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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Date and ginger flapjacks

I spoke about them in my last post and this time I finally gave in.

In Peyton & Byrne’s Great British Baking they’re called ‘oaty date and ginger slice’ s… but they’ve got all the components of a flapjack, and they taste like the best flapjack I’ve ever had. So I call them flapjacks.

My friend and baking guinea pig was on her way over for coffee when I realised I had absolutely nothing to offer her. Not even a rich tea biscuit. I’d been keen to knock up some of these but knew that my self-control around them is absolutely zero so had been trying very hard to resist the urge. Long story short, I didn’t. Instead I only made ¼ of the amount, enough to offer a couple with coffee and have one for myself.

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This is the original recipe for the full quantity:

  • 180g butter
  • 6 tbsp golden syrup
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 100g dates
  • 20g fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 275g oats.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan

Chop the dates up into bits and grate the ginger

Add the dates and ginger to the melted mix followed by the oats

Mix together then spoon into a 20 x 20 in pan (or whatever you’ve got, they don’t spread so you can shape them to a thickness you like if you’ve made less)

Bake for 30 mins at 180C

I quartered the recipe and added a teaspoon of treacle and slightly more dates and ginger. I really like dates and ginger.  Then I baked them for 10 minutes at 180C.

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Let the slices/flapjack cool before slicing, although we did have ours still slightly warm. They were delicious but more delicate to handle, plus the chew develops once they cool and these have just the right amount of crumble to chew ratio.

Simple Spiced Date Biscuits

I started off my new year baking with more of a puff than a bang. These cookies aren’t the most exciting but they have a nice sweet and spicy flavour somewhat reminiscent of Christmastime. The original recipe says to roll them in sesame seeds, but I’m not too keen on those. Seeing as I’d originally planned to make my favourite date and ginger flapjacks I rolled them in oats as a compromise.

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  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g treacle
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 175g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 175g chopped stoned dates
  • 100g, give or take, of oats

Notes:

  • I had no plain flour so used wholemeal which I think worked well with the dates, I probably wouldn’t use it with a more tart fruit like cranberries.
  • I used 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg and ¼ tsp each of cloves and mace. You can easily hange up the spices to suit whatever fruit you choose.
  • I used oats but you could again, you could roll them in whatever you fancy – seeds, nuts, anything.

Make sure the butter is soft then cream it together with the brown sugar and treacle

Add the egg yolk and continue to beat until the mix becomes fluffy

Spoon in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth

Finally add the dates and beat to combine

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Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (it will keep for up to a week in the fridge)

Preheat the oven to 180C /160C fan

Shape the mixture into walnut sized balls and place them on a plate

On another plate spread your oats out

Roll the dough in the oats and flatten to about 4-5cm wide and slightly less than1cm thick.Image

You should have enough to make 15 – 18 cookies

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the oats turn a golden brown.

Allow to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!