 

  • 400g unsalted butter
  • 250ml golden syrup
  • 120g cocoa powder
  • 800g digestive biscuits
  • 250g dried cherries and berries

Mix the butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder over a medium heat until everything has melted.

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Break the biscuits into chunks and stir into the mixture along with the cherries. Make sure everything is well combined.

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Spoon the mixture into a 20cm square baking tin lined with grease-proof paper. Press the mixture down into the baking tin until its even. Place in the fridge overnight and then cut into squares.

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Chocolate Buttermilk and Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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A few weeks ago a good friend asked me whether I could teach her and her housemate how to bake some cupcakes. I obviously said yes and set about searching for a suitable recipe and came across this one on of my favourite baking blogs, Raspberri Cupcakes. We adapted the recipe slightly as the Earl Grey icing wasn’t quite firm enough and made a salted caramel buttercream instead. Nonetheless, the chocolate buttermilk sponge is probably the best cake recipe I have ever used. The buttermilk makes its incredibly moist and the copious amounts of dark cocoa means that its not too sweet so works really well with the rich, salted caramel buttercream and sauce. D-Lish!

Here’s how (makes 10-12) (Double the ingredients for a layer cake):

Chocolate Buttermilk Sponge:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder,
  •  85g butter, melted
  • 90ml buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 2 tsp Maldon Sea Salt (to your taste)

(this sauce could also be used as a topping for ice-cream)

Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • Half of the salted caramel sauce
  • 100g butter
  • 300g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C(160C fan) and line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa and 3 tablespoons hot water until it forms a thick paste. Add butter, buttermilk, egg, and egg white until well combined. Add in the flour and mix until smooth. Spoon into cupcake cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool before icing.

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To make the salted caramel sauce, melt butter, sugars and syrup in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Add cream and salt and cook for another few minutes until it forms a rich, caramel sauce. Leave to cool.

IMG_3585 To make the buttercream, mix together the icing sugar and butter until smooth. Slowly pour in half of the salted caramel sauce and mix until smooth.

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To decorate, drizzle a teaspoon of sauce over each cupcakes. Then place the icing in a piping bag and pipe in a swirl on top of each cupcake. To finish drizzle some salted caramel sauce on top.

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Thank you Emma and Alex for being such great students. Next time shall we attempt some Pistachio Macarons?