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Valentine Recipe – Beetroot & Lemon Brownie

Beetroot & lemon brownies

Beetroot & lemon brownies

This is a favourite and brownies always sell well on the market stalls and coffee shops. This has the addition of beetroot, but you could always just leave that part out – it will work just as well. The lemon and the lemon curd give it an extra sharpness as the chocolate can be quite rich. Although it is a Valentines treat!

Beetroot & Lemon Valentine Brownie

  • 175g good quality dark chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g raw beetroot, peeled & grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 6 Tsp lemon curd – optional

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Grease a 22cm/8 inch square cake tin, line with baking parchment making sure it hangs over the edge of the tin to make it easier to remove later.  Lightly grease the parchment.   In a heatproof bowl, break up the chocolate and add the butter. Melt gently over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) stirring occasionally until the chocolate & butter are melted, then set aside. Alternatively you can place the bowl in the microwave on a high setting until melted. Place the sugar and eggs in a separate bowl or standalone mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy – this will take around 5 minutes with a mixer on a high speed. Add the chocolate mix and whisk for 30 seconds then add the beetroot & lemon zest and whisk for a further 30 seconds. Gently fold in the flour until it is just combined and pour the mixture into the prepared tin. An optional extra to make it more lemony, is to dot ½ teaspoons of lemon curd over the top of the mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. It may crack slightly but that’s fine and the brownie should be just set. Place on a cooling rack to cool down completely. Once cool, gently pull out the brownie from the tin using opposite sides of the greaseproof paper. Cut into heart shapes or squares and enjoy with ice cream, cream or just as they are!

 

Christmas Chocolate Log Cake

A delicious traditional Christmas recipe that looks impressive and is not that difficult to make. The hardest part is rolling it up while the sponge is still hot. Time to taste test before Christmas!

Christmas Chocolate Log Cake

Christmas Chocolate Log Cake

For the cake;

4 medium eggs
100g caster sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract
60g self-raising flour
40g good quality cocoa powder
For the cream middle;

200ml double cream
50ml ready-made vanilla custard
Glug of brandy (optional)
For the chocolate ganache;
270g good quality dark chocolate
50g butter
250ml double cream
Glug of brandy (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Line a 33×23 swill roll tin with baking parchment. Cut an extra length of baking parchment of the same size and sprinkle with some caster sugar (this is used when the cake comes out of the oven). Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until pale and forms soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract, sift the flour and cocoa powder over the mixture. Gently fold it all together – being careful not to knock the air out. Tip into the prepared tin and gently smooth it out until even. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, it should be springy to the touch when cooked. When it’s still hot, quickly turn it out onto the sugared baking parchment and peel off the parchment from the bottom. Along one of the long edges, score a line with a knife about a centimetre in. From that mark roll it up – with the paper too. Leave to cool. While it’s cooling, whip the cream until stiff and spreadable then stir in the custard and the brandy if using. Gently un-roll the cooled cake and discard the paper. Spread the cream mixture in the middle of the cake – leaving about a centimetre around the edges, for the cream to spread when you roll it. Tightly roll it back up. You can leave it whole or cut a third off and arrange it against the other piece to form a log shape. For the ganache, break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl. Over a low heat, gently heat the cream and butter in a pan until just below boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted, stir in the brandy if using. Put it in the fridge to cool until it is thick enough to spread on the cake but not set. Spread or pipe the ganache all over the cake. Make the marks like a log with a fork and leave to set before enjoying!

Spicy Pumpkin & Pecan Pie

Spicy Pumpkin & Pecan Pie

Spicy Pumpkin & Pecan Pie

Spicy Pumpkin & Pecan Pie

You will need:

750g pumpkin, cut into chunks
350g homemade sweet pastry or 1 packet of shop bought
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp maple syrup
125g light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
25g butter, melted
1 x 175g tin of evaporated milk
30g pecan nuts, chopped

Method:
You will need a 22cm loose bottomed flan tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 170C/gas mark 4.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is big enough to line the baking tin with some overlap, approx. the thickness of a pound coin. Line the tin with the pastry ensuring it is right up to the edges and prick the pastry all over the base with a fork. Place some grease proof paper over the pastry and add some baking beans. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the grease proof paper and beans before baking for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden. Leave to cool and then trim the edges of the pastry from the tin, so you have a neat pastry case.
Alternatively, blitz 300g biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs, and mix with 125g melted butter. Press the biscuit mix into the tin and the sides (using the bottom of a glass is good for this, pressing the bottom and up to the sides) and bake in the oven for 10 minutes then leave to cool.
Place the pumpkin chunks on a baking tray, add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, maple syrup and mix together so the pumpkin is well covered with the mix. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through and tender. Place the pumpkin in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Pass the puree through a sieve for extra silky smoothness. Place the puree in a bowl and leave to cool. Place the sugar in a separate larger bowl (you can add more spice at this stage for extra spiciness) and mix in the eggs, butter and evaporated milk. Add the cooled puree and stir until you have a smooth mixture. Pour the mix into the pastry case or biscuit case and sprinkle the pecan nuts over the top. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 150C for a further 25 – 30 minutes until the pumpkin mixture is just set. Leave to cool before removing from the tin and then enjoy on its own, with cream, yoghurt or more evaporated milk!

Quick & Easy Orange Curd

You will need;
4 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
60g butter
Zest from 1 large orange
100ml fresh orange juice

This should make 1 x 1lb jar. Make sure the jar and lid is clean, dry and sterilised. Mix the sugar and egg yolks together using a hand whisk until well combined. Pour the mixture into a pan along with the rest of the ingredients. While stirring all the time, heat the curd mixture on a medium to low heat until it starts to bubble then take it off the heat. Leave it to stand for a few minutes before pouring into the jar then seal and leave to cool.This should keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. (If it lasts that long!!) Another recipe using this orange curd will be coming soon. Until then it can be enjoyed with ice cream, yoghurt or on toast for breakfast!

Chocolate Chilli Strawberry Vanilla Cakes

How about these cakes for a difference, using some home grown produce. Our first pick of strawberries and using some of our endless chilli supplies! The bottom layer of the cake is chocolate and chilli, with a vanilla & fresh strawberry sponge on top and decorated with fresh strawberry butter cream on top.

I hadn’t used fresh strawberries in a cake before, but it does work. I have used uncooked ones and also cooked ones (boiled with some sugar and pureed) to see if there is a difference. To be honest I don’t think there is much of a difference, the one thing I make sure of is to use fresh strawberries at room temperature rather than straight out the fridge, as if they are too cold it curdles the cake mixture. I just crush them with a masher or puree them with a hand blender. I also put aside some of the juice if I am just drizzling some icing to go on top, so it gives it a nice pink strawberry flavour finish.

Chocolate chilli strawberry vanilla cakes

Chocolate chilli strawberry vanilla cakes

 

Easy Spicy Tomato Salsa

A quick and easy salsa which also uses any spare tomatoes. You will need a few small tomatoes, around 25-30 (or large ones cut in half), 1 red onion skinned and cut into 8, 2 cloves of garlic – leave the skins on and one whole chilli. Put it all in a roasting tin with a glug of oil, salt & pepper and cook in a hot oven at 190 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until blackened. Take the skin off the garlic and the stem off the chilli. Put it all in a food processor or use a hand blender to blend until it’s quite smooth. Add some chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. It can be adapted to taste, so if you like it hotter add another chilli… This salsa can be used with Mexican wraps, as a base to a chilli, on a pizza base, as a dip, a pasta sauce, as a spicy ketchup and much more!

 

 

 

Using up spare egg whites for easy meringues

If you find yourself with any spare egg whites and don’t know what to do with them, pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. These meringues are really easy. Defrost your egg whites (or use fresh ones), whisk until firm add 50g caster sugar to each egg white and whisk until shiny, thick and creamy and if you turn the bowl upside down it shouldn’t fall out. Spoon large peaks onto a lined baking tray and bake in a cool oven – 110C or gas mark 1/4 for an hour. Once cooled drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Marshmallowy in the middle they are delicious with fresh fruit and maybe a dollop of cream or yoghurt.

Chocolate Meringues

Chocolate Meringues

 

Easter Recipes

These recipes are good to make with the kids while they’re on their holidays and are delicious for everyone to enjoy!

Triple Choc Easter Block

Triple Choc Easter Block

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triple Choc Easter Egg Block

You will need;

250g shortbread biscuits
150g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
100g butter
125g golden syrup
75g dried cranberries
75g sultanas
75g chopped almonds – or other chopped nuts
12 mini cream eggs, unwrapped
40g white chocolate for decorating

Method;

Line a 7 inch square or round cake tin with cling film, making sure that it hangs over the sides so the block is easy to get out of the tin once it’s set. Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer. Put the broken dark & milk chocolate with the butter into a heatproof bowl and place over the simmering pan of water to melt, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Break the biscuits up by placing in a plastic bag and gently smash them with a rolling pin, or this can be done in a food processor. You need to have chunky pieces. In a large bowl, mix together the biscuits, cranberries, sultanas, and chopped almonds. When the chocolate and butter has melted, take it off the heat and stir in the golden syrup. Pour the chocolate mix into the biscuit mix and stir until all ingredients are combined. Add the unwrapped mini eggs and gently stir through trying not to break them (don’t worry if they do happen to break up). Tip the mixture into the tin, and gently even it out. Place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to set. Once set, turn the tin upside down, peel off the cling film and place the block on a board or a plate. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl using the same method as the dark & milk chocolate or place in a jug and heat in the microwave until just melted. Drizzle over the top of the block with a teaspoon and put in the fridge or a cool place to set. Once the chocolate has set, cut into squares and enjoy!

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Hot Cross Easter Cakes

Hot Cross Easter Cakes

Hot Cross Easter Cakes

 

 

 

 

 

You will need:
250g Self-raising flour
250g Softened butter
250g Light brown sugar
4 Eggs
100g Sultanas
50g Marzipan
1tsp Ground cinnamon
1tsp Ground Ginger
1/2tsp Allspice
50g Icing sugar

Method:
This recipe is a cross between a spicy hot cross bun and an Eater Simnel cake with marzipan. This will make 12 muffin sized cakes. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180C or 160C for a fan oven. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases or lightly grease a 12 hole cake tin. Place the flour, butter, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until all combined. Add the sultanas, ginger, cinnamon, all spice and whisk until mixed. Break the marzipan into small sultana size pieces and stir into the mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases or cake tin to approximately 2/3rds full. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cakes are springy when lightly pressed. If using a tin, leave for 5 minutes before removing. Leave the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before icing. To decorate, mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water until it is thick enough to pipe. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe a cross on each of the cakes. Alternatively you can drizzle a cross on the cakes. Leave to set before enjoying.

 

Guinness Chocolate Fudge Cake

This has been a popular cake on the last couple of markets and is just in time for St. Patricks Day!

Guinness Chocolate Fudge Cake

Guinness Chocolate Fudge Cake

Guinness Chocolate Fudge Cake

You will need:
250g butter
200g dark brown sugar
70g good quality cocoa powder
250ml Guinness
2 eggs
140g Greek yoghurt
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
70g fudge pieces
75g White chocolate to decorate

 

Method:
This recipe will make 12 muffin sized cakes or one 23 inch cake. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 or 160C for fan oven. Lightly grease and line a 23 inch cake tin, or a 12 slot muffin tin.
Place the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a large pan and heat on a low heat until all the butter and sugar has melted, stirring to make sure it all mixes in. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the Guinness. Whisk or stir in the Greek yoghurt to the Guinness mix and then stir the eggs until it is all mixed together. Gently stir in the flour, baking powder and fudge pieces. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin or cake cases and bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes for small cakes or 25 – 40 minutes for a large cake. Leave to cool and remove from the tin. To decorate melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cake or cakes. Leave to set before enjoying. Alternatively the cake is delicious served warmed with cream or some Greek yoghurt.

More vegetable cakes!

Sticking with the winter vegetable theme before the Springtime produce comes along, I made these parsnip & blood orange cakes which are sweet from the parsnips with the sharpness of the orange and I have to say, delicious! As with the carrot and orange cake, I boiled the blood oranges and then whizzed them in a food processor until smooth and passed through a sieve to make an even smoother puree.

Boiling fruit for cakes is well worth a try and so easy. I have done it with clementines, blood oranges and lemons. It takes about an hour of simmering until they are soft, whizzing in a processor and passing through a sieve for a smoother texture. Gently stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the puree to the cake mix for a more intense flavour than just zesting or adding juice and it makes the cake really moist. I will also be trying it with limes and even a grapefruit, which may need some extra simmering time!

Parsnip & Blood Orange Cakes

Parsnip & Blood Orange Cakes

 

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