Bourbon pecan brownies

Bourbon pecan browniesI made these bourbon pecan brownies quite a while ago, now, so apologies for the brief nature of this post! I decided to make these when I was idly flicking through Dan Lepard’s excellent Short and Sweet baking recipe book and remembered that my husband had recently acquired some rather nice bourbon. Lepard says you can make these without the booze, but that’s not something I can really understand!

The brownies were pretty easy to make, especially as I ignored Lepard’s instruction to sift the flour and cocoa twice and only did it once (rebel or what?), because, you know, life’s too short. The cooking time was spot on for the perfect brownie texture – slightly crisp on top and round the edges, but delectably gooey in the middle.

Bourbon pecan brownies
I have to say, you can really taste the booze in these brownies – which is nice, because I’ve fallen foul of many a recipe involving booze where you can’t really taste the alcoholic element, which is always a shame (and a waste of good booze!). There’s a good chocolate flavour, too, especially if you use the decent dark stuff with at least 70% cocoa solids.

You can find the recipe online here, but I do urge you to check out Short and Sweet if you’re in the market for a good baking book. The bread recipes I’ve tried are excellent (I’ve made his pitta recipe many times), and the sweet bakes are all fantastic with some great flavours, and not too difficult to throw together.

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Ginger, pecan and rum brownies

Ginger, pecan and rum browniesThis is definitely not a bake for anyone trying to be even vaguely healthy at the moment. I made 20 of these ginger, pecan and rum brownies and only let myself have one – they’re so rich, but oh so good!

I suppose the flavours are a bit wintery, but we haven’t exactly had a lovely sunny summer recently, so I felt perfectly justified in making these brownies. I also hadn’t made brownies in aaaages before these.

Ginger, pecan and rum brownies
I found the recipe on BBC Food, and was instantly drawn to the combination of stem ginger, rum and dark chocolate. It’s a typical brownie recipe – melt the chocolate and a huge amount of butter together, stir into a whisked mixture of eggs and sugar, then fold in a miniscule amount of flour and the other ingredients.

I used a smaller tin than called for in the recipe, so I was prepared for these to take longer to bake than stated. I was a bit worried about overcooking them, but they turned out pretty perfectly texture-wise – phew!

Ginger, pecan and rum brownies
Like I said, I only had one brownie (the rest went to work and my husband), but I’m not going to forget it in a hurry! The ginger and rum together are SO nice (and yes, I added a splash more rum than called for. What?) and the pecans add a welcome crunch. I used some dark chocolate with about 85% cocoa content, so the brownies were very chocolatey too. Yum!

Ginger, pecan and rum brownies

Honey buns

Honey buns

I received an unexpected Amazon voucher from work a few weeks ago. I don’t really buy books from Amazon any more, simply because I would rather support actual bookshops, but I thought it would be rude not to indulge just this once! I got quite a few baking books, including Paul Hollywood’s British Baking, which contains this rather fine recipe for honey buns (you can find it online here).

Despite the name, these aren’t the yeasted variety of buns; they’re more like mini cakes. As you might expect, there’s a fair bit of honey in both the cakes themselves and the wonderfully sticky cream cheese icing. The cakes also contain chopped pecans and cinnamon.

Honey buns
The cakes were very straightforward to make. The only issue I had was trying to divide the mix equally between 18 cases, when I could only bake them in batches of 12! As a result, I ended up with some buns that were much bigger or smaller than the others.

The icing was also really easy to make, although I suspect mine was a little runnier than it should have been. For once, I seemed to make the right amount of icing and didn’t end up with any left over, which is always nice. I ran out of pecans after making the cakes, so I topped the honey buns with walnut halves instead.

Honey buns
I had two of the buns straight away, and was very pleased with how they turned out. The cakes themselves were lovely – spicy but with a strong honey flavour. The icing was delicious, too – I almost wished there had been some left over so I could have eaten it from the bowl with a spoon!

Honey buns
This is a brilliant little recipe and one I would highly recommend. It’s worth investing in some good quality honey for baking purposes, but I managed to make these with supermarket own-brand honey and it was perfectly fine. I’d love to try making these again with orange blossom honey or another flavoured honey – I suspect they’d be divine!

First bake: chocolate fudge brownies

Chocolate fudge browniesAh, brownies. Along with cheesecake and pecan pie, brownies are surely one of America’s most ingenious culinary inventions. I was drawn to this recipe thanks to the intriguing soft cheese layer running through the middle of them – chocolate and cheese is definitely a match made in heaven!

I followed the recipe pretty faithfully, for a change! I used the last of my Valrhona cocoa in the cake and some bog standard cocoa in the frosting. For the cheese layer, I used a tub of light Philadelphia. I failed to take any photos of the mix because I was eager to get it in the oven, but it was fairly standard for a brownie mix – the key, as always, is not to stir it too much.

Chocolate fudge browniesThe brownies had to be left to cool for a bit before slapping the icing on, which I somehow managed to do with great self-restraint. I made the frosting a bit too early and it had solidified by the time I came to ice the brownies, but I just slightly heated it up again to loosen the icing.

All in all, these are some rather delectable brownies – extremely chocolatey, just the right texture and some nice contrasting flavours with the pecans and cheese. Definitely a winner in my book!

The recipe

From a chocolate baking book from Next of all places, called Oh So… Guilty: Indulgent Chocolate Treats:

Makes 16

  • 200g/7oz low fat soft cheese
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g/3oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g/3.5oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • 50g/1.75oz pecan nuts, chopped, plus extra to decorate

For the frosting:

  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 75g/2.75oz icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 20cm/8in square cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

2. Beat together the soft cheese, vanilla extract and 5 tsp of thhe caster sugar until smooth, and set aside.

3. Beat together the eggs and the remaining caster sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Place the butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter melts and the mixture combines, then stir it into the egg mixture.

5. Fold in the flour and pecans and stir until just combined – do not overmix.

6. Pour half of the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Carefully spread the cheese mixture over it, then top with the remaining cake mix.

7. Bake in the oven for 40-45 mins and let cool in the tin.

8. Make the frosting by melting the butter in a small pan with the milk. Stir in the icing sugar and cocoa.

9. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies and decorate with pecan nuts. Let the frosting set, then cut into squares.

Re-bake: sticky marmalade tealoaf

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

It was my turn for the charity baking at work this week. I wanted to continue putting my new loaf tin to good use, so I settled on this sticky marmalade tealoaf – a suitably warming treat for this cold weather.

The recipe is brilliant – lots of marmalade, lashings of ground ginger and some mixed spice, combined with light muscovado sugar and pecans. Yum yum yum! Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make – you just throw everything in a bowl, mix and bake, before slathering some more marmalade on top for the stickiness.

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

It baked in the time specified by the recipe, although the final texture was a bit more crumbly than the previous times I’ve baked this tealoaf. It was a slight struggle getting it to cut into neat slices – the pic below was the best of the lot!

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

 

I *think* it went down well in the office, although it can be hard to tell sometimes! The bit I tasted was perfect; moist, spicy, sweet, slightly bitter and – most importantly – sticky. It’s lovely while it’s still warm – just the thing to have when you’ve come in from the cold and want a cup of tea with something sugary.

The recipe

From BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes. What I think is the same recipe is available online here too – I would definitely recommend using pecan halves instead of mixed nuts, though.

 

Recipes from around the web

Lots more baking recipes I want to try have recently come to my attention. I’ve only made the coconut and raspberry cheesecake from the last wishlist I posted, but I can’t resist adding even more recipes to my binder!

1) Spiced mango naan bread (Great British Bake Off)

I’m a huge fan of GBBO and, while I generally want to bake pretty much everything I see on this show, this particular recipe from the second episode of the current series is top of my list. Mangoes! Spices! Naan! What a great combination.

2) Almond spice cake (The Caked Crusader)

This blog never fails to please with its wonderful recipes. The Caked Crusader blogged about this particular cake in the same week I made my spiced honey cake – a sure sign we’re kindred baking spirits! Almonds are possibly my favourite nut to bake with, so this cake definitely has to be made.

3) Volcano cake (BBC Good Food)

What a wonderful idea for a celebratory cake! I love the lava spouting out of the top and the dinosaurs rambling around the volcano. I’m not sure when I’ll actually get a chance to make this, though – is there a National Volcano Day or something?!

4) Pistachio and pecan cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce (Come Dine With Me)

This is another food show I’m a massive fan of! This recipe is actually pretty old, but it’s been in my bookmarks for ages and I haven’t yet got round to making it – hopefully I will do soon. The sauce has to be a winner – melted Mars bars and amaretto? Genius!

5) Grasmere gingerbread (BBC Food)

I originally came across a recipe for Grasmere gingerbread in this month’s Asda magazine, and was immediately intrigued, as I love the Lake District and any recipe from somewhere that scenic – and that’s stood the test of time since the 19th century – has to be brilliant! I can’t find Asda’s recipe online, but this BBC Food version should give you some idea of the flavours.

First bake: banana cake with pecan crumble crunch

Banana pecan cake

This is the other thing I made with the leftover bananas at work last week. It took much longer than the caramel banana blondies, but was still a success! I love using pecans in baking, so this cake really appealed to me.

There were quite a few stages to making this cake; making the crumble topping, mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately, whisking the egg whites, and combining everything together. It also seemed to take me an inordinately long time to line the cake tin!

Crumble for banana pecan cake

Crumble for banana pecan cake

The crumble topping was simple to make – pecans, sugar, nuts and a little flour were rubbed together to create a crumb-like texture. The other stages were also pretty simple, although I was a bit worried my bowl wasn’t big enough at one point when I’d combined the wet and dry ingredients, but had yet to add the egg whites.

Banana pecan cake mix, pre-egg whites

Banana pecan cake mix, pre-egg whites

Luckily, the egg whites just about managed to fit into the bowl. I had to bake the cake for a good while longer than the recipe said; the cake ended up pretty tall and it was a good job I’d lined the tin with a sheet of paper that stood higher than the actual tin.

Banana pecan cake mix in tin

Banana pecan cake mix in tin

The cake itself was lovely. The banana flavour was very strong, and the hint of cinnamon together with the pecans rounded things off perfectly. The cake was a little soft at the bottom where it hadn’t completely cooked through, but it was still edible! Plus, it was very light thanks to the use of oil instead of butter.

I don’t think the crumble topping was as crunchy as it could have been, but that might have been because I only got round to trying a piece the day after baking it.

Banana pecan cake

The recipe

From BBC Good Food here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6067/banana-cake-with-pecan-crumble-crunch