Sunday, 23 June 2013

We Should Cocoa: Mint Brownie Pie

This month's We Should Cocoa is hosted by Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door who has challenged us to use mint in our chocolatey creations. Last month's mango challenge round up can be found here. You can read all about We Should Cocoa at Choclette and Chele's blogs.

"What are you doing this weekend, Hannah?"

"I'm finishing up packing for Glastonbury, cleaning the house for the house sitter and driving an eight foot giant squid pillow to Oxford*. How about you?"


I love it when your weekend throws you a curveball. A break from the normal weekend bores of housework, laundry and food shopping.

I threw a curveball at some simple brownies and hit pie. It makes brownies slightly more sophisticated, which is what I need to set me up before five days of mud, rain, loud music, warm cider and tinnitus.


100gr plain flour
Pinch salt
1tbsp sugar
70gr cold butter
Ice cold water

Brownie Filling
80gr butter
125gr caster sugar
30gr cocoa powder
Pinch salt
Couple of drops of vanilla extract
1 egg
35gr plain flour
5 small sprigs of fresh mint and 1/2tsp peppermint extract
Chocolate covered cocoa nibs (optional)

1, Make the pastry first by sifting the flour, salt and sugar together. Rub in the butter, not completely, until you have a kind of shaggy texture.
2, Drop in cold water very slowly, half a teaspoon at a time until it comes together into a dough. It shouldn't be sticky, but if it is, sprinkle a little more flour in.
3, Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4, Preheat your oven to 160o/c and start making the brownie filling.
5, Melt the butter and stir in the caster sugar and cocoa powder. Stir through the salt and vanilla.
6, Beat in the egg and fold through the flour.
7, In a small saucepan, blanch the mint leaves in hot water for a couple of minutes, dry off thoroughly and finely chop. Stir these and the peppermint extract through.
8, Roll out your cold dough and until its roughly 2-3mm thin. This is a delicate kind of pastry both cooked and uncooked so be careful when transferring it into a shallow seven inch cake pan. I used a silicone one. Patch up any gaps or tears.
9, Pour in the brownie filling, top with a sprinkle of chocolate covered cocoa nibs if using them, and bake for 30minures or until an inserted skewer comes out completely clean. Cool in the silicone tin until completely cold before removing and slicing.

*I wasn't lying about the squid.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day Pickles

Father's Day on the food blogging expanse annoys me. That double chocolate Guinness caramel truffle cake can just go away.

Whilst, I would love a slice of that double chocolate Guinness caramel truffle cake, my dad (well, his diabetes) wouldn't. Which can leave you in a mix when it comes to gifts. Cake and whiskey are pretty much blacklisted.

Pickles aren't. Dads love pickles. I've bookmarked that double chocolate Guinness caramel truffle cake for my birthday anyway

Makes 1 x 500ml jar


2 medium sized carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into long strips.
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
5 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in half
Small handful of fresh cauliflower florets, separated
Couple of sprigs of parsley and dill (optional)

Pickling Liquid
250ml white wine vinegar
200ml water
3tbsp sugar (I used a sugar replacement)
1/2tsp salt
Small pinch of coriander seeds, caraway seeds, fennel seeds and a few peppercorns.
1/2 bay leaf


1, Sterilise a 500ml preserving jar and set to one side.
2, Prepare all your vegetables fully and rinse well.
3, Simmer the pickling liquid ingredients together for a few minutes and then add in all the prepared vegetables except the fresh herbs. Simmer these gently for a couple of minutes.
4, Strain the ingredients, retaking the pickling liquid and blanch in ice cold wage to retain greenness and crunchiness.
5, Return the pickling liquid back to heat and bring up to the boil.
6, Pack the blanched vegetables into the jar as tightly as you can. Snuggle the fresh herbs down in there too.
7, Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jar and full to the brim. Attach the lid.

These will be ready to eat in a couple of hours but best if kept overnight.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Banana Split Jars

It's that time of year again. Shake out that tartan blanket. Check your stock of Tupperware. Up to the loft to find the picnic hamper. Get ready to wiggle your toes in the sand and brush grass off your sandals.

It's picnic season.

This year I'm on a mission to banish soggy sandwiches and flabby quiche, to make picnic food glamourous. And I had a little help with these Banana Split Jars from Fruitdrop.

Like the ever popular veg box schemes, Fruitdrop want to make our workplaces healthier. My office has just moved a bit deeper into the city and it annoys me that its easier to grabs bags of crisps, chocolate and sweets than it is to find fruit. I'm hugely guilty of snaffing Malteasers at my desk but for the past week and a bit, I've had a stash of delicious fruit that make me feel like a snack saint with a Fruitdrop office fruit box

These banana split jars are the perfect way of using up just ripe bananas and strawberries. Here's how I did it...


Makes four servings

200ml of double cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
1tbsp icing sugar

150gr Madeira cake (or another firm sponge)

2 firm bananas
125gr strawberries
Splash for orange juice

Chocolate covered cocoa nibs or grated chocolate
Glacé cherries


1, Whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar together to medium soft peaks. Transfer this into a piping bag.
2, Cut up the Madeira cake and slice the strawberries and bananas. If your not going to eat the jars straight away, toss the banana slices in a little orange juice to stop them browning.
3, In freshly washed jars, layer up your bananas, strawberries, cake and whipped cream.
4, Top with the chocolate covered cocoa nibs and a glacé cherry.
5, Firmly affix the lid and you're ready to picnic.

Fresh cream. We don't want that laying in the sun for too long. I refrigerated mine before packing in a cool bag with an ice pack for transportation.

I received a Fruitdrop box of fruit and compensation for my time and ingredients. My photos, recipe and views expressed are my own.