Sweet Treats

Got a sweet tooth? Love your puddings? Like a slice o’ cake with your cup o’ tea? Fancy finding out what a toffee peach and pear crumble is all about? Well you’ve come to the right place… Check out the deliciousness…!

Butt Kickin’ Cookies

Butt Kickin' Cookies

Butt Kickin' Cookies - Get the kettle on!

Cookies are the ultimate treat, especially in my house! You can stuff them full of all sorts of goodies from nuts to toffee to chocolate chips and even Smarties! You can mix and match your chocolate or just go all out nuts, it really doesn’t matter and this recipe is so easy to make and to keep for future use that my little one often helps to make them with no problem whatsoever!

You can whip up a batch of cookie dough from the recipe below and store it for up to about a week in the fridge or month in the freezer, but ultimately, the amount of cookies you get out of one batch depends on how big you like your cookies. So this recipe will give you enough dough for about 80 small cookies or 25 large ones…

There really are a lot of decisions to be made when baking cookies, white chocolate or milk, nuts or toffee or both. Then, when that decision is made you need to decide on what size cookie you fancy, large or small, smaller balls make for smaller cookies, and THEN you need to choose between chewy or crunchy cookies…. longer in the oven for crunchy or vice versa and this all depends on that size you decided earlier! Phew… The only decision that isn’t tough is how many to eat in one go… An easy choice – as many as you can!

One small ingredient note, where I mention using vanilla (in any of my recipes), I mean decent vanilla.  Not vanilla essence as this tends to be weaker and not as strong, if you want to use a good quality vanilla extract that is fine (you can find excellent but rather expensive Nielson Massey Vanilla Extract in most supermarkets), but I personally always have a jar of thick, gooey and beautiful Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Paste which is more expensive, has real vanilla seeds in the paste and tastes phenomenal. Tesco do a cheaper alternative called Hansells Vanilla Paste but Nielson Masseys in unquestionably the best and the one used by all the top chefs be it in paste or extract form, you can find it on Amazon and also in Lakeland stores (I go all the way to Chester for mine and buy it along with a couple of bottles of Mr Fitzpatrick s Old Time Sarsaparilla Cordial!). You can also buy vanilla pods and just use the seeds if you wish, but I advise buying these in packs of 10+ on eBay as you will get a larger amount for the same price as about 3 in a supermarket.  Anyway, I digress….

The temperature and timing of your oven will all depend as I said on how you like your cookies, but these guidelines are what we like in our house will make you about 80 (as a whole) or 24 (as a batch) 2-3 inch cookies which are lovely and chewy inside with a touch of crunch on the edge… perfect in my opinion…

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 115g soft brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 315g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Chunks of filling adding up to about 180-200g, this can be chopped chocolate, nuts, toffee, fudge or whatever you like

METHOD

  1. In a mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or electric mixer, cream together the butter, both sugars and vanilla.
  2. Break the eggs into a jug and lightly mix them, then pour them gradually into the butter mixture, mixing as you go, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together, then fold this into the wet mixture in the other bowl gently, you use a figure of eight motion, going in on one side of the bowl, and out of the other, turning the bowl as you go until mixed together nicely, it does get touch if you are doing it by hand but think of the muscles you’re building – if you are using an electric mixer then BE CAREFUL, don’t mix too fast.
  4. Finally, add the chopped extras, mixing it in thoroughly and bringing the mixture together as a thick dough with your hands.
  5. Take the mixture out of the bowl and form it into a rectangular block, wrapping it well in a parcel of greaseproof paper. Pop it in the fridge and leave it there for at least 1 hour.
  6. When the hour or more has passed, preheat your oven to Fan 140c/160c/Gas Mark 3 and prepare a couple of cookie sheets with lightly buttered greaseproof paper (don’t use salted butter or the cookies will reek of the salt and taste gross!)
  7. Remove your dough block from the fridge and pull off pieces and roll in your palms to make 24 dough balls 1 inch in diameter, the more perfectly round they are, the more perfectly circular your cookies will be. Place the dough balls carefully on the prepared baking sheet, about 5cm apart so that there are 12 on each sheet.  With the bottom of a glass or a spatula (I use a fish slice actually), lightly press the top of each ball to flatten it VERY slightly, the oven will do the rest of the work for you.
  8. Place in the oven undisturbed for a minimum of 7 minutes, after this time, take a peek, if they aren’t browning (golden, not mud brown) on the edges, leave them a couple more minutes but keep an eye on them, as soon as they start to go golden brown on the edge they are good to go. If you have timed this right these particular cookies will have a nice outside crunch and a beautiful chewy inside.
  9. Remove them from the oven, leave them to rest on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes then, using a fish slice or spatula, gently ease them off the baking sheets one by one.  If they are still warm and going squishy instead of moving nicely then leave them a little longer to cool.  If they are still doing it then you’ve cooked them for too short a time… tut… pop them back in the oven for a minute or two till that edge goes golden brown… They’ll be just fine.
  10. Pop the cookies in an airtight box or jar and put them on the highest shelf in the kitchen behind a couple of cookbooks.  This last step isn’t a necessity, but it does stop the kids scoffing them before you can!

You could also put the dry ingredients together in layers in an airtight flip lid jar like the ones you find in Ikea and Asda. Write a pretty label with cooking instructions including a bit that says how much of the wet ingredients to add.  Pop a nice ribbon around the top and give it as a gift!

Categories: Baked Goodies, Sweet Treats | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pecan Fudge Brownies

The ooiest gooiest fudgiest brownies you will EVER taste - guaranteed!!!

Don’t take this the wrong way, this is going to sound like I am totally blowing my own trumpet but get ready for a fanfare because THESE brownies are the best I have ever eaten… period… they are delicious warmed and served with ice cream or just cold and on their own, it doesn’t matter because if they are treated right in the oven, I promise you one thing – you will have them breaking down the door for these bad boys!

Everybody loves a brownie don’t they? And the perfect brownie has to have that crisp outer shell which, when you bite into it, is followed by a total chocolate meltdown of goo and yumminess! Some like nuts in their brownies, some like fudge, some like just chocolate – or even extra chocolate, but me? I prefer nuts AND fudge, so here you go, my very own, Pecan Fudge Brownies!

You will find that most brownie recipes call for about 200g of 70% cocoa solid dark chocolate, but I find that way too bitter for my liking, so I always go half dark and half milk… but you don’t have to, if you prefer them dark, then use all dark, if you want them even milkier, then use all milk (though this doesn’t taste as good in my opinion). Don’t skimp here though, cheap chocolate taste like just that, cheap chocolate, it isn’t nice, try to go for Swiss or Belgian, I usually use Sainsburys Taste The Difference Fairtrade Belgian milk and dark (70% cocoa solids) 100g bars, they are £1.39 each and well worth the extra pennies. Green and Blacks Organic chocolate is also delicious though you can expect to pay a fair bit more for these bars.

If you want nuts, I would advise pecans as they mix well with the fudge, though roasted hazelnuts are also delicious. As for the fudge… only clotted cream fudge will do in my book, Thorntons do an amazingly good clotted cream fudge, but if you can’t get it, any good fudge will do, so long as it tastes creamy!  You don’t have to stop there though, you can add chopped cherries or other dried fruits or even chocolate chunks if you like, or honeycomb pieces, or biscuit pieces!

Make sure you have the correct sized tin, a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin is what I use and I generally get 32 marvellous melting mouthfuls out of that because too much really is too much in this instance!  You could also use a more rectangular tin, Asda do a pack of 3 or 5 (I forget now) foil ones for about £2.50 which are also great.  Anyway, enough! On with the recipe!

Makes 32 Brownies

INGREDIENTS

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 85g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (don’t use essence, but you can use a pod if you prefer)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder (again, use good stuff like Bournville or similar)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 75g pecans, chopped
  • 75g fudge pieces, chopped
  • Icing sugar for sifting

METHOD

  1. First things first, the chocolate bit! First, pop the butter, in smallish cubes into a medium bowl and add the 100g dark and 85g milk chocolate in broken pieces.  Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, but most important – so that it DOESN’T EVER touch the water, if it does, you run the risk of turning smooth silky liquid chocolate into something resembling dried mud.
  2. Put the pan on a medium heat on the stove, allowing the water to boil under the bowl until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Once everything is all melted together nicely, you can remove the bowl from the top of the pan in order to cool it.
  3. While you’re waiting for the chocolate and butter mix to cool off, turn the oven on to heat up at a temperature of Fan 160C/180C/Gas Mark 4, then cut out a square of greaseproof paper with which to line the base and overlap the edges of your baking tin, smear a little butter under and all over the top of the paper to prevent sticking, I also like to dust with a little sprinkle of cocoa powder here as well which also prevents sticking.
  4. Leaving the chocolate, oven and tin for now, get yourself a sieve and tip the flour and cocoa powder inside over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so the two run through together and you get rid of any lumps and bumps.
  5. Next, take your add on, your nuts and fudge in this case, and get yourself a sharp knife, and carefully chop the fudge and nuts into smallish pieces on a chopping board.
  6. Fetch another larger bowl and into it break the eggs and add the sugar, with a medium speed electric whisk or mixer whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, sort of like a milkshake, when this is done, pour over the cooled chocolate mixture and gently fold with a spatula. It’s important that you don’t mix heavily with a spoon or whisk as this make the brownies nice and light, folding is basically a figure of eight through the mixture with the spatula, pushing the spatula in at one side, taking it underneath before bringing it up on the opposite side of the bowl and then in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl around as you go so you don’t leave anything on the sides until the colour of the mixture is a sort of mottled dark brown.
  7. Hold the sieve over the bowl of chocolate mixture and once again sift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Then, gently fold using the same figure of eight action as you did before. Yes, it looks awful to begin with, but stick at it and after a couple of minutes of patience and gentle folding, it will eventually look like a gungy fudgy mix, which is what you want…
  8. Take the chunks of nuts and fudge and stir it gently into the mixture until it is nicely distributed.
  9. Now for the magic! Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, feeling free to leave a scrape in the bowl for licking afterwards (or is that just me and Seran?). Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and level it on the top.
  10. Pop the tray onto a middle shelf in the oven and leave it there undisturbed for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes have passed, open the oven door, pull the shelf out a little and gently shake the tin. If the brownie mix wobbles wildly in the centre, it’s not quite done, so pop it back in and bake for another 5 minutes and then repeat as needed until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin then take the tin out of the oven.
  11. At this point a lot of people will pop a knife into the middle, pull it out and it will look wet, so they will put the whole thing back in the oven until it stops doing that.  Trouble is, by doing this, you end up with regular dry brownies instead of the gooey ones that we are after… so leave your tin, even if your knife comes out wet.  In fact, I leave the whole thing, covered in tin foil until it has gone completely cold, sometimes overnight even!  It WILL carry on cooking when removed from the oven, and the foil helps.
  12. When the brownie is completely cold, and has been left long enough, remove it from the tin in one go using the overlapping sides of the greaseproof paper, pop it upside down on a large cutting board, pull off the paper, flip it back over and then, using a VERY sharp and very large knife, sharpen it if you have to, cut the brownie into quarters. Then, cut those quarters into quarters and then, cut those 16 smaller squares in half diagonally, until you have 32 lovely little brownies looking at you like loving children.
  13. Pop your children (?!?) on a plate or display stand and dust with some icing sugar.  Stored in an airtight container, they will keep lovely and moist for at least a week.
  14. Enjoy!
Categories: Baked Goodies, Sweet Treats | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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