Anger Management Brownies

Cooking, Recipes

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I made these when I was very, very cross. In fact, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, I had PMT. I was so grumpy, it was actually ridiculous. I shouted at a sofa, a laptop, my phone and Richard. Luckily he’s very patient and extremely understanding so just laughs at me when I lose my temper at everything! In return for his patience I shared my anger quashing brownies. I find that chocolate is good for when my hormones are on the blink and I add extra chocolate enhancing flavours like cardamon and coffee to make them even more consoling.

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Anger Management Brownies

Ingredients

100g butter (plus extra for greasing)
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs
200g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 espresso (or 50ml of very strong coffee)
50g honey
1 teaspoon of rosewater
130g plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
30g cocoa, and a bit more for dusting

Method

  1. Line a 20cm square cake tin (or similar sized rectangular one) with a piece of baking paper and grease well with butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl which is fitted on top of a pan of just boiling water, heat until both are melted.
  3. Whisk the sugar and eggs together until the mix has about doubled in size and is a lot paler than it was when you started whisking.
  4. Add the espresso, ground cardamom, honey and rosewater to the egg mixture and whisk again to combine.
  5. Now pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg mix and whisk once more until smooth.
  6. Then fold in the flour, baking powder and cocoa and then tip the mixture into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s still quite wobbly in the middle, it will set more when it’s cold.
  8. Leave to cool (if you can wait that long) then slice into squares, dust with cocoa powder if you’re feeling fancy.

I like to serve mine (if I’m feeling particularly grumpy) with a good slice of action movie! Yippeekiyay!

Wedding Cakes & Headaches

Cooking

The Wedding Cake. Probably the most important of all the cakes. Get it wrong, and EVERYTHING EVER is RUINED!

Please now multiply this baking pressure by a hundred when you learn that this is a wedding cake for a family member…again! Making my brother’s wedding cake in 2011 was the most terrifying culinary challenge for me to date but, this Summer (to be said in that really cool, low, movie trailer voice please, that’s why it’s in bold) I’m making my cousin’s cake!

Joking aside, it is an absolute honour to be asked to bake a wedding cake, but it is quite a scary business. The bride to be has a pretty good idea of what she wants so I fired up the mixer for some sample cakes last weekend. I made a chocolate fudge cake from the book ‘Boutique Wedding Cakes’ by Victoria Glass and whipped up some dark chocolate butter cream, white chocolate butter cream and cream cheese frosting for her to try.

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DSC02333Deep in concentration, trying to cover sample cakes in butter cream at 2am (and peripheral vision impaired by my long fringe and trendy thick black rimmed glasses) I failed to judge the proximity of the corner of the kitchen cabinet when I sharply looked up from my work. OUCH! I wasn’t badly hurt but I was a massive wuss about it and had a little cry.

Next morning (neurotic late night baking session over) all that was left to do was to cover the cakes. She’s requested for the cake to be cream or ivory in colour so my immediate thought was to use white chocolate…but the wedding is in July so I think that might be pushing my luck (and sanity) so instead, I made a satin icing (which I think is roll-out icing) adapted from this recipe, using water instead of lemon juice and adding vanilla to give it a yummy custardy vibe…although it’s a bit sticky to work with but I’ve got a good 4 months to practise :-/

My cousin arrived just as the last bit of cake was being iced and had brought her lovely Yorkshire terrier and bridesmaid-to-be Maisy along too!

Maisy

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The cakes went down really well, she made her icing selections and we had a good chat about logistics. I think wedding cakes are 20% sugar and 80% logistics. I cannot wait for her wedding. I will be nervous, but only because I want it to be right for my super-duper cousin and fella (and Maisy too).

Wish me luck xxx

Maisy

Trick or Treat?

Recipes

I felt strangely obliged to bake the treats for the trick or treaters this year instead of just picking up a pack of something at the shops. This was in part, due to the fact that I felt as a food writer I should make everything myself (one of many self inflicted pressures) but also the guilt I still feel for the year I completely forgot about it and had to resort to giving the kids unripe plums from the fruit bowl whilst fiercely crossing my fingers that the front of our house would escape a thorough egging!

The recipe I chose was this one for Sugar Cookies. It’s a great, basic biscuit recipe that makes a really large quantity from just 1 egg. The biscuits can be flavoured with nuts, fruit or chocolate chips before baking if you like and if you cut them out with fancy cookie cutters they hold their shape really well. Be warned, they are incredibly sweet so make sure you’ve got loads of people round to share them with.

Sugar Cookies

200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400 g plain flour

280 g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1) Rub the flour and the butter together with your fingers until it all looks like fresh breadcrumbs.

2) Mix the egg and the sugar together in another in a bowl with a fork and when it is really well combined add it to the flour mixture.

3) Add all the other ingredients and knead together with your hands to form a smooth dough.

4) Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about ½ a centimetre thick. Cut into shapes.

5) Place your biscuits on a baking sheet lined with a piece of greaseproof paper/baking parchment and bake at 150° C for about 15 minutes (until they are lightly golden at the edges – keep an eye on them).

6) Let them cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack.

7) Decorate with icing or sandwich together with butter-cream.

I decorated mine with plain and coloured icing then topped with spooky decorations. To make the spiders and creepy crawlies pipe small “v’s” onto a piece of tin foil using melted chocolate to make the legs and leave to set hard. Ice the biscuits and set aside until almost dry. Top with a jelly sweet for insects or a chocolate for spiders and carefully peel the chocolate legs off the tin foil and stick into the biscuit.

It felt like a continuous stream of knocks and shouts all evening. After a rough count up I think gave out about 50 biscuits (which I had not anticipated) so I had to keep running to the kitchen to ice and decorate more to satisfy the seemingly ravenous ghouls and ghosts at the door. I finally collapsed on the sofa with a glass of wine at about 9 o’clock and considered possible holiday destinations for next Hallowe’en!