Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Super Gooey Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Spending all day with a 4+ month old doesn't do wonders for my conversational skills. I love my days with Matilda but I sometimes forget how to talk to people until Nick comes home from work. The amount of things that leave my brain as soon as they've gone in is ridiculous and I had no idea how much my mind would turn to mush after having a baby. I'm not complaining though, the reactions I get when I talk to Matilda are better than any I've ever got from an adult - no-one has ever found me so fascinating. It does wonders for my ego. I look forward to many years of Matilda thinking I am amazing, until she realises her mother is pretty lame (for example, I am literally counting the days until I go and see McBusted in May).

I think there are two categories of brownie, dessert and snack. Dessert brownies are messy and probably need to be eaten with ice cream and a spoon. Snack brownies are the ones you can wrap in foil and sneak into your handbag for emergency brownie situations - these situations arise almost daily for me. I place myself more on the dessert end of the spectrum, I find a dry, cakey brownie just about the most disappointing thing that could happen to me in a world of baked goods.

I love gooey brownies, I like the middle of the brownie to still hold onto the batter consistency and I like to be able to lick chocolate off my fingers when the brownie is done. These, as the title suggests, are super gooey. They are really really good and exactly how I like my brownies. Just look at that picture above...brownie batter all over the place! Nick said he could taste the espresso quite strongly but I actually thought it was a very mild espresso taste. If you are worried about the taste of coffee either use half the amount or leave it out completely, it will still taste amazing. 

Super Gooey Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

120g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped 
250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon espresso (2 teaspoons of instant coffee mixed with 1 tablespoon of boiled water)
220g caster sugar

200g cream cheese
80g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon espresso (2 teaspoons of instant coffee mixed with 1 tablespoon of boiled water)
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F. Line a medium sized brownie tin with greaseproof paper and set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and espresso until well combined.
  3. In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove from the heat and pour in the egg mixture. Mix slowly with a spoon for a few minutes until thickened. 
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and fold in until just combined.
  5. Pour into the brownie tray.
  6. For the cheesecake mix, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, egg and espresso together until smooth.
  7. Spoon over the brownie mix in random spots then swirl around with the tip of a sharp knife to create a marbled effect.
  8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. If you like your brownies a little firmer, bake for 5-10 minutes longer but cover with foil to stop it burning. 
  9. Leave to cool before turning out of the tin and cutting up. 
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Want ▲ Need ▲ Wear ▲ Read - A Birthday Wishlist

I did have a recipe planned for today but I decided at the last minute that I wasn't happy with it and it needed more work so instead I've whipped up a little birthday wishlist before I turn 28 next week. How am I turning 28? I swear I was 24 not long ago. like the idea behind 'want, need, wear, read' and it's very much the idea I wanted to base Matilda's birthdays and Christmas's around. 

I've been working a lot on calligraphy and hand-lettering lately and I'd love to be able to work straight onto my computer or easily edit scanned pieces with a tablet. I've had a Wacom tablet on my wish list for a while. 

I like to think the Diono Buggy Buddy would save me a lot of faff and allow me to walk to baby group with a proper coffee or not lose the house keys at the bottom of the changing bag. 

I'm abit obsessed with shirts at the moment. Before I had Matilda I used to wear dresses a lot but they aren't really very practical when lugging around a 15lb load so I'm pretty much always in jeans now. Shirts are nice and loose and don't cling to my every bump so I feel a bit nicer about myself. I love the pattern on this Topshop shirt. Nick picked me up a lovely one from the Joules outlet at Cheshire oaks (75% off!!!) but I'm not allowed it until my actual birthday.

Finally, as weaning time draws near I'm reading all sorts on the subject - probably because I'm terrified of having a super fussy eater on my hands. I read about this book whilst I was pregnant so I now Matilda is almost 5 months old I'm keen to give it a read. 
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Sunday, 13 April 2014

14/52 & 15/52

135 days old.

142 days old.

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.

I left it two weeks again on the 52 project but the weeks go so quickly I can hardly keep up. I'm so proud of the photographs I've been taking of Matilda, I can't wait to see them all lined up together when we reach 52/52. I started the Couch to 5K app this week and have completed three days of it. I am not a runner but I've longed to be one for a while. I've always been pretty bad at sports and exercise. When I started high school I joined netball and hockey but never getting picked to actually play in any matches meant I gave up and stuck to reading books instead. My goal is to one day be able to go out and run for half an hour quite happily. For it to be that time for myself and not be the heart straining task it is now.

I think about things differently now I have Matilda because my attitude towards things affects her future attitude towards things so I'm thinking more about my own health and how I look after myself. Never have my actions had such consequences. I'm abit consumed with talk of weaning at the moment. Nick and I are not fussy eaters and we like all kinds of food so I'm keen for Matilda to be an adventurous eater and I'm thinking of all kinds of ways to introduce different foods when the time comes. We are going to have a go at purees when she reaches 5 months - in 9 days!! - but if she's not interested then we'll postpone it a couple of weeks. Whatever happens, I think it will soon be the end of stain free baby clothes.
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Cheat's Pain au Chocolat: Three Ways

I like to cheat with food. I like shortcuts and cop outs and ways to get things done in 5 minutes instead of 5 hours. There's definite merit in the 5 hour route but there's so much joy to be had from taking the 5 minute route. 

I have really cheated here but I'm not sorry. I would absolutely love to spend an afternoon labouring over laminated pastry dough but the fact of the matter is I just don't have the time. It takes me three days just to read a magazine so folding layers and layers of pastry just isn't at the top of my list of things to do. That said, I love breakfast and pain au chocolat is my dream way to start the day. All that lovely buttery goodness and then melted chocolate in the middle...mmmm.

Jus Rol got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to come up with some ideas of how to use their products. I have two recipes for you this week, my first is these quick ways to spruce up your breakfast table with exciting fillings for pain au chocolat using their ready made packs. 

You can see from these pictures that the ready made stuff looks just as good as the real thing, and it tastes as good too. That is my complete honest opinion. I never lie where breakfast is concerned.

Speculoos and Dark Chocolate

I cannot express how good this is. Biscuit spread warm out of the oven is just...well, there are no words. Do it. Do it now!
Spread a heaped teaspoon onto the pastry and place the dark chocolate (the pack comes with lines of chocolate that are the perfect length, if you are doing this the non-cheat way just use a square of chocolate, halved and placed one above the other). Fold the sides into the middle and turn over. 

Almond Butter and Blueberry Jam

I much prefer this combo to the traditional PB&J. Blueberry jam has a much subtler sweetness and works perfectly with the creaminess of almond butter. 
Spread a heaped teaspoon of almond butter (I like the crunchy ones) on pastry and top with a teaspoon of jam. Fold each side into the middle and turn over seam side down. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana

You can pick up chocolate peanut butter in the supermarket but if you don't have it to hand it's super quick to mix up your own. 
To fill four pain au chocolat, mix a heaped tablespoon of peanut butter with half a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of brown sugar (to combat the bitterness of the cocoa powder). Combine until smooth and pop a teaspoon on each pain. Spread out over the top. Slice a banana in half lengthways and then again lengthways and onces in half so you have 8 pieces. Place one on each side of the pastry and roll each side into the middle. 
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