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.

Happy Pancake Day

Today is a very happy pancake day indeed. Why? Because it’s the first time in years that I have remembered to cook pancakes on pancake day. Although it almost didn’t happen… again. Last night I told the kids we would have pancakes for breakfast. So I got up this morning and starting making a fruit salad. Luckily my son breezed into the kitchen and cheerily mentioned pancakes.

Now because I was a bit flustered at my forgetfulness I made these slightly differently from the recipe I usually use for 2 reasons. Firstly, I usually add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the batter, but I forgot (it didn’t seem to matter a jot). And secondly I thought I’d try using self raising flour instead of plain, with less baking powder. These beauties puffed up a treat so I won’t look back.

So hoorah and huzzah we feasted on a pile of pancakes this morning. Pretty impressive for a Tuesday morning. These are lovely and simple, both to make and in flavour, which means they present themselves as the perfect carrier for any delightful topping you might fancy. I will always go for blueberries and maple syrup but around the table there were artful combos made from peanut butter, chocolate spread, honey, bananas etc etc.

This recipe makes a lot of pancakes. There are 5 of us and we all love to eat. One of us ate 7 pancakes this morning, you know who you are. So if you are a little less greedy than us you could reduce the quantities or just make them all and freeze your leftovers or, if you’re feeling generous share them with your neighbours.

Classic Pancakes

Serves 5 greedy people


Ingredients

  • About 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 450ml whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 330g self raising flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • A couple of tablespoons of sugar (optional)

Method

  • First, in the pan you are going to cook your pancakes in, melt the butter then take off the heat and leave while you whisk the other ingredients together.
  • Whisk the milk and eggs before adding the dry ingredients and keep whisking until there are no lumps.
  • Now pour in the melted butter and whisk again .
  • Heat your pan (it really needs to be non-stick) over a medium heat and add big dollops of pancake batter and leave to cook without touching until little bubbles start to appear on the surface. Flip and cook on the other side for a minute or so.
  • You can eat these as they are ready or keep them warm in a low oven while you finish cooking the whole batch.

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.

Banana Breakfast Smoothie

Bananas are perfect for delivering that much needed energy boost first thing in the morning.

My kids are going back to school soon and I predict a struggle in the morning. They’ve not had to rise from their beds before 9am since March! So a quick and easy smoothie will be just the ticket for a quick brekky before bolting out the door.

All of my children have hearty (that’s putting it mildly) appetites but if there are any first day back butterflies it might be easier to stomach a fruity drink than a hearty meal.

You can use any kind of milk for this: coconut, soya, cows milk, whatever you have in the fridge really. I added about a tablespoon of honey but to be honest it was a little too sweet for me. Just go with what you fancy.

I would hugely recommend a teeny bit of cinnamon and if I was using cows milk I might add a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or extract.

Banana Breakfast Smoothie

Makes 4 glasses

Ingredients

  • 500ml coconut milk (or whatever kind if milk you favour)
  • 2 ripe yellow bananas
  • A tablespoon of honey (optional)
  • A pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or extract (optional)

Method

  • Put all of your ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth.

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.