Tag Archives: raspberry

How to bake the World’s Best Brownie

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Brownies are great. Everybody loves a well baked brownie – you might know someone who doesn’t, but you only remember them because they are one in a million. This recipe is extremely versatile. It’s a rich, moist brownie that you can throw anything into to make it your own. The other great thing about this recipe is it is extremely difficult to get wrong – there is no danger of overmixing anything and it ending up as a chocolatey mess, and I have found that using the basic ranges of ingredients works just as well – just don’t tell anyone!

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter (or baking spread/Stork)
300g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 large eggs
80g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
65g plain flour

Method

Melt the butter and chocolate  in a bowl above a saucepan of boiling water slowly. You can do this in a saucepan directly, but just be sure to do it slowly and keep stirring it regularly – it will be fine. Add the sugar to a bowl (or a large jug) along with the vanilla essence. Pour in the chocolatey buttery mixture and stir well. Add the four eggs and mix thoroughly until smooth. Sieve the flour into the bowl and beat until smooth and silky – you can try very hard – but I have never found it possible to overmix this – just beating it with a wooden spoon until smooth works just fine. Line a brownie tin with baking paper (neatly – this is the most important bit!) and pour in the mixture. Gently bash the tin on the worktop Bake for around 15 minutes at 170° until the outside is cakey and the middle is still a bit squidgy. As a general rule – check your brownie and if it wobbles when you shake it – it needs longer – ideally 5 minutes after the time it stops wobbling. There is a varying degree of squidgyness so if you’re into eating your brownie with a spoon – you probably want to leave it for less time – mine turn out quite sturdy, but moist in the middle. This advice becomes very important when you start adding things like raspberries and cheeseecake topping.

Optional extras:

You might like to try adding chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cherries, fresh raspberries (you can add frozen too – but you’ll need to substantially increase the cooking time) or chopped stem ginger. Add to the mixture at the end.

If dark chocolate is not your thing – this recipe works just as well with milk chocolate – just knock the sugar down to 250g and the butter down to 200g.

Adding a cheesecake topping and swirling it through the mixture adds a wonderfully simple, yummy extra. Mix 150g cream cheese with 60g icing sugar and a tsp vanilla extract. Beat in one egg and dollop on top of the mixture. Swirl through with a skewer or knife. Alternatively pipe it in lines and sweep the skewer through it in alternate directions for a posh pattern.

You could use this mixture to create a base for a normal cheesecake, or a triple layered brownie cheesecake. I would recommend halving the recipe and adding the cheesecake and raspberry cream layers according to the recipe here. You could just as easily add a non-baked cheesecake mixture to the top of a thinner brownie base and chill to set. Any other ideas for how to use this ultimate brownie recipe would be greatly appreciated – post ideas below!

For more of our brownie ideas and thoughts, see Our Quest for the World’s Best Brownie.

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Pink Marshmallow Cupcakes

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It’s ironic that when I typed in ‘Hummingbird Bakery Marshmallow Cupcakes’ into Google, I got flooded with adverts for diet websites, slimming pills and that one secret for a flat tummy shared by thousands of women all over the world. If you’re still wondering what that secret is, apparently it’s a shed load of spam and a computer virus. My message is: don’t feel guilty for indulging in these once in a while, but when you’re unhappy because you look like a marshmallow, that’s probably the time to to eat a salad. Or sign up to the diet website. Up to you.

Also please note that due to the recent appearance of measuring cups in my kitchen (source: unknown) that measure out real American cups, my repertoire of recipes has reached previously impossible (ok, a tad trickier than usual) horizons. I will try and include conversions wherever the recipe has them, or even post a nice little bit about converting cups to weights. Who knows.

Makes 12.

Recipe courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery, etc etc. Now eat.

Ingredients

120g (1 cup) plain flour
140g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
1 egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
12 medium pink marshmallows
200g mini marshmallows (equivalent to 12 medium sized marshmallows)

250g (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons softened butter
2 tbsp whole milk
few drops vanilla or raspberry (or both) flavouring
200g marshmallows, preferably pink (equivalent to 12 medium sized marshmallows, chopped)
dash of pink food colouring (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl using an electric mixer or whisk. Do not worry if the mixture looks a little dry and crumbly: this is normal. Gradually add half of the milk and beat until just incorporated.

Mix the remaining milk, egg and vanilla together and add to the dry mixture in batches, beating gently as you do. Be careful not to over-mix and cause the mixture to separate. Stop mixing if you feel this is happening – it begins to look like a very watery, scrambled egg. Spoon the mixture into cases in a deep muffin tray. Bake for 20-25 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Standard rules apply. Leave to cool slightly before starting the icing.

Melt one batch of marshmallows in a bowl over simmering water. Hollow out a small section of the centre of each cupcake and fill with a dollop of melted marshmallow.

To make the frosting, beat sugar and butter together in a bowl with an electric whisk. Add the flavourings to the milk and add the mixture to the mix whilst gently whisking. Once incorporated, whisk vigorously for five minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in the marshmallows.

When the cupcakes are cooled, spoon the frosting on top and enjoy*!

W

*two.

Summer Berry Jam

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If you are looking for a definitive jam recipe from someone who knows what they are doing this is not it. I sort of made this up as I went along and the recipe that follows is how I may do this in future knowing now what I did right/wrong. I will highlight all the mistakes I made so hopefully you won’t make them too! It still tastes pretty epic by the way but if you want something foolproof…I recommend going elsewhere!

This makes quite a tart jam, so if you have a sweeter tooth obviously up the sugar.

Makes…quite a lot!

Ingredients

1.5 kg summer berries, I used (575g blackberries, 500g raspberries, 500g blackcurrant and 200g blueberries. I realise that doesn’t add up to 1.5 kg but I’m trying to make the weights a bit more scalable)
500g sugar*
6 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp lemon juice (+keep the lemon, pips** and all)
2 tbsp lime juice (+ keep the lime, pips and all)
handful fresh rosemary
handful fresh thyme
handful fresh lavender
3 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp ground nutmeg

Method

Squeeze your juices into a deep pan (as deep & wide as you can: jam is like magma when boiling and it has a tendency to jump out and attack you). Get your herbs, put them in a piece of cloth or something porous, with the remains of the lemon and lime (pips and all!) and bind with some twine. Crush with your hands to release the smelly loveliness. This would be a good point to sterilise some jars for preserving, so fill a bowl with soapy water, set the oven to a low heat, wash the jars then stick them in the oven to dry. (Read here for a little more info).

Add 2/3 of all the fruits to the fruit juice over a medium heat and bung in the lovely smelly sack. DON’T ADD ANY EXTRA WATER***. Stir regularly with a spoon and after 10-15 minutes add the sugar, nutmeg and vanilla essence. Continue to bubble away until the fruit is reduced and mushy and somewhere between liquid and solid. Add your remaining fruit – this way you get some mushed-down, jelly-type spread and hopefully some whole fruit too, yippeee – and turn the heat right up for 10 minutes or so. Really my timings are very rough – leave it as long as you deem necessary, the longer you do obviously the stiffer your jam will be.

Please be aware the area around the pan can and will get fairly splattered so don’t wear your favourite-brand-new-turquoise-shorts-that-are-so-good-your-girlfriend-steals-them****.

Remove your jar/s from the oven when dry and immediately fill with the hot jam – a funnel is really useful at this point. Seal the jars as soon as they are full so a vacuum is formed. Leave on the side to cool for a few hours before putting in the fridge, otherwise the glass is liable to crack due to the rapid change in temperature.

Serve on toast, in peanut butter and jam sandwiches (I used to be a non-believer, but my god they are awesome – honestly if you’ve never tried one you really ought to), in puddings, y’know, wherever you usually use jam…!

My Mistakes

*I used 300g of sugar (initially only 200!) and having had it for my lunch to say I have to say it was a little on the…tangy…side, even for me (and I’m usually one for cutting down the sugar in recipes by a lot).

**I didn’t include the pips but apparently they are a big source of pectin which is what is put in jam/jam sugar to help it solidify. So include yours!

***I added 100ml of water – BIG MISTAKE. The berries create plenty of liquid themselves and the extra water just meant it took forever to reduce. Honestly, although it might not seem like it at first you don’t need to add any.

****I got jam splodges on my favourite-brand-new-turquoise-shorts-that-are-so-good-your-girlfriend-steals-them *shock*. Fortunately my dad was there to very kindly wash them while I continued to tend to my jam…in my boxer shorts…

And on that beautiful image I shall leave you! Have a jamtastic time ;]

Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Italian Ice-Cream

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I’ve been playing with my new toy: an ice cream maker. Inspired by the Italian ice cream we ate in Sardinia, J suggested this flavour. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still make delicious ice cream. I recommend making it first thing in the morning as you will be able to stir it every hour or so, for at least 4 hours.

Makes 1 litre.

Ingredients

500g raspberries
150g sugar
150ml double cream
200ml milk
3 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
100g dark chocolate chips

Method

Puree the raspberries in a blender with around 20g of the sugar. Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. Zest the lemon into the puree and set aside in the fridge to keep it cold. Gently whisk the egg yolks with the remainder of the sugar to make a creamy mixture. Gently warm the milk and cream in a pan, whilst stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When warmed through, pour the egg mixture into the warmed cream and milk. Keep on a low heat and stirring for around a minute until it begins to thicken. Add to the raspberry puree and mix together gently with a whisk. By this point the mixture will be quite warm, so it’s a good idea to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so if you have time, before adding to the ice cream maker/the freezer.

Ice cream maker? Add to the ice cream maker and follow the instructions on the machine. I put mine on for 30 minutes and it was perfect. Add the chocolate chips and mix in evenly. Pour into a 1l tub and freeze for a couple of hours before serving.

No ice cream maker? Pour the chilled raspberry cream into a 1l tub and pop in the freezer. After 30 minutes, take it out, mash up the icy bits around the edge and stir thoroughly. Repeat again, every 30 mins for 2 hours. When the ice cream begins to thicken, add the chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. The idea of adding them at this stage, is that the ice cream is thick enough to hold the chocolate chips evenly throughout the mixture, and not just sink to the bottom if the ice cream is too thin. Keep mixing every hour or so until the ice cream is firm. This usually takes about 4-6 hours, but really depends on the size of the tub, the freezer & the mixture itself so use your judgement!

Serve when firm, with a slice of warm, gooey brownie and some fresh raspberries. If you’re keeping it for another day, remember to take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before serving to soften up a bit. Enjoy!

W

Mango Curd & Raspberry Tarts

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So we had a mango just casually hanging around our fruit bowl, like you do. It had been there a while, not doing a lot apart from exuding mango-y-ness. (It’s a word, alright?). I was going to make me some badass mango chutney but after some research found that one measly mango was nowhere near enough. After a little further digging I unearthed these beauties. So, if it ever so happens that a mango casually wanders into your life  and you’re not really sure what to do with it, you could do a lot worse than sticking it in one of these scrummy yummies. You will need to do these over two days, so bare that in mind!

Makes approx. 36 mini tarts.

Pastry

Ingredients

180g plain flour
80g butter
80g icing sugar
45g ground almonds
45g polenta
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla essence

Method

Get your butter out of the fridge (or, y’know, wherever you happen to keep it) and leave out to soften for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, icing sugar, ground almond, salt and polenta into a large bowl. (If you don’t have polenta, ground semolina would also work – it gives the pastry a nice texture, a crunch). Cut the butter into chunks and add to the dry ingredients, forming crumbs with your finger tips. Whisk up the egg and add a bit at a time to the mix, either stirring in with a spoon or mixing in with your fingers. Work until it comes together into a ball, adding more flour if the mixture is too wet or water if it’s too dry – only a little at a time though.

Wrap your pastry ball in cling film and stick in the fridge. I left mine over night simply because I also had to wait for my curd to set…and talking about curd…here’s the recipe, stolen (and slightly edited) from smittenkitchen.

Mango Curd

Ingredients

1 mango
70g caster/granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
50g butter

Method

Peel your mango. Mine was ripe so I was able to peel it with a peeler (crazy times) though apparently you will usually need a sharp knife. Cut into small segments and throw in a metal/glass bowl. Add the sugar, lemon and lime juice, sugar and salt and mash up roughly with a fork. If you have one, use a hand-held blender (a “zhuhzher” in the world of J&W) to reduce to a thick, smooth pulp. If not mash with a fork then strain through a sieve.

Zhuhzh, sorry, whisk in the egg yolks until completely mixed then stick the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Continually stir for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture gets thicker. If you have a food-thermometer, the magic number you’re after is 170oF/75oC. Take the mango-y-goodness off the heat and add the butter in 4-5 small chunks, stirring each one until fully melted and mixed before adding the next. Stick the mixture in the fridge overnight.

(On eating I think this was quite sweet, so I would lower the sugar in future and increase the lemon and lime).

Raspberry Smush

Ingredients

cereal bowl of raspberries
squeeze of lemon juice
(sprinkling of sugar)

Smush the raspberries through a sieve  into a saucepan with the back of a large spoon, making sure no pips get in. You can get a surprising amount of liquid out of them, so keep smushing for a good few minutes. Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle on just a little sugar and give it a quick mix through. Reduce down to a thicker, gloopy sauce.

Don’t You Just Love It When a Pudding Comes Together

Heat the oven to 350oF/180oC/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry until it is approximately the thickness of a pound coin. Use a cookie cutter/glass/suitable cutting implement to cut out 25-35 3 inch rounds and stick each into a tart mould. I don’t have any of these, so mine went into 3 pre-buttered shallow muffin trays. Line each tart with parchment paper and a few baking beans (rice is a good substitute, though has the potential to get everywhere!).

Blind bake for 10-15 minutes, until brown. Remove from moulds and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing the beans and sticking them on a cooling rack.
After a few minutes line each pastry case with a thin layer of raspberry smush, then a thicker layer of mango curd. If you fancy, add an artistic raspberry swirl in the top of the curd – a cocktail stick is perfect for this.
Top with a couple of fresh raspberries/blueberries/any berry you fancy. Stick back in the fridge. Tadahhhh. Mangoodness.

You *could* whip up some meringue with the egg whites you have, but I’m lazy and not that big a fan of meringue so I…err…didn’t.

P.S. My cat is called Mango. Please do not use my cat in your recipe. I’m not sure he’d appreciate it.

J

Our Quest for the World’s Best Brownie

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Brownie has to be our favourite treat ever. With tea, for pudding, even for breakfast, it’s just amazing and a very well loved bake in both our houses, day or night. After realising just how much we love it, we decided to try and find the most amazing brownie recipe, in the world, ever. We have now developed our top three recipes and our top three bought-brownies (though our opinions on the matter do differ). But here’s the shortlist for now.

Best brownie recipes

After some disagreement, we decided to have two number 1s.

Joint 1. Most indulgent brownie.

200g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
80g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
65g plain flour
300g sugar
4 large eggs
dash of vanilla essence

Melt the butter and chocolate  in a bowl above a saucepan of boiling water. Add the sugar to a bowl along with the vanilla essence. Pour in the chocolatey buttery mixture and stir well. Add the four eggs and mix. Sieve the flour into the bowl and beat until smooth and silky. Line a brownie tin with baking paper (neatly) and pour in the mixture. Bake for around 15 minutes at 170° until the outside is cakey and the middle is still a bit squidgy.

Joint 1. Best store-cupboard brownie

100g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs
125g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa (can be left out to make a less rich but gooier brownie)

Method as above, baking time is around 20 minutes.

3. Best brownie-style dessert: raspberry cheesecake brownie

BROWNIE
200g dark chocolate (save one square from the bar for the topping)
200g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
3 eggs
110g plain flour

CHEESECAKE
400g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs

TOPPING
300ml whipping cream
100g icing sugar
150g raspberries
1 square of chocolate (if you can trust yourself to not eat it whilst baking)

Make the brownie: melt the chocolate and meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time and mix gently. Beat in the flour and mix until smooth. Add the chocolate and pour into a lined tin.
Make the cheesecake: combine the cheese, sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and be careful not to mix too vigorously as the eggs will separate. Pour on top of the brownie mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until firm. Allow to cool.

Make the topping: whip the cream and sugar until firm. Options here are to: add some raspberry juice to the cream mixture or add a few whole raspberries to the mixture to give it a nice pink colour. Do not cheat and add pink food colouring. This is not cool. Spread the pink cream over the cheesecake layer and press whole raspberries onto the top. Sprinkle over some grated chocolate if you’re feeling extravagant.

Best bought brownie

1. COOK Boston Brownie (W’s favourite)

Don’t be put off by the fact this brownie normally lives in the freezer, it is incredibly tasty and the fact it freezes is just a bonus. We bought it from a lovely frozen-food shop in Bristol, but have since learned you can buy it online here.

2. Kemi’s Café chocolate brownie, served warm with cream (J’s favourite)

They serve a huge range of cakes at Kemi’s café in Cardiff bay so we were in luck that we visited the day they had made brownies. Despite having visited several times since, I haven’t seen them again. Maybe next time, we’ll ask for the recipe and bake our own because life without these brownies just isn’t the same. Their menu doesn’t do them justice as a lot of the dishes change and it really depends what they’re making on the day.

3. Entropy’s brownie, served with raspberry sorbet

A huge helping of brownie with a lovely raspberry sorbet melting on the top. It made a incredible pudding and we would definitely order it again, but not quite good enough to bake at home. Check out their menu here but note that it changes regularly.

Having said all this, the point should be made that this is an ongoing quest. We will strive, for the good of people everywhere, to eat brownie until we burst in pursuit of perfection. That’s right, we’re just that nice.