Gifting Christmas Brownies

It can come as no surprise that I love baking. It is without a doubt my number one hobby. But as much as a love it, it does come with its downfalls; what is made has to be eaten and it usually doesn’t last. I know what you’re thinking – that doesn’t sound like a downfall at all..? But when people are on diets around you and you know you should be eating healthy yourself it can be very hard to justify baking so much.

So I always try to make the most of special occasions, whether that’s making Banoffee Cake for Thanks Giving, Chocolate Nut Bars as a house warming gift or a three tiered Baby Shower Cake! The best kind of baking is baking to share.

Last weekend we had our annual Christmas dinner gathering with what Ben and I dub the ‘Aussie Crew’. An affectionate name for the first group of friends we made when moving to London nearly five years ago. They’re mainly Aussies but of course there is us and some locals too. Every year we celebrate with a boozy pub dinner before people start flying out for summer Christmases (there is always someone in a big group of expats).

This year I took the chance to make everyone little parcels of brownies. I made the tags from Christmas themed images I have collected over the years. I struggle to throw anything remotely reusable away, so it’s always good to be able to make use of the little bits I’ve kept.20161126_friends_christmas_lunch_0040The brownie recipe I used was, of course, Edmond’s. There are two recipes for brownies in the Edmonds Cookbook; Chocolate Brownie which uses cooking chocolate and Coconut Chocolate Brownies which uses cocoa. As I didn’t have enough cooking chocolate I decided to make the coconut ones and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. The universe had other ideas though and I burned my first batch to a crisp, so I still don’t know what the Chocolate Coconut Brownies taste like. As I had used the last of my coconut, I remade the recipe without it and luckily, they still turned out well.

^^^ I asked Ben to try and capture the icing sugar dusting as I thought it would make a nice photo. I should have thought more about the background though.. oops!

Here is the recipe:

Coconut Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

125g of butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1 cup icing sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Method

Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add cocoa. Stir over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and coconut. Sift flour and baking powder. Stir into mixture. Pour into a greased and lined shallow 20 cm tin. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 – 35 minutes. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Cut into bars and dust with icing sugar.

Note – It definitely did not need 30 minutes in my oven. We are slowly learning that our new oven is on the hot side though and especially on a fan bake option that is going to be a lot hotter than the oven that this recipe was written for. I would check after 15 minutes to avoid disaster – an overcooked brownie is the worst!

Oh and here is us in our festive hats and jumpers…

I can highly recommend these Racing Santa Christmas Crackers from Sainsbury’s too.

^^^ It all got quite competitive

I hope you all enjoyed your brownies guys. See you in the New Year!

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Chocolate Nut Bars

_MG_0017Recently some of my friends have been hitting some very adult milestones. This year one group of friends has celebrated a wedding, another couple have welcomed a baby and one friend has become a first time home buyer.

Edmonds chocolate nut bars - baking giftI did do a little hunt for something homey to give as a gift, but short of giving a succulent (an excellent option in my opinion but I couldn’t be sure how it would be received) baking was my best option. I found some cute tins and started daydreaming about what to fill them with.

This recipe, of course, is another Edmond’s find. I was interested in trying it as it looks like the slice equivalent of an Afghan biscuits. It tastes quite similar too, but it has more of a crunchy texture which goes well with the softer and sweeter chocolate icing.

Edmonds chocolate nut bars - baking gift - housewarming presentDo you like my piped houses? I don’t bring out the piping bag very often as it’s so fiddly to clean I really try to avoid it from the start, but I knew I had to do something to elevate these from common home baking to a gift-worthy bake. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, I like the way the clean white icing contrasts with the dark chocolate, yum!

Edmonds chocolate nut bars - baking gift So here is the recipe:

Edmonds Chocolate Nut Bars

Ingredients:

125 g butter, softened

1 cup of sugar (I only used about 3/4 cup)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 1/4 cups cornflakes

3/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Method:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla beating well. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa together. Mix into creamed mixture. Add cornflakes, coconut and walnuts, mixing well. Press mixture into greased 20 by 30cm tin. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. When cold ice with chocolate icing.

Chocolate Icing

My go to chocolate icing recipe is icing sugar, cocoa, butter and hot water. I scale the ingredients up and down depending on how much I need and add a little more water or icing sugar as necessary to get the texture right. To ice this slice I used about 2 cups of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 tablespoon of softened butter and enough hot water to get a thick runny texture.

Edmonds chocolate nut barsHappy baking guys, let ,me know if you give this one a try!