Strawberry Brownies!!

In a galaxy far far away… Well, not that far away and not in another galaxy I made chocolate orange brownies. Ever since I have been thinking of all the different flavor of brownies I could make.

It’s really where my obsession with brownies comes from. At one point in my blogging career I thought I would make it my sole mission to find the best brownie recipe ever! I called it {brownie quest}!

I know how clever I am, you don’t have to tell me.

Needless to say that the sheer amount of brownie recipes was just too much for me to handle and really all of them were a bit more or less of this or that. So, I found one that I liked and I adapt it to my specific tastes and cravings.

That is how I decided I wanted to make Strawberry Brownies. The decision was made even easier when I discovered Thornton’s Strawberry Milk Chocolate Block.

They turned out exactly how I wanted them too. I added a bit of strawberry flavoring just to accent the flavor a bit. Although I'm not convinced it needed it so that's why I listed it as optional. Enjoy!!

Strawberry Brownies:

185g unsalted butter
185g Thornton’s Strawberry Milk Block (2 ½ blocks)
85g plain flour
40g pure cocoa powder
50g white chocolate chunks
50g dark chocolate chips
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar
75g dried strawberries
½ tsp strawberry flavoring (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven 170C/325F/gas mark 3
  2. Grease a brownie pan or regular square tin (22cm/81/2in) with butter or line with baking paper, be sure to lightly grease the paper.
  3. Cut the butter into cubes and melt with the strawberry chocolate. Use your preferred method. Easiest way is to melt it is in a non-stick pot and watch it like a hawk. Set aside to cool.
  4. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and set aside.
  5. Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and smooth. It should be pale and doubled in size. Mix in strawberry flavoring if using. 
  6. Poor the cooled chocolate mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold in. Add the flour/cocoa mixture and fold in. Last but not least stir in the chocolate chips/chunks/buttons and dried strawberries. I also chopped up the leftover half of the Strawberry Milk Block and added it in as well.
  7. Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 25 minutes. You can tell they are done when the top is cracked and crunchy but the middle is fudgy.
  8. Leave in tin until completely cooled. Then cut ‘em up!

notes: Please just let me believe I'm clever! ;0); {brownie quest}; Thornton’s --they have a lovely range of blocks/bars that would make interesting and yummy additions to these brownies. The chocolate blocks were provided for me, please see contact/policy tab above for more information. Also check out the Chocolate Orange Brownies I made in a galaxy far far away. 

Let the sun in. {Twinnings Tea review}

Before I moved to England I was never really into hot drinks. The colder the better in my opinion! However after half a decade in the UK I have warmed to hot drinks. Pun intended.

I was given an opportunity to taste 3 fruity flavors of Twinnings Tea: Orange Crush, Apple Crunch, and Blackcurrant Burst!

"Let the sun in. Prepare for a burst of juicy sweetness" 

is what the side of the Orange Crush box promises. It's pretty close! It was the most refreshing of the 3 hot or cold. The day I was taste testing was a bit warm so after drinking a hot cup, I took the advice of the back of the box and made a chilled drink. Which my eldest daughter drank down when I wasn't looking!

All you do is make the cup of tea let it cool down. Then add it to a tall glass with ice and top up with lemonade, Lilt, or some other citrus soda and enjoy! 

"Mellow - Sweet apples ripe and ready for drinking" 

This was the least authentic tasting, it was good and it tasted like apples, but it reminded me of a candy/sweet flavor not a true apple. But I suppose apple flavor would be hard to replicate. Was a refreshing cup of tea none the less!

"Mmmm... the sweet tang of plump blackcurrants is just moments away" 

Blackcurrant isn't my favorite flavor, mainly because it always catches me out when I'm eating Skittles. They are not grape like they are in the USA! However the tea was light and refreshing and perfect for this gorgeous summer we are having! 

I tried this chilled as well! Instead of using lemonade or another citrus drink I used cranberry juice. It was good!

I gave a few tea bags to Mr Knightley to take to work for some of them to try too and his lovely co-worker Michelle tried them and rated them Orange, Blackcurrant, Apple. We were both on agreement that the orange was the best! She was also the one to put into words why I didn't fancy the apple one as much, which was the reason I stated above.

When it's warm out the last thing we need is are thinking of is a hot milky drink sometimes a nice fruity tea is what is needed! Twinnings have a whole range and most of them are only 4 calories so perfect for those who are watching that part of their life! 

notes: I was provided these teas for tasting. Please see the contact/policy page for further information. 

Mud Pie {shout out to corn bread muffins}

The other night my good friend, Kristy, invited the family around for dinner. She spent several years in America and like me misses some classic dishes. She made us BBQ pulled pork with homemade baked beans and a broccoli and bacon salad. I of course provided the dessert and I brought along the corn bread muffins.

I always volunteer for the baking or desserts when having dinner at friends! I will continue to do us until they tell me no! Then I’ll probably just provide chips and dips, I’m an average cook you see and I wouldn't want any pressure. O_o

Savory recipes never get a lot of attention here on my blog, so if you really want the recipe for these corn bread muffins you need to check out Baked in America by the David’s from Outsider Tart. They are the best corn bread/muffins I have ever made. 

Mississippi Mud Pie has many variations so in some ways it’s a very easy pie to play with. I’ve seen them with or with out nuts, coffee or with out coffee. I choose a recipe without coffee and then decided to top it with marshmallows and pecans.

Chocolate shortcrust pastry:

200g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, chopped and cold
3 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla

Sift the flour, cocoa, and sugar together and gently rub together until it looks like bread crumbs.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla into the center of the breadcrumbs and gently bring it together using you’re hands. Gently place it on a floured work surface and form into a ball. Touching it as little as possible, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Roll out the chilled pastry on the clingfilm it was chilling in to fit a greased, 10in (25cm) deep tart tin. * Gently roll it onto the rolling pin and roll out onto the tart tin. Press the pastry gently into the tin. Roll the rolling pin over the top to trim off any excess pastry. Remove the clingfilm then prick with a fork and chill in the fridge for about 15 mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line the pastry with a grease proof baking sheet and place baking beans on top or dried beans. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. The base should be dry. If it’s not give it a few more minutes.

Mud Pie

200g dark chocolate, broken up
175g butter, softened
350g dark muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
4 tbsp cocoa powder
400ml double cream

Bring the temperature of the oven down to 160C.

Melt the chocolate in you’re preferred method. If you are confident with it in the microwave or in a small sauce pan by all means do so. If not it’s safest to place a heat proof bowl over a simmering pot of water. Once melted set aside to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar together until lighter in color and fluffy. Gradually beat in one egg at a time, the slower the better to prevent curdling. Fold in sifted cocoa powder and cooled melted chocolate. Lastly stir in the double cream.

Pour into the cooked pastry and bake for about 45-50 minutes. ** or until set. Leave to cool completely before refrigerating.

to finish:

500ml whipped cream
3tsp vanilla sugar
choice of toppings: pecans and marshmallows, chocolate sprinkles etc…

About an hour before serving, whip up the cream with the vanilla sugar to soft peaks (I always end up over whipping now with my KitchenAid as I walk away…oops!) Pile on top however you want and decorate with you’re chosen toppings.

notes: Please let me know if you’d like to see more savory recipes, but until the people speak I will keep it sweet!
* I don’t have a deep tart tin nor do I have a 10in one, so I made it in a 9in and regular tart tin. If you have a loose bottom one use that because it’s really hard to get out of a regular old tart tin; although, if you’re traveling, then a non-loose bottom tin would be ideal. I did have leftover pastry and filling. Both are sitting in my fridge as I write this thinking I might make a few mini tarts later.
**Since my tin wasn’t as big it took exactly 45 minutes.
This pie is adapted from Tart it Up! By Eric Lanlard 

innocent inspires: a guide to good taste

Wednesday night I had a great opportunity to attend the innocent inspires event in London. I should first thank Kelly from AmericanCupcake in London for giving away tickets and I was a lucky winner!

It was the fourth event in a series of 5 and Wednesday’s event focused on taste. When we arrived we where immediately provided with innocent drinks. Sticking close to Kelly we grabbed a seat as close to the front as we could. While we waited for the event to start The Dip Society sent around some veggies and some of their dips.

There were 5 speakers:

Florence Knight (head chef at Popetto) talked to us about food trends and how she’s not into trends, but providing fresh in season food. Her peppered ice cream with caramel and peaches was probably the best thing of the night! It was very interesting, but gorgeous.

Ms Marmite Lover (underground supper club queen) was absolutely hilarious! With an openly honest approach to hosting she stole the night in my opinion. The marmite bloody mary was not refreshing in anyway, but the toast was good!

Bompas and Parr (jellymongers extraordinaire) “Bring out the Jelly!!” The jelly that I got to try was good. I was a little disappointed on how it was served. There were a good handful of flavors but we only had 2 different jellies get passed down our table. But he did a great job at putting on a show! I never knew the amount of things you could do with jelly!

Emilie Baltz (transatlantic food designer) arrived from America that night and led us on an exploration of taste using a fig and a small piece of vanilla pod. First we took a bite of the fig and then took a bite with earplugs. The last bite was with earplugs and the scent of vanilla. Proof that more then one of our senses are being used when we eat.

Ollie Dabbous (chef-owner of the game changing Dabbous) bless him I think he was a bit nervous. But he had a lot of great information on what it takes to open and run your own business. At the end of the day it’s about the food and attitude.

didn't stick around for the Q&A as I had a train to catch, but I did grab a Graze box on my way out! You learn something every day and on Wednesday I learned a lot of new things! It was a good night and it was nice to meet fellow bloggers! 

Highland Bakery Tour!

I sometimes wonder how I can call myself a food blogger when I cannot manage to take a picture of all the stuff I eat – especially the sweet stuff. I mean realistically no one would want to see my breakfast, lunch, and dinner including all snacks and drinks although, such a project might make an interesting artistic project?

Looking through my photographs, of my recent stay in Scotland, I didn’t take pictures of half of the things we did, but like a million of one day. Talk about over compensation. Needless to say after all this pointless reflection is that I didn’t get a picture of all the bakery’s and treats I tried. Sorry about that. But here is a quick overview of where I went and what I had.

dream ring: pretty tasty fresh cream in a light airy pastry

not sure what this was called, but it was a bad dry meringue thing

mini Victoria sponge: was delicious light fluffy cake with fresh cream & jam

Something Sweet:

Irn Bru icream!! What!?
And some blue stuff that was nothing to shout about.

I had this perfect genormas meringue with a cup of chai tea.

The Cromarty Bakery:

Yummy coconut tart. Perfect after the lobster I had for lunch! ;0) 

Sweet Treats:
sorry for the poor lighting, but it was more Irn Bru ice cream
better then the one above

Irn Bru fudge: so sweet you can only eat a little at a time

Deas Bakery:

lammington: yum! I also tried a raspberry tart and a ginger and toffee tart
no pics though they were all very good

Lastly I got to try Arbroth Smokies at the Highland Games! Delicious and a good time at the games!

notes: (to self) attempt a picture food log, first see if I can keep it up and second if it gets a following. All bakery/sweet shop names are linked! PS The Cromarty Bakery is hiring!! ;0) I have a few things I want to try to make that has been inspired by my visit to the Highlands. If you haven't already seen them I did make some Cranachan Cupcakes that are inspired by a traditional Scottish dessert. 

Cranachan Cupcakes!!

If you follow me on twitter or Facebook you will know why it's been so quiet on my blog lately, I am visiting my in-laws in Scotland. They live just outside of Inverness and the girls and I have been having a great time! Tomorrow we take the long journey home!

I have visited a few bakeries and have tried different food and I even managed to bake these cupcakes inspired by the traditional Scottish dessert Cranachan.

Unless you have been to Scotland or have a tie to it in other ways you may not know what Cranachan is. Today it is generally made with whipped cream, whiskey, honey (heather honey, preferably), and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little whiskey. Put together a bit like an ice cream sundae or Eton Mess.

decided to make it into a cupcake by making honey oat cupcakes topped with a layer of raspberry jam, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. If they weren't for my girls I would have added a little whiskey to the whipped cream. Or maybe even soaked the oats in a little whiskey before making them. These were inspired by Cranachan ice cream I tried at a sweet shop.

Cranachan Cupcakes:

100g porridge oats
100g self-rising flour
45g dark brown muscovado sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 medium egg
160ml milk
80ml vegetable oil
60ml honey

If you aren't using cupcake/muffin liners: lightly grease the muffin tin with a little extra oil, dust with flour and tap 
out extra flour. Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Mix the dry ingredients (oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl gently whisk the wet ingredients (egg, milk, oil, and honey) together.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture and gently fold together until just combined.

Spoon into prepared tin 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes turning the tin around half way through.

to finish:

Mackays Raspberry Preserves
300ml whipped cream + 1tbsp of caster sugar
1-2 tbsp of whiskey (optional)
6-12 fresh raspberries
pink sparkly sprinkles (optional)

Whip the cream with caster sugar and whiskey (if using). Spread a layer of jam on each of the cupcakes and pipe the whipped cream on top. Just put in a plastic bag and snip a corner off. Top with 1-2 raspberries and sprinkles (if using). Done!

notes: These cupcakes are my entry for Cupcake Creative Competition. #bakingwithMackays; Mackays Raspberry preserve; Cranachan; visit Scotland