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!
185g unsalted butter, cubed
185g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces
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
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)
75g fresh raspberries
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
½ tsp black peppercorns
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.
Arrange the brownie fries alongside the ketchup and yuzu mayo.
This started life as yet another “Popcorn” recipe which was consigned to the “Not Right Now” folder on my desktop. With the weather taking a turn for the better I’ve decided to dust it off and let it see the light of day. The flatbreads are really easy and they’re fantastic for picnic or BBQ weather. The popcorn feature ingredient can easily be omitted and the breads will be just as good- maybe not as much of a talking point though?
I love these with smeared with fresh, homemade hummus and sprinkled with some pomegranate seeds. They’re also ideal halved and stacked with slivers of BBQ’d meat, fresh juicy tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. A definite taste for the summer!
500g strong, white bread flour
10g fast (easy) yeast
375ml warm water
40ml olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
100g chopped hazelnuts
50g sesame seeds
50g coriander seed
10g cumin seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
50g nigella seeds
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
14g Lemon & Fennel popcorn, crushed
Place the flour in a bowl, add the yeast to one side, and the salt to the other.
Create a well in the middle and add 275ml water, the olive oil and the honey and mix with your fingers until combined. Continue to add the rest of the water a little at a time until all the flour in the bowl has been incorporated. You may not need all the water- you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. By the end your dough should be smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a clean bowl and transfer the dough. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to rise until doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is rising, prepare the dukkah.
In a pan add the chopped hazelnuts; sesame seeds; coriander seeds; cumin seed; nigella seeds; and paprika. Toast over a medium heat until fragrant.
Add the salt and pepper and grind until rough.
Add in the crushed popcorn and mix to combine.
Drizzle in enough olive oil to create a rough paste.
Once the dough has doubled in size, tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knock back to remove the air (knead for about 5 minutes).
Cut the dough into 4 (roughly) equal pieces, and flatten with your fingers in a rough circle shape. With a lightly oiled rolling pin, roll into a larger circular shape, approximately 10-12cms diameter.
Transfer to 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment (2 dough discs on each).
Smear each of the dough circles liberally with the dukkah paste, covering the entire surface. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Whilst the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 225 degrees.
When the dough is rested, place the baking sheets in the oven- one on top third of oven, one in lower third of oven. After 6 mins, swap the positions of the trays, also turning them 180 degrees (front to back). Continue to bake for another 6 mins.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on their baking trays for a further 5 minutes. After this time transfer from the baking trays to wire racks.
Last year my husband and I went to Canada for the first time. We spent a week in Toronto and I absolutely fell in love with the place. The food…the people….the food…you get the picture I’m sure? I won’t wax lyrical about it (if you want that you can read all about my Canuck adventures here). The food is something I definitely never run out of things to say about. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried poutine, and then there’s Nova Scotia Lobster! But the point of this post is to share my love of yet another Canadian foodstuff (albeit not a native of the East Coast) – the Nanaimo Bar. Yes, I’ll admit it does sound like a character from a Disney movie but believe me it’s worth getting used to the name.
It’s basically a layered fridge cake made up of a crumb base layer, a buttercream-style middle layer (traditionally custard flavoured), then topped with a chocolate layer. Yes- they are a rich as they sound. Trust me, no matter how much your eyes tell you, one will be enough (okay- maybe two!) Originating in the district of Nanaimo, British Columbia it’s so popular that it’s been declared a national treasure. And like all good national treasures there are many recipes and many takes on how to make the bars- and they’re all the “proper” way. This is however is my way and how I like them best.
(As a note I prefer them kept in the fridge once they’re made as keeping them at room temperature causes the buttercream and chocolate layers to soften too much)
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut
For the filling:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
For the topping:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
– Lined 9″ x 9″ tray (1 ½ inch high) or silicone baking tray
To make the base:
Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a small pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat.
In a separate bowl combine the crumbs, coconut and walnut pieces.
Add the beaten egg to chocolate mixture and mix well to combine and thicken. The mixture may appear to separate but continue whisking vigorously and it’ll come back together to a shiny, thick consistency. Pour chocolate mixture over the crumb mixture and mix well to combine.
Press mixture into the lined tin and level the surface. Chill for 30mins to 1 hour.
To make the filling:
Add the butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together in a stand mixer.
Cream well at a high-speed until fluffy and smooth
Spread this over the biscuit base and chill for at least 3 hours until set firm.
To make the topping:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Allow to cool for a few mins then spread it over the filling.
Return to the fridge and leave until set (at least 1 hour).
As you well know by now there’s nothing I like better than an ingredient challenge. Shaking up things is so much a part of what I do here at Mr. Mom’s- as well as flying the flag for bakers of the hirsute persuasion. This recipe was conceived as part of a bundle of bakes using a certain brand of popcorn. I crafted a number of recipes using each flaour of popcorn as a key ingredient- from sweet to savory, starter to dessert. Sadly the manufacturing company showed no interest in them and they were consigned to a dusty folder on my desktop. Until now…
One such popcorn flavour was Sour Cream and Chive. For me this is a flavour that is synonymous with parties for me. The classic retro dip always means “Abigail’s Party”-esque good time gatherings (albeit sans the penchant for Demis Roussos). I wanted to create something savoury but not heavy and filling. These light, little morsels make perfect party drinks nibbles, combining the savoury flavour of classic gougère with a tangy sprinkling of sour cream and chive popcorn. The finish of these bites is a nod to another choux treat the sweet chouquette. But here, savory popcorn crumbs are used instead of pearl sugar.
60g plain flour
3 medium eggs
40g strong cheddar, grated
40g parmesan, grated
Pinch white pepper
10g Sour Cream & Chive popcorn, crushed
Preheat your oven to 170°C, and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
In a bowl combine the two cheeses and mix well. Set aside until needed later.
In a medium saucepan add the water and butter and bring up to simmer melting the butter.
Turn off the heat and add the flour and mix well, make sure the roux is dry and all the water cooked off.
Beat 2 of the eggs together. Add ¼ of the beaten eggs and beat well to incorporate. Repeat steps until all the beaten eggs have been added.
Now add the ½ the cheese, mix well, add remainder of cheese and mix well again, season with salt and pepper. The dough should now come together in a single, soft lump in the pan.
Put into a piping bag, fitted with a plain nozzle, and pipe out the size of a small walnut onto baking paper leaving space between each one. If you have little peaks dab them down with a wet finger.
Beat the remaining egg to make a simple egg wash and gently brush each blob of pasty.
Sprinkle over the crushed popcorn, gently pushing in to the pastry.
Put into a preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes approx. until golden brown. If needed rotate the tray half way through cooking.
Remove from the oven and serve.
*For ideal serving, once cooled return to a warm oven for about 5 minutes to warm up.
Okay- I’ll come clean. I don’t actually like hot cross buns. Well- hot cross buns in the “traditional” sense. Dried fruits of sultanas, currants and raisins do absolutely nothing for me and hot cross buns I place firmly in the same category as Christmas Cake. I’ll accept them to be civil, I’ll bake them to experiment and I’ll eat them under duress. So it only seems fitting that this Easter season I come up with something a lot more palatable, even to the those of us prone to outbursts of “inyaphobia” (yes, it’s a thing I jest you not…Google it).
I can’t quite put a finger on where my malaise with dried fruit comes from. It probably has its roots, like all else culinary for me, in my childhood and my mother’s kitchen. Each festive season, whether it be Easter, Christmas or Halloween was heralded with a routine palette of sensory ticks…the flat clanging of baking trays on kitchen surfaces, the heady scent of dried fruit steeping in brandy, cold tea or whatever liquid was to hand, and the frequent blistering blasts of heat from oven. It’s the smell of the dried fruit steeping that sticks with me, permeating memory as much as clothing. Like anything in life familiarity breeds contempt, and boy did my mother like a fruit cake!
Hence my deviation from hot cross buns with their traditional sultana/mixed peel combination. Instead I give you an almost “regal” combinaton of cranberries and pear (yes, I’m aware they’re dried too but far more tolerable in my view) laced with dark chocolate studs. Chocolate makes everything better. Except fish- that’s just wrong! So best you stick to making these hot cross buns instead.
500g strong white flour
85g caster sugar
2 tsp mixed spice powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
10g fine salt
14g fast-action dried yeast
1 tbspn vanilla extract
300ml whole fat milk
1 egg, beaten
65g dried cranberries
65g dried pear, chopped into small pieces
65g dark chocolate chips
50g plain flour
80ml cold water
50g plain flour
80ml cold water
2 tbsp golden syrup
Line a baking sheet/ tray with baking parchment and set aside for later.
Combine the flour, sugar, spices, salt and yeast into a large bowl. Make sure the salt and yeast are on opposite sides of the bowl.
In a pan combine the milk, vanilla extract and butter. Heat over a medium/low heat until the butter has melted. Allow the mixture to cool until tepid.
Add 1/3 the tepid milk mixture to the dry ingredients, along with the beaten egg. and use your hands to bring the mixture together. Add in the second 1/3 of the milk mixture and continue forming a dough, taking any stray flour from the sides of the bowl.
Finally, slowly add the remaining milk until you form a soft pliable dough. Take note here as you may not need all of the milk.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly oiled work surface. Knead by hand incorporating the fruit and chocolate chips into the dough. Lightly knead for 10 minutes until silky and elastic and the dough is smooth. (This part can also be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, this usually takes about 8 minutes.)
Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, covering with oiled cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
Tip the dough on to a lightly oiled surface and divide into 12 balls. (I usually do this by rolling it into a thick sausage shape, apx 40cms long. Divide into 2, then divide each half into 6 equal pieces and roll them into balls.)
Place the balls on the tray, placing them fairly close together and flattening them slightly.
Cover the baking tray with a clean polythene bag and leave for an hour until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
For the cross marking, combine the flour and water in a bowl. Mix together to make a paste and spoon into an icing bag.
When the buns have risen remove the tray from the bag, snip the end of the piping bag (making a hole about 3mm) and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden-brown, turning the baking trays round halfway through.
Warm the golden syrup in a pan and while the buns are still warm, brush the buns with a little syrup to glaze. Return to the wire rack and allow to cool.
Serve with fresh butter. They can be lightly warmed in an oven for tasty seasonal breakfast treat. Enjoy!