Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies – Fudgy, chocolatey brownie filled with mini chocolate eggs. A perfect Easter treat!

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Easter is a fairly horrendous time of year for anyone trying to lose a few pounds. For a nation struggling with an obesity problem, I find it somewhat ironic that you can’t move for chocolate at this time of year. Every shop is laden. And not just the supermarkets. Clothes shops. Chemists. Even home improvement shops. The Malteaster Bunnies were throwing themselves into my basket in Homebase. Honestly. There’s no escape.

Facebook and Pinterest are awash with Easter treats you can make at home. I can’t log in to Facebook without seeing some ridiculously luscious looking baked creation, dripping in chocolate and Easter eggs. This is doing my battle with the bulge no good at all. So bollocks to it. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

This brownie is very rich and chocolatey. If you’re more a ‘lightweight’ brownie kind of person, these may not be for you. But they’re gooey. And fudgy. And very very chocolatey. So if that’s how you like your brownies, you should give these a whirl. And I’ve chucked some mini chocolate Easter eggs in to make them seasonal.

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
250g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
65g plain flour
65g cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
about 16 mini chocolate eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F / Gas 4.

2. Line and grease a 9″ square tin (or equivalent) – I used my silicon tin so I didn’t have to line it, just grease it (with groundnut oil, but butter is good too). By ‘line it’, just plonk a piece of greaseproof paper in the tray. Don’t bother cutting anything.

3. Melt the dark chocolate either in the microwave (in 30 second bursts, stirring in between) or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain marie).

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

4. Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy – I used my hand mixer for this.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

5. Crack in the eggs and beat again to combine.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

6. Gently fold into this the melted chocolate plus the vanilla extract.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

7. Fold in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

This is a really thick mixture. It isn’t a runny brownie mix at all. It’s also extremely chocolatey.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

8. Spoon half of the mixture into your prepared tin. I’ll not lie, this isn’t the easiest job. The mixture is very thick, and doesn’t really want to be spread out.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

9. Remove the foil from all of your mini eggs (sorry if this seems obvious, but just in case, you never know…) and arrange them over the brownie layer in the tin. I used 16 and arranged them fairly regularly. You can arrange them however you like. I used the mixed bags of Cadbury eggs, but use whatever you fancy.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

Then dot the remainder of the brownie mix over the mini eggs and smooth it out so the eggs are covered. It’ll look a bit bumpy, but that’s ok.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

10. Pop the brownie into your preheated oven for 30 minutes (no more, no less – there’s no checking for done-ness here, simply remove it after exactly 30 minutes). Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely, in the tin.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

Once it has cooled, pop it into the fridge for at least an hour – it needs this time in the fridge to bring it together so you can then cut it into squares.

11. Remove the brownie from the tin and cut into squares.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

I make these brownies for the Husband who has a real soft spot for them. I’ll then find brownie crumbs all over the house every time he’s been into the box. He’s hardly subtle.

You can use this brownie recipe and chuck anything in to it. The rest of the year I add 100g chopped milk chocolate, and 100g chopped white chocolate. I love it with huge chunks of chocolate throughout. I hope you like it too.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:37]

Mars Bar Slice

Mars Bar slice – really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

The plague has come to the HC house. The plague I tell you. Well a crappy virus at least. My little germ factories (aka the children) brought it home originally. They all fell ill, one after the other, then both the Husband and I came down with it too. He’s been away with work though. I’m not sure what is worse. Being ill away from home, or being ill with 4 children to look after. I, at least had the cavalry (my mum) for a couple days which helped a lot. But all-in-all, it’s been a fairly miserable week for all of us.

So what could possibly make the week a little brighter? Well, lets start with this Mars Bar Slice. This is so friggin simple, but so ridiculously tasty. I can’t have this in the house as I tend to sneak a square every time I go into the kitchen (and I practically live in the kitchen). Aside: Does anyone else have to covertly eat sweet things, without their kids catching a whiff? – usually at the barest crinkle of a wrapper, or opening of a tupperware my 4 kids are on me like a pack of hyenas.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

This has become my favourite treat to take to parties and barbecues. I can throw it together in a morning, it’s so bloody simple, and yet folk seem to love it. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Before we start on the actual making of this slice, we need a serious chat about chocolate. Now I love most kinds of chocolate. I’m not really a chocolate snob. For baking I’ll use the supermarket own stuff because it is really tasty, cheap, and has no real distinctive flavour. As much as I love Cadbury, I find it’s unique flavour can be a bit overwhelming on certain cakes and traybakes. So more often than not, I would recommend using an unbranded milk chocolate. However. In this case I cannot over stress the need to use Galaxy chocolate to top this Mars Bar slice. Obviously both Mars Bar and Galaxy are the same brand, so using the same chocolate to add a thick chocolate coating to the top of the Mars Bar slice, properly takes them to the next level. It may sound insignificant. It is not. That is all.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

9 Mars Bars, cut into small slices
170g unsalted butter, cubed
1tbsp golden syrup
170g Rice Krispies
390g Galaxy chocolate

Note: I use 9 Mars Bars because you can buy a pack of 9. If it’s cheaper to buy two packs of 4, that will be fine. The amount of Mars Bars can be variable, just don’t vary too far from 9 as you want your Mars Bar slice nice and chewy. Also, I use the 390g bar of Galaxy, hence the random quantity.

1. Melt the Mars Bar slices with the butter in a large bowl in the microwave.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

I do this in 30 second blasts, stirring in between. The Mars Bar will remain a little lumpy due to the nougat, but as long as all the butter is melted, you’re done. Add the syrup and stir in.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the Rice Krispies and mix well.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Don’t do what I always do and forget that I need to use a bigger bowl.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

3. Once the mixture is mixed thoroughly (really mix it to ensure all the cereal is coated with chocolate), flatten the mixture into a lined tray. I use a 9″ square silicon tray, so I don’t have to line it. I find this is a good size for this amount of mixture.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Refrigerate this for at least an hour to harden.

4. Break up the chocolate for the topping in a bowl, and melt it in the microwave (again, 30 second bursts).

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Pour this over the tray of Mars Bar slice, sprinkle with some sprinkles to decorate if desired (who doesn’t need sprinkles in their life?), and pop back in the fridge to firm up – but not too long as it’s easier to slice if not rock solid.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Slice and eat serve.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

This tends to lose its ‘crunch’ the longer you keep it. So don’t keep it too long. Eat it. Eat it all.

Happy cooking!

 

Slutty Brownies

Erm what diet…?

I was first introduced to these brownies by my lovely friend Sarah, who shares both my passion for cooking, and my love of eating. This sometimes gets us into trouble. A typical ‘Girls Night’ usually includes a bottle (or two) of Prosecco, several tubs of Ben & Jerry’s, and multiple bags of Cadbury chocolate. She’s such a bad influence…

I was, however very grateful for this introduction. The original idea was that of a blogger by the name of The Londoner (the woman is a culinary mastermind). The name comes from the fact that these brownies are oh so easy, and a good bit filthy. And boy are they easy. Now, I like to make life simpler at every opportunity. However, I’m a bit of a baking snob, and think the instant mixes you can buy from the supermarkets are a waste of money. Baking is generally not that difficult, and not actually a great deal more effort than these mixes require.

However. In the case of Slutty Brownies, much of the attraction to the recipe – apart from the promise of a truly decadent cookie/brownie combo – was the use of the instant mixes. The original recipe is a layer of cookie dough, a layer of Oreo cookies, and a layer of chocolate brownie. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t make the cookie and brownie from scratch. If that’s what you want to do, go for your life (I have a damn good cookie recipe, and an equally good brownie recipe on this blog). I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s a fair amount of work, and the whole allure of this slice is its simplicity.

This recipe has been added to a little – it was Sarah’s suggestion to add the caramel (see what I mean about a bad influence??). And I had a tub of Marshmallow Fluff so I had to throw that in for good measure. Feel free to leave these out if you’d rather (although why you would…?).

Ingredients

1 packet of cookie mix
1 packet of brownie mix
2 packets of Oreos (double stuffed are even better!)
1/2 tin of caramel
‘some’ marshmallow fluff
1-2 eggs
oil/butter

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Make up the cookie mix as per the packet instructions, but add a little more butter/oil (depending on make). About 5g/1tsp more will suffice, enough to keep the cookie moist as it is baked for longer.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

Also add about 5ml more water. I used a 275g packet mix from Morrisons, to give you an idea of quantity.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

2. Line an 8×8″ tin (or equivalent size) with greaseproof paper (i.e. place paper in the tin, nothing fancy).

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

3. Flatten the cookie dough into the tin with your hands. It’ll be quite thin, but that’s how it should be.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

4. Arrange the Oreos on top of the cookie dough. Sixteen Oreos will fit perfectly in an 8×8″ tin, so requires 2 packets. If you just have one packet, space the biscuits out a bit more.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

5. Splurge the caramel over the Oreos – I filled the holes between biscuits then spread over the top. Half a tin will be enough.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

6. I then added dods of marshmallow fluff. This was pretty superfluous, you don’t need to. But I have a serious addiction to marshmallow, so this seemed like a good idea (and it was). It’s completely up to you though if you follow this.

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

7. In the same bowl as before (lets not make more washing up than we need to) make the brownies exactly as per the packet instructions – mine required 30ml of oil, 45ml of water and 1 egg).

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

Cover the caramel coated Oreos with the brownie mix, smooth it over and than pop this into your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

If at all possible, leave the brownie in the tin until it has completely cooled, then pop it in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up before trying to cut it. Alternatively you can just go at it with a spoon straight from the oven. Add some ice-cream and you have a winning dessert!

Slutty Brownies - ridiculously easy and unbelievably delicious, these Slutty Brownies need to be tried! | thehecticcook.com

The first time I made this I actually had to make half with caramel and half without. Have I mentioned the Husband’s weird dislike of caramel? Anyway, in my humble opinion the caramel takes it to a whole different level (thank you Sarah!).

Happy cooking!

Slutty Brownies - ridiculously easy and unbelievably delicious, these Slutty Brownies need to be tried! | thehecticcook.com

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]

 

 

 

 

Strawberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

A gorgeous cheesecake encompassing the smoothness of white chocolate with the sweetness of strawberries. A delectable combination.

I love pudding. But I don’t get to make it often. They’re bad for you. Full of sugar, and butter, and everything else that makes bad food taste really good (unhappy face). I’ll make a Sunday pudding now and again, mostly in the winter, justifying it by the fact the kids will grow up with lovely, homely memories of Sunday pudding (these memories are obviously slightly fuzzy, in black and white, and we’re all wearing 1940’s clobber). The only time I can really justify the ‘exuberance’ of making pudding is if we’re entertaining (see White Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding). I especially love it when my Father-in-law visits. Here is a man who truly appreciates pudding. If he is visiting, pudding is a forgone conclusion – blatantly I’m just using him as an excuse here, but heh ho.

So the last time he and my Mother-in-Law visited I made this cheesecake. Its an amalgamation of a Phil Vickery cheesecake, and a BBC Good Food recipe. Both originals are really good, and probably needed no alteration. But I’ve never let that stop me before.

Ingredients

200g Hobnob style biscuits, crushed
75g unsalted butter, melted
300g white chocolate, melted
200g soft cheese
250g mascarpone
285ml double cream
300g strawberries
2 tbsp strawberry jam

1. Line and grease an 8″ deep-sided cake tin (a removable base, or springform tin are essential here). I use those pre-cut greaseproof paper circles you can get from the likes of Lakeland, as they make life a lot easier. I just use a small splash of groundnut oil to grease the tin, using my (clean – honest!) hands to cover the inside of the tin. Or you can use some melted butter.

2. Melt the butter – in a bowl, in the microwave or in a pan on the stove; and crush the biscuits – I use a small hand-held blender, but in a plastic bag with a rolling pin also works.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Hobnob-style biscuits give a lovely oaty taste to the base of this cheesecake, but you could use any biscuit – digestives, shortbread, custard creams. Whatever takes your fancy.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

3. Mix the biscuit crumbs into the melted butter, and then press this into the base of your cake tin.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Squish it down really well, making sure its fairly compacted. Put this into the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

4. Melt the white chocolate. Be careful with this as it can burn quite easily. In the microwave, give it short blasts and stir each time. Or melt in a bowl over a pan of boiling water on the stove – just don’t get water into the chocolate as it really doesn’t like it. Let this cool slightly.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

 

5. Meanwhile, chop up most of the strawberries, leaving a few aside for decoration, and add these to a blender or food processor with the jam. Blend well to make a jam-like sauce.

 Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

6. In a large bowl add the soft cheese, mascarpone and cream.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Do not be tempted to buy low-fat mascarpone as the cheesecake won’t set (been there, done that). Mix this well (a hand mixer is useful here).

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Then add the white chocolate. The mixture will stiffen up considerably, just make sure the chocolate is well mixed through. And try not to eat it.

  Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

7. Now to start layering. Spread about a third of the cream mix onto the base, then top with half of the sauce.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Add another layer of cream, and then sauce. Finish off with a final layer of cream. This is a bit tricky, as trying to get smooth layers is fairly hard, and it does end up looking a bit messy. Well it did for me at least.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake | thehecticcook.com

 

You can just do a layer of cream, then sauce, then a final layer of cream. It will be cleaner than my end result. I just prefer the extra layer of cream and sauce.

8. Chill this for at least a couple of hours before serving. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin, then slowly push the base up, or unhinge. An extra pair of hands can be useful if you’re using a tin with removable base. Cut a few of the saved strawberries in half – keeping the hull in looks a bit more ‘artistic’ or something. Top the cheesecake with these, and serve.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake - a devilishly gorgeous dessert, creamy and delicious | thehecticcook.com

The final product might not be the pretty layered creation I’d hoped for, but it tasted pretty damn fine. You should get about 12 servings from this, depending on how generous you are.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake - a devilishly gorgeous dessert, creamy and delicious | thehecticcook.com

 

We had it two nights running. It’s worthy of an encore. And the kids liked it too – surprise, surprise.

Happy cooking!

PS I’ve added a new printable recipe box below, so hopefully you can print off a copy to keep. Obviously having read the entirety of my waffle post 😉

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1]

Sugar-Free Banana Cake

Sugar-Free Banana Cake – with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love.

Something I never expected about becoming a parent was just how emotional it would make me. Prior to kids, I was fairly unemotional. Indeed the Husband referred to me as ‘the Ice Queen’ (he’s a charmer). However now, I have actually cried at an advert. And a music video. It’s just wrong.

One of the strongest emotions you feel as a parent though, which I really wasn’t expecting, is the GUILT. It’s worthy of capitals. I think our generation has it fairly tough. We’re bombarded from the media about how we should be parenting. Internet; News; TV; even social media. We’ve all seen the Facebook posts about how little Johnny could write his name at one year old. Or how Betsy Sue was potty trained at six weeks. Or all the articles floating around about how we shouldn’t sleep with our kids. And the ones about how we should sleep with our kids etc etc.

No Added Sugar Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love | thehecticcook.com

I try not to get too caught up in most of it (I tryI don’t always succeed), but the one area that does seem to get under my skin is food. What we should, and shouldn’t be feeding the kids. Recently I’ve been getting fairly paranoid about sugar. It’s definitely becoming the demon ingredient. I’m not about to get into the ins and outs of why sugar is (potentially) so bad for us – I’m trying not to add another layer of guilt onto you parents out there – but I have been looking at recipes that I can interchange with my usual recipes, sneaking ‘slightly healthier’ snacks into the kids. Don’t get me wrong, they still get those crappy little cheap yogurts from Asda (42p for six don’t you know?!), ice-cream on a Saturday, pudding on a Sunday etc. I’m not about to win Parent of the Year here. But I’m easily assuaged, and this makes me sleep better at night.

So this banana cake recipe comes from a BBC Good Food recipe, and I haven’t actually made any drastic changes to it. Bear in mind, this is not my Banana & Sultana Cake – it’s not as sweet; it’s a good bit denser; it has an almost ‘healthy taste’. But it’s actually really quite tasty, and the kids love it. Oh and I appreciate that it isn’t actually ‘sugar-free’, but it is processed sugar free, which is a winner in my eyes 🙂

Ingredients

50g unsalted butter, melted
3 bananas, mashed (the older the better)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
75g sultanas

1. Melt the butter in a large, microwavable bowl (it takes about a minute, but do it in 30 second intervals). Then mash the bananas into the melted butter.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the egg, vanilla and milk, and give it all a good whisk.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

3. To this mixture add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas. Give the mixture a good stir.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

The original recipe calls for wholemeal flour, which is what I used, but only because I had it in the cupboard. I’ve also made it with white self-raising flour, and it made very little difference. It just depends exactly how ‘healthy’ you want to be.

I also don’t pre-mix my dry ingredients. Just make sure that when you add them to the bowl, you spread the baking powder and cinnamon out a bit, so there’s no risk of getting a clump of either.

4. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin (I use liners, which are an absolute godsend) and pop into a preheated oven at 160ºC (fan)/320ºF/Gas Mark 3 for around 35-45 minutes.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

I have a love/hate relationship with loaf cakes, because I always find they take longer to cook than any recipe ever says. Mine took at least 45 minutes, but check after about 35 minutes as all ovens vary. It should turn lightly golden on top, and a skewer/knife should come out clean. Chuck some foil on top to cover if it looks like its starting to brown too much.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love. | thehecticcook.com

5. Take the cake out of the oven, and leave to cool (out of the tin) on a rack.

I’m not about to have an argument about whether this cake is ‘sugar free’ – it clearly isn’t; there’s natural sugar in the bananas, and the sultanas. But its a damn sight healthier than some of the cakes and snacks I feed the kids (not mentioning Nutella Magic Bars at all here). Give this a go, especially if you’re trying to allay some parental guilt.

Happy cooking!

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice

Chocolate brownie and mint join forces to create this amazing traybake. A must for all chocolate mint fans.

I have a bit of sweet tooth. Ok so the Husband is currently guffawing into his tea. Fine, it’s maybe more than a bit. It’s maybe more like a whole mouthful of sweet teeth. I keep seeing all these tv programmes about how bad sugar is for you, and the celebrities giving it up left, right and centre. And I have tried. But I can’t. I just can’t.

I have a particular fondness for cake. So much so, that just over a year ago I started a cake club with a few of my friends. We started off trying new things, having a theme each month, and experimenting with what we made. That has since turned into just any excuse for us to get together of an evening once a month, without any screaming children, drink some wine, and eat cake. Needs must.

DSC_0066

So this was my last bake for Cake Club (it deserves the capitals). I’m an absolute sucker for chocolate mint. I’d happily chomp my way through a box of After Eights given half a chance – or if the guilt didn’t set in. So I’d seen these knocking about Pinterest for a while, and decided it was time to give them a go. I used my own recipe for the brownie, and made something up for the mint layer. Thankfully it worked, and the result was a pretty god damn good slice of deliciousness.

Ingredients
Brownie:

200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
250g unsalted butter, softened
300g caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

1. Line and grease a 9″ tin, or a similarly sized tin. You can see that by ‘line’, I was highly precise. I used some groundnut oil to grease, but you could use spray oil or melted butter.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.comChocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com2. Melt the dark chocolate, either in the microwave in 30 second bursts (stir well between each time, as chocolate burns pretty easily), or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water on the cooker. Set this aside to cool slightly.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

3. Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. I used a hand mixer this time which takes a bit more mixing than my standing mixer, but this is what adds lightness to your mixture so you can’t really be half-arsed about it. Then beat in the 3 eggs and finally the vanilla.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

4. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. It’s best to sieve these ingredients to avoid any lumps.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.comChocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com
5. Add the melted chocolate to the butter/sugar mixture and fold in. Try to be as gentle as possible to retain as much air in the mixture as possible.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com
 Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

6. Add the dry ingredients and again fold everything in together. This is quite a thick brownie mixture – often brownie mixes are fairly liquid.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

7. Fill your pre-lined tin with this mixture and smooth out as much as possible. It’s so thick this mixture, that it takes a bit of effort to get it into the corners, and evenly spread – the baking parchment moves about a lot and makes it quite fiddly, but the parchment is a godsend when you have to take the slice out of the tin.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

8. Bake this for 30 minutes at 160°C(fan)/300°F/Gas 2. Don’t worry about whether the centre is cooked or any such gubbins at this point. Just trust the process. Let the brownie cool completely on a wire rack (still in the tin), then put it in the fridge for at least an hour to fully cool. The trick with brownie is to cook it at a lowish heat until its not quite done, then cool it completely once out so that it retains that lovely gooey middle we all love, but you can slice it fairly easily.

Mint Layer:

100g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 tsp peppermint extract
green colouring

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

9. Start to beat the butter and icing sugar (no need to sieve) together, then add the remaining ingredients and beat and beat and beat some more, until you have a lovely light fluffy minty green buttercream. This is where standing mixers come into their own – I had no idea buttercream could be so fluffy and gorgeous until I owned my mixer. However, if you don’t have one, at least use a hand mixer (beg, borrow or steal if necessary) and beat it until you’re thoroughly bored. Then beat it some more. I promise you, the more you beat it, the better it will be.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

10. Layer the mint buttercream onto the brownie (still in the tin) and spread it evenly to fully cover the bottom layer. Chuck this into the fridge for at least half an hour to let the buttercream harden.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

In case you were wondering, I used the above peppermint extract (mine is from Lakeland, but I think most supermarkets will have some) and green colouring (it’s a paste because that’s what I use for cake decoration, but you could use any green colouring you can get your hands on). If you’re like my lovely friend Sarah, who goes loopy at the merest hint of colouring, you can leave it out completely. It’ll still taste exactly the same, it just won’t have that amazing 70’s vibe about it.

Chocolate Top Coat:

200g milk chocolate
15g unsalted butter

11. Melt the chocolate together with the butter, again either in the microwave or in a bowl over simmering water. Pour this over the mint layer and spread to fully cover. I topped mine with some Aero mint balls for decoration.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

12. Leave the chocolate to cool and set at room temperature, then take the whole thing out of the tin (using the paper) and slice into whatever sized pieces you desire.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Chocolate brownie and mint come together in this decadent traybake, a must for all mint fans | thehecticcook.com

I found that the longer this was left, the mintier it seemed to get. Not that it lasted that long. With the three layers, its not the quickest of traybakes to make, but its one of those first bakes that I’ll most definitely be baking again. It is truly worth it.

Anyway, I promised myself some Ben’n’Jerry’s once I’d finished this blog. So I’ll be off….

Happy cooking!

Nutella Cookie Cups

Nutella. Ah, Nutella. Whoever thought of mixing chocolate with hazelnut, and creating a gooey spread, was an absolute legend. You may have guessed I like love adore Nutella. My kids have also inherited the Nutella gene it would appear – not from their father I may add, who doesn’t like it. Between that and his dislike for caramel, I do sometimes question the fundamental basis of our marriage.

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So these little cookie cups spring up a lot on Pinterest. Thus I could go no longer without trying them out. And I was not disappointed. I made them in a mini muffin tin, however there was excess cookie dough, so I made some standard muffin tin sized cups too. These are probably too big. Except they’re not. They’re decadent. But the mini muffin cups are a great size for kids, and if you’re being good (ha, whatever).

Ingredients

220g unsalted butter, softened
200g granulated sugar
220g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
380g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 standard sized jar of Nutella (you’ll need every drop!)

1. Beat together the butter and both sugars, for several minutes, until slightly lighter in colour.

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2. Beat in the eggs, and then the vanilla. Then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Many recipes call for you to sieve the dry ingredients in. I didn’t. Just sprinkle them in, ensuring they get well mixed in.

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3. Grease your tin – I used groundnut oil as it has no taste, but you could use butter/margarine – and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

4. Take spoonfuls of your mixture and roll into golf ball sized balls, then pop into your tin. The mixture should fill each hole, but only up to the top, not over.

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You’ll obviously need bigger balls (ha ha ha) for a standard muffin tin, but same rules apply – fill the hole but don’t overfill above the top of the hole.

This is rather messy. You could use an ice-cream scoop to make less mess and get more standard sized cups. I didn’t.

5. Bake these for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to golden – in my oven, the smaller size needed 10 minutes, the bigger size 12 minutes.

6. Once out of the oven you need to make holes in the middle of each cookie to make ‘cups’. For the small ones I used the end of an ice-cream scoop as it was the perfect size. For the larger cups I used a ‘cup measure’. A shot glass has been mentioned on other recipes as the perfect size. Basically find something that will make a good sized indent. Just don’t use your thumbs. The cookies are hot. It will hurt.

7. Then start to fill each cup with a spoonful of Nutella. You can choose the size of spoon, depending on how much Nutella you want in each. But if you don’t empty a jar of Nutella, you’re not putting enough in 😀

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The Nutella will melt into the warm cups. Leave to cool in the tins, or at least until they’re mostly cool. Eating whilst the Nutella is still slightly warm and squidgy is recommended for at least one. Or two.

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Whilst filling the bigger cups I ran out of Nutella – I might have overfilled. So I melted some milk chocolate and filled the last few with this, then let the chocolate cool and harden. This actually worked well, as the Husband enjoyed these and I wasn’t forced to eat all of the cookie cups . They’re also a great alternative to Nutella, if you fancied mixing them up – milk, white, dark; all would work well and be pretty darn tasty.

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Once again, when it comes to this recipe you can change it up and make all sorts of variations. Caramel would be a lovely filling. Mmmm. I might have to go try that. Maybe topped with a button, kind of millionaires shortbread-esque. Or a wee bit of peanut butter topped with chocolate. Oh wow, that could be immense. I think I might have to head off now…..

Happy cooking!

Buttery Scottish Tablet

So who knows what Scottish tablet is then? I hope most of you, because it’s not the easiest thing to try to describe. It’s like fudge. But it’s most definitely not fudge (never call it fudge to a Scot, hrmph). It’s a similar taste – creamy, buttery, caramel with vanilla. But it’s a different texture – more sugary, and firmer. But it’s too die for!

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

I’ve grown up with tablet. My mum is a master at making the stuff. Truly. The woman should be selling it. We all could have retired on the profits. Tablet can be found at all sorts of events – cake sales; coffee mornings; weddings. My wedding featured plates of this goodness after the meal (made by Ma HC, obviously) instead of mints, and there was none left when we came to leave. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this stuff will be like sugary gold!

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Ingredients

1kg granulated sugar
120g unsalted butter
1 can of condensed milk
200ml full milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Add all of the ingredients, except the vanilla, into a large heavy bottomed pan and melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com
Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

2. Bring this gently to a rolling boil. As a guide, my cooker was only on ‘3’ (it has 9 settings), so pretty low. Once it starts to boil, time it for 30 minutes, and just let it do its thing, no need to interfere. You’ll see it gradually change from pale to beautifully golden – this is the key to tablet, it should be a gorgeous caramel colour.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

3. Before the 30 minutes is up, fill your sink with about 2 inches of cold water. After the 30 minutes take your pan and place it in the sink, and give it a good stir for about a minute.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

4. Now take the pan out of the sink – it’s a good idea to have a towel ready on the side – add the vanilla, and give the tablet a good beat for another minute. It should start to thicken. Just stir, stir, stir (trying not to burn yourself on the hot tablet).

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

5. Pour the tablet into a buttered/oiled tray – I used a silicon square tray, lightly oiled with groundnut oil (which has no taste, so is perfect for oiling cake tins with) which worked perfectly, but a well buttered tray is great.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

Note: As you pour the tablet into your tray, don’t be tempted to thoroughly scrape down the sides. The tablet will cool quickly around the edges, and turn hard and sugary. If you scrape the pan, you’ll end up with hard lumps of tablet on top. Just pour out the tablet quickly, then scrape the pan afterwards into a separate dish. These scrapings are possibly the best bit anyway!

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

6. Let the tablet cool completely before turning it out and cutting it up into little squares of loveliness.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

Troubleshooting:

If your tablet doesn’t set, you haven’t boiled it for long enough. Get it back in the pan and back on the boil for 5-10 minutes. Then give it a bloody good beating – a hand mixer can be useful here.

And if, once it has set, the tablet won’t come out of the tin, this probably means you didn’t butter it well enough. You can cut it up in the tin, and try wedging it out. Or get a spoon.

Buttery Scottish Tablet - Delicious buttery fudge-like confectionary, one square will never be enough! | thehecticcook.com

I was always a bit scared of tablet. It was a bit of an enigma. So I’m always pleasantly surprised when it works out! It’s a bit of work, but it’s most definitely worth it. So give it a go – just don’t blame me when your arteries start to protest.

Happy cooking!

Banana & Sultana Cake

I have a notebook, which I’ve called my ‘Baking Bible’. It sounds a bit twee (which it probably is) but it’s where I add baking recipes once I’ve discovered the recipe-to-end-all-recipes. There are thousands of recipes out there for the same things: millionaire’s shortbread; brownies; chocolate chip cookies etc. And I’ve tried a fair few. But I’ve been disappointed with many. So when I hit upon a recipe that, to me, seems to be perfect, it goes in the Baking Bible. I’m hoping *fade to black & white with soft music playing* that this notebook will be passed down the generations, and be lovingly used by future HC generations. It may even feature on an episode of Antiques Roadshow one day……

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

This banana cake was a recipe I got from a friend a few years back. It has the right quantity of banana, the juicy sultanas to add texture, a lovely hint of cinnamon, and is sweet enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. If you need to use up a few ageing bananas, this is a perfect solution.

Ingredients

110g butter / buttery spread
110g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
4 bananas
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
140g sultanas

Note: I went through a stage of only using butter in my baking. I was doing the whole ‘parental guilt’ thing, worried about how much rubbish my kids eat, and thought I could at least bake with butter, then I’d be ‘filling them with goodness’.

Ha. Whatever. The buttery spreads you can buy, yes they contain some ingredients that most certainly didn’t come from a cow, but when it comes to actually baking, it’s very hard to tell the difference. Plus they’re actually easier to use as they’re already soft. And they’re cheaper. So funny old thing, I’m back to using buttery spreads in my baking. The kids will be fine. I’m sure. I hope. Anyway…

1. First off, cream together the ‘butter’ and sugar until the mixture has paled a bit. This adds air into your mixture, which will help to make the cake light, so creaming is an important step and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. I don’t kick the arse out of it, but I’ll give it a jolly good beating for about 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the eggs and give another good beating.

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3. Mash three of the bananas and chop up one (in the pic I’d only sliced up the fourth banana, but do chop it up a wee bit more).

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Add this to the mixture and give it a good stir.

4. Add the dry ingredients (I read recently that sifting flour for cakes is basically a waste of time, so I’ve given that up) and fold into the mixture.

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Then add in the sultanas and mix.

5. Pour the mixture into a greased, lined 2lb loaf tin.

Note: I’ve got two tins, one is smaller than the second, but both pretend to be 2lb loaf tins. I put this mix into the smaller one and it was too full, so then had to pour into the second. Loaf tins can be tricky like that. I didn’t grease either as I’ve got lovely loaf tin liners for the smaller one, and as the second is silicone, it doesn’t need to be greased (but I do place it on a baking tray to make it easier to take in and out of the oven).

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6. Bake this in a preheated oven of 160C (fan) for about 1 hour, checking it from around 45 minutes that a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

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Now, I have a love/hate relationship with loaf cakes. I love the ease – especially with the loaf tin liners, no greasing/lining, just make the batter, chuck it in the tin and bake. Simple.

However. I find baking a loaf cake a bit of a pain. They take an age to cook. I’ve reduced the temp for this recipe and increased the cooking time. It means you don’t have to worry about the cake browning too much (and thus having to cover with foil), but it does take at least an hour (mine actually took 70 minutes) and it didn’t have a lovely crunchy crisp top. If you really want your cake to have the crunchy crisp top, cook it at 180C (fan) but you’ll probably have to cover it after about 40 minutes. And it’ll still probably take around an hour. But as everyone’s ovens are different, baking is usually a bit of trial and error anyway.

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

This doesn’t need anything added to it – it’s not bread, so it doesn’t need butter or anything. It’s lovely just as it is.

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

Nutella Magic Bars

These are honestly, just like the title suggests, pure magic. I only came across them recently, from Pinterest, but they have made a big impression, and will feature in my baking repertoire from now on. A lot. If you like Nutella (or in this case, a supermarket substitute claiming to be the same), and gooey, sticky caramel, this recipe is definitely for you.

Nutella Magic Bars - A biscuit base topped with Nutella and chocolate morsels, encased in a gooey caramel, these Nutella Magic Bars are sublime! | thehecticcook.com

It would appear that ‘magic bars’ are a type of traybake from our friends across the pond. From what I can gather – and do let me know if I’m wrong – pretty much anything and everything can top a magic bar. The key ingredients appear to be a biscuit base and condensed milk poured over everything, then baked.

So let’s get down to brass tacks.

Ingredients

12 digestive biscuits
30g butter, melted
80g Nutella
100-150g chocolate chips
20g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 can of condensed milk

Note: The quantity of chocolate is really just a guide. Use as much as you want. It’s your arteries. Like I said before, the toppings are completely your choice. The sweetie aisle is your oyster. You could totally omit the Nutella if you’d like; use desiccated coconut; use white, milk and/or dark chocolate (I personally like a bit of each); use other types of chocolate like M&M’s or smarties (great for kids) or chopped up Mars bars etc. All that’s stopping you is your own imagination.

1. Either throw the digestives in a blender/blitzer, or bash the living daylights out of them in a bag with a rolling pin. Add this to the melted butter in a bowl.

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2. Line a baking tray with baking paper/parchment – by ‘line’, I mean ‘place in’. Nothing fancy. Just put the paper in the tray. My tray was 12″x7″, but a 9″ square would work, or anything of similar size.

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3.  Pour the biscuit mix into the tray and squish it down well and good. Get it really quite compact and into the edges and corners.

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4. Plop the nutella all over this base layer. Just plop it on, as random as you like. Or in nice straight rows for you OCD types.

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5. On top of this, sprinkle all the toppings you want to add. Spread them all over the biscuit layer and Nutella, no need to be fancy, just a nice even layer of loveliness. Then pour your whole tin of condensed milk over that. And then lick out the tin.

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6. Pop this in a preheated oven – about 170C fan – for about 25 minutes, until it’s bubbling and golden. I might have slightly over done mine (again I’m still using the excuse of a new oven, although that’ll get old soon). Let it cool pretty much completely before you take it out of the tray and slice it up. If you can. Mine was still pretty warm when I started into it.

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I might have eaten three squares in the process of cutting it up. It’s just that good. It can’t be helped. Well unless you’re weird like the Husband who, ‘doesn’t like caramel’ – weirdo. So I had to offload a fair bit of this to my friend Laura to save me from myself. Sorry Laura – she’s a lot skinnier than me though, so I don’t feel too bad.

Nutella Magic Bars - A biscuit base topped with Nutella and chocolate morsels, encased in a gooey caramel, these Nutella Magic Bars are sublime! | thehecticcook.com

If you don’t like this, I’m not sure I can be your friend (I have to let the Husband off as we have four kids together…). Enjoy!

Happy cooking!