Blackberry and almond brownies

Blackberry and almond brownies

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These brownies are literally the best brownies I have ever eaten. They are dense, chocolatey and squidgy, but with a sharp hit from the blackberry layer and a crunch from the almonds. They are a perfect dessert brownie: ideal served warm with a scoop of icecream and some fresh blackberries, but would not survive so well in a lunchbox…! The only slightly annoying thing about these brownies is that you have to wait at least, AT LEAST 30 minutes before cutting them up and diving in, otherwise they really don’t hold their shape. But that is the only annoying thing… apart from that they are absolute heaven!

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Blackberry and almond brownies

For the brownies:

  • 4 eggs
  • 240g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 240g salted butter
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 60g plain flour
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g toasted almonds, chopped

For the blackberry layer:

  • 150g blackberries
  • 30g caster sugar

30 x 20cm brownie tin

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. Make the blackberry layer by putting the blackberries and sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heating until the sugar is dissolved, the cook until the blackberries are soft, but not mushy.
  2. For the brownies, first brown the butter by melting it in a saucepan, and then continuing to heat it until it bubbles and turns a golden brown colour, with a nutty smell.
  3. Put the sugar and chocolate in a large bowl and pour the butter over, then stir until everything has melted.
  4. Beat in the eggs, then sift over the flours and cocoa powder and stir together.
  5. Stir in the almonds and chopped chocolate until they are well dispersed.
  6. Spoon half the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Spoon over the blackberry mixture, then top with the rest of the brownie mix and smooth the top.
  7. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes, until they still have a bit of a wobble in the centre, but have a bit of a crust.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for AT LEAST half an hour, then eat!

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Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

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It always seems to be the case that we’re on holiday for biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. However, I’m not one to let a small matter such as a foreign country, untranslatable ingredients and a lack of recognisable baking equipment stop me from baking along! Last year we were in Jersey (admittedly much easier to find ingredients!) when I made these (https://elliespinkcakes.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/lemon-and-white-chocolate-biscuits/) lemon and white chocolate biscuits, and this year, in Croatia, I attempted biscotti.

I had already baked these and was sitting down to watch when Paul said that his (and Mary’s!) choice of biscotti recipe would involve hazelnuts, cranberries and dark chocolate…. the very combination I had chosen for mine! These biscotti really did have all the odds stacked against them: I was baking in 36 degree heat, with a very temperamental oven, no scales, and something I bought from the supermarket assuming it was plain flour…. in hindsight though, I’m really not sure it was! However, they actually turned out pretty well, they would definitely pass Paul’s ‘snap’ test, although admittedly do have a better texture once dunked in coffee!

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Mince Pies

Mince Pies

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Welcome to Day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

Mince pies are a Christmas essential, and these are really simple to make. They are perfect to make for Christmas gatherings, and are easy for children to get involved with!

You can vary the additions to the mincemeat – I also like using orange zest and chocolate chips, or you can add other dried fruits like cherries and apricots. You can also use different toppings, I like to use a brown sugar meringue, or a simple crumble mixture as an alternative to pastry.

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Rocky Road

Rocky Road

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Welcome to Day 3 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These rocky road are the perfect Christmas gift, as they can be cut into neat little squares, which, when packaged in little paper bags with ribbon and labels look really cute. They would be great to give to teachers, relatives, or chocolate loving friends!

A couple of my friends (who shall remain nameless!) hate it when I put raisins in my rocky road, as they are ‘too healthy'(!), so for them I have made a plain version, simply with biscuits and marshmallows. I’ve also put the ingredients for a Christmassy version, with orange zest and ‘healthy’ dried cranberries.

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Orange Hot chocolate

Orange Hot chocolate

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Welcome to Day 3 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

This hot chocolate is the perfect indulgent Christmas treat, and is the only thing to drink after a frosty winter walk. It is also a great way to use up those chocolate oranges which you might have hanging around at this time of year…!

You can scale it up to make as much as you want, just multiply the recipe by how many hearts you are warming (or people you are feeding)!

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Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

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Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These cookies are really quick to make, perfect for baking when unexpected visitors pop in! They’re best eaten straight from the oven, while the chocolate is still melted. They work really well with cranberries and dark chocolate, but you can use whatever chocolate you have in the cupboard. Orange zest also works really well in place of the cinnamon.

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Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs

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Last week was pastry week on the Bake Off, and saw the bakers making savoury parcels, a very odd technical (sensing a theme here!) of Kouign Amman, and show stopper eclairs. I though all the bakers did really well, they’re all so good now I don’t know who’s going to leave each week! Chetna’s eclairs looked amazing, and I absolutely loved Richard’s ‘éclair stair’, I thought it was inspired and was a great way to present his eclairs.

As my friend and I were having a baking day anyway, we decided to challenge ourselves and make eclairs! I have made eclairs once before, a long time ago, and although they’re similar to profiteroles, which I made for my baby croquembouche, they’re a French staple which I wanted to have another go at. I was actually surprised by how easy they were to make – apart from a bit of arm work to whisk the eggs in (or use an electric whisk!) they were really simple, and came out looking great. In hindsight, and after watching Bake Off, I think I piped the pastry while it was a bit too warm, as some of the eclairs spread out a bit too much.

Also last week I was Star Baker in the #GreatBloggersBakeOff – so Thankyou Jenny, that was such a lovely surprise!

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Chocolate Eclairs

For the choux pastry:

  • 75g chopped butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 15g cornflour
  • 15g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 250ml double cream

For the topping:

  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50ml double cream

2 baking sheets lined with baking paper

25cm bundt tin, greased and dusted with flour

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. To make the filling, heat the milk and vanilla to boiling point. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, then stir in the cornflour. Pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture and whisk until smooth. Return to the pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until thick.
  2. Put the thick custard into a clean bowl cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool completely.
  3. To make the pastry, heat the butter, water and salt over a gentle heat until the butter melts. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth, glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Allow to cool for a few mins, then gradually add the eggs, mixing well with an electric whisk between each addition.
  5. Spoon the pastry mix into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle. Pipe 14 buns, about 8 cm long and 2cm wide, leaving space for expanding between each one.
  6. Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and doubled in size, then put on a cooling rack to cool.
  7. While the elcairs are cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the crème patissiere mix. Then melt the chocolate and cream together until you have a shiny sauce.
  8. To assemble the eclairs, cut them in half lengthways and either spoon or pipe in the cream and custard mixture. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top of each eclair and leave to set before serving.

This post is entered in week 6 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.