#Recipe Candycane Brownies

 

 

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And now January has set in. Tinsel and lights have been packed away. Christmas tree carcasses litter the sidewalks- emaciated reminders of festivities past. On the whole January would appear to be a pretty “grey”- The Month of M’eh. Each mouthful of chocolate or candy is now succeeded by a guilty pang of remorse. “December was pretty indulgent, I really shouldn’t be eating this”…said no one in my kitchen. Ever!

“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck

There’s usually a surplus of sweet treats of some variety in my house after the festive season. This year is was candy canes. Having fulfilled their duty of adorning the christmas trees for the best past of a month (and surviving the voracious eyes of my children!) it’s now time to put them to an alternative, and somewhat tastier, use.

For something so small and simple candy cane have an assortment of end uses in the kitchen. Aside from having a good ol’ fashioned chomp on them, there are recipes available for flavoured vodkas, cupcakes, and hot chocolate. I opted for using them in one of my favourite flavour combinations- mint and chocolate. My Candy cane Brownies are rich, indulgent treats laced with peppermint and studded with chewy, mini nuggets of stripped cane and chocolate chumks. Just for good measure there’s an extra sprinkling of smashed candy canes topping each brownies with extra festive whimsy.

Having arrived in our new home of Canada just ahead of the festive blitz I had little time for baking and experimenting with the new array of ingredients that have since become available to me. New brands, varieties and flavours lined shelfs, all there for the taking in my greedy mitts. The cocoa powder I used here, Fry’s (which is a Dutch processed cocoa), resulted in a much darker and richer chocolate flavour compared to those I’ve used in the UK. I’d highly recommend trying to get your hands on some if you can! So this recipe provided the perfect excuse for not only using up the excess candy canes but also as a trial for using unfamiliar ingredients. I hope you like them. And yes I know it’s strictly speaking a christmas recipe and the festive season is done and dusted, but just them of them as a legitimate excuse for resurrecting it for a brief few minutes. Enjoy!

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Candy cane Brownies

makes 12

Unsalted butter 185g, cubed

185g Bakers unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey peppermint extract

3 eggs

275g caster (superfine) sugar

85g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

50g Fry’s cocoa powder

50g Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks

50g peppermint candy cane, broken into smalls pieces

To decorate

75g peppermint candy canes, smashed into irregular pieces

  • Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Stir the peppermint extract into the cooled chocolate mixture, and the fold into the egg mixture.
  • Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together.
  • Mix in the chocolate chunks and candy cane pieces. Fold again until well combined.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To test- insert a skewer into the mixture about 1 inch from the edge of the tin and it should come out clean.
  • To decorate-sprinkle the top of the brownies with the smashed candy cane pieces and gently push into the surface so the stick.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares, and serving.

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#Recipe Brownie Fries w/ Raspberry Ketchup & Yuzu Mayo

So this recipe originally started as an idea to create smaller “bite-size” brownies with a difference. Sadly after a quick Googling (!) I found someone else had beat me in creating the concept. Oh well, imitation is the best form of flattery as they say. Brownie Fries or “Fruffles” (a portmanteau of Fries + Truffles) as they appear to be called in some places Stateside have been around for a while. Usually they’re served with a berry compote “ketchup” and yogurt “mayo” but not one to let a chance for experimentation go by I decided to mix up the flavours a bit.

Berry ketchup and yogurt mayo? Oh no, no- not for me! So all aboard the “Flavour train” for a raspberry dipping sauce with fresh and spicy notes thanks to basil and black pepper, paired with rich, creamy and zingy mascarpone dip. Here’s my take on Brownie “Fries” and they’re deep-dipping, lip-smacking good!

 

Brownie Fries (2)

Brownie “Fries”

185g unsalted butter, cubed

185g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

eggs 3

275g caster sugar

85g plain flour

1 tbsp Espresso powder

50g dark chocolate chips

50g milk chocolate chips

100g pecans, lightly roasted and roughly chopped

To decorate

125g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Coarse sea salt to sprinkle

Freshly ground vanilla (Dr. Oetker do a wonderful grater/grinder)

Raspberry “Ketchup”

75g fresh raspberries

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn

½ tsp black peppercorns

Yuzu “Mayo”

250g Mascarpone cheese

100ml single cream

1 tsp agave syrup

2 tbsp Yuzu juice

  •  Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment, or 9” x9” brownie tray (with short dividers removed).
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour and Espresso powder. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together until just uniform in color.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans until fully incorporated.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray, or brownie pan, and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin before removing.
  • Start by cutting the brownie slab in to 3” wide strips. If you’re using a brownie pan the long dividers will already have done this for you. Next, rotate the strips 90 degrees and cut strips approximately ¾ inch wide. Arrange on a sheet of baking paper with about 1 inch space between.
  • To finish, melt the dark and milk chocolates in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag and snip a small piece from the end to make a fine nozzle.
  • Pipe the melted chocolate over your brownie fries so that it drips down over the sides, forming the “batter coating” to your “fries”.
  • Leave to cool for about 15 mins then sprinkle lightly with seas salt and grind over fresh vanilla.
  • Leave to finally set.

To make the Raspberry “Ketchup”

  • In a bowl combine the fresh raspberries, basil leaves, and black peppercorns.
  • Using a hand blender, blitz until a fine pulp.
  • Pass through a sieve to a bowl below.
  • Set aside until serving.

To make the Yuzu “Mayo”

  • In a bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, cream, agave syrup and yuzu juice.
  • Beat until fully combined.
  • Spoon in to a bowl for serving.

To serve

  • Arrange the brownie fries alongside the ketchup and yuzu mayo.
  • Now dip away to your heart’s content!

Brownie Fries (5)

Wired for Sound! #recipe #brownies

So this morning saw me chatting to the imitable food presence that is William Sitwell on his “Biting Talk” show on Soho Radio. Some of you may recognise him from such things as the Mastechef food critics table, or from Waitrose Kitchen magazine. By the by, conversation ranged from cupcakes (of course!) to beards (well why not) to cartoon franchising (you’ll just have to listen for that one!) If you missed out here’s the link below for you aural delectation…

As only expected for #thebeardedbaker I brought along some baked goods for sampling. Yes, I know it was only 9am in the morning but (a bit like gin!) it’s always cake o’clock somehwere in there world. So the team at Soho Radio had the pleasure (I hope!) of trying out two new recipes for brownies and cupcakes-

cupcakes

My “Hot n Smoky” caramel cupcakes of caramel sponge filled with a smoked caramel centre, topped with caramel buttercream frosting and sriracha cinder toffee shards.


Brownies

Chocolate  Cherry & Cheesecake Brownies- Chocolate, Cherry and double-chocolate brownies topped with White Chocolate & Pink Peppercorn Cheescake

In the event that these have piqued your intrest and tingled your tastebuds here’s the recipe for the Chocolate Cherry brownies. Do bear in mind that these are exceptionally rich- a chocolate motherload not for the faint-hearted! As such I recommend cutting them down into half the traditional brownie size.

Chocolate Cherry & Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 18 (deep pan) or 40 (shallow pan)

Ingredients
185g unsalted butter 185g, cubed
185g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 eggs
275g caster sugar
85g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tbsp Espresso powder
50g 70% cocoa dark chocolate chunks
50g white chocolate chunks
100g glace cherries, halved
1 egg
280g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
3 tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
50g white chocolate chunks

Method

  • Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment. * See note for brownie numbers
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder.
  • Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together.
  • Fold in the chocolate chunks and cherries until well combined.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface.
  • For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese, caster sugar, and egg in a separate bowl until smooth.
  • Melt the white chocolate (either over hot water or in a microwave in short bursts).
  • Add the pink peppercorns and melted chocolate into the cheesecake mixture and mix well.
  • Pour/ place blobs of the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate brownie mixture.
  • Swirl with a knife or a skewer to create a marbled effect throughout the batter
  • Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin before removing from the tin or cutting into squares.
  • Leave to cool, then serve.

*If you use a 12” x 9” tin you will get 20 brownies (cutting 4 x 5) and then divide further down in half to give you 40 brownie “bars”. If you use a 9” x 9” silicone brownie pan (available from Lakleand) you’ll get 9 deeper brownies which you can cut down in half to give you 18 brownie “bars”.

 

Coming up on Mr. Mom’s

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything so MA-HOOSIVE apologies to you all. However fret not I have been far from idle! If you’ve been follwing my social media feeds on Twitter and Facebook you will have seen posts about two BIG pieces of news concerning Mr. Mom’s.

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Photo courtesy of Kitchen Table Projects

Firstly you may remember back in July of last year my post about a group called Kitchen Table Projects. These rather fab bunch of people are championing emerging artisan foodies and providing a much needed source of advice and interaction. In fact they provided Mr. Mom’s with some of my first PR coverage (thanks guys!). If you missed it you can read all about it here. Way back then their founder Tara Sundramoorthi explained the long-term vision of setting up a hub cafe where artisan foodie producers/ makers could showcase their wares. She also expressed interest in stocking Mr. Mom’s bakes there (evidently Tara knows a good thing when she sees it  or rather tastes it!). Fast forward nearly a year and it is with great pride (and a little trepidation) that I can say Tara has stayed true to her word and Mr. Mom’s cupcakes and brownies will be stocked in the Kitchen Table Projects Artisan Springboard Pop-up cafe at Old Street Tube Station. The cafe will run from June 22nd until September 13th. Not only will the cafe stock produce of Mr. Mom’s but also some other fantastic artisan food people – Black Sheep CoffeeThe Tea People; Knead; and Hush Hush Chefs. For full details of all the suppliers check out the Kitchen Table Projects website here. I can’t tell how grateful I am to Tara and the Kitchen Table Projects team for seeing something in what I do at Mr. Mom’s and be willing to showcase it in their venture. All the way from my humble kitchen to the bustling populous of a London pop-up. Why not come along and try out one (or more!) of my wares?

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Photocourtesy of Kitchen Table Projects

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Photo courtesy of Simply Good Food TV

My other big piece of news is that you’ll soon be able to see me online, on Simply Good Food TV, baking up a storm. “Mr. Mom’s- The Bearded Baker” will be creating delicious treats from the classic to the quirky.  Simply Good Food TV is the brainchild of chef Peter Sidwell. As if filming numerous TV series (ITV’s Britian’s Best Bakery) ; doing demos on the foodie show circuit; and running a restaurant and cookery school weren’t enough, Peter has now set about creating a new online TV station, Simply Good Food TV, showcasing food videos from established chefs and new original content from a range of upcoming chefs and bakers- including yours truly! I can’t begin to tell you how chuffed I am to  be part of such a fantstic venture. For more information on this fantastic online TV food channel why not check out the Simply Good Food TV Twitter and Facebook pages. You can download the free app for Apple here , or for Android here. As well as being chuffed to bits about it I’m also slightly in awe in being featured along Peter and the other fabulous chefs and bakers- all of us who go to make up the rather gorgeous bunch fetured below!

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Photo courtesy of Simply Good Food TV

On the home front I’ve also been busy doing what I’m know best for. A friend’s recent birthday saw a blitz of brownies; cupcakes and a celebratory birthday cake from Mr. Mom’s Kitchen. Cupcakes included Chocolate Cherry Cola: a baked twist on the classic childhood drink; Salted Caramel Popcorn: something to appeal to the grown-up in us and a rather indulgent Classic Chocolate. Brownie flavours included Classic chocolate; a Gluten Free Banana & Pecan and a nutty caramel affair packed full of toasted nuts and oozing salted caramel.

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Along with these there was also a birthday cake comissioned. I decided to go with a naked cake featuring the recipient’s favourite bloom- the cornflower.  Sized at 2 layers, to suit the attending guests, I went with vanilla genoise with vanilla buttercream and Sicilian lemon curd to the lower layer and vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam to the top layer. As well as using cornflower blooms I also festooned the layers with roses and eryngium (purple thistle) blooms, and scattered darker berries.

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Speaking of birthday cakes, I also had the recent pleaseure of providing the birthday cake for Twitter friend ‘Little Pink Kitchen‘ . To be honest I was rather nervous about doing this as it was the first time I’d ever produced something for a fellow baker – would it stand up to the challenge? As it was a particularly special birthday something particularly special was called for- I didn’t want to do a run of the mill sponge cake. Only two pieces of criteria were given – something on the “light” side and maybe hazelnut flavoured. So I got my thinking cap on. Then it came to me- “Dacquoise”!!! Well…at least that was the starting point! What I ended up with was the closest I’ve got to patisserie in anything I’ve ever baked.

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From concept to reality. Inital ideas of strata to the finsihed cake.

I created a layered cake of genoise sponge with a thin layer of chocolate ganache, filled with hazelnut flavoured creme mousseline, with a middle layer of hazelnut merignue (the dacquoise influence). The assembled cake was then finished with chocolate ganache and toasted hazelnut nibs. Very proud to say that my final bake went down well and seemed to be enojoyed by all.

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Nothing better than having my bakes enjoyed! Photo courtesy of @TheLittlePK

So that’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed catching up with all the goings on in Mr. Mom’s Kitchen. There’s lots of exciting developments on the horizon and I’ll update  you all soon.

In the meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet dreams are made of these…

Hello again! Now you may think that in my absence I have been swanning around rubbing shoulders with all sorts of celebrities- I wish! In actual fact I have been locked away in my hot and steamy kitchen baking up a storm on some rather new and exciting (well I think so!) flavours. The wonderful folk over at Hope and Greenwood have been terribly generous in sending me some wonderful gifts of their sweet goodies and I thought it only right try out some of them out in baking.

We all know cupcakes are my love so it’s only fitting that I should start there. Not one but two of varieties of cupcake would be inspired by Hope and Greenwood and feature one of their delightful sugary treats.

First out of the starting blocks is my “Salty Dog” cupcake: vanilla sponge studded with chocolate chips and fudge pieces, hiding a salted caramel centre, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and finished with a H&G Salt Caramel Fudge piece and caramel drizzle. The oozing caramel centre mixing with the salty/ sweet tang of the fudge piece is a marriage made in confection heaven.

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Salty Dog cupcakes feat. Hope and Greenwood Salt Caramel Fudge

 

My next cupcake again features the sublime flavour of salted caramel- well, you can never have too much of a good thing can you? The “Caramel Crunch” a decidedly moreish cupcake of vanilla and honeycomb sponge with a duo of chocolate and caramel buttercream frosting, all topped with a golden nugget of Miss Kitty and Mr. G’s best Salt Caramel Honeycomb.

"Caramel Crunch" cupcakes feat. Hope & Greenwood Salt Caramel Honeycomb.

“Caramel Crunch” cupcakes feat.
Hope & Greenwood Salt Caramel Honeycomb.my

Not wanting to be completely biased towards cupcakes I also added brownies into the mix. The inspiration for my “Raspberry Ruffle” brownies came from the sweet of the same name- an indulgent mix of chocolate, coconut and raspberry. A fruity Bounty bar for all intents. So I combined a rich chocolate and coconut brownie with a luscious raspberry cheesecake swirl topping and studded it with Raspberry Jam Coconut Ice from H&G’s kitchen. Never has a brownie tasted so naughty!

"Raspberry Ruffle" brownie feat. Hope & Greenwood's Raspberry Jam Coconut Ice

“Raspberry Ruffle” brownie feat.
Hope & Greenwood’s Raspberry Jam Coconut Ice

For the piece de résistance I chose to work with a new product recently launched from the confectioners extraordinaire. Hope and Greenwood’s new Almond Brittle with Himalayan Sea salt definitely raises the confectionery bar to a new high. Sweet almonds encased in sugary amber have a delectable crunch and a sprinkling of hand-harvested pink Himalayan rock salt and chilli give an unexpected Wonka-esque tongue tingling sensation. A sweet like this definitely deserved some A-grade treatment. With this in mind I set about and created my Caramelised White Chocolate and Tonka Bean tart, with Almond Brittle fringe. What’s more (and as promised!) I’ve included the recipe. It’s a fabulous dessert whose sophisticated and rich taste belies it’s simplicity. This is sure to become a favourite in my house!

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Caramelised White Chocolate & Tonka Bean tart, with Hope & Greenwood Almond Brittle Fringe

Caramelised White Chocolate & Tonka Bean Tart, with Almond Brittle Fringe

For the base:

200g Ratifia biscuits

100g unsalted butter, cubed

For the filling:

200g White chocolate (min. 30% cocoa butter)

25g unsalted butter

300ml double cream

2 Tonka beans, finely grated

For the decoration:

300ml double cream, whipped

75g Hope & Greenwood Almond Brittle with Himalayan Sea-salt

 

  • Preheat oven to 120C/100C fan.
  • Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump.
  • Press this mixture into a 23cm / 9 inch loose-bottomed tart tin; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.
  • Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
  • Break up the chocolate into pieces and put it on baking tray.
  • Place the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake, giving it a good stir every 10 mins, until it’s a light golden brown. Take the chocolate out when it is the color of peanut butter. If chocolate should start to look chalky or grainy, give it a good, brisk stir and it should return to normal.  Scrape the chocolate into a bowl and set aside.
  • In a saucepan add the grated tonka beam to the double cream and heat until just under boiling.
  • Remove from the heat and add in the caramelised white chocolate and stir until it is fully melted and incorporated.
  • Leave to cool for about 10 mins by which time it should start to thicken.
  • After the cooling time pour the caramelised white chocolate cream into the crumb base.
  • Place in a fridge to set for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
  • When set, remove the tart from the fridge and pipe a “fringe” of whipped cream around the edge.
  • Break the almond brittle into bite-sized pieces and stud the whipped cream fringe all around.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip to the “Sweet Shop” and feel intrigued enough to try out not only my recipe but also some of the goodies from Hope & Greenwood.

In the meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”