BK’s Grouch Cure: Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Sunday, I was DONE. I was done with politics. I was done with idiots who think that gun control means taking their right to have gun taken away. I was done with God. I was done with friends. I was done with trying to find work. I was done with living on toast. I was done with being a Landlord. I was done with trying to sleep. I was done with working with Girlguiding. I was just DONE.

And so after having a rant and a cry to myself. I decided that what I was most of all done with was eating toast (in case you are wondering, this is because money is so scarce right now I’d been trying to save money by living on bread, cheese and strawberries) and that I was going to take some money out of my emergency savings and went to the supermarket to get ingredients to attempt to make Brownies. My friend K makes THE BEST brownies. I’ve never made them, but she always inspires me and encourages me to try baking and cooking. I’m an ok baker, but I’m a terrible cook.

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And so after looking at four different recipes for Brownies in my cookbooks, all with different quantity ratios and varying ingredients for the basic brownie mixture… I decided to experiment and make my own.

This is my own special, still tweaking pilot batch of Brunette Koala Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies.

Ingredients:

4oz unsalted butter
4oz plain chocolate
5oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large free range eggs (beaten)
8oz fairtrade golden caster sugar
100g (just under 4oz) white chocolate chips
100g (just under 4oz) fresh raspberries

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 (160 C for fan assisted). Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Put all the flour, baking powder, cocoa sugar and beaten eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and chocolate. Stir until you’ve got a smooth brownie mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and raspberries. Spread evenly in a brownie pan (the one I used is about 20×30 cm I think?). Bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes. Take out, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and allow to cool until ready to eat.

Since making the brownies, I have enjoyed taste testing them. They were a little drier around the outside than I wanted, so I think I want to lower the temperature a little, and I’m going to try making them without the cocoa powder. I took them to my friends’ toddler group and the Mums there who gave my brownies a try seemed to like them ok. Or they were super polite and really sneaky about spitting them into baby wipes when I wasn’t looking.

But more than that, my day did actually improve. Sure, that improvement may have gone downhill since Monday evening…but if I make more Brownies, all these problems will magically get better.

Right?

BK’s Christmas Recipes…

Since coming back to Edinburgh, there have been a few traditions that have been inserted into my family that dentists would not be happy about. I’m not a fan of cooking, but I sure do like making sugary treats for everyone to enjoy. And during the ‘holiday’ season, there are a few traditional treats I make for my friends and family. Christmas temping in shops this year and last year has cut into my previously emptier December, so perhaps that’s why friends are now asking for the recipes I’ve not been making!

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Chocolate fudge icing is my favourite thing, and something I started making for my “I’ve finally finished with university” chocolate cake back in 2006! At Christmas time I use it to ice Chocolate Cranberry cupcakes, to go over Berry Cream Panettone (as shown above from Christmas 2012) or as side for Pandoro.

At Christmas time I like to use Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate.

You’ll need:
3oz Dark Chocolate (broken into pieces)
3 fl oz full fat milk (or semi skimmed)
2oz caster sugar
1oz unsalted butter

To make:
Put milk and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil
Once at boiling point, turn down slightly and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
Take off the heat, then add your butter and chocolate to the sugar and milk mixture. Stir until the butter and chocolate is fully melted.
Place into a bowl or jug and let it cool.
You can place in the fridge to thicken (but it will go to the consistency of soft fudge if left for too long).

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White Christmas Slice is always popular and last year I made it for the staff in both of the shops I worked in to keep everyone going on Boxing Day. I hope to do the same this year for the staff in the shop I’m working in. I’ve also made it for Christmas Craft Fairs and bakesales.

You will need:
500g coconut cookies
300g Dark Chocolate
200g unsalted butter
2 tbsp honey
300g white chocolate
75g desiccated coconut

To make:
Take a 20x30cm roasting tray and line it with greaseproof baking paper.
Put coconut cookies into a bowl and crush them into crumbs by bashing them with the end of a rolling pin.
Place dark chocolate, honey and butter into a large saucepan and melt together on a low heat.
Take saucepan off the heat, then stir in your coconut cookie crumbs.
Pour your mixture into the lined roasting tray and spread evenly.
Melt your white chocolate on a low heat, then pour over the top of your chocolate biscuit base. Sprinkle the desiccated coconut over the top.
Leave to cool, then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.
Take out the fridge, leave for 30 minutes and cut into square pieces.

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And of course, no Christmas Eve would be complete without ‘Koala Friendly Mulled Wine‘. (No wine is actually involved, which is what makes it koala friendly…because this koala is a wee bitty allergic to wine). This will make up to 6 servings so you can increase the amounts accordingly. And some people like to add alcohol to it which you can do if you want to. I’m told vodka works well.

You will need:
500ml Red Grape Juice
500ml Cranberry and Raspberry Juice
200ml water
2 mulled wine spice sachets
1 orange or large clementine

To make:
Pour grape juice, cranberry & raspberry juice and water into a large saucepan. Add the mulled wine spice sachets and heat until almost boiling.
Allow the mixture to simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Slice orange/clementine into thin slices while the mixture simmers.
Turn off heat, remove the mulled wine spice sachets from the saucepan and add orange slices to garnish.
Serve in mugs while hot.

So there you go friends! Have a lovely Christmas, put your feet up, read some good books, play games with family and friends, watch films and be cosy and stay well.

BK’s YouTube Picks: Francine’s Story

Over the last week, a few of my friends shared a video on their facebook pages. The story is a clip from a movie called ‘Human’. In it, Francine Christophe, a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen camp shares a story. Simple acts of kindness can go a long way…and you just never know what an incredible difference they may make to many lives.

Human is a movie created by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, interviewing people from all around the globe to try and answer the question…what is it that makes us human? There are many more clips and full versions of the film that you can find on YouTube. It’s worth taking your time to watch.