Sunday, 23 November 2014

Spicy Ginger Chocolate Brownies

Was browsing through a book from the library last week called 'Christmas Cupcakes & Cookies', looking for inspiration for some Christmas baking. We also had an event to raise money for our local community centre, so I thought I'd grab the chance to bake something new (on the basis that chocolate always sells well). This photo represents the only one left, didn't get a good photo of the whole batch piled up in all it's gooey glory.

Is it embarrassing to admit that I mainly wanted to make these because I'd found some edible tiny gold stars and *needed* an opportunity to use them? A bit probably, but never mind... Tiny gold stars, yay! And on with the recipe:

For the brownies:
275g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
175g butter, diced
125 plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Generous grating of nutmeg
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of salt
25g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
175g dark muscovado sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp treacle
4 eggs
50g flaked almonds

For the ganache:
125g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
125ml double cream
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
A pinch of salt

To decorate:
More finely chopped crystallised ginger (about 25g) and edible gold sprinkles

1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment
2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees
3. Put chocolate and butter for the brownies in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined. Leave to cool slightly.
4. Sift together the flour, spices and salt.
5. Lightly whisk the sugar, syrup, treacle and eggs in another large bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in until combined.
6. Stir the almonds and the chopped crystallised ginger into the bowl. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or until the brownies are set (I did for 30 mins and they were still pretty squidgy in the middle, they were devoured without complaint, so I'm guessing they were ok... I'm never sure what constitutes a properly cooked brownie)
8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. These brownies are best made the day before you decorate them, just make sure you wrap them up in clingfilm once cool.
9. Prepare the chocolate ganache - tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream is just boiling. Add the salt. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to melt. Stir vigorously until smooth, then leave to cool and thicken slightly before using.
10. Spread the ganache over the top of the brownies, score with a fork to make a diagonal pattern, then cut into 16 squares. Scatter chopped crystallised ginger and gold sprinkles over the top to decorate.

There you go, migraine on a plate, but verrrry tasty. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Work in Progress

Exhibit A - un-finished objects (ufo) basket
So what a weird October huh? So unseasonally warm I was almost relieved to finally dig out my woolly tights and fuck-off big boots this week. So what have I been up to? I've been offered extra hours at work during term-time, which is great in some ways, but does mean I have less time for creative stuff - boo!

Just before half term we made a magnificent family effort and created a Anglo Saxon warrior outfit for my 8 year old for a school 'wow' day. If he's not too embarrassed I will post some pics, as he did look pretty cool (although his main interest was the weaponry - he's normally a very gentle soul, honest...). Then during half term we had a big family wedding, which involved lots of travelling but was so much fun, and we now have an Official Auntie C. Managed to squeeze in a visit from my parents too, which even meant a bit of babysitting so that husband and I could go out at the weekend and watch 1930s horror films.

Eldest child (he of the Saxon warrior fame) then celebrated his exciting half term break by suddenly vomiting late on Sunday evening, just as we were all due back at school and our respective workplaces after a week off - timing could have been better. So another day off on Monday then, oh well, better use the time to tidy up the craft stuff, in between providing weak glasses of squash and dry toast of course.

Exhibit B - frog it don't slog it
I discovered quite a few unfinished projects, which I've now gathered together in one place (Exhibit A), in the hope that I might get on and finish them. There's a couple of things that are virtually finished already, so no excuse really. But one thing I've learnt about creative work, sometimes it's better to rip it up and start again, no point slogging away on putting work into something that you don't even like. Which brings me to Exhibit B, which was half a baby blanket that I just lost enthusiasm for, and then ran out of yarn, and then the baby graduated from university (sort of kidding). You know the story... So I frogged it, and now the yarn has the chance to be something lovely.

Or maybe sit in my stash for a while longer, let's not do anything hasty ;-)