Brownies au Naturel

If you’re looking for a sweet fudge brownie, this probably isn’t for you. IF, however, you are a lover of dark chocolate and rich intense flavours this definitely is. 2014-09-22 19.05.01

I’ve tried my hand at various brownies and have dabbled in the healthy variety once or twice. I follow lots of healthy foodie types and I’ve often seen avocado substituted for butter in recipes. I could see how it might work and they have a fairly mellow flavour I assumed chocolate would easily overpower, but I’d never tried baking with them. 2014-09-22 15.52.50

Why stop at avocado? I decided to take the trial to a whole new level, using only natural ingredients and no refined sugar.

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I was initially sceptical but I love all of the ingredients in these dark delights and you can never really have too much of a good thing(s) can you? See for yourselves – don’t knock ’em til you try ’em!

  • 115g avocado
  • 150g date paste
  • 50g honey
  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 black beans
  • 10g cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly

Blend the avocado and date paste, add the chocolate and whisk to combine

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This didn’t look too appealing to start but as I blended the avocado, dates and chocolate I was pleasantly surprised at the thick glossy mousse forming before my eyes. Looks were not deceiving, I discovered, spooning a generous mouthful into my greedy gob. The avocado made the batter more luxuriously creamy than anything I’ve ever done with butter.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition

Blend the black beans and cocoa powder – This is the only stage where I ran into a little bit of trouble, as the paste is really thick. To solve the problem I added some of the avocado chocolate mix, in order to smooth things up a little bit, and then folded it back in once it was at the desired consistency

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Fold the blended black beans into the remaining avocado mix and then transfer to a prepared baking tray

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Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. As with most brownies they’ll probably be slightly underdone and really soft so let them chill overnight before slicing and serving.

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Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean.

 

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Back with Brownies

Hello and apologies for the dry spell! I’ve spent the past few weeks teaching teenagers, an experience to say the least and one that didn’t give me much time for baking. In true Blue Peter style I had prepared a couple of ‘here’s one I made earlier’ posts, however I couldn’t access this blog AT ALL on the school Wi-Fi so my efforts were futile. Some tech-savvy child probably could have helped me but I never actually thought to ask. I’m sure you’ve not been going hungry and life has hardly been devoid of treats but wait ‘til you see what I’ve got in store. They’re decadent, delicious, delightful. Rich chewy brownies combined with a fruity raspberry cream cheese and dotted with gorgeous little bursts of fresh raspberry. Naughty and nice in every bite.

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I present to you, Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies and here’s the how:

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Brownies:

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 95g all-purpose flour

Raspberry Cheesecake swirl:

  • 225g cream cheese
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80g raspberry jam
  • 100g raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C and line your baking tray ready to go.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over barely simmer water, set aside and allow to cool to room temperature (15-20 mins)

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Once cool, stir in the sugar and then add the eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.

Whisk in the vanilla and then gently fold in the flour.

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Set that aside while you crack on with the cheesecake layer, it’ll take you all of two minutes.

Beat all the ingredients EXCEPT the whole raspberries with a handheld mixture until nice and smooth. I added a couple of extra drops of red food colouring to give a more intense colour but that isn’t necessary – the aesthetics are all up to you.

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Now, pour ¾ of the brownie mixture into the pan, leaving the last ¼ in the bowl. Drop dollops of cheesecake mixture alternatively on top of the brownie, spoon the remaining brownie batter on top and then swirl with a knife. Try not to over-swirl or you just end up with a mess

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Finally press some fresh raspberries into the top of the mixture and stick it in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out not quite clean. You want them fudgy but not too undercooked

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As with any brownies, and particularly ones with swirls or extra jazzy bits, leave them to cool COMPLETELY before even attempting to lift them out of the tin and refrigerate before slicing. I know, I know, the temptation… it’s a test of willpower worth the wait.

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Bye-Bye Brownies

…a.k.a Peanut Butterscotch Cheesecake Brownies 

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My housemates are packing their bags and heading off to join the circus. Well, not quite. They’re packing them to go explore Asia & Australasia and I am incredibly jealous. So jealous I’ve attempted to make them put on a stone before they embark on their adventures. If you can’t beat ‘em and you can’t join ’em… fatten ‘em up! I joke girls. You’ve probably guessed now why I’ve called them ‘bye-bye brownies’, I’m going to assume you have anyway. These girls have been fantastic guinea pigs and have spent hours tirelessly taste testing even my most interesting creations. They have never once complained, nor faulted my baking skills, regardless of temperamental ovens or experimental mishaps. They’ve praised me far too much and far too kindly so thanks gals and I hope you enjoyed these!

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So what do we have here? All the good stuff. Chocolate brownies filled with butterscotch chips, marbled with a creamy peanut putter cheesecake mix. Quite a mouthful, literally. They’re deliciously indulgent, sinfully calorie laden and worth every bead of sweat you might have dripped not to feel guilty about eating them. If you don’t feel an ounce of guilt then good for you, get on and enjoy. You’ll probably burn them off with the excitement of eating them anyway.

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Brownies:

  • 230g dark chocolate
  • 115g butter
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 80g flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150g butterscotch chips

Grease a 9×9 pan and line with baking paper

Heat the oven to 180C

Melt the butter and chocolate

Set aside and leave to cool while you weigh out the rest of the ingredients

Whisk in the sugars then add the eggs one at a time beating until smooth after each addition.

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Add the yolk and vanilla then whisk again

Fold in the cocoa powder, flour and salt followed by the butterscotch chips.

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl

  • 120g cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 50g sugar
  • 125g peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt

Whisk the cream cheese, egg and sugar together until smooth.

Add the peanut butter, salt and vanilla essence and whisk again, it’ll be quite thick, just add milk a little bit at a time until it’s slightly smoother and creamy – you don’t want it runny at all.

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Easy as that.

Use about 2/3 of the brownie mix to fill the bottom of the pan.

Dollop spoonfulls of peanut butter mix on top followed by spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter.

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Use a knife or toothpick to swirl the two together creating a marbled effect.

It’s really tempting to overswirl but try your best not to. Just drag the knife in straight lines from one edge to the other until you’ve got the desired effect.

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Stick in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes.

Allow the brownies to come to room temperature before placing them the fridge where you should let them cool until completely firm and ready to slice without making a runny mess.

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When they’re ready to be cut use wet cloth to clean the knife between each slice.

Enjoy!

 

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Sweet Potato Brownies.

I apologise for the lack of treats being posted the last couple of weeks. Life has been getting in the way of baking.

Between being busy doing general life things I’ve also got a confession to make. Now, I know a baking blog is hardly the place to preach about eating too much sugar, but I do. Obviously I enjoy indulgence but I also enjoy eating healthily and try to strike a balance between the two. It’s not so much that I can’t control myself around a tray of brownies and more that I enjoy taste testing far too much. I’d probably rather eat a bowl of cake batter than the actual cake. So, to get back to the point I’ve been doing less baking and more cooking. Cooking is also far more forgiving of impromptu add-ins than baking and I find it dents my ego less as I’m generally successful. It was on one of my trips around the Internet in search of lunch-spirtation that I stumbled upon Deliciously Ella. I cannot fault her hummus, sweet potato dip, warm salads, anything I’ve tried for that matter. More importantly, the girl does dessert. Winner. Which leads me to the whole point of this blog post…

The sweet potato brownie

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I’ve never, ever, attempted a ‘healthy’ brownie before. I’ve always thought I’d much rather have the real deal but brownies everyday just doesn’t make me feel great. These sweet little squares mean you can quite literally have your cake and eat it too. They’re soft, fudgy, sweet and chocolatey – totally different to anything I’ve ever tried before. I couldn’t lie to you and tell you these are the perfect replacement for brownies, they don’t taste like the real deal but they are guilt free and pretty delicious!

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I’ve altered the recipe here and there because no one in my family has any kind of food intolerance. We tolerate all foods in equal measure. We love food.

  •  16 dates (I used kurma which are smaller than medjool)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (600g approx.)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ cup wholewheat flour (65g)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Peel and then boil or steam your sweet potatoes until they’re really really soft Image

De-stone the dates and blend them with the cooked sweet potato in a food processor – you’ll end up with the most gorgeous orange paste which I may have enjoyed more than the brownies themselves. ImageImage

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together

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Spoon into a brownie tray lined with baking paper

Bake at 180C for 25 – 30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean

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Leave to cool before slicing.

I let mine come to room temperature before transferring to the fridge and then slicing just like I do with other brownies.

 

Creme Egg Brownies

 

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I love eggs. Growing up the yolk of a normal egg never fussed me, I’d happily eat the white and leave the runny yolk. Not with a creme egg. I could take or leave the chocolate but that gooey centre was my kryptonite. I know Easter is over and the likelihood there’s a couple of crème eggs lying around is pretty low. However, if you’ve got some unbelievable self-restraint, or like me you’d rather eat your own bodyweight in hot cross buns, here’s a little something to make your crème egg taste even sweeter. Image

Crème Egg Brownies:

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 170g butter
  • 1 tbsp. treacle
  • 80g plain flour
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 2 packets of mini crème eggs
  • 6 crème eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare your brownie pan

Melt the butter, treacle and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

* These were a spur of the moment bake and I didn’t have enough dark chocolate, I’d have liked to use 175g but I added treacle instead to give add a rich flavour and subdue of the sugariness – they’re still pretty sweet. Image

Once melted set it aside and allow it to cool.

Whisk the sugar together with the eggs until the mix is frothy and has about doubled in volume, about 5 – 10 minutes. If in doubt, keep mixing

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*This might take slightly longer and not happen so much with brown sugar as it does with caster but I prefer the flavour of brown sugar. Image

Once your eggs and sugar are smooth, glossy and full of volume fold in the melted chocolate.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the mix and fold once again until just combined, don’t over mix. Image

Pour half the mix into a prepared tin and press in your mini crème eggs, pour over the rest making sure the eggs are covered.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C, cut your 6 creme eggs in half ready to place on top.

As you can see my Creme Egg cutting skills leave a lot to be desired. Image

Take the brownies out and place the creme eggs into the top, pressing down gently. I didn’t evenly distribute mine but for you perfectionists out there feel free to arrange them in neat rows.

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Bake for a further ten minutes until the creme eggs start to look a little bit more fried than hard boiled.Image

 

 

I lined my tin with tinfoil as I’d run out of baking paper. I don’t recommend this, particularly not for these brownies where the crème eggs stick to the tinfoil. Also worth noting here is that you must let the brownies cool, preferably in the fridge until stone cold. I was far too keen to start slicing and ended up making a mess of them.

They were still gorgeously fudgy and didn’t last very long in my house.

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The brownies are quite sweet, just as treats should be. If you’ve got a favourite brownie recipe you’d like to use then by all means go for it and just stick a couple of creme eggs in the top. I’m sure the results will be the just the same. You can’t really go wrong with brownies and creme eggs.

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Bad Blondies

The slutty brownie has been around the block once or twice already since it’s internet debut and while I know you shouldn’t mess with a good thing, I just couldn’t resist. Sometimes my attempts fail but sometimes I surprise myself with a glorious success. These blondes belong in the successes, along with the Jaffa Cake and the much appraised Banoffee Pie. The even naughtier version of the slutty brownie, these define gluttony.  A layer of dark chocolate cookie topped with biscuits and covered in chocolate chip blondie… I did say naughty

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I wanted them to be aesthetically pleasing and not all beige. As a general rule beige is never a great colour for food, which is why I did a chocolate cookie layer. I was also concerned about the sugariness of them so some cocoa adds a nice rich constrast. That’s the same reason I added chocolate chips to the blondie batter. I often find blondies can be a little bit sickly without anything to break up their buttery sweetness.

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This recipe is easily adaptable. Use your favourite cookie/blondie/brownie recipes and whatever biscuits you please. Start by preheating your oven to 180C and greasing the pan (mine was about 9x9in)

 Chocolate cookie:

  •  115g butter
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 90g white sugar
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 125g chocolate chips
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 100g white chocolate chips/chunks/ or I used a chopped bar because I had no chips to hand.

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Cream your butter until pale, add the sugar and continue to cream until fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

In a bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder and salt, add to the wet ingredients and fold gently.

The mix will be really thick, I stirred more then folded until I couldn’t see any more powder.

Add the milk and then the chocolate chips/chunks. Image

You’ll have a thick sticky dough which is a bit tricky to spread but bakes gorgeously. Image

Let it sit in the fridge while you prepare the blondie batter.

Blondies:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g  brown sugar
  • 1tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 125g flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g chocolate chips

Melt the butter gently in a bowl, you can do it in the microwave to save time and dishes.

Add the sugar and mix to combine. Image

Beat in the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Fold in the dry ingredients, until just combined – don’t overmix, the dough will be quite thick.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

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Now to put it all together:

Press your chosen biscuits into the cookie dough, I just got excited about putting everything together and so didn’t do it very uniformly. I filled any spaces with extra biscuit – waste not want not!

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Dollop the blondie batter onto the biscuits, and spread as evenly as you can over them. ImageImage

 

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, a skewer should come out with a few moist crumbs but no raw batter.

Leave to cool completely before slicing them or the blondie will just be sludgy and messy.

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Tip – when I’m cutting cakes with icing or things with different layers I wipe the knife with a wet cloth between slices so as they stay neat and you can see the layers.

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These are so bad they’re beyond good, these blondes will keep you coming back for more, and more, and more. Can you tell I love a cliche almost as much as I love alliteration.

Enjoy!

Boozy Brownies

Happy St Patrick’s Day!!! If there was ever an excuse for beer filled brownies today is it. If you’re not a Guinness lover like me this is a sneaky way to get your token St Patrick’s Day pint in. These are really, really fudgy. They’re as dark and rich as the Guinness itself and while you can’t quite taste the stout it gives them a more mature depth of flavour, I like to think. Image

  • Guinness (1 can or bottle, whatever you like approx. 450ml – reduced to 250ml)
  •  Chocolate 350g
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 80g all purpose flour
  • 200g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g sugar
  • ½ tsp salt (or a pinch)

Preheat the oven to 180C

Simmer the Guinness gently over a low heat until it’s reduced, this is what gives the brownies their flavour.

Set aside 50 ml for the glaze.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water.

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Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until frothy.

Slowly add the melted butter and chocolate to the frothy mix, whisking gently.

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Add 200ml of Guinness and stir to combine.

Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder into the wet mix and fold gently.

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Pour into the pan and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, a skewer inserted in the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs.

Don’t be tempted to eat them warm, these are much better allowed to cool and even refrigerated. I can’t quite convey how rich, dense and fudgy they are.

Glaze

  •  120g chocolate
  • 50ml Guinness
  • 50 ml cream
  • ½ tbsp. butter

Melt the chocolate in pan over water.

Stir in the cream, butter and stout then pour over the brownies.

Allow to cool completely before slicing. I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge to cool so that they slice nice and neatly, and because they do seem to taste better in all their firm fudginess.

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