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!

Lately: Hello Long Weekend

We’re in the middle of the last bank holiday weekend until Christmas. We’re chilling out around home after camping at Eweleaze Farm last weekend. Eweleaze is a lovely costal spot just outside of Weymouth. It’s only open during August for the summer and school holidays, outside of that it’s a working farm. It’s a pretty special place. I celebrated my 29th Birthday down there too. Blog post and pics coming soon.

This weekend we have company too. We’re dog sitting a mischievous labradoodle called Scruffy.

Isn’t she cute?! She’s obsessed with chasing balls and finding sticks and loves lots of attention. I think we’ll miss her when she goes home.

20160827_For_Blog_0151It wasn’t practical to take a cake camping with us but I couldn’t go without a cake for my birthday, so this weekend I made myself a birthday cake. My second attempt at Red Velvet cake.. and slightly better than the first, but still not as light and fluffy as it should be.

Tastes good though.. nom!

I spent the day lazing about in the backyard and reading Lonely Planet guides for travel inspiration for next year.

Sigh… so much to see, so little time (& money).

We had a pretty full on week before our road trip down south. Friends visited over the weekend so there was lots of London touristy things to be done.Somerset HouseWe saw the premier of Captain Fantastic at an outdoor screening at Somerset House. A lovely film that highlights the disconnection we have from nature and the amount of wasted time we spend in schools and in front of the TV. There is lots of hilarious moments and lots of really touching ones, too. I definitely recommend checking it out.

We also celebrated our 9 year anniversary at Gaucho- my request. It’s an Argentinian steak house. Ben ordered a marinated fillet steak which was huge and super tasty. But I won the night by ordering a plain rib eye steak. It was perfect, the best steak I have ever eaten. We didn’t take any pictures sadly but it was nice doing something fancy together and chatting the night away.

I have discovered this fantastic new podcast and blog by Emma Ganon, Girl Lost in the City. It says a lot about finding your way online and self-promotion which interests me for blog writing. I also find her social commentary totally on point and I’m getting a heap of book recommendations through following the blog. Also, sign up to the newsletter, she finds some great links on the internet. Seriously you will enjoy it.

Through Girl Lost in City I have discovered Irish author Louise O’Neil and I have just read Only Ever Yours which was fantastic but harrowing. I felt really body conscious after reading it, which is not ideal, but shows how deeply you can identify with the character. I’m now reading Asking For It,¬†which is a story of a girl who goes out to a party one night, and in the morning can’t remember the events of the night before. But they’re all over social media for the world to see and now teachers and police are taking action. Again, not the brightest of subject matters but so important to have these works out there. You can follow Louise on Instagram @oneillou or her blog too.

Hope you’re enjoying the last days of summer, or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere. I know I will be lapping up all the sunny days I can get before the nights close in and the days get crisper.