Have you ever been invited to pledge to bake bake for someone special? I am sure you have baked for someone before, and witnessed the joy that something that you made with love and your own hands brought to someone else. I love doing that. As you all know my signature recipe is brownies….with a name like browniegirl it HAS to be! It gives me so much joy to see someone happy and uplifted because I have actually made something for them, with love. It is far more meaningful really than going to buy an “its the thought that counts” gift. That is why, when I Love Baking SA (proudly sponsored by Stork) sent me the challenge to make a pledge to bake for someone special for World Baking Day 2014 I accepted straight away. I signed up and was sent a pledge pack, which arrived via courier in a beautiful aqua polka dot box.
When I opened up the box I knew we were in business. It contained everything from the brick of Stork Bake to the baking parchment, to the Le Creuset silicon spatula to mix it all together with. Eggs neatly wrapped in straw in little plastic tubes, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, flour, walnuts, vanilla, baking powder. Even the recipe I was to bake. I was now without excuse. My day had arrived and I was going to bake!
I just didn’t know who to bake for yet. I bake for my family all the time and they are so used to getting sweet treats so it had to be someone outside of my family circle. That was when I had a lightbulb moment and thought about a small group that I had only fairly recently become aware of……a group of elderly ladies living below the breadline in a building in the midst of our little town. Almost a year ago now, 17 July to be exact, a care group was formed, under the leadership of a young man who has a hearts desire to assist these women with their plight. This man is Tone Alexander and the group was named The Pauline Loots Care Group in honour of one of the ladies who tragically took her life just the day before. I knew Pauline, as well I guess as Pauline would allow anyone to know her, but I never knew about her situation. Her death was an absolute tragedy and yet something so good has come out of that tragedy. The Pauline Loots Care Group, made up of Tone and a group of caring local people have taken these women, and the place where they live, under their collective wing. They have painted, renovated, begged for second hand fridges, stoves etc to make their living spaces homely and functional. Every second week someone cooks a meal for the ladies and this is served to them in the dining room and lounge that have been renovated out of storeroom space so that they have a little meeting place, a place where they can socialize and interact with one another, watch television and chat or read. A place where they don’t have to be lonely. Loneliness kills. Over and above all that the women cannot afford to buy all the monthly essentials for themselves so these are bought by members of the care group and delivered on the last Thursday of the month to a collection point. They are then made up into hampers to be handed out to each resident at dinner that night. These hampers would include stuff like toilet rolls, essential toiletries, cereal, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, cup a soup, tinned goods like tuna, sweetcorn, tomato and onion mix etc. marmite, bovril (dare one mention those two in the same sentence haha) peanut butter and other things that they would use. One other item needed is R50 electricity vouchers to help them get through the last few days of the month.
So then, to get back to the baking thing……. On Wednesday afternoon I got into brownie baking mode. I baked two batches of the brownies as I knew one batch would not be sufficient for the group. I used the recipe given to me and I was very happy when the brownies came out of the oven just perfectly…..crackly on the top and fudgy soft in the middle. A winner of a recipe!
Late Thursday afternoon Donald and I delivered the chocolate brownies that I baked to the Pauline Loots Care Group in Fish Hoek because I believe they deserve to have a little bit of love and sweetness in their lives. Donald bought a tub of ice cream on the way home from work and this, together with the delicious brownies, was served for dessert after the homecooked dinner. We were deeply touched to meet the residents of Clifton Parade in Fish Hoek. We were touched by their plight at this stage of their lives, and we were deeply touched by the amazing work that is being done by Tone Alexander and his amazing team who help these elderly women to live a more comfortable, dignified and happy life. It was wonderful to participate and interact and to meet these lovely old folk and to see the delight on their faces as they saw what was for dinner and for puds. Thank you Stork and I Love Baking SA for the opportunity to bake for someone else in need. It brought both Donald and I great pleasure to play a small part in bringing a bit of joy and sweetness on a cold, blustery very wet winters night into the lives of these deserving souls.
For a while those lives have been made a little easier, a little happier, a little warmer, their bellies a little fuller, their hearts a little lighter….it is not a lot to ask and it is always good to remember that there, but by the grace of God, go I. It can happen in any of our lives that, for some reason, we are left destitute, with nothing and nowhere to turn to…..this team of caring people are making a MASSIVE difference in the lives of these people right here in our midst in our little village. Local folk can get involved by committing to donate the essentials mentioned once a month, or if you live further afield donations for electricity and other incidentals would be gratefully accepted. Or join the team and cook a meal for them every once in a while. You would be making a huge difference in the lives of beautiful women who have fallen on hard times for various reasons. It was such an honour to be there helping in a small way and we will definitely go back……
Here is the recipe for Chocolate Brownies as given to me by Stork SA
Makes 12 (I managed to get 16 adequate squares out of each batch)
140g Milk Chocolate – broken into small pieces (I used dark chocolate)
130g Stork Bake – cut into cubes
5ml Vanilla Essence
25g Cocoa Powder
Pinch (about 2 1/2 ml) Salt
5ml Baking Powder
Preheat oven to 160deg Celcius
Spray the base and sides of a square ovenproof dish and dust with flour. Line the base and sides with baking parchment and set aside
Melt the Stork Bake and the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave (60% power for about 1 minute then stir until smooth) then set aside
In the bowl of an electric mixer whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until the eggs are thick and pale
Pour in the still warm/hot melted chocolate mixture while whisking
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt over the mixture and fold in gently with the spatula – dont overbeat!
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes until the top looks crackly. A skewer inserted will come out with a few crumbs attached indicating that it is still a bit moist in the middle. That is as it should be!
Allow to cool in the pan for about half an hour before cutting into 16 squares, cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container
I dusted the tops with icing sugar and served each square with a scoop of ice cream but they are equally delicious with a spoonful of creme fraiche or mascarpone!
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO #PLEDGETOBAKE FOR? World Baking Day is on Sunday so haul out those baking ingredients and turn the oven on! Pop over here now and fill in the pledge form which will enable you to post a little card, tagging the one you want to shower with some love and sweetness, onto social media.
Go out and make a difference in a life….make someone smile! Give them something to look forward to! It really is the easiest thing to do.
Have a great weekend,
Don’t look at that heading then look at me strangely OK? Yes, I DID say Avocado Chocolate Brownies and I am not joking. I have been having so much fun in my little kitchen with avocados since entering the #Afrikado “More than Just Guacamole” challenge. This week I wanted to try them in a dessert so sat here weighing the odds of a beautiful gluten free dense and healthy chocolate cake but ended up going with brownies….I mean it IS the name of my blog after all and my signature dish that I am known for.
Of course I am still enjoying avocado each morning in my green juice and to date I have escaped the flu that is hanging around waiting to grab unsuspecting victims. This is a first for me….I have a low immune system at the best of times and by now I have usually been in bed a few times already sweating it out, feeling miserable and being given all types of advice by family and friends as to what mixtures to drink and whether to put brandy or whisky in my hot toddies. . so far so good! And I have even stopped taking the Immuno boosters that I have been taking for the past 7 years! I am going to go and visit my brother and sister in law in the Free State soon – he suffered a severe stroke 2 weeks ago today and when he comes out of the rehab where he is receiving intensive therapy to try and get his paralyzed right side mobile and working and his speech flowing again I am going to visit and help take care of him for a while until they are into a routine and someone else can take over the chores. I am looking at my juicer from all angles and wondering how I am going to be able to fit it into my suitcase….but I am quite determined to take it along with me. I need my green juice every morning
Being innovative and daring with avos has been a lot of fun and I am learning a lot about this fabulous fruit and am so grateful to ZZ2 Farming for inviting me to step out of my guacamole zone and play a bit.
Here is my second entry to the #Afrikado challenge
Easy Avocado Chocolate Brownies
100g Creamed Avocado (replacing the butter with delicious healthy fats)
200g Dark Chocolate roughly chopped – use the best quality you can afford.
25g Cocoa Powder
100g Cake Flour
40g Almond Meal
2,5ml Baking Powder
3 Large Free Range or Organic Eggs
5ml Vanilla Extract
60ml Sour Cream, Buttermilk or Yoghurt
Optional – 90g Pecan Nuts, Walnuts or Hazelnuts – toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C
Line a 20cm square pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches hanging over all the sides. Brush parchment paper with melted butter
Break up chocolate and place into a glass bowl and microwave at 60% power on high for 1 – 2 minutes stirring about every 30 seconds or so. Set aside when melted and smooth.
Cream or blend the avocado and sift over the cocoa powder and mix together
Sift together flour, baking powder, almond meal & salt. Set aside.
Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until thick & pale
Add avocado mixture and the melted chocolate and mix until combined
Add flour mixture gently then, using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined. You really don’t want to over mix the batter
Add the sour cream or yoghurt and fold in again until just blended (Not beating too much ensures a squidgy fudgy brownie) then fold in the nuts if using
Pour batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle over some good quality salt flakes.
Bake 20min then turn pan 180 deg and bake another 15-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet.
Let cool in pan completely then cover pan well with clingfilm and refrigerate for a few hours.
Remove from fridge about half an hour before serving.
Lift brownies out of pan, cut into squares with a hot sharp knife and sprinkle liberally with icing sugar before serving
Alternative topping : drizzle melted dark or white chocolate thinly in a zigzag pattern over tops of brownies (do this before cutting!)
Makes 16 brownies (depending how you cut them!!)
General consensus from my tasters: These brownies are fudgey, rich and dark with an intensely chocolatey flavour. There was absolutely no taste of avocado in them, in fact some did not know that they had this magic healthy addition to them. The texture was definitely different to my usual brownie texture when made with butter but not unpleasant, just more dense.I used one orange flavoured Lindt and one 85% dark chocolate which my family thought a bit too bitter so in hindsight the 70% might have been better in this instance! The citrus flavour from the Lindt Orange was fabulous.
They were best eaten with ice cream and kept well for 3 days!
Take a peek at my previous entry to the #Afrikado Challenge and you can check out all the buzz and recipes on twitter at #Afrikado or follow@ZZ2Farming or myself @CollyWolly (points to link in the right sidebar)
PS I played some more today and am pretty happy I think with the results. The tasters will be around tomorrow to sample and critique my work so look out soon for the teaser photograph, to be followed by the recipe on the blog.
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye all…..and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Help ye’selves to one of my wicked Irish Moss Cupcakes! Wash it down wit a pint of ale and be merry! Today we are all Irish!
What is tat ye all are sayin’? It’s not St. Patrick’s Day today? It’s the 18th already? How can tat be? I started workin’ on tis post so much earlier but……aaaw…ye all caught tis lazy Irish colleen nappin again. ‘Appens more and more these days. And it was all tat ‘orrible Murphy fault anyways I tell ye. He has been hangin’ around here for te better part of tree weeks now – messin’ wit me ‘puter! And messin’ someting bad wit me head too! Well tats my excuse for tat anyway. I am hopin’ tat now he will leave me be and go chat up some other milk maids…… honestly ye’d all think he’d kissed te blarney stone wit all his blabbering! I won’t miss him one little bit I tell ye!
So I’m late, well just a wee bit for St. Patrick’s Day anyway, but in some parts of the world it is STILL the 17th so let me get on with this post quickly so I can at least not hang my head too low in shame. I really have had endless problems with my computer and today was a very bad day! But I seem to have it going so while things are looking up….here goes!
Last year I came across some cupcakes called Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and I loved the sound of the ingredients although I felt that the name was rather offensive, even though there is a recognized alcoholic drink by the same name and many many links to cupcakes made from the same three alcohols used in the cocktail. So, I decided that I was going to bake the family some of these for St. Patrick’s Day this year (leaving the whiskey out of a bit of the ganache for the little boys). But, so as not to offend any readers all over the world who may have been affected in some way by the many acts of terrorism involving that despicable cowardly act, I decided to give my cupcakes a rather delightful name more suited to the day. I asked on facebook for ideas and one Irish friend came up with the name Dublin Moss Cupcakes. I rather liked that and decided to call mine Irish Moss Cupcakes…what do you think?
Now…..strictly speaking, there is absolutely nothing Irish about my cupcakes. My hubby could not find single cans of Guinness at our local bottle store and neither of us are ale drinkers so I decided to use a bottle of local Milk Stout that I had on the shelf in my pantry. Come to think of it now though I know a few leprechauns who would have relieved us of the other 5 cans! We did not have any Jameson Irish Whiskey in this house but we did have a bottle of J&B and of course there was no Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur either. There to save the day however was half a bottle of our delicious South Africa Amarula Cream liqueur in the cupboard So hey, these are a real twist on the original but let me tell you they are delicious! And because we are ALL Irish on St Patrick’s Day these are being passed on to you as my Irish Moss Cupcakes. Tell me that makes sense in an Irish kind of way please!
IRISH MOSS CUPCAKES
(inspired by and adapted from Sugar & Snapshots Blog)
Yield: 22 Cupcakes
Stout Chocolate Cupcakes
250ml Cocoa Powder
5ml Good Quality Instant Coffee Granules
250ml Stout beer or Guinness
625ml Cake or All-Purpose Flour
10ml Baking Powder
2 Extra Large Eggs
250ml Buttermilk or Greek Style Yoghurt (Sour cream could also be used)
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Line two muffin pans with paper cupcake liners
Melt the butter, stout and sifted cocoa powder together in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave on high and whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the batter
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the sugar and set aside
In the bowl of your electric mixer beat the eggs and buttermilk together until smooth
Add the vinegar and mix in
Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture with the mixer running on a low speed then turn up to medium until all combined
Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated. Don’t over mix at this stage
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one about ¾’s full
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean
Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting
Whiskey Chocolate Ganache
125 ml Cream
120g Dark Chocolate (I used 70% cocoa solids) roughly chopped
15ml butter at room temperature
Heat the cream in the microwave until just below boiling point
Place butter and chocolate in a small mixing bowl
Pour the hot cream over and leave to stand for 2 minutes before whisking together until shiny and smooth
Add the whiskey and whisk in. Set aside until needed, whisking every now and again. As it cools it will thicken in consistency
3 Egg whites
185 ml Vanilla Flavoured Castor Sugar ( I always have this – fill a Consol or Mason Jar with Castor Sugar, split a Vanilla Pod and stick it into the sugar and seal. Refill as needed with sugar)
375g Butter (at room temperature)
125ml Icing (Confectioners) Sugar – sieved
80 ml cream Liqueur (I used Amarula of course)
In the metal bowl of your mixer whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy
Add the sugar and whisk on medium speed until incorporated
Now place your mixer bowl over a smallish saucepan of barely simmering water – the base must not touch the water
Continue whisking with a balloon whisk by hand until the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites and it is starting to look like meringue – test by rubbing a bit of the whites between your fingers and it is ready if no grains are felt. It doesn’t take too long to reach this stage – maybe 5 minutes
Return the bowl to the mixer stand and whisk on high until the mixture has cooled and is almost tripled in volume. It needs to be glossy and at the stiff peak stage
Divide the butter into 4 and add one portion at a time, whisking well to incorporate between each addition – it will thin the frosting down a bit but will build up again to a fluffy consistency
Add the icing sugar and beat in well
Pour in the liqueur and whisk well
I added a bit of green food colouring gel to make it a soft green shade
Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle and fill with the frosting
To decorate the cupcakes:
It seems that most people make a filling of the ganache by removing a scoop of each cupcake and piping in a bit of ganache but I was running late so just spread a thin layer of the cooled thickened ganache onto each cupcake with a spatula, allowed it to stand for 10 minutes and then piped the buttercream on top.
I have to say, this was the most amazing buttercream and I will most definitely use it often!
Enjoy! And I will be back as soon as I can with a delicious exotic mushroom and blue cheese risotto!
Happy week everyone! Almost Easter holidays and my two young hooligans will be invading my space again! Where does the time go?
Finally! A very warm welcome to my brand new self hosted browniegirlblog site to you my fabulous reader! Thank you for finding your way over. I do hope that while you are here you will click on the Bloglovin’ link to the right of this post to sign up so that you never miss a post. A very special thank you once again to my friend and IT Ninja Fritz from Real Men Can Cook for all the hard work that he has put in to make this moment a reality! And thank you Jackie from Inspired by Food for the lovely header and the design work that you are still doing for me behind the scenes! I am deeply grateful to both these lovely people for all the fabulous help!
So to celebrate the launch of this new site I thought I would share something deliciously sweet and simple to make. No baking required, just a bit of time for setting…but not too long! This is a recipe that is part of my childhood. My mom used to make this as a special treat for us and it never lasted long. With 5 kids of course it wouldn’t! Not these delicious little morsels. My mom called these Sunburnt Fingers and my family have also always known it as Sunburnt Fingers but I have come across a couple of very similar recipes on the internet and blogs where they are called Biscuit Fudge or Chocolate Biscuit Fudge which is very descriptive of the treat.
EASY NO BAKE CHOCOLATE BISCUIT FUDGE
250g Salted Butter
1 Extra Large Free Range Egg – left whole
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pkt (200g) Biscuits – Tennis, Tea, Marie or Digestive
500g icing sugar – sifted
4 Tbs cocoa – sifted (I prefer to use NoMU brand as it is a better quality and darker than others)
Alternative flavourings – 1 tsp instant coffee or grated zest from an orange (I used one ClemenGold), 5ml Rum
Sea Salt Flakes to sprinkle
Melt the butter then whisk in the vanilla, egg then icing sugar, cocoa and whatever additional flavourings you are adding if any
Add broken up biscuits and mix together
Press into a square pie or baking dish
Sprinkle over some sea salt flakes (sparingly)
Put in the fridge to set for about an hour
Cut into squares and tuck right in!
Now….before you rush off to make these addictive little fudgey squares don’t forget to click on the Bloglovin link to the right and subscribe to my blog so that you won’t miss out on any posts. The link will take you directly to the page to subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to search for it among all the others.
See you all soon with something else delicious
Who doesn’t love a dense, moist, decadently dark, fudgey brownie? My tagline on this blog says “there is more to life than brownies….but not much!”
I think that chocolate cures just about anything! And yes, there is a reason that I am known as browniegirl……..and here it is! My signature dish Cheesecake Swirled Brownies – deliciously moist, heavy and fudgey. Delightful on their own straight out of the fridge….but best at room temperature a day or so after they have been baked. By this stage the texture has settled into darkly deliciously fudge like and moist. We love them as a dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche to cut through the richness and some fresh berries in season. But equally delicious with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream! Enjoy them however you choose to…..but do make these!
DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE SWIRLED BROWNIES
a decadently dark, rich, fudgey and dense chocolate brownie, swirled with cheesecake. What more could you want?
Original Recipe taken from “Cookies & Brownies” by Alice Medrich; Adapted by me!
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 16 squares (depending how you cut them)
125 grams Lurpak unsalted butter, cut into pieces
150 grams 80% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250 grams granulated white sugar
Fresh Vanilla Bean – split and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife
2,5ml pure vanilla extract
2 Jumbo Free Range eggs – at room temperature
90 grams Cake (or all purpose) Flour
5ml Finely Grated Orange or Clementine Zest (optional)
Cream Cheese Layer:
250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature
50ml Fresh Cream
70 grams granulated white sugar
2,5ml pure vanilla extract
1 Jumbo Free Range egg – at room temperature
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and place the rack in the center of the oven.
Melt a little regular butter then brush base and sides and line a 23 x 23 cm square baking pan with 2 sheets of baking paper across the bottom and up all four sides of the pan. The paper needs to come above the edges of the pan as you will use it to lift the baked brownies out of the pan. Brush the paper as well. Set aside.
In a large glass bowl melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave – you can do this over simmering water but I prefer the micro method. It only takes 1 -2 minute at about 50% power. Remove from microwave, stir well then stir in the sugar and vanilla extract and seeds and the zest if using.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition.
Stir in the sifted flour and salt and beat, with the wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the bowl (about one minute).
Remove 1/2 cup of the brownie batter, cover with cling film and set aside.
Pour the remainder of the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Then in the bowl of your mixer or processor (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese & cream until smooth.
Add the sugar, vanilla and egg and blend until creamy and smooth.
Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the brownie layer.
Spoon small dollops of the reserved brownie batter evenly on top of the cream cheese filling. Then with a table knife or wooden skewer, swirl the two batters a little bit (without mixing them together) to make a marbled effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges are just beginning to turn golden.
Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool.
Once cool refrigerate the brownies (still in the pan covered with foil or cling film) for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
Once chilled, remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the paper and transfer to a cutting board.
With a sharp hot dry knife, cut into 16 squares. It is a good idea to have a damp cloth handy to wipe your knife between cuts.
These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want the fudginess! Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Delicious with a scoop of ice cream or creme fraiche, mascarpone and fresh berries in season – or just alone straight from the container
Don’t use a mixer when you make brownies….you don’t want to incorporate any air into the batter which will not result in fudgy dense brownies
Don’t use any leavening agent in your brownie mixture
Don’t over bake – You want your brownies to be a little bit moist in the middle when you take them out of the oven
Do use the best quality ingredients that you can afford to buy. These days you can get a very good comparable local cream cheese called Lancewood Superior (South Africa) which I have started using.
Pegs come in very handy in my kitchen. Use them to peg the paper firmly into place onto the edges of the pan. Once the batter is in the pan you can remove the pegs but if you use wooden pegs you can put the pan into the oven with the pegs attached
This recipe was featured in Issue 13 of Crush! Online Magazine. If you are not already subscribed to this fabulous, classy food and wine magazine go on over and subscribe. It is free and is delivered monthly to your inbox!