Triple Chocolate Banana Bread

Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the standard banana bread recipe… Everyone loves it and its super yummy and delicious but I have discovered that the addition of some cocoa and chocolate really takes it to a whole new level, making it much more cake like, which is never a bad thing.

Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.

Ingredients:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 85g butter
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 30g raw cocoa powder
  • 2-3 bananas / ~225g peeled weight
  • 2 eggs; beaten
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pack white chocolate buttons / hearts (optional for decoration)

Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

With a sheet of baking paper line one standard size loaf tin.

In a small saucepan melt the butter, set aside and allow to cool.

Chop both chocolates into desired chunk sizes. I like to leave them around the 0.5cm diameter, no larger.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda; mix well.

With a fork or potato masher, mash the bananas until all the big chunks have disappeared. Then stir in the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and finally the cooled down butter; mix until just combined, don’t over mix or you run the risk of having a dense cake.

Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients leaving only the chocolate chunks which are to be added last.

Add the chocolate with a quick stir to help distribute them and pour the entire mixture into your earlier prepared loaf tin.

If using, decorate with some white chocolate chips or hearts.

Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.

Bake at 180C fan for 35-40 minutes or until the so called dry stick test is passed (be aware of chocolate chunks… if you hit one the toothpick will never come out clean).

Once baked remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before digging in.

The bread will freeze for up to 3 months so a good excuse to make a whole batch of them 🙂

Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.
Banana bread taken to the next level – super rich yet light and moist with a deep chocolate flavour. One definitely not to be missed.

 

Coffee, Chocolate & Pecan Cookies

Soft and chewy, those coffee, chocolate and pecans cookies offer a great treat; an irresistible flavour combination for any time that you need a pick me up.

Soft and chewy, those coffee, chocolate and pecans cookies offer a great treat; an irresistible flavour combination for any time that you need a pick me up.It’s cold out there, and very white… yes, we are kind of snowed in, which means no playing outside… as a result, we are spending more time in the kitchen, cooking and baking and generally creating some wonderful creations… and today I would love to share our new cookies with you 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 175g flour
  • 115g butter; soften
  • 115g light muscovado sugar
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 50g dark chocolate; roughly chopped
  • 50g pecans; roughly chopped
  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 1tbs hot water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4tsp grounded ginger
  • 1/4tsp grounded cinnamon

For decoration (optional)

  • 25g dark chocolate; melted
  • 25g pecans; roughly chopped

Soft and chewy, those coffee, chocolate and pecans cookies offer a great treat; an irresistible flavour combination for any time that you need a pick me up.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare two large baking trays by lining them with baking parchment.

In a large bowl place the butter and both sugars and beat until light and fluffy.

Put the coffee granules into a small bowl or cup; add hot water and stir until dissolved, set aside to cool. Then add the vanilla extract and the egg and whisk until combined.

Slowly add the coffee mixture into your butter and sugar mix beating until creamed and fluffy again.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and fold carefully into your mix.

Finally, fold in the pecans and chocolate chunks.

Measure approximately one heaped tablespoon of mixture per cookie and place onto your earlier prepared baking trays spacing them well apart to allow room to grow.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside, they will still feel very soft to the touch but they are ready at this stage.

Leave to cool on the baking tray for a 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Soft and chewy, those coffee, chocolate and pecans cookies offer a great treat; an irresistible flavour combination for any time that you need a pick me up.If decorating, wait until the cookies have cooled down completely, drizzle with melted chocolate then immediately sprinkle with chopped nuts (the still warm chocolate will work like a glue as it cools and sets).

Store, after cooling down completely, in an airtight container.

Enjoy with a beverage of your choice!

Soft and chewy, those coffee, chocolate and pecans cookies offer a great treat; an irresistible flavour combination for any time that you need a pick me up.

White Chocolate Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Now here is a funny thing… just a few short days after I shared with you my recipe for Triple Lemon and Poppy Seed Sheet Cake I went shopping and found some very unusual bars of chocolate, they were White Chocolate – Lemon & Poppy Seed… what a coincidence, hey?

I’ve never tried a chocolate like this before so I decided to remake my cake recipe into a muffin recipe and include this new chocolate in to the mix.

The idea was good in principle but the chocolate flavour did get lost a bit… I still have one more bar so I might try to include it in a different bake with a more defined flavour… but for now I present to you my White Chocolate Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins 🙂

White Chocolate Lemon and Poppy Seed MuffinsIngredients:

For the muffins:

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter; soften
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 bar of lemon & poppy seed white chocolate
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 25ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 25g poppy seeds

For the crumble topping:

  • 80g plain flour
  • 40g butter; cubed into small pieces
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ½tsp vanilla sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C if fan assisted).

First on the list of things to do is a typical crumble. In a bowl sift the flour and then using your fingertips rub the butter in till the mix resembles breadcrumbs; incorporate both sugars and pop the entire mixture into the fridge.

Now, we can start on the muffins themselves.

Line a 12 holes muffin tin with paper muffin cases and set aside.

Wash, zest and juice the lemon.

In a large bowl sift and mix together flour, sugar and baking powder; add the butter, eggs, and 25ml of the lemon juice.

Gentry stir in the poppy seeds and crushed chocolate; pour the mixture into your earlier prepared muffin cases.

Remove crumble topping from the fridge and sprinkle on top.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25min or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes then move them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

My White Chocolate Lemon & Poppy Seed MuffinsMy White Chocolate Lemon and Poppy Seed MuffinsWhite Chocolate Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins
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Easter Favourites – Hot cross buns

Baking with Hartley’s – Easter Favourites – Hot cross bunsYou don’t need to know anything else bar those three delightful words that bring the promise of all-time favourite loved by all. They may not be the focal point of our Easter celebrations but I would hazard a guess that they would be sorely missed if someone forgets to put them in the basket whilst shopping.

Though as ever that nagging question starts to surface again, how hard can it be to coin a popular phrase?

So to the kitchen I go and start to prepare, though for some reason, maybe I was awash with confidence but instead of sorting all my ingredients out on my worktop before I began like I usually do I had just decided to dive straight in. I had scalded the milk that was now slowly cooling, I had whisked my eggs and I had even started my yeast on its journey to happiness. Then I came to needing some flour, uh ho! The cupboard was bare and I briefly danced with the idea of just using plain flour but then rejected that notion, it just wouldn’t be the same. Then the clouds parted and in the dazzling light I saw it, tucked up in the back left corner of the lowest shelf a 1.5kg bag of strong white bread flour, though on closer inspection I find it is apple and cinnamon flavoured, least I now remembered why it was stored where it was.

So, a crushed passion for a tasty crispy tea time snack or that passion realised with a distinctly apple and cinnamon twang. I talked myself into thinking that they would probably be quite nice and you know what, they were indeed.

As for the recipe I turned to my most trusted tomb, Leiths baking bible. I know I have said it before but I will say it again do check out their range of books, informative, educational and loads of gorgeous recipes.

So what do we need for this culinary wonder….?

  • 200ml milk
  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 450g strong white bread flour (apple and cinnamon wins the day)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 115g raisins
  • 30g of mixed peel diced
  • Sweetened milk (for the glaze)
  • 115g flour (for the white cross)
  • Spoonfull of water

Method:

Scald the milk and then allow to cool to body temp.

Mix the yeast and 2tsp of the sugar with a couple of spoonfuls of the warm milk.

Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl and with your finger tips rub in the butter. Then add the remaining sugar and make a well in the middle of your flour. Pour in the eggs and the yeast mix and enough of the milk to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes or 6 minutes in a mixer. Once the dough is smooth and elastic put it into a greased bowl with enough spare room so it can double in size. Cover with some oiled cling-film and a tea towel draped over the top and set aside somewhere warm for an hour and a half.

Put the oven on with a shelf set in the middle so that it heats up to 200C.

Check on your dough and it should be at least double its original size, if not leave it for another half an hour until it is. When it is remove from the bowl onto a lightly dusted work top and lightly knead again for a minute. Roll out flat till the dough is about 1/2cm thick and then sprinkle your raisins and mixed peel all over. Fold the dough up and knead gently for a couple of minutes to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Split the dough into equal sized portions, the recipe states 16 but I only made 8 as 16 seemed to make them far too small in my opinion. Shape each portion into a nice bun shape and place on a baking try that you have either dusted or oiled. With a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of each bun and set aside till they double in size again.

Baking with Hartley’s – Easter Favourites – My Hot cross buns in the makingWhen they have finished brush the top of each bun with the sweetened milk (we used condensed sweet milk from the tin mixed with an ordinary milk).

Mix 115g of flour with just enough water to make a paste with the consistency of toothpaste and put into a plastic syringe or small piping bag and use to make the cross on the top stand out.

Pop into the oven for 20 minutes and remove briefly. Now either brush your buns again with the sweetened milk or some heated up and melted apricot jam, this will add an amazing shine to your finished buns.

Pop them back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Baking with Hartley’s - Easter Favourites - Hot cross bunsWhen you are ready to eat split your bun into two and toast it.

Serve with lashings of butter, some lovely jam of your choice (we opted for an apricot one) and a cup of your favourite brew.

Enjoy!

Baking with Hartley’s - Easter Favourites – Hot cross bunsBaking with Hartley’s – Easter Favourites - Hot cross bunsHave you ever made your own hot cross buns?

Are you tempted to give it a whirl for this years’ Easter surprise for the family?

* Hartley’s provided me with a hamper full of baking ingredients needed to create hot cross buns.

Healthy Snacks – Home Baked Banana Chips

Healthy Snacks – Home Baked Banana ChipsIt would appear you liked my Apple Chips recipe, so today I have for you a different fruit based healthy snack variation – home baked banana chips.

This time I’ve dried just pure bananas, no additions whatsoever.

It worked perfectly and the final chips were mega crunchy and super tasty.

So, what will you need to make some at home?

Well, the ingredients list contain just one item: bananas 🙂

As to everything else you will also need:

  • Pre-heated oven (120C)
  • Baking tray lined with baking parchment
  • Fantastic knife skills or a mandolin
  • Airtight container for storage

So how do we make it?

Creating home-baked banana chips couldn’t be easier.

Basically, all you need to do is to slice your bananas and pop them to the preheated oven.

As you know my chopping skills aren’t perfect so yet again I used my Oxo Chef’s Mandolin Slicer and sliced all my bananas to 4mm thick pieces.

Then, they were evenly placed on the baking tray (nicely lined with paper) and placed in the oven.

30 minutes later I removed them from the oven and flipped all the slices over. The turning process isn’t as easy as with apples as the bananas do not warp or twist like the apples do, so you have to be very careful when turning them. They are also much stickier, but with a little practise and a thin blade, you will have every piece upside down in no time.

Once they are all tuned over pop them back into the oven and allow them to dry for another 30 minutes.

When the time is up, take them out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Your chips will still be drying out slightly when you take them out from the oven.

After 10 or 15 minutes you are ready to have a taste 😉

Top Tips:
Use only ripe, ready to eat bananas. As there is no extra sugar you really don’t want to “chip” the green ones as they will not be as sweet and offer a more bitter experience.

Bananas are sticky and quite fragile, so it is best to use a very sharp knife or a good quality mandolin for slicing otherwise they will simply lose their shape and you risk them turning into a mush.

Remember: bananas have a high-calorie count. A bowl of banana chips might not look much but calorie wise it will be.

Healthy Snacks - Home Baked Banana ChipsWhat do you think about my banana chips?

Will you be making some?

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Healthy Snacks – Home Baked Banana Chips