Best-ever blondies

Blondies are one of my go-to baked goods. They are always received well and I’m often asked for the recipe.

They’re moist and not too rich, and you can add whatever you like to them – nuts, fruit, more chocolate – much like these cookies or brownies, you can make them whichever ‘flavour’ you like.

My favourite combination is cherry and almond.

blondies

Ingredients:

  • 400g white chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 200g almond meal
  • 90g plain flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 200-300gm of nuts, chocolate or fruit

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180.
  2. Line a baking pan (rectangular).
  3. Melt chocolate and butter.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. Stir vanilla into the butter/chocolate mixture.
  6. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until thick.
  7. Add butter/chocolate mixture to the eggs and sugar.
  8. Fold in sifted almond meal and flour.
  9. Fold in your extra bits.
  10. Pour into the lined baking pan.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes.
  12. They are best left in the fridge overnight before cutting them up.

 

The combination I made for this post was cherry and Bounty, so a little bit like Cherry Ripe. The Bounty didn’t quite work as expected, but you could definitely get the coconut and cherry.

PS. They make a pretty good gift!

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Chewy chocolate cookies

Now, I’m not saying I make the best cookies in the world, but I am saying that these are pretty damn close.

These chewy chocolate cookies are super simple to make and are sure to be a crowd pleaser (based on my experience every time I make them), which is why I always do a double batch.

The beauty of these cookies is that you can make them whatever you want them to be – a simple chocolate chip or something more fancy like my last batch which included chunks of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Crispy M&Ms and white chocolate chips. Three of my most favourite things. They are also great with nuts and various lollies/candies.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams butter, chopped and left to come up to room temp
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I’ve forgotten it and it’s been fine, but you can also exchange for other flavourings)
  • 275 grams firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 35 grams self-raising flour
  • .5 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 35 grams cocoa
  • 150 grams ‘mixins’ of your choice – three types is a good number

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees
  2. Line two trays with baking paper
  3. Beat the butter
  4. Add the sugar, beat until mixed
  5. Add extract and egg and beat until smooth
  6. Add sifted flours, cocoa and bicarb soda
  7. Add ‘mixins’
  8. Mix until combined by hand
  9. You can use a level tablespoon to measure the dough, but I tend to do this by hand and roll them all into balls
  10. Put the balls of dough on the trays, but make sure you leave plenty of space as they will spread during the cooking process
  11. Bake for approximately 10 minutes – they will come out soft, but will set. If you like a crispy cookie, you can leave for longer.
  12. Leave on the tray until they have set and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

By the way, you can make this dough in advance, roll into balls and then freeze them. You can either cook them all up when you need them or just a couple at a time when you’re in desperate need of chocolate and there isn’t anything in the cupboard.

You can easily use whatever mixins you like, here are some ideas:

  • M&Ms – crispy, peanut, plain
  • Chocolate chips – dark, white, milk
  • Caramel/toffee/fudge chunks – you can pick these up in the baking section at the supermarket
  • Nuts – peanuts, roasted almonds, macadamias
  • Reese’s pieces – chopped up
  • Terry’s Chocolate Orange – chopped up
  • Pretzels – broken up
  • After dinner mints – chopped up
  • Crysalised ginger – not for me, but whatever floats your boat

I can definitely recommend scouring the lolly aisle to come up with some fun combinations. I’ve done it many a time and not too many people question why a strange lady is talking to herself while picking up and putting back various packets of chocolate or lollies.

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Chocolate earl grey cake

Chatting to one of my colleagues the Friday before Valentine’s Day, he asked what was up to over the weekend. Remembering that it was Valentine’s Day, I quipped that I was “probably going to make something heart-shaped for the blog”. He laughed at me.

I was only off by a bit though. I ended up experimenting by making a triple batch of chocolate earl grey cake with sour cream white ganache (my favourite kind), so I also made some cupcakes. To make it ‘Valentinesie’, I drew some red chocolate hearts for decoration.

I may have applied for The Great Australian Bake Off, so in my head it was practice just in case!

Cake ingredients:

  • 125 grams butter (softened)
  • 140g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used sour cream instead of milk*)
  • 190g flour

Cake method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150* degrees.
  2. Prepare two 15cm cake tins (greaseproof paper with some oil to make sure it sticks).
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add vanilla (I used 2 teaspoons, but I really like vanilla).
  5. As you’re mixing, add eggs one at a time.
  6. Add small amounts of milk and flour alternately as you’re mixing.
  7. This should result in a thick batter.
  8. Put the batter evenly in each tin and bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Ganache ingredients:

  • 90g sour cream
  • 300g white chocolate

Ganache method:

  1. Melt white chocolate. I used the microwave in this case, 10 second intervals.
  2. Add sour cream and mix.
  3. This should result in a thick mixture, I let mine cool in the fridge for a bit before using on the cake.

 

chocolate earl grey heart cake

 

Some notes:
*My cake was 2 of the above recipe and the ganache I used was 1.5 of the above recipe.
*Sour cream tends to keep the cake lovely and moist for longer.
*150 degrees seems low, but a professional I know told me that on 150 degrees, the cake cooks slower and there isn’t a giant hump in the middle of the cake when it’s done!

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An epic rocky road, not for the faint of heart

Every Christmas, I quite enjoy spending (at least) a day in the kitchen knocking up some sweet goodies to share with family, friends and colleagues. This year, I did a few different things: two-tone lavender marshmallow, chocolate cookies, salted caramel and date brownies, and an epic rocky road.

After putting a photo of the rocky road on Facebook, Instagram and taking some to work, a few people asked for the recipe, so here we go…

The epicness of the rocky road was entirely by accident when I had a brain fart (also known as a lapse in concentration). I made up a batch of rose marshmallow, a batch of honeycomb (I used this recipe without the chocolate drizzle), toasted some almonds and had some chocolate ready to combine it all. I had a silly moment where I thought I didn’t have much cream left in a container and then thought, “I know, I’ll make the chocolate easier to cut, but adding just a little bit of cream”.

Firstly, I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea at all and secondly, I’m not sure why I just ‘dumped’ the remaining contents of the cream into the bowl of melted chocolate. Of course, when I did that, it turned immediately into ganache. That’s fine if you’re icing a cake or something, not making rocky road!

My brain stopped farting and went into trouble shooting mode. Here’s my method:

  • I added toasted almonds and some chopped up dates to the ganache.
  • Melted a packet of white chocolate and spread it all over the bottom and sides of the tin I had prepared earlier. This tin is quite large and high, any size would do. However, if I were to do this again, I would have two smaller tins.
  • Added a layer of the homemade rose marshmallow and honeycomb.
  • Added the ganache, in one thick layer to cover the bottom layers completely.
  • This was followed by another layer of the homemade rose marshmallow and honeycomb.
  • Then I melted what chocolate I had left and poured it over the top (thank goodness it was about two bags).

By this stage, the tin I had could most definitely take no more rocky road goodness and it was time to let it cool on the bench before popping it in the fridge overnight.

When I took it out in the morning, I think it took me about 40 minutes to cut it all up, because it was hard and thick! As expected, it was insanely rich too.

rocky road

So, what did I put in it?

  • 4 x 375 gram bags chocolate (any type you like)
  • Bag of marshmallows (I made my own, but you don’t have to)
  • Batch of honeycomb
  • Small packet of slivered almonds, toasted
  • Half small bag of dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream

To (accidentally) make your ganache:

  1. Melt a bag of chocolate (I do half milk, half dark).
  2. When it has melted, add your cream and mix.
  3. When you’ve realized that you’ve stuffed up, have a mini meltdown.
  4. Add the almonds and dates.


Does anyone want a marshmallow recipe?

Let me know how you go and enjoy!

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Pear brownies

I’m a real sucker for brownies and blondies, so I’ll use any excuse to whip up a batch. Last week, there were a number of pears leftover at work, so I took them home with plans to make something. The last time I did that, I came back to work on the Monday having totally winged it to produce a very moist chocolate and pear cake (and it was received very well).

Chocolate and pear go so well together!

This time around, I wanted to do the easy thing and just run with a recipe I knew would work, so..pear brownies!

My failsafe (for me, anyway) brownie recipe is:

  • 250 grams of milk chocolate
  • 250 grams of dark chocolate
  • 250 grams butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour (or almond meal)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 150-250 grams of mix-ins of your choice – I’ve used nuts, cherries, berries, more chocolate!

To add the pears into the mix:

  • 4-5 pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup extra flour/almond meal

Method:

  1. Put your pears with the sugar and water in a pot over a medium heat and let it cook down until the pears are super soft. I sometimes like to give mine a mash to see if they are soft enough and to help them cook even faster.
  2. Put the pears aside to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Line a tin with baking paper (I like to spray the tin with oil, then put the paper in so it sticks. I also cut down the corners so it sits nicely).
  5. Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of water (ensure not to let the bowl touch the water!). Keep an eye on this process because you don’t want the chocolate to burn. Once melted, remove from the heat.
  6. As the chocolate mixture is cooling, whip up the sugar and eggs – they will get a bit thick.
  7. Add the vanilla to the chocolate mixture and mix.
  8. Combine the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture while stirring.
  9. Fold in the 1.5 cups of flour, and the pear mixture until well combined.
  10. Pour the mixture into the tin and pop in the oven for around 25-30 minutes (look for a flaky top).
  11. Once cool, put it in the fridge for a few hours, then you can cut up.

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