Dark Chocolate & Ginger Brownies

What do you do when a work colleague leaves a big piece of ginger on your desk? You make beautifully spiced baked treats! To make this combination even better, a mouthwatering tin of rich dark chocolate was added to the list by another generous colleague. How can I let them down!? There are eagerly awaiting mouths to feed.

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Ginger cake is always an easy recipe to fall to, so I had to think of something with a bit more oomph! Who doesn’t like a gooey brownie! You bite in to the rich, dark, chocolate, spongy flesh and a ginger blanket wraps you in warmth. Mmmm. Getting them to the office was the hard part! The urge to eat them all was almost too much to bare. A few pieces went missing in order to feed my ‘better’ halves work force (as well as the essential taste test at home). I wonder if he tells them who really made them and not lead them to believe a budding chef roams in their midst.

There are a few things I would change, but overall they were a great success. I do offer a bit of advice though… Only eat one at a time! They are very rich and there is a possibility yo’ll end up feeling a little sick! The only problem is, who can eat just one piece at a time? You can fit at least 3 in whilst having a brew! It is definitely difficult to have that sort of control over my cake to hand to mouth action.

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The verdict of my boyfriend is that they are ‘delicious’. But the relationship contract states that I am a baking Goddess at all times, so he has to say that. The fact that they didn’t make it to lunch time in the office must be a good sign.

The recipe doesn’t state what kind of flour is to be used, so I opted for wholemeal. It gives an added depth to the mixture that white flour seems to lack, although a lot of people prefer white flour. If I make this recipe again (which I am most definitely planning on doing), I would like to try ground almonds as I believe this will give an amazing flavour and make the brownies extra moist. As well as be edible for my poor Gluten Intolerant friends.

It’s not often I get a recipe perfect first time, but that’s ok! It gives me an excuse to keep baking till I perfect it. The mixture needs to be poured into a tin big enough to allow it to breathe and expand. I couldn’t find my large tin and as a result, the brownie didn’t rise as much as I would have liked. It became quite dense. (I tried again with a bigger tin and white flour, the results were amazing!) The recipe has been adapted from the Website Good To Know.

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If you prefer, dark chocolate with ginger can be used to replace the grated ginger. But ground ginger won’t give the desired taste. I used a mixture of grated ginger and dark chocolate with ginger. This was not intentional but ended up being a perfect combination. I ran out of plain dark chocolate and luckily had some of my secret stash chocolate left. Personally, a little more ginger could have been added, but you can alter the amount according to your tastebuds. Not everybody loves the tangy spice of warming ginger!

As per all of my recipes, if you try, please feel free to comment and pass your opinion back to me.

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Love and Ginger xxx

Recipe:ย Serves 18

– 250g chocolate, broken in to pieces (I used a mix of dark chocolate and ginger chocolate)
– 250g melted butter
– 5 eggs
– 250g dark muscovado sugar
– 150g plain flour, sifted
– 4x pieces stem ginger (from a jar), chopped (I used grated ginger)

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Fan 160c/Gas 4. Line a cake tin with greaseproof paper

Very gently melt the chocolate using either the microwave or over a bowl of hot water. Once melted, add the butter and stir until glossy.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar using a whisk until pale, fluffy and thick.

Add the chocolate mixture, whisking again until smooth and well combined.

Fold in the flour carefully. Add the stem ginger (or grated) and fold in, the pour the brownie batter into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 20-25mins. Cool, then cut in to squares and ENJOY!

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Peanut Butter Fudge

I’ve come to accept the fact that i am never going to have the Baywatch Bikini body I’ve always dreamt about. My love of food is too great. The figure of a goddess or a deliciously moreish piece (or 2 or 3) of melt-in-the-mouth peanut butter fudge? The sugar won. And if I’m honest with myself, it always will. How can a daily party in your mouth be resisted just to have a well oiled body. Mine stays tucked away so it would be a waste of hard work! ๐Ÿ˜€

I came across this fudge recipe whilst on my break at work. Pinterest is my current indulgence. I am obsessed with looking at beautifully photographed food and home ideas. What caught my eye was the words ‘Peanut Butter’. I tell myself that I’ll just dip my finger into the crunchy delight, and end up holding a half empty jar with a guilty but satisfied look on my face.

I’ve never tried to make fudge before, so there isn’t a better recipe to start with than a 4 ingredient luxury. Icing sugar, peanut butter, unsalted butter and vanilla extract. I also threw in some chocolate drops as the optional addition. The recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

My advice when making this fudge is to USE A BIG BOWL! I thought I could get away with a smaller one and ended up coated in clouds of icing sugar. There is no careful way to fold this into the wet mixture!

Leave the fudge for as long as you can before cutting into it. Simply because you will end up feeling sick from all the broken pieces you can’t possibly hand out to people; plus the square you have to keep aside for the taste test. As I am writing this, I can feel a peanut butter hangover coming on. You won’t be able to stop at just one bite.

To add a little extra to the depth and flavour, I combined the ordinary peanut butter with a teaspoon of Naga Chilli Peanut Butter (ask if you would like to know where to buy). On its own, even the smallest lick packs a punch, so I didn’t need a huge amount. The overall fudge tasteย hasn’t differed, but every now and again, you get a slight warmth from the chilli that takes the fudge to a new dimension. I thoroughly recommend this. Even for chilli haters (only one friend disagrees!). It doesn’t make the fudge hot and spicy at all, just adds character.

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I’ll be making this recipe again and again in the very near future and creating Christmas gifts for special friends and family. I’ll try adding other flavours too.

Don’t hesitate! Get your lips around these golden nuggets of deliciousness! They keep for up to a week in an airtight container and can be frozen for up to 2 months. I know for sure that they won’t last that long once my office taste testers get their mitts on them!

Recipe:

250g creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy + 1tsp Naga Chilli Peanut Butter)
230g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt (optional, but I added)
460g sifted icing sugar
Chocolate chips (optional, but I added)

Line a square baking dish with foil leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the fudge out easily.

Melt the peanut butter and butter together in a large saucepan. Slice the butter to make it easier to melt. Stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla extract with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the salt if you prefer. Add the icing sugar and stir until completely combined. The mixture is ver thick and resembles cookie dough. If using any add-ins, fold them into the fudge whilst it is still warm.

Press the fudge into prepared dish, smoothing the top with the back of a spatula or spoon. The top will be a little oily. Cover tightly with foil and chill for at least 4 hours or until firm. Cut into pieces.

Store as commented above.

Please let me know if you try this recipe and any alterations you can suggest.

Love and Fudge xxx

Basil Pesto

What do you do when you realise your windowsill has been taken over by Basil. You make PESTO! *big smiles*

An easy and beautifully flavoursome way of putting basil to good use. Its a very versatile herb and has great health benefits such as being an antioxidant as well as helping to fight cancer.

I have to say though, if you want to make a jar of it, you better plant a whole farm! I used 2 whole plants and managed to make a ramekin full! There are a few types of Basil, so it might be worth testing the strengths, and also, you can judge on your preference of taste. Some like it cheesy, others like it thick and spreadable. You decide.

I used Jamie Oliver’s Pesto recipe found on his website:ย http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/pesto

(The recipe is also at the end of this Blog).

You will soon come to realise if you read choose to follow my Blog, is that I idolise Jamie Oliver. He is a major influence in my love of food.

Don’t forget to write down the quantities of everything you have used, so next time you can adapt and change the recipe to make it even better if you feel it can be improved. You end up with your own personal recipe, and not somebody elses.

I used my Pesto this time around mixed with wheatberries, chicken and veg. Delicious! But good combinations include stuffed chicken, hardy fish and the most popular, pasta.

Recipe:

  • ยฝ clove garlic, chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 good handfuls fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 handful pine nuts, very lightly toasted
  • 1 good handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small squeeze lemon juice, optional

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ยฝ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil โ€“ you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.

Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it’s not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.

Love and Basil xxx

Stained Glass Wonders

I can’t think of a better recipe to represent food creativity in such a simple way. This is definitely a creation that kids can get involved in. I came across these biscuits whilst searching for something interesting and unusual to make. I knew as soon as I saw them that I had to give them a try. This is a variation from the magazine ‘Baked and Delicious’.

There wasn’t an occasion to make these so my work colleagues got lucky! And I can safely say that they went down a treat. The looks of amazement were great. Everybody now thinks that I am really clever and talented. Winner! *Wink* They were very easy to make! Just remember to warn people that the centre of the biscuit is hard before they bite in to it. You don’t want to be responsible for a trip to the dentist!

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As long as you have 2 similar cookie cutters of 2 different sizes, you can be as creative you want with the shapes produced. Or if consistency is your style, they they can all be the same.ย 

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A couple of weeks ago, I made these for the first time for a birthday party. They all came out perfectly. Within 5 minutes, I had an empty plate in my hand! This time round, I encountered some problems at the baking stage. I decided to try out some new ideas. Wine gums instead of boiled sweets being one of them. Not quite the result I had in mind. It didn’t melt very well…

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Next time, I am going to try again, but put the wine gum in the centre right at the beginning of the baking instead of after the biscuit has started to bake. The reason the wine gum didn’t melt could have been due to not having long enough in the oven. Only trial and error will help! Using a jelly baby was another thought as they are softer and may melt more evenly. I’ll keep you updated on that one. If anybody gives it a go, do let me know how it turned out.

Another issue I came across is the size of the biscuits I cut out. I started off making quite large biscuits. One boiled sweet isn’t enough for these because it doesn’t melt all the way to the edges of the mixture. I suggest using 1-2 sweets in each hole. Or… make the biscuits smaller, which is what I opted for.

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DO NOT POKE THE MELTED SWEET STRAIGHT AFTER TAKING IT OUT OF THE OVEN. IT’S LIKE MOLTON LAVA! I’m speaking from experience. It hurts! ๐Ÿ˜€ Wait until they are cooler before admiring your biscuity delights. And so save some for others to try. As hard as it is to resits. They will thank you for it and so will the scales!

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Love and Sweets xxx

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Recipe: Stained Glass Cookies.ย 

Makes about 20-30.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes.ย 
Cooking Time: 12 minutes.

Ingredients:

– 200g (7oz) plain flour
– 25g (1oz) cornflour
– 100g (3 1/2 oz) butter
– 1/2 lemon
– 50g (2oz) icing sugar
– Hard boiled sweets in assorted colours

1) Sift the flour and cornflour together in to a large bowl. Cut the butter in to cubes and rub in to the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2) Finely grate the zest from half a lemon and squeeze the juice. Stir the icing sugar, lemon zest and 2tbsp of the lemon juice in to the flour with a blunt knife.

3) Finish bringing the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. The mixture may seem dry to begin with, but the warmth from your hands will soften the butter and help to bind the dough together. It should be soft enough to have a smooth crack-free surface but firm enough to roll and cut out. If the dough is too firm add a little extra lemon juice and if it is too soft, chill for 15 minutes.

4) Preheat the oven to 180ยฐc/350ยฐf/Gas 4. Line the baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 5mm (1/4in) on a lightly floured work surface.

5) Cut out the stars using any of the 3 largest cookie cutters. Place the stars onto the lined baking sheet. Use a palette knife to help move the cookies without distorting the shape.

6) Using the smaller cutters, cut out the centres from the stars and add to the pastry trimmings for re-rolling or bake as plain cookies.

7) Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. Remove them from the oven and place a sweet in the centre of each cookie. You may need to put 2 sweets in the cookies with the largest holes.

8) Return to the oven and bake for a further 6-7 minutes until the cookies are a very pale golden colour and the sweets have melted to fill the holes. Take care not to overcook them or the points will burn. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet before peeling them away from the paper.

Who Am I?

Well this is one introduction that isn’t going to start with ‘Hi, my name is’. I’m not into that sort of mush. My love of food came from my childhood. You could definitely tell because I wasn’t a slender youth. It hasn’t always been nutritious and delicious food I have always taken an interest in. I would eat anything I could get my hands on, and that I certainly did. I chomped my way through the carefree teenage years. My passion for flavour came later on when I moved from home to go to University. It was an absolute delight being able to choose what I wanted to cook, and actually learn how to do more than the staples I grew up on.

Levi Roots!

Levi Roots!

I found that researching ingredients and having a look at what meals consisted of was very interesting and it wasn’t long before food started to consume all my time once again, but for all the good reasons. I had discovered a gym by this point! I had become health conscious and my life now revolves around food and fitness. So much so that I would like to pursue a career in food rather than straight photography (which is what I have a degree in). Not everything I eat is healthy though! It’s about getting the balance right. Fresh ingredients and low-fat options where possible. But…. Cake is one of my weaknesses. There is NO WAY I am giving that beautiful spongy flesh up! I’m not aiming for a supermodel body. I’m a normal human being who loves to stuff their face full of food. I definitely live to eat. And I’ll try everything once!

My life is all about excitement and adventure. The most important things in my life are food, travelling, family and friends. Nothing else is needed. I would LOVE to meet Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal! But then again come to think of it, I’d also love to meet the Hairy Bikers and Gordon Ramsey. But Mr Oliver is top of the list!

Tokyo ’13 – Now that’s one dessert worth going back for!

In my Blog, I want to share with you my enjoyment of food. Things that I have tried and tested (and the occasional meal out and about worthy of sharing).

I hope you enjoying sharing my passion. Please feel free to comment or send me ideas you think I should try. If you do try any of my recipes, do send me photographs and comments on how they turn out. I am very interested in how other people adapt instructions and what the finished result is. If it’s edible, it’s a success!

I have briefly worked as a dessert chef for a country-style restaurant before realising that I’m not cut out for all those hours without sunlight! My aim is to work for myself, so follow my hopefully successful journey in to the world of FOOD!

My brief life as a professional!

My brief life as a professional!

Oh an yeh… I’m Lem. Nice to have you on board.

Love xx