Salted Fudge Brownie Cookies

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So waaaaaay back when- in a time when we could still hug each other; be in public without looking like random members of GI Joe or when Lysol still stocked grocery store shelves, I baked brownies. A LOT of brownies. The quantity of brownies baked in my kitchen was only just outdone by the amount of experimental cupcake flavors I would try tempt people with (Vanilla genoise w/ white truffle buttercream frosting, topped with strawberry, black pepper and a balsamic drizzle anyone?) Brownies satiated my passion for baking and my love of chocolate. In fact so much so was this the case that I ended up winning the title of Observer Food Monthly Best Reader’s Recipe 2014. The victorious recipe was my Smokin’ Pig Licker Brownies and can be found here if you interested.

Anyway I digress, as so often seems to be the case when I write these days! The current abundance of time indoors led me to wonder if this basic brownie recipe could be tweaked and applied to cookie format. And I was not to be the first. I’ll be perfectly  honest and admit I was utterly coerced by the glut of crinkle cookie images that seemed to be flooding my feed along with those of the omnipresent sourdough. The cookie recipe here follows pretty much the base template of brownies – melted choc/ butter combo; dry ingredients stash and sugar/egg volume. A dash of baking powder adds some leavening power to the cookie “dough balls” and stops them becoming a singular cookie en masse on the baking tray.

Overall I gotta admit to them being a tasty success, if thinner than I expected. I guess the word “brownies” in my head is synonymous with thick and chunky (applies to me in all walks of life!) so I was a little perturbed when these cookies baked to be a bit thinner. Nonetheless they still had the fudgy texture that I love of brownies and the crinkle topping certainly provided a certain visual ASMR.

So add these the long ever-growing list of what I should start calling “Quarantine Cookies”. Little morsels of baked goodness that have become my tasty alternative to crossing days off a calendar. The only downside being that whilst my repertoire is expanding so too, it would seem, is my waistline!

Stay safe!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa (if you can’t get this standard cocoa is fine as long as it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coffee extract
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup fine sugar
  • 2 eggs, large
  • Optional: Flaky sea salt, to finish (I use Maldon)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and Kosher salt until combined.  Set aside until needed later
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate pieces in a bowl over a pan of water. Gently heat over medium-low heat until melted, stirring occasionally to combine. When fully melted remove the bowl from the hot water/ heat, add in the coffee extract and give one final stir to combine. Set aside until needed
  4. While the butter/chocolate mixture is melting, combine the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and increased in volume
  5. Slow and steadily add the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and fold them together until uniform in color and it is just combined
  6. Sift in the dry mixture, again fold it in until just combined
  7. Using a large (3 tablespoon measurement) scoop drop batter balls onto your prepared baking sheet, spaced at least two inches apart.  The batter will be quite runny and will spread significantly as the cookies bake.  (Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if using)
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are crinkled and slightly domed. Remove cookies from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire baking rack to cool. The cookies will flatten and crinkle even further as they firm up and cool down

*These cookies will keep in a sealed container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months

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Chewy Maple & Bee Pollen Oat Cookies

Not really much of a tale behind these other than I just REALLY wanted an oatmeal cookie one day. But I can be particular about my oat cookies! Not for me are the crisp, brittle types. I prefer the soft, chewy variety that meltingly give when you bite. Maple syrup ALWAYS makes things better so why not include it? To be honest it’s not too prevalent in the taste of this cookie- just enough boost the “cookie comfort factor” (I may trademark that as a baking calibration tool!) The bee pollen was a “why the heck not?” addition from a pantry rummage, albeit with added health benefits. If you don’t have any feel fee to omit. Which of course means these become “Chewy Maple Oatmeal Cookies”. One less ingredient but just as tasty.

Makes 30 apx

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon fancy molasses

• 3 cups whole rolled oats

• 1/2 cup bee pollen

• 1/4 cup maple syrup

Method

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until blended, about 5 minute, then increase to high speed and whip for another 5-6mins
  3. In a jug combine the eggs, molasses, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the butter mixture and beat for 3 minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat again as needed to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients (I usually do it in 1/4 cup increments) and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the oats and bee pollen. The final dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  7. Use a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoon size) to scoop the cookie dough on to the prepared baking sheets, placing 2 inches apart. Bake for 15minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look soft.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  9. Cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week

PB & J Coffee Cake

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PB & J – Never have three letters caused such divisive reactions. To be honest the quintessential North American stable of childhood has often has left me baffled in the past. I guess the secret of it’s appeal lies in that age old combination of sweet and salty. Whilst I struggle with grasping it’s appeal in it’s original sandwich form I’ll confess to being partial to it in bake form with contradictory fervor. Just as long as it’s not with grape flavoring! That attraction still eludes me.

So imagine my interest when I stumbled upon this recipe. Although I wish I could lay claim to this recipe the credit all lies with the publication Bake From Scratch and their recent issue on “One Layer Cakes”, If you haven’t heard of BFS I’d definitely recommend checking them out. If not directly for their recipes then certainly as a source of inspiration as I have done in the past.

Whist the original recipe calls for making two 6″ single layer cakes I couldn’t help but think who on earth wants a cake that small! So I instead baked mine in a single 9″ with the only variance being a longer cooking time with the necessity for aluminium tenting the top of the cake towards the end of baking. 

Prepare to surrender to the peanut buttery goodness! I love the crumbly peanut streusel topping- it’s a unique twist on the signature coffee cake feature. I’m sure jam/ jelly to suit your taste could be subbed in, there just happened to be strawberry lurking in my pantry. All in all this cake didn’t last long as it proved a quick hit with the kids. I kept mine on the counter top, in an airtight cake box, and after 4 days it was still tasty ever.

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Ingredients

Streusel topping

  • 1/3 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup strawberry jam

Garnish

Warmed peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” round deep cake pan with baking spray and line with baking parchment
  2. To make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and brown sugar. Stir in peanut butter and butter until mixture is crumbly. Crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached. Stir in peanuts. Chill in the refrigerator until needed later
  3. For cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 stages alternately with buttermilk, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into your prepared tin. Spread on strawberry jam, and top with remaining batter, smoothing the top for a level surfaced. Sprinkle with the peanut streusel you prepared earlier
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 60-65 minutes, if needed loosely covering with foil to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of cake to loosen sides. Invert onto a plate, and then invert again onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Garnish with warmed peanut butter, if desired.

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Soft Bread Pretzels

Makes: 8

Ingredients

Pretzel dough

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Quick-rise yeast
  • 320ml warm water
  • 65ml olive oil

Soda Bath

  • 3 litres water, boiling
  • 1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda

To finish

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • Sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside for the dough later
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, salt (to one side), yeast (to opposite side) and brown sugar
  3. Add in olive oil and 250ml warm water and mix on low setting to combine the ingredients. Add in remaining water, if needed, to achieve a soft, slightly sticky dough. Continue to knead in the machine for a total of 7 minutes. (if you’re mixing the traditional way, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir using your  hand (in a claw shape) until the all come together. Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and continue to knead for 10 mins until the dough is soft and slightly sticky)
  4. Tip the dough from the mixer bowl into the prepared oiled bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place to proof for at least 45 minutes, or until doubled in size
  5. Before you start working on the dough pieces, bring the 3 litres of water to a rolling boil in a large pot and add in the bicarbonate of soda
  6. Once the dough has finished proofing, tip out onto a lightly oiled surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and, in turn, divide each piece into 4 equal pieces. This will give you 8 equal pieces of dough to work with
  7. Roll each piece of dough into a long strand/rope approximately 30 inches in length. Take each end of the dough “rope” in the opposite hand and cross over simultaneously. Cross them over again to bring back the ends back to their original sides whilst bringing the tips down to the base of the loop. You should end up with a rough “heart” shape with the overlapping stands inside. Press the ends of the strands onto the loop so they stick
  8. Preheat your oven to 400°F
  9. This next bit is fiddly and a little patience & perseverance may be needed. Carefully pick up and drop the assembled pretzel to the pot of boiling soda solution (I use a slotted spatula) Take caution as there may be some splashing. Allow the pretzel to boil for 20 seconds (it should rise to the surface), the using a slotted spatula flip the pretzel on to it’s oppose side and continue to boil for another 20 seconds. Remove with the slotted spatula, drain and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pretzels
  10. Brush each of the pretzels liberally with the melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt flakes to personal taste
  11. Bake in the your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and brush with any remaining butter if desired. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly
  12. The pretzels are at their best enjoyed warm or fresh on the day of baking

 

Easy Pantry Recipes

 

 

I struggled for what to write here as anything I first attempted sounded flippant and vapid, making light of the situation and circumstances that each and every one of us are living through at the moment. What I wanted to do was…well to do “something“. I firmly believe in the calming and therapeutic powers of being in the kitchen. At the best of times baking for me offers a respite from daily chores and frantic everyday life, a place to get my headspace and mentally “breathe”.

My baking activity has definitely had an upsurge of late. In the uncertain circumstances of the world today I find there is a calming certainty in knowing that if I mix a certain bundle of ingredients together a known result will be achieved. Focusing on the task at hand helps to redirect my attention and anxiety away from the unnerving headlines and statistics we’re being bombarded with- a calm in the eye of the storm, no matter how briefly. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here-  pass on these moments of calm to you in some small way. 

The recipes here offer little moments of indulgence and respite with minimal ingredients and skill needed. Hopefully most of the ingredients called for are already staples in your pantry or, failing that, will prove easy to get hold of. I hope you enjoy taking some time out and baking them.

Stay safe out there folks, see you on the other side.

You can find some further information on mental health considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak here

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Shown here served with crème anglaise

Chocolate Soufflé

Serves 4

Ingredients

• 2 cups chocolate hazelnut spread (I use Nutella – surprise!)

• 5 eggs

Method

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and place into two separate bowls
  3.  
  4. Mix the chocolate hazelnut spread into the bowl with the egg yolks
  5. In the second bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form
  6.  
  7. Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Add the remaining egg whites to the mixture and fold gently, but thoroughly, until the mixture is smooth
  8. Pour the mixture into the greased ramekins and bake for 15-17 minutes until risen
  9. Serve immediately
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Shown here served with crème anglaise

 


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Shown here served w/ Blueberry, Rosemary & Juniper berry conserve

Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F
  2. Line a tray with baking parchment and dust lightly with flour. Set aside until needed
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Whisk to combine and break down lumps. Make a well in the centre
  4. Pour in most of the buttermilk
  5. Using one hand stir the flour into the liquid from the outside of the bowl, turning the bowl as you do. Continue until the mixture comes together in a soft dough that is not too wet or sticky (you may need the remainder of the buttermilk here)
  6. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a few seconds. Don’t over-knead here- you just want to do it enough so that it holds it shape. Don’t do it to the extent that you would with standard bread dough!
  7. Using your hands, lightly floured, pat the dough into a round shape about 2 inches thick. Transfer to the floured baking sheet
  8. With a knife (I use a bench scraper) score a cross into the top of the loaf, so that it goes almost all the way through the thickness and over the sides of the loaf
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 15mins then reduce the heat to 400°F and continue baking for an additional 20mins until cooked. The baked loaf will be deep golden in color and sound hollow when the bottom of it is tapped
  10. Remove and cool on a wire rack
  11. This type of loaf will cool with a hard, crispy crust. If a softer crust is desired wrap a clean kitchen towel around the hot loaf and allow it to cool

*If you don’t have buttermilk to hand you can make your own by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon squeezed lemon juice or distilled white vinegar in a jug. Stir to combine and leave to sit for 15 mins. After 15 mins the liquid will have thickened slightly and small curds can be seen. Use in the recipe as required. Any remaining milk can be stored in the fridge.

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White Bread Bloomer

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons quick action yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Olive oil
  • 1 1/4cups warm water

Method

  1. Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside for the dough later
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, salt (to one side), yeast (to opposite side) and brown sugar
  3. Add in olive oil and 250ml warm water and mix on low setting to combine the ingredients. Add in remaining water, if needed, to achieve a soft, slightly sticky dough. Continue to knead in the machine for a total of 7 minutes. Proceed to Step 4.(If you’re mixing the traditional way, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and shaping you hand into a “claw shape”, with fingers slightly spaced, mix by hand until all the ingredients come together in a ball. Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and continue to knead for 10 mins until the dough is soft and slightly sticky)
  4. Tip the dough from the mixer bowl into the prepared oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling-wrap and set aside to proof for at least 45 minutes, or until doubled in size
  5. Once the dough has finished proofing, tip out onto a lightly oiled surface. Punch down the dough to knock bar the air and reduce it in size
  6. You can either leave it as one large load or divide into two for 2 smaller standard sized loafs
  7. Once the dough has been knocked back use oiled hands to shape into an oval shape and transfer to a large flour dusted baking sheet
  8. Cover with oiled cling wrap, set aside and leave to double inside for apx 30-40mins
  9. Whilst the dough is having it second proof, preheat your oven to 425°F
  10. Once the dough has proofed and risen, bake in the preheated oven for 15mins, after which reduce the temperature to 390°F and bake for further 10-15mins until deep golden in color and the base of the loaves sound hollow when tapped
  11. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a rack
  12. Baked loaves can easily be frozen and saved for later. Wrap in cling wrap, place in plastic bag, seal and place in freezer. Defrost for a few hours when needed

PB & J Oat Bars

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, plus extra for the tin
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 8 tablespoons grape jelly (or favourite fruit flavour)
  • 1/2cup light brown soft sugar, packed
  • 2 cups rolled oats

Method

 

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F . Butter and line the base and sides of a 9” square cake tin with baking parchment
  2. Set aside 3 tablespoons each of the peanut butter and jam in separate bowls for later. Combine the remaining peanut butter, jam, butter and sugar into a pan over a medium heat and stir until everything has melted together. Quickly stir in the rolled oats, then leave to cool for 5 mins
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and gently press down with a small measuring cup
  4. Dot over the reserved peanut butter and jam, then bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then turn out onto a board and cut into bars (2 x6)
  5. Bars are best kept refrigerated in a sealed container for 2-3 days


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Easy Shortbread Cookies

 

  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degree
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) oe using an electric hand-mixer beat the butter and icing sugar together well.
  3. Slowly add in the flour (I use 1/4 cup increments) until it has all been added in. Once it all in, crank up the speed on you machine and whip it for 6 minutes. The mixture will become light and exceptionally fluffy
  4. Using a small cookie scoop (size about 1- 1/2 tablespoon) scoop the dough out onto the prepared  baking sheets
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes until bottoms of the cookies are browned.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes on the trays. Transfer to a rack to cool complely
  7. Baked cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week 

In the photographs shown I put a cherry on top of each prior to baking. The pre-baked cookies can be left plain or topped with whatever you like from your pantry such as chocolate chunks; nuts; candy pieces…whatever you have to hand in your pantry.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 18-20

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 Egg

 

Method

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a hand-held electric mixer, mix the ingredients together until well blended
  3. Using a small cookie scoop (about 1-1/2 tablespoon size) scoop doughballs on to ungreased cookie sheet
  4. Using a fork press down in one direction and then press again from the other side to form a criss-cross pattern on top
  5. Bake for 12 minutes
  6. Allow them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  7. Baked cookies will keep for 3-4 days at room temperature in a sealed container

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Homemade Butter

I posted the recipe for this a couple of years ago. It such an easy thing to do but a lot of people think of it as a daunting task. You can find the recipe/method here