Chocolate brownie heaven

A brilliant reason to have kids is ‘Mother’s Day’. (Kidding!) I love Mother’s Day. It’s basically like a Birthday but without getting a year older. Brilliant! Bring it on.

I am lucky enough to receive a lovely card, (usually made by my little girl), gifts and I am spoilt all day long which of course I relish. And I’m sure as she gets older I will be able to milk this occasion even more by demanding things like breakfast in bed, hourly cups of tea and of course, chocolate brownies. She isn’t quite old enough to boil a kettle yet, but as soon as she is…

CD100198.04.13_IMG_7135Mother’s Day has been my focus these past few weeks as I’ve been designing products for my shop. There is now a collection of pretty cards and I’ve even remembered Nanna’s and Grandma’s as they are lucky enough to be able to Celebrate both Mother’s Day AND the new ‘Grandparents’ day!

And for those of us who want to give our Mum a little something other than flowers then I’ve got the perfect personalised gift with my new ‘Ring for service bell’. A great way to make your Mum smile and to receive a beautiful gift totally personalised for her.

BEL00001.31.08_IMG_7126My daughter’s school is also embracing Mother’s Day by inviting Mums to join their children for lunch, which is a lovely idea. Well, apart from having to sit on those itty-bitty chairs. And with my long legs it means I will have to eat my lunch with my knees level with my face. That and having to sit with other little ones, with table manners not exactly being their strong point.

Both Amelie and I have very delicate tums so it doesn’t take much to make us heave. There was the time when my brother’s Boxer dog stood in their lounge with dribble coming from his mouth which is usual for Boxer dogs. I turned to find Amelie stood there retching! She has told me on several occasions that she has almost been sick during lunch at school due to other kids table manners (or lack of). So you can understand my nervousness about this lunch. I’m hoping it will be incident-free and it’s not like feeding time at the zoo with Amelie and I taking it in turns to share the sick bag!

Choc brownie smallNow, onto much nicer things! I mentioned chocolate brownies earlier. I LOVE brownies and I have THE best recipe. They have a nice flaky top but they are lovely and soft in the middle. I know there are brownies out there that are classed as ‘healthy brownies’ as they include avocado and beetroot in their ingredients. But my brownies do not even pretend to be even the slightest bit healthy. They do not contain any ingredients that you would normally find in a salad. In my opinion, that is just wrong.  They are full-on chocolate, full-fat chocolate brownies, which I bake as a treat for special occasions. I’d have to eat chocolate brownies on a daily basis to want to make a ‘healthy version’. Bake and eat them on a special occasion such as Mother’s Day as a treat and we’ll be fine. And yes I love them that much I don’t even mind baking them myself, for myself!

Amelie won’t be able to eat them, as they’re not gluten-free. BUT, before you start to think I’m the worst Mummy ever, Amelie doesn’t like brownies! “WHAT!?” I hear you cry. I know – it’s just not right is it? How can a daughter of mine not like brownies? But on the upside it means there are more for me to scoff. (And then whine that I’ve put on weight afterwards).

So, as my little gift to you I’m going to share my brownie recipe in honour of Mother’s Day. They make the perfect gift cut into squares and wrapped prettily in cellophane tied with a ribbon. Hopefully you will have these baked for you, but if like me you’ll have to bake them yourself then it just means you get to eat the first one as that is the number one rule of baking.

The best-ever chocolate brownies

Ingredients

200g (7oz) unsalted butter
200g (7oz) good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
3 medium eggs
300g (10.5oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) plain flour, sifted
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate drops (70% cocoa)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5. Line two 28cm x 19cm (7.5” x 11”) baking tins with grease-proof paper and set aside. I sometimes use one large tin to make a chunkier brownie, but that’s me being a piggy!
  2. Melt the butter (slice into chunks) and chocolate (snapped into small pieces) together in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Or if you are in a rush, you can cheat and put the mixture in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. (I’ve done this a couple of times and the brownies have turned out just fine. Just give it a mix with a spoon after taking it out of the fridge).
  3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the chocolate mixture, then the flour and three-quarters of the chocolate drops.
  4. Divide the brownie mixture evenly between the two prepared tins (or one larger tin), then scatter with the remaining chocolate drops. Bake for 25 minutes, until set and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, cut each ‘cake’ into eight brownies (or more if you have used one large tin). Best eaten on the day of baking, but they do last for a few days if kept in an airtight tin.
  6. If you are being kind and making these as a gift for Mother’s Day then wrap a couple of the brownies in pretty cellophane and tie with a ribbon or string.

Now make a cup of tea, turn the phone off, grab a book or a magazine and enjoy your delicious chocolate brownie in peace.

To all the Mums out there, I hope you have a really lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday 26 March 2017! xx

Oi! Mickey! Get yer own chocolates!

In an earlier post I mentioned that I’d already bought the large round tubs of Christmas chocolates and have stored them in the loft to stop me from scoffing them before Christmas. Well, this weekend it all went horribly wrong.

The loft is actually a large space under the eaves of part of the house and is much more accessible than the ‘proper’ loft. Having no willpower when it comes to chocolate, I had stored the tubs at the back, behind several suitcases, boxes of shoes (I have a silly amount for a creature that only has two feet), Christmas decorations and boxes of ‘stuff’.

On Sunday morning Mr G decided to do some sort of DIY thing in there and had moved some of the boxes, which were barricading in the tubs of chocolates. Amelie and I were in her bedroom, busy making a rocket (this wasn’t actually on my weekend to-do list) when Mr G shouts: “We have a mouse”.

I climb into the storage space (it would make a brilliant den if we didn’t have so much stuff) and see lots of specs of purple plastic all around the tubs of chocolates. The mouse had chewed all around the lid trying to get into MY Christmas chocolates! Cheeky, little mouse! (I’m being polite here; this isn’t what I actually said).tub of chocs.jpg

Thankfully we were able to save the chocolates, as he hadn’t actually gotten into them (Huge sigh of relief from me). But a little part of me would actually love to see Mickey on a massive sugar rush.

But this presents me with a problem. The chocolates are now being stored in the larder. This is in the kitchen. There aren’t any suitcases and boxes to stop me from seeing them every single time I go in there. I am seriously panicking about this! Where am I going to get the willpower to stop me from munching the chocolates before Christmas??? But when is the official start to Christmas? Is it the first of December? Is it when the shops start to put Christmas stock on their shelves at the end of August? If this is the case then we are well and truly in the full swing of Christmas time! So “Merry Christmas everyone” – let the chocolate munching commence!

Bah Humbug!

It’s October and already my thoughts are on Christmas. I love, love, love Christmas! Yes, of course I’ve already stocked up on the large tubs of chocolates when the supermarket were selling them two for £7. Cheapskate, that, I am! They are safely stored away in the loft; otherwise I would have scoffed the lot by now.

For the past few years we have taken Amelie to a ‘Meet Father Christmas’ experience at one of those farms that has been turned into a mass money making machine and has little reference to actual farming except for the token pig and lama in a pen. They’re all about indoor play centres for kids (living hell for grown-ups) and a café where they can charge a small fortune for a naff tuna sandwich and a “latte” out of a machine where the operator just presses the “latte” button and ‘voila’ half a cup of pale beige liquid with fake froth on top (can you get fake froth?) You get the gist.

At Christmas time, and for the “experience” they get trigger-happy with a can of fake snow and employ local wannabe actors or desperate students to act as Santa’s Elves for the day, who after the first five minutes become really irritating with their fake jolliness. You queue for a lifetime to see the big man in the red suit, who really shouldn’t speak like the very bored teenager he obviously is when playing Santa.

After Amelie had told him what she wanted for Christmas (It’s Christmas Eve and she has just listed items she has never mentioned before!!!), she says goodbye, to which Santa replies “see yer ‘aters”. In that one sentence all of the fake snow, irritating elves and bloke in red suit with a fat tum disintegrates in front of Amelie who was expecting a big “Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas” in a deep and Santa-like voice. And all of this for the bargain price, of a weekend away somewhere nice!!!

So this year we want to do something different. We want Amelie to meet a jolly Santa, who can say (one of the few lines he has to speak) “Ho, Ho, Ho” in traditional Santa style and at a price where we don’t have to re-mortgage to pay for it. Is this too much to ask?

We were discussing this dilemma with our dear friends who also want to find something new for their kids to do at Christmas. This is when my friend Helen said (admittedly after a couple of glasses of Prosecco) we should create a little winter wonderland at our house. My ears instantly pricked up and my imagination went a little wild.

The workshop would become ‘Santa’s workshop’ and a place for the children to meet him. (Mr G would just need a red suit, some white facial hair and ta-da!!!). We would have to hide the tools of course (Health & Safety first. Don’t want this to turn into a scene from the Texas chainsaw massacre), fake snow, lots of fairy lights and Dave (Our Christmas tree is always called Dave, who I will introduce to you at Christmas time) and it could look magical. AND next to the workshop is a stable – perfect for a donkey! And this is where I share with you my plight to win Mr G over in getting a pet miniature donkey.

I have always loved donkeys. My family used to go to Blackpool beach when I was very young and I would be overjoyed that a fair few of the donkeys were called Jenny. A few years later I realised that Jenny is actually the official name for a female ass! Hmmm… But this hasn’t stopped me loving them. They are just so cute and the miniature donkeys are just adorable. Of course I’d also have to get a miniature pig to keep him company. Ssssh!

Anyway, back to the ‘Santa experience’. I could bake Christmas cookies (GF of course) to hand out to the kids and mulled wine for the adults. We could make Christmas decorations and play games in the garden, all prettily lit with lanterns and fairy lights. I have it all planned and if we charge the same as these other ‘Santa experiences’ I’ll never have to do the National Lotto again! “Ho-Ho-Ho”.