Really Great Rolo Brownies

Before I start this recipe, apologies for those of you that follow this blog- I realise I haven’t posted in a while! I’ve been trying to eat healthier because, you know, new year, new you etc etc. Hence me trying not to bake so much because when you bake stuff you kind of have to eat it afterwards… shame I know! However, I’ve realised that cutting out sweets and puddings isn’t all that realistic, so I’m trying to aim more towards everything in moderation (plus more exercise!) Although this has meant cutting smaller slices of everything than seems reasonable to a sweet-tooth, it seems to be working so far! I’m under no illusion that this recipe is in the slightest bit healthy, so enjoy, but cut small pieces everyone…

Rolo Brownies

Ingredients

  • 200 g Dark Chocolate
  • 100 g Butter
  • 250 g Caster Sugar
  • 4 medium Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 60 g Plain Flour
  • 60 g Cocoa Powder
  • 150 g Dark Brown Soft Sugar
  • 150 g Butter
  • 397 g Condensed Milk
  • 200 g Milk Chocolate
  • 2 tubes Rolos

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. To make the brownie base, first break up the dark chocolate and melt, then put to the side to cool.
  2. Mix together the butter and caster sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla essence, beating well after each addition. Take the melted dark chocolate from before (make sure that it’s not too hot) and add to the mixture. Mix in thoroughly then add the flour and cocoa powder and gently stir in.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a 20 x 25cm brownie tray then spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 mins, then place to one side to cool.16667875_10154139957481143_1010361292_o
  4. To make the caramel, heat the dark brown sugar and butter into a non-stick pan, stirring until melted. Then, add the condensed milk and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Cook for a minute or so until you feel the mixture thicken. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little. The consistency should be as in the picture below- it should hold on the back of a spoon without running off.16651528_10154139957456143_1981830470_o
  5. Once the brownie base has had time to cool, pour the caramel over the brownie, spreading out until you have an even layer of caramel covering all the brownie. Leave to one side until the caramel has cooled completely.
  6. To decorate, melt the milk chocolate and pour over the caramel, spreading evenly and making sure you’re not pressing down too hard when spreading it (I’d use a palate knife or a spatula). Before the chocolate has set, sprinkle on the Rolos and any other decorations you like! I used chocolate chips and garnished with a chocolate pudding sauce (I would have preferred a thinner caramel sauce but I didn’t have any!)16710576_10154139957426143_1883307032_o
  7. Allow the top layer to set, then cut into slices and serve!

Handy Hints

Making the caramel- make sure that you use a non-stick pan for this. If you don’t because, like me, you’re thinking ‘meh, it doesn’t really matter’ then you’ll end up with black little dots in your caramel, which are little burnt bits of sugar. Tastes ok, but not ideal!

Setting time- It is important with the caramel and the chocolate, to let each layer cool before you add the next one. I realise this means patiently waiting, but if the layer you’re tying to add to is still hot then the two layers will just mash together.

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Loaded Hot Chocolate

Now loaded hot chocolates are a trend that I have no trouble getting on board with! In case you aren’t on instagram, and so haven’t seen these, they’re basically a jenga game of unhealthy foods, balanced on top of a mug (or, if you’re indie, a Kilner jar) of hot chocolate. Although you could well do the same thing with milkshake (summer alternative?), this time of year definitely calls for a hot chocolate! We all know that there’s something particularly cozy about sitting in when it’s cold outside with a mug of hot chocolate and a book/ film. So, why not pile pudding onto that too?

The loaded hot chocolates I’ve made are incredibly easy- there’s no baking involved, just piling on ingredients! I’ve made a Christmas- themed mint one, and plan to make a cherry one too to mix it up a little, but you can vary the ingredients here to suit you. The only essentials are the hot chocolate and the whipped cream! So, stack to your heart’s content! Just remember to take a picture before it all sinks/ falls over…

Loaded Hot Chocolate

Prep time: 5- 10 mins
Cost: Low

Ingredients

Hot chocolate (flavour and brand entirely up to you!)
Whipped cream
Brownie chunks (I can recommend this recipe)
Small festive decorations (I bought some Maltesers Mini Reindeer)
A candy cane
Some sprinkles
Festive straws

Method

1. Make your hot chocolate, either with hot water or milk. For the festive recipe, I would recommend mint hot chocolate.
2. Top the hot chocolate with squirty cream, making sure that you pile it up high!
3. Cut a slice in the bottom of the brownie chunks and slot onto the rim of the glass/ mug. Alternatively, balance them on the cream.
4. Slide in the candy cane, leaving some showing.
5. Balance on your festive decoration (the reindeer in my case), preferably in the middle.
6. Add sprinkles, and a straw if you have one.
7. Serve on a small plate and enjoy!

Handy Hints

Cherry theme- To make a cherry alternative, why not add glace cherries instead of the festive decoration and candy cane?
Boozy hot chocolate- Add a shot of Bailey’s for a more adult hot chocolate!

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Cheese scones

So lately, I’ve began my adventures into savoury baking and I’m actually really fond of it now! I’ve never been the kind of person who was very enthused about baking savoury things. To quote Miranda: “a savoury muffin?? Life is full of disappointments…” However, I’ve actually discovered that by baking things like these super-simple cheese scones I can actually save money and have some freshly- baked lunch. And we all know that shop-bought stuff never tastes quite as good as fresh baking!

These cheese scones are really easy and cheap to make, and only take half an hour (including baking time!) to make, so are perfect for those of you with not too much time or who are looking for something easy to bake. I find that they’re best enjoyed cut in half and spread with margarine, but they’d work well with ham or salad too. A perfect first-time bake for all you bakers out there who, like me, haven’t baked a whole lot of savoury stuff!

Cheese Scones

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients
(makes 8)

1oz/ 28g Butter
6oz/ 170g Self-raising flour
3oz/ 85g Grated Cheese
1 Egg
2 tbsp Milk
1 egg or 1 tbsp milk (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Cut the butter into small cubes, then add the flour in a bowl with the butter.
2. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together to make breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the grated cheese.
4. Add the egg and the milk, and stir/ knead the dough until all the ingredients are combined and the mixture forms a coherent ball of dough.
5. Divide the mixture into 8 segments.
6. Place each segment onto a greased baking tray and squash/ roll flat (to about 1cm thick)
7. Coat the scones with either the extra egg (mixed up before hand) or the extra milk. This doesn’t need to be a thick coat and don’t worry if some runs off onto the tray, it just gives the scones more of a shine.
8. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden and well risen.

Handy Hints

Breadcrumbs- When combined, these should just look like slightly darker flour i.e. there should be no lumps of butter left in the mixture.
Cheese- You can use any cheese you like for this, though I wouldn’t recommend using one that’s too creamy and not ‘solid’ enough (like Brie). I find that simple cheddar works best, or maybe red leicester but don’t be afraid to experiment!

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How to win over your flatmates: The best cookie recipe!

Hello everyone! Now that I’m back from holiday I’ve been starting to gather up all my stuff to take back to uni, which got me thinking about freshers week. With my sister about to head to uni for her first year, and with different friends disappearing back week by week, I thought about the best way to make friends- biscuits! In my experience it’s hard to turn down an offer of a cookie and a cup of tea/hot chocolate/ coffee (or just the biscuit on it’s own). So, if you’re feeling a bit shy at uni, or wherever you are, what better way to tempt someone into being your friend! My favourite cookie recipe is from my Divine cookbook (see my brownies recipe), and they’re so easy to make as well as being amazingly chocolately! I especially love that they have whole pieces of chocolate instead of small chocolate chips, which breaks up the biscuit. Cookies are perfect for uni baking as they don’t need many ingredients and keep for a longer time than a lot of bakes. They’re even more perfect because the raw dough can be frozen, meaning you can have instant cookies on hand (see the ‘Handy Hints’ section at the bottom).

Recipe:
Preparation Time: 20/25 minutes
Baking Time: 12-15 minutes
Price: £2.86

Ingredients:

100g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Egg
220g Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

(also 2-3 non-stick baking trays, ungreased)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4.
2. Break up the chocolate into squares and put aside until needed.
3. Soften the butter by melting slightly, then add the sugars and mix with a hand whisk until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides then beat in the egg.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
6. Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture for each cookie, roll the mixture into balls and arrange on the baking trays. Flatten each with your fingers and space them well apart as they spread a fair bit in the oven.
7. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until until firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Handy Hints:
Pecan pieces- The recipe actually says to add 100g Pecan pieces with the chocolate, but I never add these as I’m not a fan!
Cooling- Make sure you transfer the cookies from the trays to wire cooling racks, as if you don’t they’ll stick to the tray and become a nightmare to unstick!
Tins- If you don’t have enough tins to spread them all out, bake one tray, transfer to cool then bake the next tray’s worth on the used tray. Or, if you’re feeling a adventurous, why not bake one big cookie? Just put all the mixture on one tray- it’s great for an alternative to a birthday cake, and keeps longer too!
How many?- I find this recipe makes about 15 cookies, but it depends on how big you like your cookies to be! They do spread lots so don’t be afraid if they look really small!
Freezing- Cookie dough is perfect for baking as it can be frozen and kept for ages! Make extra cookies (or just the normal recipe) and freeze the raw dough between greaseproof paper. Then, when you have a hankering for cookies, bake as many as you like directly from frozen. All you need to change is to add a little bit more time to the baking time.

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Millionaire’s Cheesecake

Hi everyone! I realise I only posted something a few days ago but I’m on holiday this next week, so I’m posting next week’s post now. It’s inspired by a family favourite in my house- millionaire’s shortbread. The twist is that it’s fused with another favourite of mine- cheesecake! I am however, a bit nervous about posting this as it’s actually a recipe I’ve made up… So, here goes…

This recipe is one I’ve invented (ooh err) so I hope you enjoy it! Sorry if it’s not perfect but it’s a first try at properly making up my own recipe- I welcome any comments and it’d be great if you bake it and give me any feedback. The quantities fill my 18cm diameter springform tin so it serves about 10 people, depending on how bigger slices you have! This recipe doesn’t have a price, as it’s probably quite expensive for students, but if you’d like me to add a price I can, let me know in the comments.

Ingredients:
For the Base:
200g Shortbread Biscuits
75g Butter, melted
40-50g Caster Sugar*
For the Cheesecake:
1 x 397g can Condensed Milk Caramel**
300g Cream Cheese
200ml Double Cream
For the Chocolate Topping:
100g Dark Chocolate
125ml Double Cream

Method:
1. Crush the shortbread into crumbs, then add the melted butter and sugar. Mix until combined.
2. Press the mixture into the tin using the back of a spoon then when there’s an even layer, chill in the fridge until needed.
3. Tip the caramel into a bowl and put in the microwave to melt slightly. This doesn’t need to be for long, just to soften a little.
4. Set aside 100-175g of the caramel for later. Spread the rest over the base and cool.
5. Beat the cream cheese and reserved caramel together in a large bowl.
6. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and fold into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon onto the biscuit and caramel base and put in the fridge to set.
7. Melt the dark chocolate then stir in the double cream until smooth. Make sure the cheesecake is set fully, then pour over the cheesecake. Fridge the assembled cheesecake to set.

Handy Hints:
*Caster Sugar- This isn’t a precise measure as it depends how sweet you like your biscuit base. I think I added 45g, a nice medium!
**Caramel- You could make caramel instead from scratch, or you can make caramel from condensed milk by boiling it in the tin, unopened, for an hour and a half. I did this and it worked fine! A nice and simple recipe for making your own caramel sauce (which does taste nicer) can be found here.
Chocolate topping- the cheesecake takes quite a long time to set properly (well I say a long time, I’m very impatient!) but make sure the cheesecake is fully set before you spread the chocolate- it will wobble slightly but should be firm enough to hold the chocolate.
Adding the chocolate mixture- If, by the time the cheesecake has set, the chocolate topping is a little thick, put it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it slightly. This means it will be more runny and will spread better, as you need to be very gentle when spreading it or the cheesecake will dent.

Millionaire's cheesecake (1)

 

 

Starting Simple- Cake in a mug

All this week I’ve been wracking my brain for the perfect first bake to post on here. I wanted to start with a bake that was simple, cheap and didn’t take much time, basically so it suited students perfectly. I had loads of ideas, but it was actually a birthday present from my family that gave me the idea in the end. If there’s one bake that perfectly defines the student lifestyle, it’s the cake in a mug. For those of you that haven’t come across this wonderful creation before, it’s exactly as it sounds- you bake a cake in a mug! For the student baker, the mug cake is a blessing- they require minimal washing up, contain cheap ingredients and are fully baked in a few minutes. This isn’t the best thing about them though- the best thing is that all this can be accomplished in the microwave. For many students (sometimes including myself) the microwave is where all meals are cooked, so why not cook pudding in there too?

I realise for all you more experienced bakers out there, this may seen a little too basic, but I wanted to start small with the ultimate lazy bake. Much though I love baking, sometimes we all feel lazy or don’t have much time, so for me this is the ultimate bake for those occasions. If baking was a sport, this would be the warm-up, or maybe even just the walk to the gym. For anyone that’s not used to baking, this is the perfect start. This recipe is also perfect for students as you can buy mugs specifically for making mug cakes, which have the recipe written round the outside, and have lines inside marking how much of the ingredients you need. Not surprisingly, this is the birthday present that inspired this post. The one I have is from Lakeland and can be found in their stores or online at this link: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/43746/Cake-in-a-Mug

This year I have tried many recipes for mug cakes, all of which have ended in disaster. One particular attempt looked like this and exploded all over our microwave, which took a lot of cleaning up! Not what you want when you were just after an easy bake.

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The best recipe I’ve found in all my efforts is by far the one on the cake in a mug from Lakeland, so I worked out the amount of each ingredient you need and the price. So, here it is!

Cake in a mug
Overall price to make: 58p (yep really)
Time taken: Overall= 6 minutes
Preparation= 3 minutes
Baking= 3 minutes

Ingredients:
50g Self- raising Flour
52g Caster Sugar
18g Cocoa Powder
One egg
9tsp (45ml) milk
9tsp (45ml) oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 Squares of milk chocolate

Method:
1. Put all the dry ingredients into the mug (the flour, the sugar and the cocoa powder)
2. Add the egg (I found it was easier if the egg was beaten first) and mix around. At this stage it’s easiest to incorporate all dry ingredients so make sure you get right to the bottom and mix it all in- the last thing you want is a mouthful of flour when you get to the bottom of the mug!
3. Add the milk and the oil and mix again until all the ingredients are well mixed. I found that mixing with a fork was easier than a spoon as you could mix the ingredients more easily.
4. Push the pieces of chocolate into the middle of the mix (this gives the cake a gooey centre, which is amazingly tasty!)
5. Put the mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on the highest setting (not on defrost which I accidentally cook things on all the time).
6. Voila, your easy-peasy bake is done!

Handy Hints
Firstly, when baking with cocoa powder, I like to get the Bournville one, so you can bake this for slightly cheaper then I’ve put. Also, because this is my first post I’d like to point out now that the price is worked out by the grams needed of each ingredient, so to buy say, a whole pack of flour will be more expensive, but the price when you have all these ingredients is the one above. I hope that makes sense, please comment if it doesn’t!
A note about cocoa powder: I rarely have cocoa powder in stock, so if you can’t get your hands on cocoa powder you can use hot chocolate, or so I’ve been told. If you do however, you need to reduce slightly the amount of sugar that you add to the recipe. The maths can be worked out by the fact that hot chocolate powder is usually 2/3 cocoa and 1/3 sugar. So, you need to add one and a half the amount of cocoa powder in this recipe (so 27g) and reduce the amount of sugar by half the amount of cocoa (so reduce by 9g in this recipe, making the overall total sugar amount needed 43g).
Finally, this cake with ice cream would be amazing! (Ben and Jerry’s is currently £2 in Asda- stock up while you can!)

The finished bake looks like this:
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Sorry this post has ended up quite long, it seems to have become a bit chatty, future recipes will usually be shorter, sometimes with just the recipe and sometimes with some added chat at the start or end. Let me know by commenting if you think the chat is useful or interesting, or even just kind of amuses you or whether you think I should cut down on it- I welcome constructive criticism! I hope you enjoy baking this recipe!