Creme Egg Brownies

Tiny Creme Egg

Tiny Creme Egg

There’s some things that social media make look far far easier than they prove to be in real life.  Such as curled hair using straighteners (Clue’s in the name.  Mere mortals can’t make something designed to straighten curlify.  Fact) and French manicures that don’t in actual fact look as if you’ve dipped the tips of your fingernails in tippex.   Creme Egg Brownies fit into this category.  In theory, what is there not to love about them.  They celebrate the season of gluttony and the abandonment of any vestiges of the New Year New You healthy eating plans and then raise the bar to the next level.  Correct me if I’m wrong (actually don’t because I’m menstrual and don’t take criticism well at the best of times) but I think the Cadbury’s Creme Egg is only big in Britain.  Essentially chocolate, filled with icing.  In an Egg shape.  Who doesn’t like them?  No-one.  It’s possibly on some dubious ‘Are you British enough?’ type test beloved by the Daily Mail.  Setting aside the great Creme Egg debacle of 2015 – What?  The chocolate may have changed?  Crisis.  Let’s panic.  Oh they taste exactly the flipping same.  Panic over.  Yum

I love a Creme Egg.  I love that on about Boxing Day someone will post a photo of one on Instagram with a hugely miffed caption like ‘too early *disgruntled emoticon*’.  I love them but actually they’re a bit shit.  That’s the true British way.  We love things which are essentially a bit shit.  It is pretty bloody hard to unwrap a Creme Egg.  The wrappers are always at least a bit sticky and impossible to remove in one piece.  So you end up with a load of tiny bits of foil stuck to your increasingly sticky fingers.  About half way through a normal size one you start feeling a bit nauseous.  But unlike normal chocolate there is literally no way of leaving a Creme Egg half munched.  You can’t put it down as the filling will ooze out everywhere and it’s the stickiest substance known to man, second only to congealed Weetabix.  You can’t wrap it back in its wrapper because, as we’ve already established, that is in a hundred tiny slivers of sticky unusable foil.  So you eat all of it in sticky mouthfuls then feel a bit sick.  The advent of the mini-Creme Egg seemed to solve this but in fact unwrapping those little feckers is even more fiddly and sticky than the normal ones, and because they’re so so tiny you have to do more unwrapping and use a whole packet of wet wipes to de-stickify your fingers mid binge and then your scoffing tastes a bit of wet wipes.  Yack.

So, Pinterest and IG are full of Creme Egg Brownie photos.  But be warned.   They are not as easy to make as it would appear. The first time I made them, and I had taken advice from one of my friends who always has perfect baking results, although they tasted lush there was quite a lot of swearing, mess and reject brownies.

One.   It is REALLY BLOODY HARD TO SLICE A CREME EGG IN HALF.   The first time I tried it lots broke. Lots didn’t have the white/yolk look. Lots just looked as if they were just a big fat congealed mass of icing. Two. When you put all of the ingredients in the mixer with cocoa powder on the top and then let your 4 year old switch the mixer on (at full speed naturally) the whole kitchen will be coated with a fine dusting of brown powder. Which will stick to all the bloody Creme Egg foil which is lurking around. Also using full size Creme Eggs means that there’s kind of too much Egg to Brownie ratio and each slice was massive.
I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly and realised that if you dip your knife in a jug of hot water straight from the kettle in between each slice of Creme Egg then it will slice easier. I’ve also used mini Creme Eggs.

This is my tried and tested Brownie recipe.  Well my current favourite.  I only posted a brownie recipe on here  for a snickers brownie a while ago but I’ve found they’re nicer if you use some brown sugar and vanilla so this recipe is slightly different.

4 eggs

275g Stork or butter

150g Caster Sugar

225g soft brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

75g cocoa powder

100g self-raising flour

100g milk chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 160c (in my fan oven) and line a baking tin with baking parchment or the silicone liners that all the pound shops have.

Mix all the ingredients together – except for the creme eggs (I do this in the Kitchen Aid mixer but you could do it by hand) and pour into the lined tray and level over.

Bake for 25 minutes and THEN ADD THE CREME EGGS (they’ll burn if you put them in from the start) which you’ve cut in half. Just push them into the hot mixture in whatever pattern you want and then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the brownies are cooked.

Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool in the tray and then cut into squares.

I find that brownies, including these ones, freeze dead well and defrost quickly so usually make enough to eat some and then pop the rest in a container in the freezer.

Enjoy!

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Snickers Brownies & Home Alone

I’m home alone this week.  Picture me in that classic Macauley Culkin pose of a scream while holding my face in my hands.  But so far no-one has tried to break in and steal anything (although clearly just by typing that I will now be up half the night with nightmares!) and the only booby traps have been me falling over on yet more bloody conkers on the playroom floor.  My husband works away a lot.  He always has done, since before we had kids,  in fact before he met me.   Pre-kids it never bothered me at all – in fact my job meant that I was away a lot and working long hours.  Since we have kids – although we are grateful for his salary and I appreciate how hard he works – the days/weeks/hours spent working away from home are frankly pretty hard on all of us.  His job is feast or famine.  Either he is away loads or he’s here working at home – which isn’t perfect with small children in the house either.  So anyway, I will spare you the full CV of our lives but all you need to know for the purposes of this blog post is that he’s away this week.  Not here.  In London.  I am here.  So are the kids.  So technically I am not home alone, but I am home without another person who doesn’t think that goolie bumps isn’t the best entertainment ever. (See this post for more details on goolie bumps)

*disclaimer to be inserted here – yes I am aware that there are many single mommas out there – these wonderful ladies don’t have a husband riding the London Express back on a Friday night bearing flowers (hopefully) and a willingness (hopefully) to deal with small people.  Ladies, you rock.  I have the utmost admiration.  In fact I have a suspicion that you are actually super-women who have special powers.  My hat is well and truly off to you.

There are good things about him being away.  These are that I can crank the central heating up without him moaning, I can watch whatever I want on telly and that I can arrange for whatever internet purchases I have made to be delivered while he is not here.  That’s about it. *oh and his salary and job security and all that other shizzle too*

We are trying to declutter at the moment and I am drowning in a quagmire of ebay auctions, packaging tape and charity shop collections.  How on earth we have quite so much baby stuff is entirely beyond me.  I think someone snuck it into the house and just put it straight into the loft.  I don’t even remember using half of it.  I was trying to demonstrate the double buggy in its pram/toddler setting to my friend who was buying it last week and I had no memory whatsoever of how to put it together.  In fact my memories of the first year of Mitch’s life are very vague and fuzzy.  That’s what having a husband who works away and a non-sleeping baby will do to you.  Good job I took lots of photos otherwise I would strongly suspect that I was actually in a coma for 2 years.   In many ways I suppose I was. A baby vomit stained, sleep deprived, walking zombie state.  Anyway, I am sorting out baby stuff to get rid of and as fast as I can get stuff out of the loft the boys are greeting it like long lost friends and bemoaning that we can’t sell it as they neeeeeed it, it’s their faaaaaaavourite.  Mitch, who is 4 next month, spent Sunday afternoon curled up on a baby bouncer – which he had positioned under a baby gym, drinking water from a baby bottle and saying ‘Ga Ga’ a lot.

It’s undoubtedly easier coping at home alone now they’re older.  For a start, there’s chunks of time when they’re at school at the same time so I get chance to catch up on chores/sleep/exercise/feel vaguely human again.  Last night after answering yet another dumb question from a prospective ebay buyer ‘err no it’s not PINK you can tell that from the PHOTO you utter DIMWIT, if you wanted a PINK one why have you spent an hour writing me questions and getting me to photograph it from 20 different angles.  Whatever angle I take it from it’s still not going to turn it SODDING PINK you knob’ I was putting the offending article (a buggy if you’re interested. If you’d like to buy it £45 and it’s yours.  It’s not pink) in the downstairs cupboard and trapped my hand in the door.  Bloody hell it hurt.  I took myself into the lounge and bit on a cushion, trying not to scream and/or be sick and my little Mitch came in.  I sent him off to get me some tissues and after an examination a junior house officer would be proud of ‘mummy, it is making blood on your hand’ he wandered off to the kitchen.  Then wandered off to the garden ‘Corey, Corey come and see mummy, she is making blood’ and Corey appeared to give his second opinion that yes indeed there was blood.  Still no fecking tissue though.  Then Mitch decided he needed a poo.  And that I then inevitably had to go and wipe his arse with a bleeding hand.  THAT scenario in a nutshell is why it’s crap when husband is away.

Obviously being woken up in the night AGAIN for hours on end was also less than great.  Add to that my great idea of being Sober for October in aid of my liver Macmillan and then the discovery that on the VERY FIRST NIGHT my husband had cheated and been to the pub in London and I think we can all guess what kind of fragile mental state I am in.

Another great thing about him being away is that we communicate largely through the medium of Social Media while he is AWOL.  *hi Dan, hope you’re liking this post ‘insert emoji that is wife waving to husband in an endearingly sarcastic way’* he learns of our children’s trials and tribulations through instagram and we have semi-public facebook spats when I posted  a link on facebook to this article   about being a stay at home mum and how it benefits the whole family not just the one staying at home – I liked a bit in it where she says she bakes pies to prove she has value to society.  I took that to a whole new level last week – I decided to host a Macmillan coffee morning and went into a baking overdrive that would have made Mary Berry’s perfectly coiffed head spin around and drop off.  In one day I baked snickers brownies, flapjacks, 2 massive banana loaves, 2 different types of quiche, labelled pots of home made lemon curd and finished off with a Victoria sponge.  Phew.  Just typing it makes me feel tired.  The event was great – my instagram friends and my school mum friends all muddled together nicely and we raised £120 for charity though.  I briefly basqued in the glory of being the uber-baker and then collapsed into a sugar and flour stained slump.

The snickers brownies sent my lovely IG friends into a frenzy of peanutty chocolatey lust.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many likes on a photo so flipping quickly.  A week later and I am still getting some slightly desperate requests for the recipe.  Calm down dears.  It’s just a brownie with some snickers on top.  It is, in the manner of all things that are both sweet and slightly savoury, instantly addictive.   Just warning you.  In fact – I am entirely blaming you for the fact that I now really really want a brownie and am having to sit on my hands to stop myself from making another batch.  I obviously mean that figuratively rather than literally otherwise how the hell could I type this?

Snickers Brownies

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1 snickers bar cut into very thin slices

peanut butter – I have never measured this – as you can tell from the above photo I just tend to put little spoonfuls on the top, about 15 that are 1/2 tsp each one?  It’s up to you

100g chocolate chips

275g softened butter or margarine (I am a big Stork fan in  cakes)

375g caster sugar

4 eggs

100g SR flour

75 g cocoa powder

pre heat oven to 160 c for fan ovens -and then line a baking tray, I use some of the silicone sheets to do this but you can use greaseproof paper or even foil.

As with all of my favourite recipes you just mix all the ingredients together and give them a good old stir/mix in the mixer.  Pour into the lined baking tray and smooth over so it covers evenly, then decorate the top with slivers of snickers bar and dollops of peanut butter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.  Keep an eye on it as it might start to brown too much on top, if it’s looking like it’s going that way then cover loosely with foil for rest of cooking time.  It should be crusty on the top but still a bit gooey underneath.

Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares.

Then stuff it in your face until you feel a bit sick.  Right, if anyone needs me I’m off to Tesco to buy some more snickers to make another batch.

Oreo cupcakes

My eldest got his first ever school report yesterday. It’s been a big adjustment for all of us him starting school. Back in September when he started I couldn’t even walk past the school without crying. I was worried about so many things. I was worried that the teachers wouldn’t ‘get’ him. i was worried that he would not join in with the other children, or take turns, or try new things. It just seemed like the official end of the baby years. My precious boy who only minutes ago, or so it seems, was a tiny newborn was now going to have a whole range of experience out of my control and without me.

I really needn’t have worried. He has loved pretty much every aspect of school. He has made lots of new friends, he likes all his teachers, he eats his school dinner every day, he’s joined the football club where he and other 5 year olds run round like headless chickens in the vague direction of a ball and then kick each other, he has made progress with his writing (slowly) and reading (somewhat reluctantly). Above all – and most importantly – he is HAPPY there.

I think it’s taken me longer, if I’m honest, to adjust to the idea of him as being more independent and grown up. Anyway, I was thrilled to read positive comments in his report and am super proud of him.

I originally posted this recipe a couple of years ago and it has become a firm favourite in our house and has gone down a treat with the various friends I have baked them for. So, I decided to cook them again today as we are heading to a BBQ tomorrow at some friends and I thought they’d be a nice after school treat for the kids too.

I think that cooking with kids needs to involve some jobs that are `theirs`. My boys love to get the baking trays out of the cupboards and then put the cake cases in them. This recipe then requires them to pop a biscuit in the bottom of each case (and eat several in the process) and then bash the hell out of the remaining biscuits (safely esconced in a plastic bag!) which appeals to their destructive little natures.

Recipe

2 packs Oreo cookies and some mini oreos

125 g self-raising flour

125 g unsalted butter or marg (I’ve been using Stork recently)

125 g caster sugar

2 eggs

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

few tablespoons milk

Butter cream (I used Betty Crocker Vanilla cupcake frosting but you can make your own)

1. First pre-heat oven to 195c

2. Line muffin tin with cases – put one whole Oreo cookie in each one,  I think I made about 16 cakes but it depends how full you like them!

3. Bash up remaining Oreo cookies in a sealed plastic bag using a wooden spoon or rolling pin

4. Put all ingredients (except Oreos) in a food processor or Kitchen Aid and blitz, or use a bowl and an electric hand mixer and then stir in HALF the crushed Oreos.

5.  Spoon a good dollop into each cake case on top of the Oreo cookie

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins and cool on wire rack

7. When cool mix most of remaining crumbled Oreos into butter cream/frosting and splodge onto cakes (or pipe in gorgeous decorative manner if you have the skill or patience- it’ll taste the same either way)

Today though – if you look at my pictures closely – I left the buttercream plain and just put a biscuit on top – mainly because I had run out of Oreos)

8. Sprinkle with last few bits of cookie or some mini Oreos if you have them.

9. Eat!

Really easy to make but totally delicious.  I was amazed the first time I baked these that the biscuit base stays so crunchy.

Enjoy!!

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Peanut butter & jelly bars

You know when you see a picture of some food on instagram and then you have dreams about it and just have to make your own version?  No?  You mean you’re not obsessed with food to the same levels I am?  You don’t plan pretty much every meal for the foreseeable future and read cookery books for fun?  Oh OK.  I accept it, I am a food nutter.  Anyway, I saw a friend make these bars and couldn’t start thinking about them.

My boys watch a lot of American films/telly at the moment and are just starting to cotton on to that humourous element which us Brits still have at such moments.  Americans calling things by different names.  Setting aside the ever-hilarious casual usage of ‘fanny’ which as yet doesn’t mean much to my boys (only a matter of time) the boys think it’s ridiculous that they would put ‘jelly’ on toast.  Jelly?  But it’s wobbly and would go everywhere – snarf, snarf, snarf……….

This recipe does not call for jelly my friends, it needs jam.  Of course, I could have just called it peanut butter and jam bars but then it would lose that whole yankee-cool vibe (me, affected much?!).

I am not actually a jam fan.  The band or the fruit spread.  I like making jam but, aside from on a scone with a large amount of clotted cream, I don’t really like eating it that much.  So when I was adapting this recipe I cut down the quantity a bit.  Feel free to add more if you love it although bear in mind that jam bubbles up like a bastard when it is cooked and then welds on to any cooking pan and clings on like the devil itself.  You’ve been warned.

These bars aren’t quite biscuit and they aren’t quite cake.  Somewhere in between.  The first mouthful is a bit salty and you’ll be unsure if you like them, the second mouthful gives the sweet hit and then before you know it you’ll have eaten at least 3.

Peanut butter & Jelly Bars

125g Marg or butter

150g sugar (caster or granulated)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

250g smooth peanut butter

210g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

125g strawberry or raspberry jam

50g salted peanuts crushed in a pestle and mortar or chopped roughly

Pre heat oven to 180c and grease and line with baking parchment a tin.  I use a square one that measures about 21cm x 21cm

I use my kitchenaid for this but of course you can use a food processor or mixer or even by hand.

Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until golden and fluffy, then add the vanilla, egg and peanut butter – mix together.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.m

Put 2/3 of the dough into the baking tray and squish down with a fork to cover the bottom.  Dollop the jam with a teaspoon over the top.  I quite like it spread not to evenly so on some mouthfuls you get more jam than others.  Then onto the top of the jam, using a teaspoon again, dollop the remaining dough and then flatten out with a fork.

Top with the peanuts and pop in the oven until golden brown.  This takes 35 to 40 minutes in my oven (which is a fast oven)

Take out and cool before cutting into squares.

I have frozen half of these to prevent myself from eating too many of them in one sitting. Be warned they’re a bit addictive.

Enjoy!

 

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Coconut and cherry loaf

Some weeks are just made for cake.  Heck, most weeks are made for cake – but this week has really called out for it.  Family tag team of poorliness – check, tantrums a-plenty from littlest – check, numerous night-time wakings – check, miserable freezing cold weather – check check and triple bloody check.  I keep seeing inspirational photos on Instagram of the ‘summer bodies are made in the winter’ variety.  Or, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ – accompanied by bronzed six pack shots.  Well, if this week is anything to go by my summer body will be deliciously carb-loaded and wobbly.  Who writes these stupid inspirational things?  Surely the little facebook/instgram/twitter ‘sayings’ are the modern day equivalent of those ridiculous motivational posters that appear in David Brent style offices? I have to say that nothing makes me reach for the ‘unfollow’ button quicker than a feed full of hilarrrrrrrrious or inspirational quotes.  They are inevitably neither.  No, I don’t want to know that there are no rainbows without any rain.  That isn’t going to have me skipping off on the piss-wet school run singing in the rain.  No,  there will be no rainbow at 3pm in the grey skies of Manchester.  What there will be is lots of cold and wet pissed off parents at the school gates and what you’ll have is one less follower. Stop. Now.

So to improve my mood – have you noticed that I’m in a bit of a bad mood?  I hide it so well – I am baking a coconut and cherry loaf.  I made this last month to my own invented recipe because I couldn’t find one that I liked the look at.  It turned out so well – really really moist even after a couple of days.  BUT, I didn’t write down the recipe very precisely – when I looked back at what I had scrawled I had used a rather jumbled mish mash of 0z/gram/ml which wasn’t really helpful to anyone.  So I’ve made it again today and actually put pen to paper in a meaningful fashion.

The first time I made this I had a large bag of white chocolate buttons lurking around in the cupboard and I popped these on top of the cake about 5 mins before the end of cooking time.  I haven’t done that today but you could do that with choc chips, buttons or wait for it to cool down and add some icing.  Today I have melted some dark chocolate and drizzled that on top then sprinkled it with some left over coconut.

Recipe 

170g butter or marg

170g caster sugar

60g dessicated coconut

115g SR flour

2 eggs

50g chunk of solid coconut cream dissolved in 100ml of hot water  (This is the secret moistening ingredient – it also tastes really yummy)

Glace cherries (I used about half a container of them)

1tsp vanilla extract

Method

I used the Kitchen Aid to make this but you could use food processor or by hand.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the coconut cream, vanilla extract and eggs and mix.  Mix in flour and coconut.  Pour into a lined loaf tin.  The batter will be pretty runny, it’s supposed to be.

Scatter the cherries on top and put in the oven 180c for 40 minutes.

Cool on rack, ice if desired and then slice and munch.

Enjoy!

 

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