Category Archives: Brownies

Menu for an Afternoon Tea (#TeaandCakeTuesday)

Three Cakes and Afternoon Tea (0233)

It’s a public holiday here in Malta and I just had a day and a half. This week we are having some work done at the house and we needed to get ourselves prepared. Things needed to be stored and placed out of the way – I’m dreading the dirt and dust that will undoubtedly be going around in the air during the next few days but I keep telling myself that it will pass. In the meantime I am bracing myself. Now on to the more enjoyable stuff…

I know that you will forgive me for revisiting some recipes with you this evening. The photos you are seeing in this post were taken during a get together in the form of an afternoon tea at our place a few months ago – on the 29th June to be exact (another public holiday coincidentally. I’m not doing this on purpose. Promise.) J’s uncle, aunt and cousins came over for a visit from the land of Oz for a few months and instead of worrying about preparing dinner, the idea of tea and coffee plus a few goodies seemed appealing. I never had people over for afternoon tea, so this was a first.

Continue reading Menu for an Afternoon Tea (#TeaandCakeTuesday)

A Christmas Treat: The Easiest Chocolate Brownies

The Easiest Chocolate Brownies (9969)

After much deliberation I’ve decided that the last recipe for 2014 will be one of the best I’ve tried this year. When I say the best I mean it in every sense of the word, including the easiest. I make this recipe again and again and it turns out good every time without fail. I also like to make it when I’m in a rush, or before I head off to someone’s house for lunch or dinner. Or when celebrating 4 years of C&T! Time flies, but I’m stating the obvious there.

Continue reading A Christmas Treat: The Easiest Chocolate Brownies

Chilli Brownies

Chilli Brownies (8225)Today is Market day in Guildford. I’m not feeling too well so I decided to stay in, but that means I can show you what I brought home with me last month, which in turn inspired something I baked a few weeks ago. By coincidence, or call it what you want, I was thrown in a very entertaining Twitter conversation involving lots of people, including the lovely Signe, a.k.a. Scandilicious. Topic: Brownies. As you may know, Signe is one of my very favourite food writers. What I didn’t know is how seriously she takes brownies. Seriousness/passion scale 1 to 10 = 20. I say this in the most affectionate way, mind you. Why? Because she’s on to something. Brownies have the tendency to be way too sweet, too fudgy, too bitter, too chewy, not too chewy, too bland and too everything. To be honest brownies aren’t one of my first picks when choosing something from the coffee shop or bakery. I prefer a good muffin, though homemade ones are the best. Somehow the ones found in shops, tend to be really dry. The ones you can get in coffee shop chains I mean. But I digress.

Chilli Brownies (8215)Having said that I love making brownies at home – they are foolproof, easy, quick to assemble and therefore there’s no fuss. These are qualities that appeal to me in the kitchen. I cannot count the times I decided against baking something because of all the faff. I tend to be lazy in that way, yes, but when I’m tired the last thing I want to bake is a croquembouche. Let’s leave that to the pros, shall we?

Chilli Brownies (8219)This recipe is Signe’s, from Scandilicious Baking of course. They are seriously ooppss rich. And just for kicks I added dried chilli on top. The taste of these will take some time to develop so don’t expect to taste the full-blown effect instantly. But you will get the chilli hit by day 3. If you keep them in a cool place tightly sealed in a container, and wrapped in their own parchment paper, they will stay fresh. Mine kept for a whole week, and here I must say thankfully! Take your time with them.

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 175g chocolate hazelnut spread (in other words, Nutella!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon or whereabouts of dried chilli flakes, for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/130ºC convection/Gas mark 2. Grease and line with parchment paper a 20 x 20 cm square tin. Cut the parchment bigger that needed so that you have a steady hold at the sides when lifting the finished brownies. It takes a bit of extra work but well worth it I promise you.

Put the butter in a small pan and melt. Add the cocoa powder and hazelnut spread and give everything a proper mix. Set the mixture aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, break the eggs, give them a light whisk, then add the caster sugar and whisk again. Take the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and pour it in the bowl. Now add the plain flour, vanilla extract and salt. Mix everything until the all the ingredients are combined. You will now have a dark, gooey brownie mixture.

Tip the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the dried chilli flakes on top. Bake for around 22 minutes. Around the 20 minute mark, insert a skewer in the middle. If you see some uncooked mixture on it, then take the brownies out of the oven. They will continue cooking in the tin, so please don’t overbake them. If the skewer comes out clean, you probably left them in the oven for too long.

Cool the brownies before cutting them into squares.

Chilli Brownies (8222)Chilli Brownies (8232)I told Signe they reminded me of American brownies. They are so different from the ones you get in the UK, which unfortunately tend to lack character. So I have to say this recipe wins hands down. So thanks Sig! And I look forward to seeing what you come up with next. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, Saltyard Books, 2012.)

May I add some pics of those bought at the Market? Here they are…

Brownies from the Market (8203)

Brownies from the Market (8205)

Easy Brownies

Everyday-Brownies-(6359)

I have to say that the following recipe has nothing to do with Christmas. This year, unfortunately or not, I didn’t really bother much with the preparations, especially when it comes to food. I left everything to the last minute, because I can afford it since I won’t have lots of guests. But I’ll be making some mince pies and a traditional Maltese Christmas log during the weekend (which is simpler than the one they make here. I plan to post something about these in the coming days, with photos of course).

However there’s nothing to stop you from making these beautiful babies for the kids or indeed for a cocktail party, when you want something sweet and dare I say it, easy to eat when your guests are standing up. I promise you that whoever has a taste of these brownies will never guess you made them with ordinary newsagent chocolate. They are really good and not expensive to make, which is indeed useful during the festive season. You need:

  • 150g unsalted butter,
  • 300g light brown sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 150g plain or all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Grease and line a square tin (23 to 25cm; which ever you have) with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Melt the butter very gently in a medium pan to avoid burning and stir in the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt into the butter.
  3. In a bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add these in the pan with the butter mixture and stir. You will have a very dry mixture here but do not worry. Now remove the pan from the heat.
  4. In a jug (or indeed in the now empty bowl you used for sifting the dry ingredients) whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together, and add these to the pan with the other ingredients.
  5. Stir in the chopped chunks of chocolate and use a spatula to scrape and spread the brownie mixture into your prepared square tin. Bake for around 25 minutes, till the brownies are dry on top but still squidgy in the middle. They will continue to cook for a little while outside of the oven anyway so don’t leave them in too long, even though you will be tempted to. A skewer or knife should *not* come out clean here.
  6. Let them cool and then cut them into 12 to 16 large pieces, but that’s totally up to you. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top, imagining it was snow if you like. I left mine bare, but I shouldn’t have really!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays! I wish you all the best!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, Chatto & Windus, 2010.)

It’s Chocolate Week…

Chocolate-and-Banana-Muffins-(6355)

Everyday-Brownies-(6359)

…so I baked my favourite chocolate brownies to date and Nigella’s chocolate and banana muffins from Kitchen, which I adapted to some degree. Only because my oven has a mind of its own. I will write about these again very soon. As for the photos, I took some with my mini camera, but they turned out to be really grainy, so here are some updated ones. You will find both recipes on this blog (links are above). It’s Chocolate Week here in the UK so do yourself a favour and bake some of you favourite treats. We only live once!

Rob x