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Category Archives: Tray Bakes

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread, a pimped up version of a classic.

My friend Tora and I have been making salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread for years – both of us are obsessed with salted caramel. But then I thought, there’s not many things in life that aren’t improved by a little peanut butter. So I did this. And it was good.

You can easily omit the salt from the caramel if you want as the peanut butter will most likely be a bit salty anyway. But if you are using it, always add your salt last and in tiny amounts, tasting as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away if you add too much!

This is pretty rich, so I definitely suggest cutting it into small portions.

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

For the peanut butter shortbread:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a tin (approximately 25x20cm) with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugar. You can use an electric whisk for this but if your butter is nice and soft then it won’t take much work with a wooden spoon. Once well mixed, add the flour and rub it in with your finger tips until it’s the consistency of bread crumbs. Tip the mixture into your lined tin and squash and press it down and into the edges of the pan until you have an even layer – use your knuckles or the bag of a large spoon. Prick it all over with a fork and put it in the oven. Bake at 180C for 5 minutes, then turn down to 150C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool a little before you’re ready to apply the caramel.

For the peanut butter salted caramel:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 397g condensed milk (that’s the standard size in the UK. It wont matter if it’s a few grams more or less)
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • up to 1 tsp sea salt

You can make the caramel whilst the shortbread is in the oven. In a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the condensed milk and golden syrup and continue to heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Seriously, don’t be tempted to leave this and do something else – the high sugar content means that it can easily catch and burn – I’ve made that mistake in the past and it’s frustrating and a waste when you have to chuck a batch of burnt caramel away, not to mention the mess it makes of the pan. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, hot enough to boil but not vigorously, and be careful as you don’t want to get splashed with it as it’s super hot. The caramel is ready when it’s, well, caramel coloured. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Before adding any salt, taste a little bit (blow on it first and be very careful not to burn your tongue). Add the salt a pinch at a time, tasting after each addition. Once you’re happy with it, pour it over the cooked and slightly cooled shortbread. Spread it out with a spatula until it’s reached the edges and you have an even layer. Leave it to cool, or even put it in the fridge to set up a bit before you add the final layer of chocolate.

For the chocolate:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

(To be honest, it won’t matter if you just use milk chocolate, but I prefer a mix of milk and dark) Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in short, 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between zaps.

Once melted, pour over the shortbread and spread it to the edges. Give it a shake and a sharp rap on the kitchen counter to get a nice even finish. Leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Remove from the pan, peel off the greaseproof paper and use a big sharp knife to cut into portions (I got 32 pieces out of this). This should keep well for 3-5 days in an airtight container, but I doubt it’ll last that long once anybody tries it!

If you’re as big a fan of salted caramel as I am, check out my other recipes here. Or if it’s peanut butter that floats your boat, have a peek at these.

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Brilliant Mini Creme Egg Brownies

Choc full of chocolate and Cadbury's mini Crème Eggs, my brilliant brownies.

Choc full of chocolate and Cadbury’s mini Crème Eggs, my brilliant brownies.

I know it’s not that long ago I posted a brownie recipe, but these are an awesome Easter treat so with a week to go until the day when it’s socially acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast, I thought I’d share. You could easily leave out the mini Creme Eggs when they disappear from our shelves for another year – the brownie itself is spectacular, with most people I’ve given them to agreeing they’re the best they’ve tried.

Brilliant Mini Creme Egg Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, broken or chopped into chunks
  • half tsp salt (UNLESS you’re using salted butter, in which case none at all)
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa, sifted
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 200g Cadbury’s mini Creme Eggs

Heat the oven to 180C and line a tin approx 25x20cm with tin foil or baking paper. In a saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter until just liquid (you’re not aiming to colour the butter at all. Remove from the heat and stir through the chocolate until melted and combined with the butter.

In a large bowl.  or bowl of your stand mixer if you have one, whisk together the eggs and sugars until increased in volume and a sort of creamy brown colour. Fold in the flour and sugar, making sure you don’t leave any pockets of dry ingredients unmixed. Then pour and scrape in the chocolate and butter mixture and fold this through until you’ve achieved an even colour. Pour into your prepared tin, then stud with the mini Creme Eggs, pushing them in just a little. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

MORE CHOCOLATE! Make your brownies even more indulgent with the addition of Cadbury's mini Crème Eggs!

MORE CHOCOLATE! Make your brownies even more indulgent with the addition of Cadbury’s mini Crème Eggs!

The brownie will form a crust that will probably begin to crack, but you can’t test if they’re done the way you do with a cake as the whole point of a good brownie is to be moist, sticky and sodden inside, so don’t be tempted to bake them longer. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into pieces. A small piece of this rich, gooey brownie should be enough to keep any chocoholic in a state of bliss!

Rich and gooey in the middle, studded with sweet surprises of Cadbury mini Crème Eggs

Rich and gooey in the middle, studded with sweet surprises of Cadbury mini Crème Eggs

For more brownie recipes click here. Or change things up a little and check out my blondies.

 

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Brownies, filled with love (well, raspberries and chocolate)!

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, but I’m not really traditionally romantic. I don’t like flowers all that much, I don’t particularly like having stuff bought for me and the idea of being ‘spoiled’ is something I can’t get my head round – after all, something that’s spoiled is a bad thing, right? The most ‘romantic’ things that have ever been done for me, gestures filled with emotion at a time when I really needed to feel loved and cherished in some way, have all been done for me by friends. I don’t think you should need a special day to show somebody that you love them, or if you do want to show somebody how much they mean to you I don’t think that person needs to be a romantic partner. I mostly show people how much they mean to me with food – cooking their favourite meal, baking something using their favourite ingredient or making dinners they can chuck in their freezer  to use when their time is needed for something more important than cooking. If you did want to show somebody how much you care, I think these brownies are a pretty good place to start.

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g soft brown sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g raspberries
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks

Heat your oven to 180C and line a tin (approx 25x20cm) with foil (leave it hanging out of the tin a bit as you’ll be able to use it to lift the brownie out once cooled). In a medium sized saucepan, gently melt the butter until liquid but not browned. Turn off the heat and add the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until melted. Add the sugars and continue to stir until well combined. Next add the flour, sifted cocoa and baking powder and mix well so that no patches of dry ingredients remain. Crack the eggs into a mug or bowl and lightly beat them before pouring into the chocolate mix and giving the whole thing a big stir so it’s all well combined and glossy.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly so it’s right in the corners. Scatter the raspberries over the surface, followed by the white chocolate chunks. Use a teaspoon to sort of nudge the raspberries and chocolate into the brownie mix so that they’re nestled and smothered into the raw brownie mix. I suppose you could just add the fruit and chocolate to the brownie mix before you pour it into the tin, but by doing it this way you should avoid everything just sinking to the bottom as it cooks. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes – the brownies are done when the top is set and firm but a skewer inserted still has a little gunge clinging to it – brownies should always have a bit of goo to them even when cooled, and the abundance of fruit in these helps them stay incredibly moist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin, before lifting out and cutting into squares. OR you could serve them, still a little warm, with some pouring cream or ice cream as a lush dessert to end a special meal.

For a very different kind of brownie recipe click here. Or perhaps white chocolate in my blondies might tickle your fancy.

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road – easy to make and very easy to enjoy eating!

I’m mostly getting into the Christmas spirit through the feasting aspect (always my favourite part of any festivities). I think these easy treats would make lovely little gifts, prettily bagged-up when visiting people over the Christmas season. A word of warning; go easy with the peppermint essence or flavouring – a few drops should be plenty, taste as you go and you can always add more, but if you’re heavy-handed it can get a little toothpasty tasting!

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Ingredients:

  • 450g milk or plain chocolate (or a combination of the two)
  • 70g butter
  • small pinch salt
  • 3×4 finger mint KitKat biscuits (or other mint chocolate biscuits of your choice)
  • 150g mini marshmallows
  • 1 large packet mint Aero balls (or get some of the bars and chop them into chunks if you can’t find the balls)
  • 300g white chocolate
  • a few drops peppermint essence or flavouring

Grease and line a high-sided baking tray (approx 22x25cm) with greaseproof paper. In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water), melt the milk/plain chocolate, 50g of the butter and add the salt, stirring occasionally until smooth. Turn off the heat and leave for a few minutes to cool a little. Chop the mint biscuits into chunks and add them to the chocolate mix, along with the marshmallows and mint chocolate Aero balls, stirring to ensure everything gets coated; be as brief as possible to avoid the Aero balls melting too much. Scrape into the prepared tin and smooth into the corners so you have an even layer, but still lots of lumps and bumps – this is Rocky Road after all! Leave to cool in the fridge for about half an hour or longer so the top is set.

Following the same method of melting in a bowl over simmering water, melt the white chocolate along with the remaining 20g butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and add a couple of drops of mint essence, stir it through and taste a little to see if you think it’s minty enough. Add more, a drop or two at a time until it’s to your taste. Allow to cool slightly before taking the tin from the fridge and pouring the white chocolate on top, trying to coat as much of the surface as possible whilst pouring. Tilt the tin or use a spatula to carefully spread the white chocolate evenly, trying to get as little of the brown chocolate showing through on top. Return to the fridge for a few hours to set completely.

When ready to serve or bag up as presents, remove from the fridge. If you have any white edible glitter, give the top of your snowy rocky road a frosty dusting. Remove from the tin and peel away from the greaseproof paper. Cut into squares and get stuck in.

Christmassy Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Double chocolate and minty goodness

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake, fragrant with the zest of citrus

This week was the final of Great British Bake Off. I bloody love that programme (not exactly alone in that, eh?) and often watch with another addicted friend. We watched this last episode together so I baked us something (it’s safer that way!) to keep us satisfied whilst watching all the spectacular goodies on-screen. I had been undecided as to what I should bake, but in the end, time constraints and an abundance of citrus fruit in my kitchen lead me to knock up a nifty little all-in-one tray bake – with the added bonus of getting to use my Kenwood Chef which is my favourite new toy!

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

For the cake:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest 2 lemons
  • zest 2 limes and juice of one
  • 2 tbsp whole milk

Heat the oven to 180C and line a tin (approx 25x20cm) with foil. If using a food processor or stand mixer, put all the ingredients in the bowl and mix, starting off slowly and increasing speed until well mixed. If making with an electric hand whisk or by hand, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in 2 of the eggs followed by half the dry ingredients, then the remaining eggs and dry ingredients, finishing with the zests, juice and milk. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch, springing back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before icing.

For the icing:

  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice of half a lime

Mix together and then drizzle artfully (or not) over the cooled cake. Cut cake into portions. Eat.

Lemon & Lime Tray Bake

Artistic decoration optional!

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Lemon Meringue Blondies

I know, I know; I’ve been using lemon in my bakes a lot recently. But it’s so gloriously hot and they lend such sunshine bright flavour that I just can’t help myself. So here’s my latest lemony lip-smacker – a spongy, gooey, chewy delight that isn’t too heavy in this heat.

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter (plus a little for greasing)
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 lemons
  • 40g ready made meringue (I used shop bought mini meringues)
  • 3 tbsp lemon curd

Heat the oven to 170C and butter and line a tin (approx 25x22cm) with greaseproof paper. Gently melt the butter in medium saucepan (you don’t want it to brown, just to become liquid). Turn off the heat and add 100g of the white chocolate and stir until melted.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugars and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the flour and the melted butter/chocolate and fold in until well combined. Add the vanilla and finely grated zest and juice of the lemons and stir through. Chop the remaining 100g white chocolate into chunks, crumble the meringue and scatter both over the batter, giving a final stir before tipping the whole mixture into the prepared tin. Dollop the lemon curd on top in a few places then ripple through the uncooked blondie with a skewer or the end of a teaspoon.

I baked this for 50 minutes, but I covered it with foil after half an hour to stop it from browning too far. The top should crack, like a brownie does, and it should feel firm but with a little give as it should be very moist inside – a skewer inserted should come out mostly clean with just a little goo. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, uncovered, before cutting into portions to serve.

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Totally over-the-top gluten-free bacon and peanut butter brownies

My friend Nicole LOVES bacon. She’s the Pork Princess. So when it came to baking some kind of birthday treat for her I really wanted to include bacon in the recipe; and if you’re going to be bold with your flavours you may as well go all out! That’s how I settled on these bacon and peanut butter brownies. The salty, savoury bacon and peanut butter make for a pretty intense brownie, but birthdays should be about indulgence. The bacon doesn’t really make the brownies taste meaty, you just get little chewy, salty-sweet nuggets in every few bites. I made these brownies gluten-free for Nicole, but if you’re not concerned about avoiding gluten you could make them with normal plain flour.

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies:

  • About 100g streaky bacon (I used 5 rashers Oscar Meyer American bacon)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 175g butter
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g plain gluten-free flour (I used rice flour)
  • 25g cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8″ square baking tin. Cut the bacon rashers into small pieces (easiest with scissors) and fry off until starting to crisp up. Add the golden syrup and cook for another minute or so until the bacon fat and syrup bubble up into a sticky, delicious looking liquid. Take off the heat and tip the bacon pieces onto a plate to cool, trying to keep them apart so they don’t stick together.

In a large saucepan gently melt the butter on a low heat, then break the chocolate into pieces and add to the pan, stirring until melted. Add the vanilla extract and remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir vigorously until well combined and there are no small lumps of sugar. Break the eggs into a mug or bowl and give a little mix with a fork to break up the yolk. Pour into the chocolate mix and stir quickly to combine. Sift the flour and cocoa (just because cocoa can be a bit clumpy) into the pan and mix well. Finally, add the bacon and stir through. Place to one side while you prepare the peanut butter.

For the peanut butter swirl:

  • 30g butter, softened
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g icing sugar, sifted

In a bowl, mix together the butter, peanut butter and vanilla, then add the icing sugar and mix again until well combined.

Put about half the brownie mix into the prepared baking tin, spreading it out so it reaches the corners. Dollop on about 5 teaspoons of the peanut butter mix and try to spread it a little (you’re not trying to make a layer over the whole base so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t spread well). Spoon the rest of the brownie mix on top and spread it out, then add spoonfuls of the peanut butter mix all over the top and use the tip of a dinner or butter knife to swirl it through the brownie mix until you have a marbled effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is firm and a skewer comes out mostly clean. Brownies should always be a little gooey in the middle so you’re better off under-baking rather than over-baking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled, cut into squares and serve.