Tuesday, 3 March 2015

York Mint Brownies

This is not really a new recipe as it's my favourite brownie recipe but I wanted to share it with you again as it's just so good.  Brownies are a great blank canvas as you can add in extra ingredients and come up with something different each time. I've used this recipe with mint oreos, regular oreos, sweet and salty m&m mix, reese's peanut butter cups and different chocolate bars/sweets. It's so versatile and turns out beautifully each time. 

A colleague of mine went to America last year and bought me these York Mint chocolates so I could bake them into a brownie for her. It has been forgotten and packed away what with packing and moving house last year and generally being quite busy. They are long overdue and fortunately they were worth the wait! The brownies were really fudgy, chocolatey and minty. The York Mint chocolate pieces melted into a sticky, gooey, minty goodness. I'll have to buy more of these when I next visit America.

I'm sending these to a new blog challenge hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen called Simply Eggcellent. It's to celebrate the humble egg and this recipe uses 4 large free range eggs so I hope it qualifies.

 melt chocolate and butter 

 whisk in eggs 

 adding the chopped york mint pieces 

ready to bake 

200g butter, chopped into smallish cubes
375g sugar
170g chocolate, roughly chopped
165g flour
80g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large free range eggs
12 York Mint chocolate pieces, roughly chopped
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a medium sized pan, melt the butter and chocolate.
  • Then whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla extract. 
  • CONTINUE mixing until you get a smooth mixture then remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes.
  • Whisk in the eggs one at a time and then the flour and cocoa powder until you get a fudgy mixture as shown. 
  • Stir in 8 of the chopped York mint chocolates, reserving the rest to sprinkle on top.
  • Pour the mixture into a square baking pan and sprinkle the remaining chopped York mint chocolates on top. 
  • Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until the top is crisp and the edges are cooked. 
  • Allow to cool in the pan. 
  • Slice and enjoy!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Muffins

Can you believe that it's Spring already? It felt like a long, cold winter so I'm really looking forward to the lighter days and warmer weather. I've decided to have a little spring clean of my blog and give it a makeover - do let me know what you think. It's not quite what I want but it's a start for now particularly as I'm not very tech savvy!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know how much I love peanut butter. I wanted to bake something for breakfast and decided on my favourite combination of peanut butter and jam but in a muffin form. I added peanut butter chips for extra flavour which worked really well. You can clearly taste the peanut butter and the jam added a lovely sweetness to the saltiness of the peanut butter. These are quite filling and make for a good breakfast. 

 adding the crunchy peanut butter

 adding the peanut butter chips 

 a generous teaspoon of strawberry jam in the middle of each muffin

 ready to go in the oven 

 I love how you can see the jam peeking through 

 You can still see the peanut butter chips

Makes 12 muffins
315g plain flour
100g caster sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
200g crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
250mls milk
100g peanut butter chips (optional - you can add chocolate chips if you prefer or omit completely)
strawberry jam
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. 
  • In a jug, whisk the egg lightly and add the milk.
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk-egg mixture.
  • Stir briefly then stir in the crunchy peanut butter until just combined - don't over mix or your muffins will be tough! 
  • Finally stir through the peanut butter chips.
  • Half fill each muffin case with the batter.
  • Add a generous teaspoon or two of strawberry jam then top with the remaining batter.
  • Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Alphabakes March 2015

It's the 1st of March so it's officially spring. Yay! The days are definitely getting lighter and the weather is warming up albeit slowly. I hope this will inspire you to bake something for AlphaBakes this month particularly as it's an easy letter. Before I tell you what it is, do head on over to Caroline's blog for the V Round up if you haven't already seen it. We had lots of lovely Valentine bakes and some non-Valentine bakes as well. Without further ado, I can reveal that the letter we are baking with in March is .....
I thought it was highly appropriate given that it's the Start of Spring! Look forward to seeing all your entries. Please remember to email alphabakes@gmail.com before 25th March and a round up will be posted on my blog before the end of March.  

A quick reminder of the rules...

1. Post your RECIPE on your blog and link it to The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, stating the relevant month's host. If you do not have a blog, email us a picture and a brief description of your entry which we will include in the round-up at the end of the month.

2. You can use your own RECIPE or someone else's RECIPE. The recipe can be sweet, savoury or a mixture! Anything goes as long as the random letter is predominantly featured in the recipe as one of the main ingredients or flavours or in the name of the bake itself (i .e . not as a garnish , or using 'flour' for the letter F!) You can also republish old posts/RECIPES but you must include the information for this challenge as stated in these rules.

3. Add the logo to your post and add 'alphabakes' as a label to your post.

4. Email your entries to alphabakes@gmail.com by midnight (GMT) 25th of each month. Please include:

  • Your name (that you want included in the round up or we will use the name of your blog)
  • Your blog post URL
  • Recipe title
  • Photo of recipe (to be included in the round up)
5. You can submit as many entries as you like.

6. You do not have to PARTICIPATE every month to join in.

7. You may submit your entry to other challenges as long as it complies with their rules.

8. If you use twitter, please use the tag #alphabakes and mention @bakingaddict and @Caroline_Makes. We will retweet all those that we see.

9. Have fun! :)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Fruit, Nut and Seed Flapjacks

This week I've been busy baking breakfast food. I've already posted my banana, blueberry and apple muffins and I have another muffin recipe to share with you later. For a change, I decided to make some chunky flapjacks which are brilliant for breakfast on the go. I bought some packets of fruit, nut and seed mix from Aldi as healthier snacks during a recent road trip. However, we didn't get round to eating them so I thought I'd use them to make flapjacks. These are really crunchy and chunky and I loved the addition of the fruits, nuts and seeds.  

 adding the fruit, nut and seed mix 

 I used my individual loaf tray to get chunky flapjacks 

Makes 6 large, chunky flapjacks
150g butter
125g golden caster sugar
50g golden syrup
225g porridge oats
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g dried fruit, nut and seed mix

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium sized pan. 
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix the oats, cinnamon and flour.
  • Add the oat mixture to the butter mixture and stir.
  • Add in the fruit, nut and seed mix and sitr well. 
  • Spoon into the baking tray (you can use a shallow baking tin) and level the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Cut into squares before serving (if you used a shallow baking tin). 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Banana, blueberry and apple muffins

As usual I had a brown banana in the kitchen begging to be baked. I also found a slightly soft apple and some blueberries so I decided to incorporate everything into a muffin. These are great for lunch boxes or breakfast on the go. We kept them in the freezer and defrosted them for breakfast during the week which was really handy. The muffins are quite dense and cake-like and it was full of blueberries! I made sure to add extra blueberries on top just before baking and as you can see they didn't sink to the bottom!

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I used up a brown banana and an apple going spare in this recipe.

 banana and grated apple mixture; milk, vegetable oil and honey mixture 

 adding in lovely blueberries 

press a few blueberries on top before baking 

 bursting with flavour 

Recipe adapted slightly from BBC Food 

250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ripe apple, peeled, cored and grated
250g blueberries (set aside a generous amount to place on top of the muffin before baking) 
3 tablespoons honey 
60mls vegetable oil
1 laarge egg
185mls milk
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Add in the sugar. 
  • Add in the mashed banana, grated apple and about 200g of the blueberries. 
  • In a separate bowl or jug, mix the vegetable oil, milk and honey.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl and stir gently to mix through.
  • Be careful not to overmix or to break up the blueberries. 
  • Spoon into muffin cases.
  • Place lots of fresh blueberries on top of each muffin - don't press too hard.
  • Bake for approximately 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

2 ingredient Nutella Mousse

Recently I've been on a real Nutella craze. I baked Nutella Ferrero Brownies earlier in the month. On shrove Tuesday, I had pancakes with Nutella. I then saw a recipe for 2 ingredient Nutella mousse and 2 ingredient Nutella brownie. It's been a really long and busy week and I felt we needed a little treat. I definitely did not have the time or energy to bake anything so I decided to give the 2 ingredient Nutella mousse a try. J thought it was amazing. He kept smiling and saying "this is really good" after each spoonful. It was very creamy, rich and nutty. It was a little on the sweet side so it helped that we served it with blackberries which are a little tart. I wanted strawberries but there were none in the shop. The recipe says to chill for 6 hours or preferably overnight. I whipped these up and put them in the freezer for about an hour and it was perfect. It had a nice, smooth creamy texture as you would get with a normal mousse. 

 Nutella and double cream 

 I addeda sprinkling of grated chocolate on top and fresh blackberries 

 Lovely, smooth creamy texture 

Recipe adapted from kidspot kitchen
Makes 2 portions

150mls double cream
1/4 cup nutella

Beat the cream until it holds it shape.
Add in the nutella and continue beating until smooth.
Divide into 2 serving bowls.
Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight or if you just can't wait like me, pop them in the freezer for an hour and serve. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Matcha and Pistachio Cookies

Today February 19 is Chinese New Year. Happy New Year to all my readers who are celebrating. May this year of the Goat or Sheep bring you lots of happiness, health and prosperity. I decided to make some cookies for the occasion as I am going out for a celebratory meal with some friends so I wanted to make little gift bags. These are not traditional chinese new year cookies but I thought they would suit the occasion. It's a recipe that I saw online and I was intrigued by the flavour combination of matcha and pistachio. I also wanted something that was easy to transport and give as gifts. 

I love this recipe as it's so quick and easy to make and the results are fantastic. It's a mix all in one recipe (with a food processor) and you can keep the dough in the fridge until you are ready to bake. You can also freeze the dough and bake cookies when needed. I added a sprinkling of sesame seeds for aesthetic reasons and was really pleased with how it turned out. I also experimented with chia seeds but the sesame seeds looked better. 

The cookies are really buttery and crunchy and the predominant flavour is of the matcha powder. The pistachio complements the green tea flavour well and added a layer of texture to the cookie. The cookies are not sweet at all which helps the green tea flavour shine through. 

I'm sending this to Foodie Friday hosted by Helen from Casa Costello.

#FoodYearLinkup hosted by Charlotte from My Recipe Book. The link up is open to any foodie posts related to events in the Food Bloggers Calendar for February. These are for Chinese New Year. 

 plain flour, icing sugar, matcha powder , pistachips, butter, egg 

 dough wrapped in cling film. It should be a square shape but mine is quite uneven! 

 Optional toppings - sesame seeds or chia seeds 

 I love the vibrant green colour of the dough 

 I love how the sesame seeds look 

 little gift bags 

Makes 40-45 cookies depending on the size of your cookies

350g plain flour
15g Japanese matcha powder
250g unsalted butter, cut in cubes
150g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g pistachios nuts, lighty toasted - I'd suggest increasing the amount if you want a nuttier bake
Optional - sesame seeds or chia seeds 

  • In a food processor, mix the flour, matcha powder, icing sugar and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
  • Add in the egg slowly and continue mixing. 
  • Finally add in the pistachio nuts and blitx until a smooth dough forms.
  • Roll the dough in a log or square shape and wrap in cling film.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours or preferably overnight to allow the flavours to develop. 
  • When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Slice the dough and arrange on a lined baking tray.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.
  • Bake for approximately 13-15 minutes or until just brown.
  • Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.