Candy Cane Brownies

I made these for a children's party, having been given the recipe to try. I buy candy canes every Christmas, and then always have some left over, so this is a good use for them.

You need:
125g butter
75g chocolate of your choice, milk or plain
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract
75g chopped nuts
3 candy canes - chopped

Preheat oven 150C/gas2                        Grease a 20x24cm cake tin

Melt the chocolate and butter over simmering heat. Don't let the mixture boil or the chocolate will be grainy.
Take pan off the heat and add the sugar, mixing quickly.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each.
Spoon in the flour, half at a time, beating well, then add the vanilla and nuts. Mix together well.
Spoon the batter into the tin and sprinkle over the chopped candy canes.
Bake for 20 mins.

I love this plate - I found it in a charity shop.
The children loved them, but were only allowed one each. They could be cut smaller, into bite-sized pieces. I like nuts in a brownie - gives a bit more texture - and the topping was sweet, but for an occasional treat they are great.


Spicy Chocolate Puddings

Thought I'd make a pudding instead of a cake, and this French one is a family favourite. It has my favourite spice, cinnamon in it, but you could change the spice to ginger, or maybe cardamon, both of which go well with chocolate,  or even add a bit of chilli powder.

 It's made in individual portions in ramekins.

You need: 200g dark chocolate, 4 tspn cinnamon, 50g plain flour, 100g butter, 50g caster sugar, 40g single cream and 4 eggs.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                Grease 6 ramekin dishes well.

Break the chocolate into chunks, then add to a pan with the cream and butter over a bowl of simmering water. Beat the eggs with the sugar then add the melted chocolate mixture, cinnamon and flour and mix together well.
Spoon into the ramekins and bake for 9 mins. Leave to cool then turn out onto a plate.

It turns out like the infamous molten chocolate pudding, which has been the bane of contestants lives on Masterchef! The cinnamon gives it a lovely spicy flavour, and I love the smooth, runny chocolate centre. I always serve it with ice cream to give another texture.


Cinnamon Apple Cake

This is a lovely big sharing cake. It's very moist and uses a lot of apples- great for windfalls! I used Gala Apples, but you could use Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or an apple of your choice.
My friend gave me the recipe, and it's really easy to make. You can never have too many apple cake recipes!

You need:
1kg sliced apples, 400g caster sugar, 2-3tspn cinnamon, 190ml vegetable oil - I used sunflower, 3 eggs, 250ml orange juice, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 375g plain flour with 2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt.

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4                Grease a 23cm round cake tin well and line base. My dil had my round tin on loan, so I used a 23x30cm cake tin, and it worked out fine.

Toss the apples with 100g of the sugar and the cinnamon.

Blend the rest of the sugar with the oil, then add the eggs, orange juice and vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour mixture and beat to make a batter.

Put half the batter into the cake tin and top with the apples. Spoon the rest of the batter on top and bake for 45-60 mins till golden.

Cool on a wire rack. I added some sliced apples in the photo- added colour!

It's a lovely moist cake; it ends up with a crusty layer on top,soft cinnamon apples in the middle, then a spongy cake layer underneath.


Plum and Polenta Upside Down Cake

I was pleased to find some Victoria plums in my local market. They're my favourite sort after Mirabelles. The polenta makes a change from flour, and gives the cake a bit of crunch.
  • 8 plums
  • 75g light muscovado sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • For the cake:
  • 120g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 75g fine polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
         Preheat oven 190C/gas5               Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin, not a loose bottomed one as the juice might run out of the plums. if you only have this kind of tin, wrap a double laye of foil round the outside of the bottom of the tin.

        Halve the plums then cut into 1/4s. Put the sugar and lemon in a bowl and stir the plums through to coat. Put them in n overlapping layer in the bottom of the cake tin. If there's any syrup left in the bowl, spoon it over the plums.

        Cream the butter and sugar together till nice and fluffy. Add the eggs a bit at a time then fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder and lemon juice.

        Spoon over the plums and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden. Run a knife inside the cake tin then cool for 10 mins before turning out upside down onto a plate.

      Nice contrast between the slightly crunchy cake and the soft juicy fruit topping.  I like the almonds coming through in the background. It just needs a spoonful of cream for a perfect pudd!


Chocolate Mousse Cake

I went to a friend for tea recently and she made this cake. It's more of a dessert than a cake, but had to ask for the recipe as it was delicious. It's a nice change from a normal chocolate cake and it's easy to make, always a plus for me. I used Green and Black's chocolate, as I think you need a good quality for this recipe.

200g  dark chocolate
 200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
 250g granulated sugar
 5 large eggs
 1 tbspn plain flour
Preheat the oven 190C/gas5, and grease and base line a 20cm cake tin
Chop the chocolate and melt it with the butter in the microwave or over simmering water and stir to mix.
Add the sugar and stir in then leave to cool for a couple of mins. The mixture will look rather gritty, but don't worry this is fine.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each one - this time the mixture looks rather slimy so add the flour. Beat until you have a nice smooth, dark batter.
Pour into your tin and bake for about 25mins till the middle of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackled. The centre will be a bit wobbly.
Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, turning it upside down so the crackled bit is on the top.
It's nice with some cream, crème fraîche or even ice cream.

It's a lovely smooth texture, with a good chocolate flavour. Very rich!


Lime and Yoghurt Cake

           I like recipes that are quick and easy to make, and this is one of those. I always think 
 of it as'healthy' because it's made with oil and yoghurt! I suppose the amount of            sugar makes it unhealthy nowadays! There always seems to be a lime or lemon or 2 in my fridge and this is a good way to use them up. 
    You need: 250g Greek yoghurt, 80ml sunflower or rapeseed oil, 200g caster sugar ,4 tbspn lime juice and the zest of the lime, 250g plain flour with 11/2 tspn baking powder and a pinch of salt. For the topping – 1 tbspn lime zest and 2 tbspns sugar [so 2 limes altogether]

         Preheat oven 180C/gas4 Grease a 22cm cake tin and line the base.

Mix the yoghurt, oil , sugar, lime juice and zest together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt together then add to the oil mixture and mix well till combined. Don't overmix or your cake will be tough.

Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 45-50 mins till cake is light brown.

Turn out onto a wire rack, and when the cake is cool, sprinkle the mixed sugar and lime zest.

The yoghurt and oil give the cake a nice moist crumb, and the lime gives it a bit of zing. A nice easy cake, just right with a cuppa. It would work equally well with a lemon.


Spicy Chocolate Cookies

I made these to take to a local coffee morning. Chocolate and spice go so well together. These freeze well, so you're never short of something sweet when the mood takes you!

You need - 200g dark chocolate, 210g plain flour, 11/2 tspn ginger, 1/2 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tbspn cocoa powder, 110g butter, 120g dark brown sugar, 4 tbspn golden syrup, 1 tspn bicarb, whole almonds to decorate

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

Chop the chocolate up, and in a bowl sift the spices and cocoa together with the flour.

In another bowl beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, then add the golden syrup and beat again.

Dissolve the bicarb in 11/2 tspn boiling water.

Beat half o f the flour mixture into the butter one, beat in the bicarb then the rest of the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chunks and mix well.

Roll into a sausage shape and cover in clingfilm. Chill for about 2 hours till firm.

Cut slices off the roll and place on the baking sheets leaving about 2 cm spaces between each cookie. Push an almond in the centre of each cookie then put in fridge for 20 mins.

Bake for about 10-12 mins, then cool on a wire rack.

Lovely spicy flavour, good crunch. Think I'd like a bit more chocolate flavour, so will use more cocoa next time, 11/2 tbspn.