Friday, July 3, 2015

Pretzel and Peanut Chocolate Brownies

Pretzel and Peanut Brownie by Baking Makes Things Better

This Peanut and Pretzel Brownie was inspired by one of the new limited edition Dairy Milk chocolate blocks that have been released by Cadbury.
The brownie itself is deliciously fudgy, then the pretzels and peanuts add a little bit of crunch along with a hint of salt (which is such a great compliment to the chocolate).  Top that all off with chunks of creamy chocolate and we have a winner.
The recipe is super easy to make too!

Peanut and Pretzel Brownie by Baking Makes Things Better
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup cocoa
125g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ cup pretzels (roughly broken into pieces)
½ cup peanuts
120g chocolate, roughly chopped (I used the Pretzel and Peanut Chocolate by Cadbury – I think their plain or Picnic varieties would work well too)

Method:
Heat oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm square pan with baking paper.
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, sugars, and cocoa together in a large bowl.  Add in the wet ingredients and mix well to combine.  Stir through the pretzels, peanuts and chocolate chunks.
Press the mixture into the lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until firm. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Pretzel and Peanut Brownie  - recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie  - Baking Makes Things Better

The recipe for this Chocolate Pecan Pie is one that we created and originally shared early last year over on High Tea With Dragons as a guest post while Kirsten was away on her honeymoon.
Pecan Pie is one of the first things I made and posted about back when I started up Baking Makes Things Better.  I’ve always wanted to try a chocolate version of Pecan Pie so this is a slight variation on my original recipe
This pie would go great with cream, custard or ice cream, but is also amazing on its own. You could buy a pre-made pastry, or challenge yourself to try make the chocolate pastry recipe below.

IMG_5505

Serves about 10.

Sweet short pastry:
Ingredients:
2 cups standard flour
1 cup icing sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250g cold butter, cubed
2 –3 tablespoons icy water

Method:
Place all the ingredients, except the water, into a food processor.  Pulse until combined.
With the motor running, add enough water to the dough to form a ball (I usually use 2 tablespoons).
Press into a greased 25cm round lose based flan pan.  Chill for 1 hour.

Filling:
Ingredients:
350g pecans, chopped coarsely
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cream
1 ¾ cups brown sugar
100g butter
100g dark chocolate broken into chunks (I used Whittakers 50% Chocolate)
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional – it enhances the chocolate flavour)
2 eggs, beaten

Method:
Preheat the oven to 170˚C.  Place an oven tray in the middle of the oven to heat.
Place the pecans onto the uncooked pastry base, then place it back in the fridge until needed.
Slice the vanilla bean in half and place it with all the ingredients, except the eggs, in a saucepan.  Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves and the butter and chocolate have melted to make a smooth sauce.  Remove the vanilla bean, cool the sauce and add the eggs.
Pour the sauce over the pecans.  Bake the pie for approximately 40 minutes or until the centre of the pie has set (it will wobble slightly when lightly nudged if it needs more time in the oven).  Remove from the oven onto a wire rack to cool, then place in the fridge for at least four hours to set (it will crumble if cut earlier). 
Cut into wedges and serve.

Chocolate Pecan Pie by Baking Makes Things Better

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lemonade Scones

Lemonade Scones by Baking Makes Things Better

So, the other weekend I was hanging out at home and it just felt like one of those days where there should be scones for lunch.  It just sort of felt like a day that if I went back in time to when I was six or seven, that my grandma would be serving up some scones, with jam and cream.  Is that weird, or do you know what I mean?

Now, truth be told, I have never made scones myself.  People say they can be tricky, which I think is what had put me off making them in the past.  My mum makes Lemonade Scones so I decided to give them a go, and man are easy! I should have not been so sill and made them much sooner! I thought I would try out using Lemonade made using my Soda Stream for the recipe and it worked perfectly.  The scones were so light and fluffy, and were an absolute hit in my house.  I’ll definitely be making this recipe again and again!

Lemonade Scones - Recipe found on Baking Makes Things Better

Ingredients:
4 cups self raising flour
Pinch of salt
300 ml cream
300 ml lemonade (or, try soda water or L&P)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a tray with baking paper.
Starting with the flour, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together to form a soft dough.
Tip the dough out onto a well-floured bench, dust the dough lightly with flour, then roll out into a rectangle approximately 4 cm thick.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces and gently place each piece apart on the prepared baking tray.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven an leave to cool on a wire rack.  Serve with butter, jam and whipped cream!

Lemonade Scones Recipe -  Baking Makes Things Better

Want to change up the recipe?  Try out these additions:
- a cup of tasty cheese
- a cup of chocolate chips (I used to love when my mum did this!)
- a cup of dried fruit, like raisins or cranberries

Or, give Courtenay’s recipes for Savoury Ham and Cheese Scones a go – try version one or two.

Lemonade Scones - Recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Peanut Butter and Honey Choc Chip Cookies (they’re flourless too!)

Flourless Peanut Butter and Honey Choc Chip Cookies by Baking Makes Things Better (1)

These are an interesting cookie – they are really soft, almost cakey in texture as there is no flour in them.  I have to admit, I was a little worried I wouldn’t get these cookies to work.  The first time I made them, I had the oven at a normal ‘moderate’ baking temperature and used a fancy peanut butter, and they didn’t turn out.  They started to burn really quickly and they peanut butter was too runny, so the cookies were similar to a very moist but crumbly brownie texture when I had to take them out of the oven after all of five minutes.  Anyways, I picked myself up and tried again, making a few tweaks that have paid off.  And yes, it still is a very wet mix, but the cookies do firm up slightly when cooling.

They are a reasonably healthy treat (no flour or cups of sugar) if you eat them in moderation and I have to say I love the addition of almond extract instead of vanilla – it gives these cookies a unique flavour which is incredibly moreish and goes so well with the peanut butter and honey.  And, if you need another reason to try these, it turns out the 16th – 23rd March is ‘National Honey Week’ for 2015!

Flourless Peanut Butter and Honey Choc Chip Cookies by Baking Makes Things Better (4)

Makes about 12 cookies.

Ingredients:
¾ cup peanut butter (I used Sanitarium’s No added Sugar or Salt Crunchy variety)
⅓ cup honey
1 egg
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt flakes
½ cup dark chocolate bits

Method:
Preheat the oven to 160C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate, until everything is combined and smooth.  Fold through the chocolate bits.
Scoop out small amounts of the mixture and drop onto the prepared baking tray (an ice cream scoop works well for this).
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking tray for at least 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Flourless Peanut Butter and Honey Choc Chip Cookies by Baking Makes Things Better (3)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nutella Fudge

 Delicious

So, at my wedding (there’s a few pics on our facebook page) my Dad decided to share with everyone what a gross child I was in his speech and how I used to eat Nutella by the spoonful and hide the empty jar under my bed.  It’s a true story, but still.  I remember feeling mortified rather than any nice words he might of said! 

Anyway, we popped around to Courtenay’s place last weekend because it was Max’s 4th birthday party.  (Yup.  Can you believe it?  We’ve been blogging since before he was born!  Want a trip down memory lane?  Take a look back to check out one of the very first pics of him or a very pregnant Courtenay in our old posts.)  While there Simon and I were given two big jars of Nutella to take home since Courtenay’s husband Shane was at the wedding and heard my Dad’s speech and he has decided to try out a Paleo diet.

I decided to use some of it up by making this Nutella fudge.  It is super easy to make and made in one pot, so very little mess.  The fudge has a delicious Nutella flavour and a smooth creamy texture.  I figured I love Nutella and making fudge, so why not combine the two.  Yum!

Nutella Fudge - Baking Makes Things Better

Ingredients:

1 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 can condensed milk
250g milk chocolate, broken in to chunks (I used Whittakers Milk Chocolate as I love the smooth, creamy texture it has)
60g butter

Method:

Grease and line a slice tin with baking paper (I used a 20 x 20cm square pan).  Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan.  Place the saucepan of ingredients over the top of a slightly smaller saucepan filled with simmering water.
Melt all the ingredients until the mixture is smooth.  This takes about 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and refrigerate until set (I left mine overnight but it shouldn’t take anymore that 5-6 hours at the most).
Cut into squares and serve.  Keep stored in the refrigerator.

Nutella Fudge by Baking Makes Things Better

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blueberry Cheesecake

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake by Mel from Baking Makes Things Better

Believe it or not, this Blueberry Cheesecake was inspired by a Broccoli Salad!  I absolutely recommend you try the Broccoli salad, it’s one of Simon and mines faves.  The recipe calls for Blueberries, which is something I haven’t really eaten in the past and we had been leaving them out of the salad because they haven’t been in season.  But, they are in season now, and I am loving them!

This is a no-bake cheesecake and is packed full of blueberry – none of that plain cheesecake business with a few blueberries scattered on top, or a swirl of syrup (although, I have done that too!), this one has blueberries all the way through.  Which, has got to be good for you right, considering they are super high in antioxidants?

I topped my cheesecake with a thin layer of plain cheesecake mix with blueberry jam swirled through it.  I also made candied lemon peel to sprinkle over the top to pick up on the lemon juice that is in the cheesecake - I’ll include how to make this in the recipe below.  However, if you can’t be bothered with the extra work, I think spreading some whipped cream over the top and decorating with some extra blueberries or simply grating some white chocolate over the top would be perfect (this would be amazing if you use the same biscuits that I did for the base).

Blueberry Cheesecake by Baking Makes Things Better

Ingredients:
Base:
350g biscuits (I used Farmbake’s White Choc variety and they were delish!)
80g butter, melted

Filling:
3 teaspoons gelatine
¼ cup boiling water
375g cream cheese
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cream
3 cups blueberries (this worked out to be three small punnets from the supermarket)

Topping:
¾ cup of cheesecake mixture (reserved from main recipe)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons blueberry jam

Candied lemon peel:
3 lemons
4 cups water
2 cups white sugar, or as needed

Method:
Grease a 20cm round tin.  Place the biscuits into a food processor and process to a fine crumb.  Mix through the melted butter.  Press into the base of the prepared tin and place in the refrigerator to set.

In a glass, sprinkle the gelatine into the quarter cup of boiling water.  Mix until dissolved, then set aside.

Using a hand beater or stand mixer, in a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, caster sugar, vanilla essence and one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Once the mixture is a smooth buttery texture, add in the cream and gelatine and beat until the mixture is smooth again. 
At this point, if you want to create a marbled effect on the top of the cake as I have one, reserve three quarters of a cup of the cheesecake mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
Using a blender, puree the blueberries (some bits of skin will still remain).  Pour the blueberry puree into the main cheesecake mix and stir through until combined.
Pour the mixture over the prepared base and place into the refrigerator to set.

To make the candied lemon peel, boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.
While the water is heating up, remove the rind from the lemons and cut it into thin strips.  I find the easiest way to do this is to use a vegetable peeler and peel off the skin, then cut it into thin strips using a small knife. 
Once the water is boiling, add the lemon peel strips.  Boil for about 5 minutes, until tender.  Remove peels from the water.  Replace the water with 2 new cups of water and stir in the sugar. Return to a boil, add the peels, and boil for about 15-20 minutes until the peels translucent.  Stir regularly as the mixture can burn. 
Taste a piece of the peel – if it is bitter tasting, change the water and sugar so you have a fresh pot and re-boil the peel.  Continue to do this until you are satisfied with the flavour.  Drain and allow to dry either on a wire rack or on a paper towel.

To make the thin marbled layer on the top of the cheesecake mix a teaspoon of lemon juice through the reserved cheesecake mixture.  Once the top of the blueberry portion of the cheesecake in the tin has set across the top, gently spread the plain mix across the top in a thin layer.  Dollop blobs of the jam randomly around the top of the cake.  Using a skewer or a fork, rake through the jam blobs to swirl them into the cheesecake mixture.  Place into the refrigerator for 5 minutes before topping with the candied lemon peel and extra blueberries.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before cutting into wedges and serving.

Blueberry Cheesecake by Mel from Baking Makes Things Better