Sunday, 20 January 2013

Virtually fat-free Chocolate and Pecan Brownies recipe

I was invited on to Carmela Hayes' spot on BBC Radio Northampton's Kitchen Garden this morning. We planned to talk cakes (obviously) but healthier options and baking from home  instead of the additive laden cakes available at supermarkets and even some bakeries. Now I don't often bake low fat (unless requested) as I think a little of what you fancy is fine in moderation. Besides, sometimes you find the 'healthier' options are often high in sugar or artificial sweeteners anyway, and personally, I'd rather just eat the real thing!!

Off I went searching the internet for a recipe I could tweak to my tastes but still remaining  virtually fat-free. These brownies sounded fairly simple and the picture looked great, really fudgey, just how I like them. In reality, the taste was good but I found the texture a little too cake-like so I think a few less minutes in the oven and they would have been just right.... I'll definitely try these again to see how they turn out.

Virtually fat-free Chocolate and Pecan Brownies
Prep time: 15 Mins 
Cook time: 25 Mins 
Makes: One 8x8 inch pan (16 squares)
3/4 cup Plain Flour
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder (I prefer Green and Blacks)
1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans (or any other nuts optional)
1/2 cup good quality dark Chocolate Chips
1 cup Plain Yogurt (I used low fat but you can use fat free)
1/2 cup Water
1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch square pan and line it with foil or baking paper, leaving some extra hanging around the edges so that it is easy to lift the brownie.
2. In a large microwave bowl melt the chocolate chips. It took about 45 seconds for the chocolate to melt. Do not set the time all at once, melt it in increments of 15-20 seconds because the cooking time in microwave ovens differ from one to another.
Use a whisk to stir the melted chocolate to see that its smooth. Let this stand for a minute or two.
3. To the melted chocolate add the yogurt and sugar; mix until combined.
4. Sift flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and nuts (if using) and stir until just combined.
5. To this mixture add water and stir carefully until the batter comes together. This batter looked more like a cake batter.
6. Bake the brownies between 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist cake crumbs on... to retain the fudgey texture you don't want a clean toothpick!
7. Remove the pan from the oven and leave it on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes carefully lift the foil/paper and let the brownies cool completely before you can cut it. If you don't use the foil/paper the cooling time will be much longer.
Recipe adapted from here.

I also took along some browned butter, salted, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.... totally NOT fat-free and totally yummy.... recipe here.

Happy baking

Julie xx

Browned butter, salted, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie recipe

Oh yes!!!

These are every bit as good as they sound.... Infact, I'm eating one right now as I type and it's 10.46pm!!

I can't quite remember how I stumbled across this recipe now but I'm soooo glad I did. A relatively easy recipe, even if it wasn't I'd still make them as they're just sublime!

Browned butter, salted, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie recipe
Makes 12-24 cookies, depending on size
(I made golf ball size cookie dough balls and yielded 20)

  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt + more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, room temperature (I used Skippy super chunk but you can use smooth if preferred)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 
  •  In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter and whisk constantly as it foams and then eventually little brown bits form (this should take around 5 minutes). Immediately remove from heat and pour into a mixer bowl (which I already had the peanut butter in). Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the browned butter and peanut butter together.
  • Beat the sugars into the butters until fully incorporated.
  • Then, beat in the egg, vanilla, and yogurt.
  • Slowly, on low speed, add the dry ingredients into the rest.
  • Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Allow to chill 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350/175 degrees.
  • Scoop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets (or ones lined with parchment paper), leaving plenty of space in between as the cookies will spread. Using a fork, lightly press onto the top of each cookie in a criss-cross pattern. Generously sprinkle the tops of the dough with sea/kosher salt.
  • Bake 7-10 minutes, until the cookies have spread somewhat and the edges begin to crisp up-the middles should still look underdone. You do not want to over-bake!
  • Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
Happily borrowed from The Cooking Actress and not amended in any way as they're perfect just as they are!!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Seeing out 2012 in a wedding way....

Firstly, I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas holidays xx

I probably had my busiest 'wedding week' of the year with 3 cupcake towers in six days between 23rd and 29th December...

The beautiful Hothorpe Hall situated on the border of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire saw the wedding of Rachel and Jonathan

Hothorpe Hall

A simple white tower with white filigree cupcake wrappers
(unfortunately didn't get pics with the fresh flowers on top)

These wedding reception cupcakes with a snowflake theme were made for Michelle & Colin who married the week before in beautiful, sunny Mauritius!

And to end 2012, my favourite tower of the year at Crockwell Farm in Northamptonshire.... 

...the addition of ivy from the brides garden which she used in the table displays too.

This wedding was earlier in December at Dodmoor House... 

but I thought most definitely worth a mention as my most eclectic wedding to date....  

What a nice way to end the year, don't you agree...?
And so to 2013 with another cake filled year.

Happy baking
Julie xx