Bounty Bars

I didn’t buy Mr SmartCookieSam an Easter Egg. Then again he didn’t buy me one. Not that I was bothered anyway. He told us not to buy him an egg a few weeks back as he didn’t need one. So I really hope he was joking yesterday morning when I put out the eggs and Easter treats I had bought for my two children.

I thought, well I didn’t buy him an Easter Egg so I’ll make him something else he likes. Last week I treated myself to Sarah Rainey’s new book Three Ingredient Baking. It’s a great book and has loads of recipes in there I’d love to try out. One recipe was for home made Bounty Bars. Now Mr SmartCookieSam loves Bounty Bars and if he ever fills up with diesel and fancies a bar of chocolate he always gets a Bounty Bar. I must admit I like them too.

The three ingredients in the homemade Bounty Bars were a tin of condensed milk, a whole 200g packet of dessicated coconut and 300g of dark chocolate.

I tipped the dessicated coconut into a bowl, then poured the tin of condensed milk over the top of it.

The condensed milk and the dessicated coconut were mixed together to make the creamy filling of the Bounty Bars. Then I put some cling film over the top of the bowl and put it into the fridge to harden up for a while. In Sarah Rainey’s recipe she says to chill them for 2 hours. I chilled them for about two and a half hours but I still thought the filling was a bit too soft and squishy. Maybe I should have tried the freezer instead?

After the chilling time I laid out some cling film on my work top and worked the coconut mixture into a large slab. This helped me to cut them into bars. I couldn’t get them into neat bars all the same size.

Definitely not neat and pristine but I hoped that a bit longer in the fridge being hardened in the bar shape would help them to be easier to work with. The bars were meant to stay in the fridge for another hour which I did. Unfortunately, an hour didn’t seem long enough and my fridge was working at the right temperature. I reckon I should have put them in the freezer.

Meanwhile, I melted 250g out of the 300g plain chocolate I had. I had to use two different types of dark chocolate but they were high in cocoa solids. Unlike real Bounty Bars, then! I used 200g of Morrisons The Best dark chocolate and then the rest of the chocolate was from a bar of Dr Oetker 72% cocoa solids dark cooking chocolate. It melts really well and I use it for many things.

The coconut bars were still very squishy and if I had had more time I would have put them in the freezer before adding the melted chocolate. I need one of those coating forks like chocolatiers have but instead I tried to use a normal fork and a teaspoon. This didn’t work! The coated bars went into the fridge to set as I melted the remaining 50g of dark chocolate. This was then decanted into a small piping bag with the end snipped off so I could drizzle the rest of the chocolate over the bars.

Be warned, this recipe is quite fiddly! I got into a big mess, especially when coating the bars with the melted chocolate and had to wash my hands several times in between. It didn’t help that I had the mother of all hot flushes as I was in the middle of this. Bad timing, or what?

When I put the bars in the fridge to set for the final time, my daughter came into the kitchen to start cooking the dinner for us. She burst out laughing and said they looked like giant dog turds! She was right, they did!

After we’d had our dinner which was actually a non-traditional Easter dinner made by my daughter of her special toad in the hole, I brought out the Bounty Bars (aka dog turds) to show Mr SmartCookieSam. The beauty of these is that my kids don’t like coconut so they won’t be pinching their dad’s chocolate. Despite their messy appearance they actually tasted delicious.

Will I make them again? I might, I might not. Time will tell.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Praline Brownies

There’s nothing like a great big gorgeous gooey chocolate brownie.  Just pure decadence.  I was off work for three days last week due to the snow and by last Friday afternoon I had cabin fever.  Now if you’re a baking addict like me you begin to think of what you can bake, never mind cooking the tea.  I was thinking I might have to get my breadmaker out but thankfully we had enough to keep us going.

A couple of weeks back I bought Martha Collison’s second recipe book “Crave” and ended up craving things after looking through the recipes.  One of her recipes for Pecan Praline Brownies including some homemade pecan praline to add to the mixture.

I had a packet of Vahine Pralines Concassees which I had bought from a Carrefour Supermarket when on holiday in France last year.  I didn’t know what I would use them for until I saw the recipe for the Praline Brownies.  Instead of making the praline with pecans, I would substitute the packet of pralines.  The pretty pink colour contrasted well against the rich, dark brown colour of the brownies.

What I also loved about this brownie recipe was that it used real, dark chocolate in the mixture and not just cocoa powder.  I also chose to bake mine in a square tin, rather than a traybake tin so I would get deeper pieces.

Instead of melting the dark chocolate separately, the recipe asks you to melt butter and sufar together on the hob.  Then, once this is melted then you add in the chocolate pieces using the heat of the melted mixture to melt the chocolate.

When the mixture had cooled, I added in beaten eggs, flour and cocoa powder and then finally tossed in the pralines.  Then it was poured into the prepared tin and ready to bake in the oven for between 25-30 minutes.

When the brownies were baked, they were taken out of the oven and left to cool.  I always worry about overcooking brownies as they are meant to be fudgy and chewy, not like a cake.

As not to tempt me to scoff them, I cut up the brownies and put them straight into a plastic box to go in the freezer.  I knew if they were frozen, I’d not be able to eat them all up. I did love the way the brownies turned out, though.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf

It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event.  I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently.  The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake.  I love taking part in them and I baked a cake.  But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.

The  event write up is featured on the Clandestine Cake Club website and the link is here  Magazines, Leaflets and Booklets 

The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes.  I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake.  Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!

There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf.  All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well.  Bound to be a hit!

Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones.  Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.

Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.

Ingredients:

200g softened butter

140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *

140g plain flour

200g golden caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts

200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.

2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.

  • First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.  I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
  • Now to deal with the cherries.  If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first.  Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out.  If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off.  Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again.  Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.  When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
  • Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate.  Then add in the cherries.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
  • When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
  • Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
  • Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.

Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake.  I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle.  So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour.  Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture.  Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though.  I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.

I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine.  It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate.  Cherries and chocolate work so well together.  I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it.  The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pecan Shorties From The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking.

Back in August I was excited when the brand new Great British Bake Off book to accompany series 5 came out: The Great British Book Of Baking.  Being at home for the summer holidays off work from my teaching assisting and teaching I have more time to bake and enjoy my obsession.  Biscuits and cookies are my absolute favourites to bake but unfortunately they don’t do much good for my figure though.  I couldn’t resist creating these little lovelies though.

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My copy of the latest Great British Bake Off book. Well worth buying, I love it!
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Pecan Shorties. Recipe is on page 14 of the book.

In the Biscuits and Traybakes chapter of the book there is a wonderful recipe for Pecan Shorties.  As I love shortbread biscuits, pecans and plain chocolate, this combination sounded wonderful.  I just HAD to try these out!

The weather was cold and rainy, the kids were up in their rooms doing what teenagers do so I set to in my kitchen to try and create something magic.  First things first was to chop and lightly toast the pecan nuts.

Once this was done I creamed butter and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  The icing sugar instead of caster sugar gives it a lovely crumbly but short texture.  After that I added in some vanilla extract then some plain flour until it was mixed into a dough.  The pecans were folded into the dough last of all.

The dough was then carefully divided into twenty pieces.  Each piece was then rolled into a ball and placed well apart on a lined baking sheet.  The cookies were flattened slightly and then baked in the oven for roughly between 12-15 minutes.  I kept a close eye on the oven- nothing worse than burnt cookies!

Once the finished cookies were out of the oven I let them cool on my wire rack and then melted some chocolate to dip the shortbreads into.  I used a bar of dark chocolate which was about 70% cocoa solids (Green and Blacks). I then let the chocolate set on the cookies before telling my kids there were cookies around!

I’m ashamed to say I pigged out on these beauties.  I couldn’t stop at one and they were delicious.  I’d love to try them again but this time using chopped stem ginger instead of pecan nuts.  Or white chocolate would be a great variation!

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The finished Pecan Shorties setting on a wire rack in my kitchen.
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A mid afternoon treat for myself and my two kids.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Cookie Dough Brownies- John Whaite Bakes At Home.

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Cookie Dough Brownies- another example of heaven on a plate!

My family are obsessed with brownies and who can blame them?  It’s just heaven to sink your teeth into some chocolatey gooiness.  My fourteen year old son loves any excuse to bake or eat brownies and had he not been at school when I baked them, I’m sure he would have been in the kitchen with me hovering around to lick the bowl out!

So,  last Friday when I planned to bake John Whaite’s Cookie Dough Brownies from his latest book John Whaite Bakes At Home, I knew I would be popular.

  I realised l I couldn’t bake the brownies straightaway as  I’d forgotten to buy plain chocolate!  So off I went to the shop, came back with what they had to offer plain chocolate wise (Bournville) and got ready to start.  It wasn’t a quick recipe to knock up but it was worth it!

So, once I was ready to get down to baking I started on the cookie dough part of the recipe. I then realised this was going to take much longer than I thought as the cookie dough has to be frozen in little balls first before you get round to making the brownie batter.  Thankfully I didn’t have a deadline for baking them or I would have been in trouble.

The cookie dough was quickly made up using a rubbing in and getting the dough together method then I separated the dough out into about 16 walnut sized balls.  These were then put in my freezer (easier said than done, my freezer is tiny!) on a lined baking tray.  I had to move everything about to fit the two small trays in.  I yearn for one of those massive American fridge freezers sometimes that fits more than a bag of peas or a pint of milk in.

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The cookie dough balls put onto the lined baking tray and ready for the freezer.

After a couple of hours in the freezer it was early afternoon and I wanted to get on with the brownies before my son came home from school.  I got on with making up the brownie batter.  Usually my brownies are made with Green and Blacks Organic plain chocolate but I couldn’t find any in the local shop so I had to use Bournville.  I like Bournville, though I know some chocolate snobs would be horrified to hear me say that!

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The chocolate and butter were melted gently in the microwave.
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To this I added in two free range eggs..
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and then some mayonnaise! Yes, you read right, mayonnaise! Well I know it sounds an odd ingredient for a cake but then again it does contain eggs and oil!
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Now for some milk and some vanilla extract along with some sugar.
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Finally, I folded in some plain flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Just look at that, yum, yum!

Out came the cookie dough balls which had frozen well and these were then put in the bottom of my greased square tin. I spaced them well apart, thinking that there would be about 12-16 pieces of brownie, so you would get at least one large cookie dough ball in it!

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Cookie dough balls in the greased tin.
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The brownie batter was then carefully poured all over the top of the cookie dough balls.

The brownies baked in the oven for about 25 minutes and the kitchen smelled wonderful.  I had been so careful eating healthily so far this week but the brownies would soon be my downfall.  I hoped I could hide them so that I wouldn’t be tempted.

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Cut up on a plate to share round the following day. Just how I like brownies, all fudgy and gooey inside with the cookie dough flavour and texture complimenting the brownies.
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It was very difficult to see the cookie dough in the cut pieces in the photo as they were inside the pieces of brownie. But believe me they were there and they were just sublime.

When my son came home he begged to have a brownie there and then.  He wasn’t very happy when I said no but he could have one for tea.  He kept trying to wheedle one out of me but I was having none of it.  Finally we ate one for pudding, I succumbed to the temptation and it was wonderful.  The other pieces went in the freezer for another time.

Well John Whaite, you have created a winning recipe with these brownies and I am sure my family would love me all the more if I made them again and again, thankyou so much!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx