Sunday, 29 July 2012

Chocolate Coconut Brownies

We all love brownies but these are brownies with two twists. The first is that they have coconut in the recipe and the second is that we use a little bit of Whittard caramel hot chocolate powder. Don't worry if you do not have this. You can either order it from here or use normal cocoa powder in its place.

Cup and Saucer shown in the picture are courtesy of Whittard of Chelsea. A selection of Whittard china tea cups and saucers can be purchased here.

The Ingredients:
140ml Vegetable Oil
210g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
20g Good Quality Cocoa Powder
20g Whittard Caramel Hot Chocolate Powder (optional)
65g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
2tsp Vanilla Extract
0.5tsp Baking Powder
0.5tsp Salt
40g Desiccated Coconut

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 180c.
You will need a cake tin of aprox 25cm square or similar dimensions.
In a large bowl combine the oil, sugar, vanilla and two eggs. No need for a electric mixer for this recipe if you do not want to use one.
Mix until all the ingredients come together.
Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder, Whittard hot chocolate powder, baking powder and salt into the batter mixture.
Mix together well until everything is well combined.
Pour into the prepared cake tin ensuring the batter is evenly spread and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 mins.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with cream of simply grated chocolate on top.

You're Done!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Focaccia Bread

Focaccia is a flat Italian bread. This recipe is super simple and we have written it so that it is completely up to you what you add to make your focaccia your own. Some people like to season it with herbs or spices. Rosemary is also a popular choice to add. Its completely up to you. The important thing is that is really is super quick and simple to make, and you cant go wrong!

The Ingredients:
460g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
7g (1 Sachet) of Yeast
70ml Good Quality Olive Oil
Salt and Herbs (optional) for Seasoning
300ml Luke Warm Water

No need to pre-heat the oven just yet, we need to make the dough first which rises for a little while.
In a large bowl sieve the flour, yeast and about 1.5tsp of salt and herbs (optional).
Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, mix a little to combine.
Mix in the olive oil and mix until all the ingredients come together in a wet dough.
Flour your hands, because this can get a little messy. 
Flour the worktop and tip out the dough. Don't use too much flour at first as you don't want the dough getting too dry.
Use only enough flour to stop the dough sticking too much. Knead the dough for about 10 mins. It will end up sticking to your hands but that's all part of the fun. 
Lightly grease a baking tray and mould the dough into a rough shape of a ball. Place this on the baking tray and push it down with your hands until it is a round about 1 inch thick.
Cover it lightly with some cling film or a clean tea towel. Allow to rise for about 1 hour.
After 45 mins stick the oven on 220c to pre-heat.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 mins and golden brown.
Allow to rest for 10 mins before transferring to a cooling rack to cool some more. While it is cooling it is a good idea to cover it loosely with a clean tea towel to help soften the crust a little.

You're Done!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Baking Your Summer Desserts

In Britain we have been told to expect better weather on the way, one of the nicest perks of the summer season is that the weather usually allows for a bit more outdoor activity. For example, during warm summer nights many families enjoy eating outside on porches, balconies, patios, etc. This means that you may be spending some time grilling and cooking food to eat outside, and as you certainly know any good outdoor summer meal needs a great dessert to go with it. There are always great dessert options for the summer season, which means if you haven’t already it’s time to stock up on some new baking equipment. This summer we recommend Marks & Spencer’s for some new baking equipment so you can be prepared to make your family’s favourite summer desserts. Here are a few specific types of desserts to keep in mind as you look for tasty treats that go well with outdoor atmospheres and meals, and the summer season in general.

Cobblers - Typically involving layers of fruits or berries baked in beneath light, doughy topping with sugar on it, cobblers are some of the very best summer desserts out there. Not only are they sweet and relatively easy to prepare, but good cobblers also involve fresh fruits and berries, which go perfectly with summer atmospheres for dessert. Throw in a bit of cool whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and your mouth will be watering in no time.

Fruit Cakes - Very simple to make, most fruit cakes simply involve mixing in whatever fruit or berry you choose with enough cake batter to form the dessert. Of course, you can add your own touches, such as icing sugar on top. Regardless, however, fruit cakes are easy to make and taste both light and sweet, which makes them ideal as summer desserts. You can find a BakingBar recommended basic cake batter recipe here.

Crisps - Also involving some light baking combined with a selection of fruit, all you need is some sweetened flour-based topping and some fruit. Put the topping on the fruit, make sure it’s all warm, and you should have a deliciously sweet dessert on your hands. Again, many people add different personal touches to this dessert, but the basics are simple enough.
Of course, your summer desserts depend mostly on your family’s tastes. It may well be that the people you live with simply prefer fresh berries and vanilla ice cream, and that’s certainly simple and delicious enough. But if you’re looking to have some fun baking some basic summer desserts, the above options are worth considering, as they allow you a great deal of flexibility and creativity. Just choose a few desserts to try out and start having fun!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Whittard Hot Chocolate

Nearly every supermarket you go into has at least one shelf full of different brands of hot chocolate. We're bombarded with different brands and flavours all which promise something different. Recently we have had the privilege of trying a selection of the Whittard hot chocolate range. The first thing you will notice is the number of different flavours to choose from.

We personally get bored of the same flavour of hot chocolate after a while, regardless of how exciting or different the flavour is. So it is a massive relief to us that we can own a few of the Whittard flavours to 'mix it up a little'.

The flavours we had the privilege of trying were Luxury White Chocolate, Caramel Hot Chocolate and Rocky Road Hot Chocolate. You can find the full selection of Whittard Hot Chocolates here. We think this is the largest selection of luxury hot chocolate flavours we have ever seen in one place.
The Luxury White Chocolate flavour is very exciting. From the moment you open the tub the aroma of melted white chocolate reaches your nose and you begin to get excited. This particular flavour of hot chocolate has a very creamy texture exactly like when good quality white chocolate begins to melt in your mouth.  This is the perfect hot chocolate for a cold night sitting by the fire.
These hot chocolates are incredibly simple to make with very little fuss involved. Simply place 3tsp (or 2tsp if you don't want it quite so sweet) into a cup and pour on warm milk. Stir and enjoy! Whittard Hot Chocolate brand seems to mix extremely well leaving very few if any lumps in your hot chocolate, a major pet hate of ours with most other brands.

The Caramel Hot Chocolate flavour is for all you folks with a sweet tooth. This variety is very sweet but very tasty too. We added a dash of coco powder on top to make this super indulgent. The flavour is unmistakably caramel (we tested this on a few friends!). The texture is smooth and sweet and perfect with one of our chocolate chip cookies.

The Rocky Road Hot Chocolate is certainly a bit different. Whittard know that there are many different recipes for Rocky Road and the UK has their very own version. So Whittards have used their expertise to come up with a specifically British Rocky Road Hot Chocolate which has flavours of milk chocolate, marshmallows, toffee, cherries, raisins and sultanas.

There are so many flavours to choose from and we hope to be able to provide a review for them all eventually so we can help you choose which ones are for you!

And remember....there is a 3 for 2 offer on all Whittard hot chocolates and instant teas. The code to use is 3for2.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Crisp Vanilla Biscuits

These Crisp Vanilla Biscuits are perfect to have with a glass of ice cold milk or simply on their own. Truly one of the simplest biscuit recipes we have written!

The Ingredients:
220g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
225g Butter
225g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
0.5tsp Baking Powder
0.25tsp Bicarbonate Soda
0.5tsp Salt
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Extra Caster Sugar for coating

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 170c.
Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth.
Mix in the Egg.
Mix in the Vanilla Extract.
Measure out the flour (no need to sieve), adding the baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt.
Mix the flour mixture into the biscuit batter.
Stir the batter well until it is consistent and smooth.
Pour some caster sugar into a dish.
Scoop tablespoons of the batter mixture and drop them into the sugar, roll them around a little to coat them.
Gently lift out the balls and place onto a baking sheet. Making sure to leave at least 2-3 inches between each as they will spread quite a lot.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 11-12 mins. The edges should be golden brown and the centres quite pale.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 mins before transferring to a cooling rack to allow to cool completely.
When cooled they will crisp up.

You're Done!