Category: Recipes

Double Chocolate Blackberry Brownies

Double Chocolate Blackberry Brownies

It’s blackberry season again!! This is such a big thing in my house as we live in the countryside, so we watch the blackberries over the season from mid-August to start of October, by which point they’re juicy and sweet and beautiful. We literally can’t leave the house any more without my mum bringing tubs for foraging (one time we even took a fishing net to catch apples in – it was strangely effective!) So now that we have tubs and tubs of blackberries in the fridge it’s time to start getting creative again!

It’s no secret that I’m a complete brownie freak. I like to make them, smell them, eat them, jazz them up, play around with them and generally appreciate their existence. So it’s no surprise that I ended up making some these swanky blackberry brownies. I’ve also added in some booze in here because it works so so well with chocolate! I’m not much of a drinker (relatively speaking) and so I’m only just discovering it’s value in cooking – but boy does it give this a nice lil’ touch! Of course though, if you wanna make these t-total you can leave out the alcohol and soak the blackberries in some spices (a pinch each of ground cinnamon and ginger are good!) and Ribena to give them a touch up.

As term hasn’t started for me yet (I know we start super late!) I’m in the process of bouncing between home and my uni house to make the most of the time I have free to do that. When I went home the other day I came up with these (as you can’t not appreciate having a fully stocked kitchen when you’re in one!) and luckily I managed to have a few left to take back to Oxford with me. One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with friends, and it’s something I really don’t do enough of any more. But these went down a treat so I can definitely see them becoming a favourite in our house!

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

For the Brownie

  • 220g Butter
  • 280g Dark chocolate
  • 4 Medium eggs
  • 280g Caster sugar
  • 60g Plain flour
  • 150g White chocolate, roughly chopped

For the Icing

  • 200g Blackberries
  • 10ml Chambord
  • 40ml Creme de Cassis
  • 175g Icing sugar

To decorate

  • Fresh blackberries
  • 50g Dark chocolate
  • Ice cream to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Begin by prepping the blackberries for the icing. Place the blackberries, chambord, Cassis and 25g of icing sugar in a bowl, mix together and then set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Now move onto the brownies. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 15×15 cm loose tin with butter and baking paper.
  3. Put the butter and chocolate into a metal or glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt.
  4. Take another bowl and whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy with an electric whisk. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until it leaves a trail when the whisk is taken out (around 5 minutes should do it).
  5. Fold the chocolate into the eggs, sieve in the flour and add the chopped white chocolate. Mix everything together until just combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle over half of the macerated blackberries. Then bake the brownies for around 20 minutes until a crust has formed on top and it feel slightly firm. Set aside to cool.
  7. Whilst the brownies are cooling, move onto the icing. Sieve the remaining blackberries, pressing the berries into the sieve with the back of a spoon to release the juices. Then mix a little of this juice into the icing sugar, 1 tsp at a time until a smooth, pourable icing is made.
  8. Turn the brownies out onto a serving board. Once completely cool drizzle the icing over the top. Scatter over some fresh blackberries and finish with some flakes of dark chocolate. These are really good served warm with ice cream!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Duck leg ragu tagliatelle

Duck leg ragu tagliatelle

Welcome to autumn folks! Some people might be sad that the warm summer days are now behind us, but I can’t wait for the next couple months of warm blankets, cosy nights and comfort food favourites! Which brings me onto this delightful lil’ dish I have for you today. Now, personally I think duck has a bit of a bad rep. It’s often seen as expensive, fatty and a pain in the butt to cook – but hang on a sec and I’ll prove you wrong. When it’s done right you end up with a rich, moist deep-flavoured meat, topped with some salty, crispy skin and then whatever you put with it you’re gonna end up with something that screams decadence and class. As I’m not cooking as much as I used to I’m trying to make the most of my time in the kitchen by pushing myself both with my skills and my flavour experimentations. For example, I tend not to use alcohol in my cooking (apart from the odd liqueur in desserts) so I’ve never tried using red wine in sauces and the like. Yet I tried it in this dish to bring a little French classicism and it brings a depth to the sauce I’ve never been able to replicate before! (I guess there’s something to be said for the classics!)

Duck can also have a bad reputation because it’s traditionally very expensive. I heard of the idea of making duck bolognese years ago, but I couldn’t understand why you’d want to shred such a beautiful, expensive meat and cloak it in a bolognese sauce!? But then I realised that duck legs are what you need. They’re so much cheaper than duck breast and are perfect for shredding and pairing with a rich sauce. So in short, abandon your preconceptions, this is definitely worth a try – and because of the flavour you get from duck I think this would be particularly good for a special occasion like an anniversary, birthday or dinner party!

Recipe

Serves 2-3

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 Duck legs
  • 1 Small white onion
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 stick of Celery
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 Handful of fresh thyme
  • 250ml Red wine
  • 400g Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large pinch of Paprika (optional)
  • 120g Tagliatelle pasta
  • 50g Parmesan
  • A handful of fresh parsley

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper, then rub them with a little oil and place them in a roasting tin. Roast them in the oven for around 40 minutes until the skin is crispy and the flesh is cooked through.
  2. Take the legs out of the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Then use two forks to pick the meat off the bone. Set this to one side, separating the flesh and skin.
  3. Place a large pan over a medium heat and add a little of the duck fat that will have collected in the tin you cooked the duck in. Peel, halve and finely chop the onion and garlic and add these to the pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes until starting to caramelise. Then dice the celery and add it to the pan with the tomato puree. Fry whilst stirring for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the oregano, thyme and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Once the sauce has reduced by half add the tomatoes, paprika and duck meat. Then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to bubble for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Add the pasta and cook to packet instructions (around 10 minutes is standard) until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the ragu. Mix everything together and then get ready to serve.
  7. Divide the pasta between 2 serving bowls and top with a little grated parmesan, chopped parsley and the remaining crispy duck skin. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Coffee and Caramelised White Chocolate Cookies

Coffee and Caramelised White Chocolate Cookies

So last week I did a post on how to make yourself some delicious caramelised white chocolate – now it’s time to know how to use this ingredient in your baking! These cookies are really easy to make and can be frozen as a dough, so you can make a huge batch and then just bake them as and when you want so you always have fresh cookies! (And who doesn’t always want fresh cookies?) If you’re a bit short on time you don’t have to use caramelised white chocolate, this also works really well with normal white chocolate. That said, I would recommend giving the caramelising process a go if you can because it brings a new flavour dynamic which is well worth the effort!

In other news I’ve just moved into my student house for the year which is really exciting because I now have a gorgeous kitchen to cook in all year round! It’s gonna take a little while to find my bearings and get everything sorted, but hopefully I’ll soon start getting out some content from there so keep an eye out for that – and as always any requests just throw them my way!

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 2 hours (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

  • 170g White chocolate (30-32% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
  • 105g Unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp Instant coffee granules
  • 200g Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Baking soda
  • 100g Light brown sugar
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 Large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Begin by making the caramelised white chocolate. Pre-heat the oven to 120˚C. Spread the roughly chopped white chocolate on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper and put it into the oven for around 10 minutes.
  2. Take the tray out, stir the white chocolate with a spatula until evenly mixed and then put it back into the oven. Repeat this mixing every 10 minutes for the next 30-50 minutes until golden and caramelised.
  3. Leave the caramelised chocolate to set on the baking paper. (It can then be wrapped in baking paper and stored like this for up to 2 months if you don’t want to use it straight away).
  4. Now start making the cookies. Put the butter into a small pan and melt it gently over a medium heat. Once melted add the coffee and stir until dissolved. Then leave this to one side until needed.
  5. Next mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together the butter, sugars, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until fully combined. Add the flour mixture to these wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough starts to form.
  7. Break the caramelised white chocolate into pieces and add it to the dough.  Then mix everything together until the dough is smooth and the chocolate is incorporated. Wrap the dough in cling film and then leave it to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  9. Roll the dough into 60g balls and place them on the lined baking trays, making sure they’re spaced out by a couple of inches to prevent them from spreading into each other during baking.
  10. Sprinkle the cookies with a little sea salt and then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp around the edges. Leave the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. These will keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

 

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How to Caramelize White Chocolate

How to Caramelize White Chocolate

There’s this new trend in the food-world that I’ve been itching to try for way too long that involves white chocolate getting a bit of a make over – so I thought I should give it a go! I feel like if you were to typecast chocolates, dark is the all-knowing friend who’s super healthy and idealistic; milk is the loving grandparent who’s always there to have a quick chat whatever the weather; whilst white is the super cute but annoying toddler who’s great in small doses and if you’re in the right mood. It’s nice, but a little too sweet and not much else. Well, here’s white chocolate’s chance to shine!

Caramelising chocolate is a really easy process in which you just bake the chocolate on a baking tray, stirring it every now and then until it turns all golden and beautiful. Doing this gives the chocolate a bitter caramel flavour which works really well with the sweetness of the white chocolate. You can then use the caramelised chocolate as you would a normal bar of white chocolate (cookies, ganache, mousse etc!). I’ve found that, whilst the technique is super easy, the type of chocolate you use will have a massive effect on the outcome of the process. If you use cheaper, more standard stuff it tends to come out dry and lumpy – great for cookies and cakes, not so good for mousses and ganache. Therefore if you do want a silky smooth end product you’ll need to use chocolate that has a cocoa content of over 30% (this info is on the back of most bars near the ingredients). I experimented with Sainsburys own brand, Lindt, Menier’s, and Green and Blacks and the Green and Blacks were the only type that came out smooth, so if you have any doubts that’s the one I’d recommend!

(^ this is an example of what you can use your caramelised white chocolate for – coffee walnut teacakes coated in caramelised white chocolate! Recipe going up soon!)

Recipe

Makes 200g caramelised white chocolate

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 200g White chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter), roughly chopped

Method

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 120˚C. Spread the roughly chopped white chocolate on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper and put into the oven for around 10 minutes.

2. Take the tray out and give the white chocolate a good stir with a spatula until smooth. Then put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

(^Chocolate after 10 minutes in the oven)

(^Chocolate after 10 minutes in the oven and a good mixing)

3. Repeat this mixing every 10 minutes for the next 30-50 minutes until golden and caramelised.

(^20 minutes in the oven)

(^30 minutes in the oven and ready to use)

3. The chocolate is now ready to use. If you want to store it for another day you can pour/spoon the caramelised chocolate into a jar or leave it to set hard and then wrap it in some grease proof paper to store it as a bar. It can be stored like this for up to 2 months.

 

Uses…

So far I’ve used this for two recipes – these delicious coffee and caramelised white chocolate cookies and the coffee walnut teacakes shown above (recipes coming soon!). As far as I can tell though, this will work really well in any recipe using chocolate! You can add it to your favourite cookie recipe like I’ve done here or why not try…

  • Pouring over 200ml warm double cream to make a ganache?
  • Sprinkling it over a cake or mixing it into some cake batter?
  • Making it into some ice cream? (I’ve heard this one is especially good!)

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Choco-nana-offee Rocks

Choco-nana-offee Rocks

Ok, so I know these look more like something from a sci fi film than something from the kitchen, but bare with. As you know I’ve been trying out the ‘healthy’ lifestyle to help me get some consistency back in my life, however, even the healthy eaters need some comfort food sustenance every now and then. This started as all things do, with good intentions. “I’ll just make a chocolate cookie” I said to myself. Innocent enough. Little did I know that by the time I’d finished I’d end up with a bubbling tray of molten salted caramel, dotted with floating bananas, and sandwiched between two layers of warm chocolate cookie-shortbread. Eyo.

That said, I have no regrets! This was 100% about food to feed the soul and boy did it do that. I know it’s not traditional in the food blogging-sphere to see things that look less that perfect. Even rustic home food is preened and touched up to get the perfect shot these days, however when getting these out of the pan it was clear there was no hope in making them look beautiful. But hey, looks aren’t everything, right? Whop them on a board, snap a few shots and then make the most of the best bit – the eating!

After some time in the fridge these work really well as on-the-go bars, however they do become a bit more gloopy and unpredictable the warmer they get. I think this is because the shop-bought caramel I used for the filling was more of a pouring-consistency than a block one, which had both ups and downs. On the one hand it made for the ultimate gooey masterpiece, on the other it was a bit hard to handle. Therefore I’ve found these bars work at their best as a deconstructed splat in a bowl – looks: 0, taste: 10. Alternatively you could make your own caramel or find a thicker one so you can actually slice these into nice, neat squares… But seriously though, if you’re looking for comfort food in a bowl, this is your guy!

Just one last note – the name. Yeah… um… wasn’t sure how to christen these as there was so much going on in them and for something so much about the taste a long description of it’s component parts seemed too resturant-like. Hence choco-nana-offee rocks. Quick, to the point, leaves more time for the eating. Any other ideas welcome though!

Recipe

Makes roughly 16 squares/rocks/blobs

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 340g Butter
  • 220g Caster sugar
  • 240g Icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 490g Plain flour
  • 55g Cocoa powder
  • 400g Caramel sauce (I used 1 can of Carnation’s caramel)
  • 1 Banana
  • A large pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with butter and baking paper.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Then mix in the vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. Finally mix in the cocoa powder and flour until a dough has formed.
  3. Split the dough in half and wrap one half in cling film and put it into the fridge.
  4. Take the other half of dough and press it into the base of the tin to fill it evenly. Bake the base in the oven for around 15 minutes until starting to to look baked on top.
  5. Pour the caramel over the base and then scatter over the chopped bananas in an even layer. Finally sprinkle over the remaining dough in a sort of crumble. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the topping is crispy and the caramel is bubbling.
  6. Take the tray bake out of the oven and leave it to cool to room temperature. Then put it into the fridge until set (about an hour should do it).
  7. Cut the traybake into 16 squares (or blobs) and enjoy!

Alternatives

Another great thing with these squares is that you can try all sorts of different swaps and alterations to make them perfect for you! Why not try…

  • Swapping 100g of the butter with 100g of nut butter (like peanut butter) to get a nutty biscuit top and bottom?
  • Swapping the cocoa powder for 70g Plain flour to make vanilla flavoured dough?
  • Adding fresh berries instead of bananas?
  • Adding 50g chopped chocolate to the dough to make it chocolate chipped?

Thanks for reading

Emma x

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