Mmmmint Oreo Brownies

You can’t say “mint Oreo brownies” without saying “mmmm”. Nor would you want to, as these are mmmmarvellous.

As if a chocolate brownie wasn’t gorgeous enough, adding the Oreos brings new, and welcome, texture to this chocolatey party.

This recipe is egg free. For the simple reason that I was fresh out of eggs. Undeterred, I substituted 4 eggs with 4 tablespoons of thick Greek style yoghurt. The resulting brownies were as smooth, rich and gooey as ever so I share it now with you.

Mmmmint Oreo Brownies

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 150g butter
  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tablespoons Greek style yoghurt (or 4 beaten eggs if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 120g milk chocolate, chopped
  • About 8 mint Oreos, broken up a bit

Method

  • First, preheat your oven to 180C and line a square tin with foil (my tin is 20cm square).
  • In a pan which can hold all of the ingredients, melt your butter over a gentle heat. Then stir in the sugar.
  • Next add the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and roughly mix. Take off the heat.
  • Now plop in the yoghurt and mint extract and stir again.
  • Stir in the chocolate chunks and pour your unctuous mixture into the waiting tin.
  • Scatter over those broken Oreos and press them down very slightly.
  • Pop in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. It’s worth having a check at 20 minutes as you don’t want to over cook and miss out on that gooey loveliness. When ready, the brownie will look set on top but will still have a wobble underneath.
  • Once cooked, take out of the oven and cool on a wire rack, still in the baking tin.

Sweet & Salty Choc-o-nut Cookies

Delicious, delovely, delectable, divine! To quote the utterly degroovey Deee-Lite. The surprising friendship of salty nuts and sweet chocolate is a true delight…though I can’t take credit for its conception.

My middle child, who has always had a knack for sensational flavour twists, fancied doing a bit of baking. These moreish morsels were his winning creation.

Normally, I find it hard to stop at 1 or 2 cookies, but the salty nuts make these gorgeously satisfying. And this, my friend, is a good thing because one bite of these and you will be hooked.

Choc-o-nut Cookies

Ingredients

  • 50g soft butter
  • 25g peanut butter
  • 160g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 60g salted peanuts

Method

  • First of all pop your oven on to 180C / 160C fan. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Beat your sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Now beat in your egg and vanilla.
  • Gradually add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa (we added 1/3 at a time).
  • Finally stir in the chocolate chunks and nuts.
  • Now just dollop tablespoons of the cookie dough onto your prepared baking sheets, leaving a few centimetres in between each cookie.
  • Pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Once they’re baked to perfection, remove from the oven. Give them a few minutes to cool slightly before you move them to a wire rack.

Simple Elderberry Syrup

If you go down to the woods today… you might be lucky enough to find an elder tree dripping with deep dark red elderberries. Sorry to disappoint those with a penchant for picnics and teddy bears. But on the plus side you might not have to venture as far as the woods to find these treasures. There’s a lovely old elder tree right next to my suburban garden. 

If I catch them at them earlier in the year I love to pick the elderflowers and make homemade elderflower cordial.  I’d love to make elderflower champagne but I’m a bit worried about exploding bottles. I need to learn to live a little closer to the edge before I attempt it.

This year I missed out on the elderflowers so I was determined to get my hands on the berries.

Elderberries are absolutely chock a block with antioxidants, which give our immune systems a massive boost. So making a syrup now and digging into it over the autumn and winter months is a great way to help ward off colds and flu.

A word of caution with these berries – you really have to cook them or you might risk an upset tummy.  When raw these little berries are obnoxiously sour so you’d probably want to cook them anyway – nature’s way of keeping us safe. Also make sure you discard the leaves and stalks as these can be toxic.  A little vigilance is totally worth it for the sweet elixir you end up with.

This syrup is made with sugar but you could absolutely make it with honey, which would also cram in yet more healthy delights. I added a couple of slices of fresh ginger and a couple of cloves and the result is that the finished syrup is slightly reminiscent of cola. So when my youngest was under the weather a couple of days ago he slurped down his ‘medicine’ no questions asked. If you prefer, keep it simple and just go with the berries and sweet stuff.

You could use this as a cordial, drizzle over greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, add a dash to a cocktail or simply down a small shot when you feel your body needs a helping immune boosting hand.

Simple Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients

  • 500g elderberries
  • 400g sugar
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Optional flavour enhancers: a couple of slices of ginger and a couple of cloves

Method

  • First and foremost make sure you remove all of the stalks and leaves from the berries as these are toxic. Also discard any green berries.
  • You can gently pull the berries off the stalks or use a fork. I really like the fork method, which also cuts down on the staining of your fingers.
  • Give the berries a wash.
  • Tip them into a pan and cover with water (the water should be about 1cm over the berries). Add your ginger and cloves if you are using them. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • Now strain through a sieve. Pour the liquid back into the pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled you can either bottle this and keep in the fridge or, to make it last even longer, freeze in ice cube trays.

Luscious Lemon Layer Cake

Yesterday I asked my eldest son what kind of cake he would like me to bake. I always hold my breath sightly when I ask this as my kids often come up with some pretty inventive cake ideas.

After a little thought he asked for a lemon cake. Specifically a round lemon cake with a crunchy lemon drizzle topping with lemon curd in the middle.

With a smile of relief I thought I had all the ingredients at home but it turned out I only had a drop of lemon curd left. It was pouring with rain and frankly I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops so I also added a layer of clotted cream, which turned out to be absolutely delicious and the perfect match to the cake’s citrus burst.

This is a wonderfully zingy crunchy lemon cake the like of which I’ve never had before. I’ll definitely be making this again and again…

Luscious Lemon Layer Cake

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 210g self raising flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g room temp butter
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 tablespoons of milk

For the lemon drizzle

  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 80g granulated sugar

For the filling

  • 3 tablespoons of lemon curd
  • If you like add cream or butter cream too

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180 C / gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm round cake tins and line the bases.
  • Put the flour, sugar and cornflour into a food processor and blitz to combine.
  • Now just chuck in the rest of the ingredients and whiz until combined.
  • Pour and scrape the cake mixture into the prepared tins and smooth over the tops.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out of the cakes clean.
  • Leave the cakes in their tins to cool a little (about 10 minutes) and then turn one cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the other cake in its tin.

For the drizzle:

  • Just mix together the sugar and lemon juice. Take the cake that is still in its tin and prick it all over with a fork. Gently pour over the drizzle mixture and leave to cool in the tin on the wire rack.
  • Once both cakes are cool take the bottom cake layer (the one without the drizzle) and place on a plate or cake stand. Spread with the curd and, if you’re using it, the cream and pop the crusty topped cake on top.

Sumptuous Bannoffi Pie

I don’t have to tell you that banoffi pie (banana / toffee) is already oozing with sweet, bronzed caramel so there’s really no requirement for additional caramel in any shape or form. Well, that’s easy for me to say as I confess that I am not overly keen on caramel.

However, I live in a house of rabid caramel adorers to whom there is no such thing as too much caramel. So as I was finishing this sweet treat off with an elegant grating of quality chocolate, along came my son with some chopped up chunks of Cadburys Caramel. It was declared a triumph by all.

If you have a delection for sweet sweet confection you simply have to make this pie. If you did want to tone the sweetness down a notch you could stir a pinch of salt into your caramel and of course go right ahead and omit the chocolate caramel decoration.

Sumptuous Banoffi Pie

Ingredients

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 can (397g) or jar of caramel
  • Optional pinch of sea salt
  • 2 – 3 bananas
  • 300ml of double cream
  • About 20g chocolate, grated
  • 1 – 2 bars of chocolate enrobed caramel

Method

  • First of all pop your biscuits in a large bag and crush them with a rolling pin until your have nice fine crumbs.
  • Mix them with the melted butter then tip them into a 20cm pie dish or springform tin. Press them down firmly with the back of a metal spoon. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  • If you have opted for the salted version, mix the sea salt into the caramel. Pour your caramel over the cool biscuit base and spread out gently so you have an even layer.
  • Slice your bananas and scatter them over the caramel.
  • Whip your double cream until it forms soft peaks. Spoon on top of the waiting pie.
  • Finally sprinkle over your chocolately adornments.
  • Chill, preferably for at least a couple of hours, before devouring.