Chocolate Brownies

These chocolate brownies are so simple to make and you can decorate them with any toppings you want, and add any extra flavours you want too. It’s essentially a base recipe for brownies for you to then customise as you wish!  Or if you don’t want to add any extras, they are great just as they are!

I made these particular ones for a Spring fair in order to help raise money for the Donkey Sanctuary in Leeds and they were definitely a favourite on the stall! My other cakes barely got a look in until these were all gone.

This recipe makes a 20cm (8 inch) square tin.

Ingredients

  • 335g Granulated Sugar
  • 115g Plain Flour
  • 30g Cocoa Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 125g Dark Chocolate
  • 125g Unsalted Butter

For the Topping

  • 90g Packet of Mini Eggs
  • 89g Mini Creme Eggs chopped in half

Method

  1. As always, the boring bit first! Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients – sugar, flour, cocoa powder and salt. Then set aside.
  3. In a small bowl lightly whisk the 3 eggs until they’re just combined, and add the vanilla essence.
  4. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 20 second bursts in the microwave until melted. Be careful not to burn yourself or the chocolate! You can also use a bowl over simmering water if you’d prefer.
  5. Now whilst the chocolate and butter is still hot, quickly pour it into the dry mixture and add the egg/vanilla essence mixture and mix until it is all combined. Essentially you’re just mixing all the ingredients together in one big bowl!
  6. This is where you can add your choice of extras if you wish! You can add walnuts, white chocolate chips, cherries etc. or you can leave them as they are which is what I did.
  7. So if you are wanting plain brownies, then pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. If you want to add toppings, bake the brownies for 20 minutes, then take them out and add your toppings. Press them gently down so they are sitting securely, and then bake for the further 10 minutes. Don’t worry if they seem a little ‘squishy’ still, that will give them the soft chewy centre that we all love!
  8. To properly finish off these bad boys, after I took them out of the oven, I waited about 15 minutes for them to cool down slightly, and then drizzled melted milk chocolate over the top! 😍 Amazing!

These really are a chocoholics dream! Let me know what you think 🙂

Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

These energy bites came about after the long Easter weekend. My family had visited and we’d all eaten a huge amount of chocolate (partly my fault for baking treats!). So once everyone had left I decided to make some healthy snacks for the week at work to stop me eating any more Easter chocolates! These are essentially just fruit and nuts dipped into some gorgeously rich dark chocolate. Once made, they are the perfect mid afternoon snack!

There are two types of these energy bites, one uses dates and hazelnuts, the other uses apricots and cashews. One thing that is essential for this is a blender/food processor.

Ingredients

Date based bites:

  • 100g Hazelnuts
  • 250g Soft Pitted Dates
  • 2Tbsp Golden Linseed

Apricot based bites:

  • 100g Cashews
  • 250g Soft Apricots
  • 2Tbsp Golden Linseed

Toppings:

  • 180g Dark Chocolate (85% or more)
  • Dessicated Coconut
  • Chopped nuts of your choice

Method

  1. I would start with the date energy bites as the apricot.ones are a little stickier, but it is completely up to you. To begin with, put the hazelnuts/cashews in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
  2. Then add the dates/apricots and the golden linseed and blitz again until the mixture is fully combined and is almost a paste.
  3. I found it easiest to tip the mixture out onto a plate/bowl and then divide it up in to balls. So you can easily get about 15 bite sized pieces out of each mixture. Simply grab a small amount and roll it into a ball and then set aside. It is essential to keep wetting your hands with cold water as otherwise it can stick to your hands.
  4. Now break up the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 20 second bursts until it is melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate! One by one dip the balls into the chocolate and place on a tray lined with baking paper/parchment.
  5. Finally, before the chocolate sets, sprinkle over whichever topping is desired! I used chopped up cashews, chopped up hazelnuts and desiccated coconut on mine. Once set, you’re done 🙂 you have at least 30 bite size, healthy, protein packed snacks – yum!

Easter Millionaire Shortbread

Millionaire shortbread is a firm favourite of mine to bake. I have always absolutely loved these and would always buy them in coffee shops or cafes. Then my work had a Macmillan coffee morning last September and I thought I’d have a go at making them myself to help raise some money! Now, I’m not one to brag, but oh my god they were amazing! They genuinely turned out so good and they weren’t that hard to make. Apart from my initial panic of not having the correct sized baking tin, the whole process was pretty stress free. I am now known at work for these bad boys and try and bring a batch in about every other month to keep everyone happy. So obviously with it being Easter, it was a no brainer to create my staple millionaire shortbread with a little Easter twist. What could be better than Mini Eggs!!

Now this recipe was a rather huge portion, I used a 12 inch x 12 inch square tin and it made 30 pieces. You can do it for smaller tins and just divide the amount of ingredients. (If you have any questions about the smaller tins recipes just comment and I’ll help).

Ingredients:

For the shortbread:

  • 395g Plain Flour
  • 310g Unsalted Butter Cold
  • 135g Caster Sugar

For the caramel:

  • 665g Condensed Milk
  • 265g Unsalted Butter
  • 175g Golden Syrup

For the chocolate top:

  • 620g Chocolate (It’s entirely up to you whether you want all dark or half dark, half milk, or if you want nearly all milk and then the some white chocolate for decoration etc. So many options!)
  • About 250g Mini Eggs for decoration!

Method:

  1. Line the tin with baking/grease proof paper and preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
  2. Now we’re going to start with the shortbread base. Keeping the butter as cold as possible, chop it into small cubes and pour it into a large mixing bowl along with the plain flour.
  3. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour. If this is a new concept for you, ‘Tasty’ have a really good explanation for how to do it here. I had never done this part before when I first tried to make these and got the hang of it fairly quickly 🙂
  4. Once the butter and flour are combined, using the same technique, mix in the caster sugar.
  5. Now the shortbread mix is complete! Pour the mixture in to the bottom of the square cake tin and use your knuckles or the back of a spoon to push down the mixture so it is compact in the bottom of the tin. Try to get it as flat as possible. Then bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Whilst the shortbread is baking you can begin the caramel centre. I’d say this part takes about 15 minutes to make, so it’s best to wait until the shortbread is at least half done until beginning this section.
  7. So pour the condensed milk, butter and golden syrup into a sauce pan. Put over a low heat and melt all the ingredients together. Once you have a smooth mixture, turn up the heat and simmer the mixture until it thickens and turns a golden brown colour. Make sure to continuously stir the mixture so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. As reference you can see the colour difference in the pictures below.
  8. Once the caramel is ready, take it off the heat to let it cool slightly and then pour it over the baked shortbread base. Tap it on a flat surface a few times to let the caramel fully spread across the biscuit base and then leave to set.
  9. Once the caramel layer is cooled completely, you can begin the chocolate top! I typically use  a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark but you can use any combination you want. I used 400g Milk and 200g Dark for this batch. And then saved 20g of dark chocolate for a small decoration across the top.
  10. Break all the chocolate up into small pieces and melt either over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave (using short 30sec bursts to make sure it doesn’t burn). Once melted, leave to cool ever so slightly and then pour over the caramel layer so that it is completely covered.
  11. This is where it is completely up to you as to how you choose to decorate the top. I waited about 10 minutes for the chocolate to begin to set, and then did a small decoration on the top with the left over dark chocolate. I then placed the Mini Eggs on top, slightly pushing them in to the chocolate so they stuck.
  12. And voila! Once it has set, you have your very own millionaire shortbreads, which are arguably better than in the shops 😉 When it comes to cutting these up into individual pieces, it’s a lot easier to have the millionaire shortbread at room temperature. That way there is much less chance of the chocolate on top breaking up/shattering when you push down with a knife. I typically put them in the fridge to set and then leave them out of the fridge for at least 15 minutes before cutting up.

Let me know if you have any questions! They may seem daunting but they are simpler than they seem and are so worth it!

Cinnamon Rolls

This was my first time making cinnamon rolls and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome! They were very nearly burnt because one side of my oven is clearly hotter than the other! But next time I will turn them half way and hopefully they will be evenly cooked perfectly 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk (warm to the touch)
  • 1 Packet Active Dry Yeast
  • 5 Cups Plain Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon Ground
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar

For the Icing:

  • 1/2 Cup Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Whole Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 1/2 Cup Icing Sugar

Method:

  1. Mix the warm milk, granulated sugar and melted butter in a large bowl. Then sprinkle the yeast evenly across the top of the mixture, don’t mix it in at all, and leave the mixture to set for 60 seconds.
  2. Now add 4 cups of the plain flour and mix it all together just until it is all combined. Now cover the bowl over, either with a tea towel or cling film and leave it for about 1 hour to rise.
  3. Meanwhile cover two baking trays with grease-proof paper/baking paper.
  4. Once the dough has risen, remove the cover and add the remaining plain flour (1 Cup), the salt and the baking powder to the mixture. Stir it all together and once it’s combined, tip the dough out on to a surface with a good cover of flour.
  5. Very lightly knead the dough and if it’s sticky, add flour until it no longer sticks to the surface or your hands. Then roll the dough out into a large rectangle shape and straighten the edges with a knife. The dough should be about 3cm thick.
  6. Now get the 3/4 cup softened butter and spread it evenly on the dough. Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and pour it over the butter spread, lightly pressing down so it sticks to the butter.
  7. Now I think this is the best part! Roll up the dough tightly into a log shape and gently pinch the ends to stay closed. Then cut the log in to about 14 evenly sized pieces and spread them across the two baking trays. It can sometimes help to cut the log in half first and split each half in to 7 pieces.
  8. If you are not wanting to bake them straight away, then you can cover the trays with cling film and leave them in the fridge until you want to bake them. I left them about 16 hours in the fridge and then put them straight from the fridge into a preheated oven.
  9. However if you do want to bake them straight away, cover the trays with cling film and put them in a warm place for about 30 minutes for them to rise one final time and preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  10. Once ready, remove the cling film from the trays and bake the cinnamon rolls for about 25 minutes. I would definitely check on them after 20 as they can easily and very quickly begin to burn!
  11. Before the cinnamon rolls are finished in the oven, it’s time to make the icing! It’s really quick and easy, you simply whisk together all the icing ingredients (cream cheese, milk, melted butter, vanilla, icing sugar) until smooth and creamy.
  12. Once the cinnamon rolls are done, take them out of the oven and generously pour the icing over them whilst they’re still warm.
  13. Final step – eat them whilst still warm! They’re so much better fresh out of the oven!

These should last at least a day if put in an air tight container. Some of mine were eaten about 18 hours after baking and you could just about tell that they weren’t quite fresh – but they were still enjoyed by everyone 🙂

Chocolate Honeycomb

A friend and I were going to the cinema and wanted to take some sweet treats with us to save some money, so I thought I’d give honeycomb a go. I’d never made it before, but it turns out it’s relatively easy and so so cheap! Apart from the chocolate, I had all the ingredients already in the cupboard and it took about 15 minutes to make the honeycomb itself (apart from time to set). You do have to be careful because you’re working with very hot sugar, but once it was made, it tasted just like mini Crunchie bars!

Ingredients:

  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 2 Tsp Bicarbonate of Sugar
  • 250g Chocolate (I used a 200g Milk and 50g Dark mix)
  • A 20cm/8inch square baking tin
  • Butter for greasing

Method:

  1. To begin with, use butter to grease the tin, and make sure it is in near the hob, ready for when you need to pour in the mixture from the pan.
  2. Pour the sugar and golden syrup into a pan. Make sure the pan is deep enough for the mixture to at least double in size. Then put it over a low heat until all the sugar granules are melted and it’s a smooth mixture.
  3. Once the mixture is smooth and all the sugar is melted, turn up the heat slightly and simmer until you get a golden brown caramel – it shouldn’t take too long.

    The next part needs to be done as quickly as possible! But make sure to be extremely careful as the mixture is very very hot.

  4. So in as smooth an action as possible, you need to take the pan off the heat, pour in the bicarbonate of soda and use a wooden spoon to mix until it is combined. It will be foaming/bubbling and you want to immediately pour it into the greased tin. It will carry on foaming in the tin but that is fine, it will spread out to fill the tin and then settle down itself.
  5. Now it will take about one hour to set. Once it has set, I banged the tin upside down on a flat surface and the honeycomb came out of the pan fairly easily.I then used the end of the wooden spoon to bash the honeycomb up into random sized pieces as you can see below!
  6. Once the honeycomb was in small chunks, I melted 200g of milk chocolate with 50g of 85% dark chocolate in the microwave. I used 20 second blast to make sure I didn’t burn the chocolate (you can always melt the chocolate using a bowl over a pan of boiling water too). Then dip each honeycomb piece into the chocolate and place on to a tray lined with baking paper to set. Once set, you have yourself some chocolate covered honeycomb/mini Crunchie bars!