Blondies with Chocolate Chips

I think we can all agree that no one is counting calories at the minute. I’m trying to fill my time and decided to try blondies (the chewy caramely cousin of the brownie).

This is based on a Simply Recipes version, they used white chocolate chips. I didn’t have these, so I improvised my chopping up orange flavoured chocolate (if the manufacturer would like to send me some samples that would be great, just saying)

You can also use chopped nuts or even cubes of apple. These freeze well, but realistically won’t last long enough.

FYI, your kitchen will smell amazing.

Recipe

115 Grams Butter

220 Grams Dark brown sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla extract (option)

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

125 Grams Plain flour

60 Grams Chocolate (chopped)

1 Egg

Fold in the chopped Chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and grease and line a 21cm x 21cm brownie tin with baking parchment
  2. Melt the butter and add to the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk, when the mixture has cooled a little whisk in the egg
  3. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mixture thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate, before transferring to a lined baking tin
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes

Corn Bread

Like everyone else I’m trying to limit how much I go out at the minute. Also because some people are being eejits and stripping supermarket shelves, I’m trying to work with ingredients I already have at home.

While having a look around the cupboard I found some polenta. I bought it to try a recipe for the Italian supper club and was not really a fan of how the Italian’s use it. However, it works well in the Soul Food staple of corn bread. The American version is too sweet for my taste, so I reduced the amount of sugar.

The recipe also calls for butter milk, which I didn’t have. No problem, just add a good squeeze of lemon juice to ordinary milk for the same effect (the acid in the butter milk/lemon juice helps the chemical reaction that makes the bread rise)

I serve this with chilli, but it’s also good served alongside soups. An American friend of mine also uses left over corn bread, crumbled up over casseroles to make a crunchy topping when baked in the oven. This also freezes really well.

115 Grams Cornmeal/fine polenta

150 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

1.5 Tsp Baking powder

0.5 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

2 Eggs

350 ml Butter milk (or semi skimmed milk, with a good squeeze of lemon)

50 Grams Butter

1 Onion (finely sliced)

Extra butter to grease the baking tin

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees, grease a round 23cm cake tin
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and fry the onion until translucent, and allow to cool
  3. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl
  4. In a separate bowl combine the the eggs, butter milk, and fried onions (including the butter the cooked in)
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until any large lumps are gone. It’s quite a wet mixture so don’t panic
  6. Pour the mix into your greased baking tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a skewer or toothpick and when it comes out clean, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes

Goat’s Cheese and Roast Vegetable Galette

The last couple of months have been cold, wet and sh*tty. I needed something that reminded me of sunshine, so I made this. It’s relatively easy to make, and looks impressive when you bring it to the table if you’re cooking for people.

If you’re super organised you can use this recipe to use up leftover roast vegetables. I made my own pasty, but as always you can use shop bought if you’re short on time.

Alot of people aren’t fans of goat’s cheese. If you’re one of them, you can swap it for another soft cheese like brie or camembert.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

1/4 Tsp Salt

100 Grams Butter

1 Egg yolk

Cold water

(Plus 1 Egg to brush the pastry with)

Sesame or onion seeds (optional)

Filling

1 Onion (cut into 8)

1 Red pepper (cut into 8)

1 Aubergine (cut into 2-3 cm cubes)

125 Grams Soft goat’s cheese

200 Grams Cherry tomatoes still on the vine

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tsp Dried oregano or thyme

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables, and place them in a flat oven proof dish. Drizzle with oil and bake in an oven for 30-40 minutes until starting to chat at the edges a little. Allow to cool before using.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour and butter and pulse until this looks like breadcrumbs (the rubbing in method if you prefer).
  3. Add the yolk, and gradually add the cold water, mixing until the dough comes together in a ball. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. After chilling, allow the pastry to come to room temperature. Roll the pastry out in as neat a circle as possible, place on a sheet of baking parchment, and then lay on a baking sheet
  5. Break up the goat’s cheese and sprinkle across the centre of the pastry, leaving an edge of 3-4cm around the pastry
  6. Top the goat’s cheese with roast vegetables (having squeezed out any liquid). Top with the vine tomatoes
  7. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Gently fold in the edges of the pastry and pleat the pastry to create a crust for the galette
  8. Brush the exposed pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle the pastry with sesame or onion seeds for some extra colour and flavour.
  9. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve with salad

Gypsy Pie

Gooey and delicious.

I made this sort of by accident. I meant to buy condensed milk for another dessert I was planning to make. The short story is that I was distracted in the supermarket and bought evaporated milk instead.

Don’t panic if this looks very puffy when it comes out of the oven.

Rather then waste it, I remembered a recipe using evaporated milk I had seen in an old recipe book I bought in a charity shop. I still have no idea how it got its name. But I do know its delicious, incredibly tasty and very sweet. This is a pretty straight forward recipe, you could even buy a premade pastry case if you’re short on time. The filling has only two ingredients, but once baked this turns into fudgy, caramely deliciousness. We had custard with this, but ice cream would also work.

Just two ingredients for the filling.

Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Egg yolk

3 Tbsp cold water

For the filling

280 Grams Muscavado Sugar

410 ml Tin of Evaporated milk

Whisk until light and fluffy.

Method

  • In a food processor add the flour, butter, salt, sugar and egg yolk and whizz until it looks like breadcrumbs. (You can use the “rubbing in” method of you prefer, but I think it’s easier and quicker to use a food processor)
  • Add cold water to the crumb mix until it starts to come together, and you can form a ball.
  • Wrap in cling film and refridgerate for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes take the pastry out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Brush a a loose base 9 inch pie tin with melted butter
  • Roll the pastry out as thinly as possible on a floured surface and line your pie tin with it.
  • Place a large square of baking parchment (larger than the inside of the pie tin) on top of the pastry and cover the base with baking beans (I keep old dried rice in a jar to use when I need to blind bake pastry) bake for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes remove from the oven, and carefully lift the baking parchment by the corners taking care not to spill the rice/baking beans on the pastry. Pierce the bottom of the pie base all over with a fork and return to the oven for another 10 minutes
  • Put the muscavado sugar and evaporated milk in a bowl. Mix with an electric whisk for 5-10 until with sugar and milk are no longer grainy, and becomes lighter in colour and looks frothy.
  • Remove the pie base from the oven. Fill the pie base with the sugar and milk mixture and return to the oven
  • Bake for a further 25 minutes. The filling may puff up in the oven, but don’t panic, it deflate as it cools.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting

Snickerdoodles – the taste and smell of Christmas

Christmas eve is a strange day, and kids especially are over excited and bored. A bit of Christmas baking keeps them occupied. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a nice way to get into the Christmas spirit, and your house will smell fabulous.

Snickerdoodles, the crack cocaine of cookies.

Many years ago I lived in Germany, where I was introduced to the crack cocaine of all Christmas baking, the snickerdoodle.

These are soft, chewy, buttery little cookies that are rolled in sugar and cinnamon before going to the oven. While in the oven the sugar and cinnamon melts and crisp up around the already delicious cookie.

I sincerely apologise in advance for any weight gained as a result of these cookies. I know there is a lot of butter and sugar, but it is Christmas after all ( these are delicious at any time of year though, and work really well as a base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream too)

Little balls of cookie dough are rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking.

Please do try them though, they smell absolutely heavenly, and you can always off load the extras (as if), on friends and family. These live very happily in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Ingredients

For the cookies

370 Grams Plain flour

2 Tsp Baking powder

230 Grams Butter

1/2 Tsp Salt

300 Grams Caster Sugar

2 Eggs

For the coating

50 Grams Caster sugar

1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl
  • In a separate bowl beat the softened butter, and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and sluff
  • Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla, then add the flour mix gradually.
  • When all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, chill in the fridge for an hour to allow the dough to firm up
  • After an hour take mix out of the fridge, and mix the sugar and cinnamon for the coating together in a small bowl
  • Make small balls of cookie dough about the size of a walnut. Roll in the sugar mix
Ball of cookie dough about to be rolled sugar and cinnamon.
  • Place the balls if cookie dough on baking parchment on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200 degrees. Make sure to give them plenty of room to spread od else they stick together
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes

Super Simple Shortbread

Sweet, buttery and delicious.

I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.

All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.

Who doesn’t love someone who turns up with a sweet treat.

Ingredients

315 Grams Butter

350 Grams Self raising flour

120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)

120 Grams Corn flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)

If you’re a complete neat freak you can use a ruler to make sure all your shortbread is cut to the same size. As you can see, mine aren’t quite perfect.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
  2. Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
  3. Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
  4. Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
  5. Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
  7. Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people

Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Yummy and dangerously addictive.

Anyone one who follows this blog will probably have guessed that I usually don’t do dainty.

But trapped in the house on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I decided to rustle up something different . Macarons are cute little almond meringue cookies, and can have a variety of fillings including butter cream or jam. I have used chocolate ganache, which sounds fancy but is basically just cream and chocolate.

If you’ve seen macarons for sale they can come in a variety of rainbow colours, and can be eye wateringly expensive. This is a bit of a rip off considering that while they might be a bit fiddly they’re not especially difficult to make. They also make great gifts.

Always handy for gifts.

Ingredients

For the mcarons

210 Grams Icing sugar

95 Grams Ground almonds

3 Egg whites (at room temperature)

50 Grams Caster sugar

1/2 Tsp Vanilla paste

Food colouring (this is optional, but it does help them look nice. I would recommend using gel or powdered food colouring)

For the ganache

100 Grams Dark chocolate

150 Grams Double cream

Method

  1. Add the icing sugar and ground almonds to a food processor and whizz for a couple of minutes
  2. Sieve the sugar and almonds into a bowl, and discard any bits of almond that don’t go through the sieve
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they form soft peaks Gradually add the caster sugar, vanilla and food colouring until you have stiff peaks (you’ve probably saw on cooking shows when the cook holds the bowl over their head and nothing moves)
  4. Start to fold in the sugar and almond mix with a spatula or large metal spoon in small batches
  5. When fully combined, transfer the batter into a piping bag
  6. On a sheet of baking paper, mark out circles about 3cm each. Put a dot of the batter on the four corners of a baking sheet and lay the baking paper on top (this will help it stay in place)
  7. Pipe a blob of the batter on the pre drawn circles until you have used up all the mix. I ended up using 2 baking trays
  8. Once you have piped all the mcarons, lift the trays a couple of inches and tap it down on the counter to get out any air bubbles. If you have any little tails of batter sticking up after piping, wet you finger and flatten them (it will stop them burning)
  9. Allow the macarons to sit out for 30 minutes, this helps them set and forms a skin
  10. Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees for 17 minutes, cool before filling
  11. To make the ganache, break the chocolate into small bits and put in a microwave bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (blast for 30 seconds at a time, be sure not to burn)
  12. When the chocolate is melted, add the cream and stir until properly combined, allow to cool
  13. When the ganache is cool, take a palette knife and spread the filling on the underside of a macaron the sandwich with another. Continue until all the macaron halves have been sandwiched together