Monday, 28 February 2011

Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

As promised, a review of my raspberry and white chocolate brownies:

They went down a treat! We ate them pretty much warm from the oven while watching The Social Network. I really need to invest in a slightly smaller baking tray for my brownies, as the recipe I use makes slightly less than is enough to fully fill the tin and give the brownies a good depth. I may also try doubling the ingredients as I don't think this would make too much mixture for the tin. I had wanted to use freeze-dried raspberries but Waitrose had sold out and as fresh ones are a little beyond my budget at the moment I used tinned! They didn't look too appealing but actually worked quite well. My only issue was that because they were so soft they sort of disintegrated into the mix, this meant that you got little surprise bursts of raspberry every now and then. Next time I will aim for freeze dried to make the raspberry more obvious. For the white chocolate I used Waitrose 'cooks ingredients' white chocolate chunks. I'm a big fan of their 'cooks' range, they also do fudge chunks which is used to make apple and fudge muffins. You get a tub of little chunks of chocolate or fudge that are the perfect size for baking. I was actually using the left overs from when I made some of Nigellas white chocolate and cranberry cookies (yum!!) over Christmas and I could have done with having some more, lesson learnt for next time!

Here is what they looked like:

We didn't eat all of them so I took the leftovers with me on the Eurostar on Friday morning for the girls and I to eat on the journey. Everyone seemed to enjoy them. I'll def be making these again.

Here is the recipe should anyone wish to try them out:

200g dark chocolate (try and use a high cocoa solid e.g 75%+) broken into chunks
175g unsalted butter
130g plain flour
325g caster sugar (I use golden)
3 eggs
200g white chocolate chunks
150-200g raspberries 

Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3

1. Place a bowl on to a saucepan of water, you only need about an inch or 2 of water in the pan, turn onto a medium to low heat and melt the chocolate and the butter. Do not let the water boil.
2. When the butter and chocolate are melted remove from the heat (be careful-the bowl will be hot!) and mix in the sugar.
3. Once the sugar is mixed in add the flour and mix well, then add the eggs and mix well. 
4. When the batter is fully mixed add the chocolate and the raspberries (leave a few of both to sprinkle on the top)
5. Place the mixture into a greased and lined baking tray (apprx 33x25x5cm) and cook for 30-35 minutes. Normally the top of the brownies will have developed a 'crust' that will crack when touched. The brownies should still feel  a little bit springy when you touch then. You don't want dry brownies.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before cutting into squares. Or if like me you cant wait, eat them warm, maybe with vanilla ice cream melting on top.

The basis of this recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, an absolute favourite of mine for fail safe baking. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Happy Mondays

I'm quite lucky because as a student I get Fridays off, and last week was also book week, but I still have to say...why do weekends go so fast?! I had a pretty good weekend, it was a friends birthday on Saturday and we went bowling which was fun-more about gossiping and socialising than actual bowling, there were some quite horrendous scores! On Saturday I went and saw Gnomeo and Juliet. It was quite entertaining, the voice talents are very good, my personal favourite was Ashley Jensen as a frog. I'm a big fan of hers anyway. If you want a feel good, easy going film or have some children to entertain it's worth a look.

Good points to start the week:

* I finished my essay! Which means I don't have to worry about any more assessed writing until after Easter. 

* Americas Next Top Model and Glee are on tonight, I have a shameful monday night habit of bad TV and I'm not ashamed of it! Although it's commercial night on ANTM and I prefer the photo shoots. I have to do some photo shoots for my next assignment, so I'd have liked some inspiration.

* Now that I have finished my essay I can start getting excited about going to Brussels this weekend with 5 of my girl friends, I can't wait. Project Beach Body is going on hold for 3 days to allow for maximum consumption of chocolate, waffles and frite!

* I'm planning on doing some baking this week, it's been at least a couple of weeks since I last did any proper baking, I'm going to be trying to make raspberry and white chocolate chunk brownies. I had one in a cafe last week and it was delicious so I am very keen to try and recreate it, as is my boyfriend who has demanded I make it for when he comes over tomorrow. I will do a post on their (hopeful) success.

* I ordered the FC London dress, so I now wait with anticipation for it to arrive! Post to follow!

Hope you all had good weekends? What are you looking forward to this week?

Friday, 18 February 2011

French Connection London Dress

As I sit here trying to write an essay on Christian Dior, I cant help wondering if my life would be any different if I had finished my first degree in Fashion. Instead of spending this rather overcast Friday afternoon pouring over books and stuck to a laptop, would I, somehow be sat amongst the 'fash pack' and gliteratti at London Fashion Week? Perhaps I could be sat at the Sass&Bide show this afternoon (no doubt in the back row, with a view of an amazonian models head, but still there). Alas that didn't work out, so instead I will have to scour the magazine pages and tinterweb for a glimpse of 'whats hot' for next season like everyone else.

It could be possible, however for us all to have a little part of LFW, thanks to French Connection. I saw an article about this in Grazia a couple of weeks ago and have been waiting in anticipation for its launch. To celebrate LFW, FC have released a limited edition 'London' dress for the bargain price of £35!

I absolutely adore the colour, I love any shade of blue in fact, and I also like the shape. My only concern is that the shoulder ruffle might make me look like a lopsided american football player. I have 2 FC dresses in my wardrobe, and I have made great use of both, which makes me think that I'd be successful with this one too. I'm trying to be good at the moment and only spend money on holiday essentials, but at only £35 for a FC dress that is limited edition, would it be silly to miss out?!

Project Beach Body-7 weeks to go

In 7 weeks I am going on my first family holiday in a good few years, to Thailand. I'm ridiculously excited about it as I haven't been away for longer than 5 days since 2008 when I was travelling for 6 months, so you can imagine how desperate I am for a good break. It also means that due to the great British weather I've not been in a bikini since 2008, I was also 3/4 stone lighter back then. So 3 weeks ago I joined Gymophobics on a mission to get some body confidence. I'm not all that unhappy with my size. When i've got clothes on I'm fine, but it's when they come off that everything looks a bit, well...wobbly! It doesn't help that it is also all pasty white.

The gym is a bit like 'Curves' which most people have heard of. You do a 30 minute circuit of air resistance machines (chest presses, leg curls etc) with some floor exercises. They also have hula hoops, balls and various other bits and bobs that can be used with the floor work. As part of my membership I get to use their power plate too. I don't know    if any of you have used one before, but it is quite a strange sensation. I only do 15 minutes, but that is meant to be the equivalent of an hour in the gym, and you can certainly feel it! I am meant to be going bowling tonight for a friends birthday and I'm not all that sure I'll be able to lift the ball!
The aim is to look like this when using the power plate (currently pink, shaking mess)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Virgin Blogger

So this is my first blog! I have been wanting to start a blog for ages but could never decide on a 'topic' to write about, so after much deliberation I have decided to write a general blog about my favourite things. I'm completely new to this, so please humour me while I get to grips with it all!

I am actually meant to be writing my first assessed essay for my University course (I'm studying Primary Education with Art, and in 4 whole years should, fingers crossed, be a fully qualified Primary School Teacher with and Art Specialism). I'm 26, and so the oldest on my course, with the exception of a few 21 year olds. I do enjoy those days where everyone discusses graduating and being the *OMG* age of about 23. I mean it's just sooooooo old!...Bring on my 30th! Anyway, I'm struggling with the essay writing, I was never all that good at it at school, but being 8 years out of practise makes it tough. Creative writing I love, but facts and analysis and all that just doesnt work quite as well in my little old brain. It does not help when there are no books in the entire University library about one aspect of my essay, and only one book on the other and they frown upon internet research. Apparently Wikipedia isn't a reliable enough source of information?!

I promise that not all of my posts will be rantings about work, I intend to mainly blog about fun things. I am a very very keen cook, I love baking and cooking in all forms and was nicknamed 'the cake lady' at my old job. I will happily cook on any occasion without complaint.

A wedding cake that I made for a friend

I never go anywhere without my camera, I will take photos of anyone and anything that I find interesting. So expect blogs about pictures and cakes, and also a little bit of shopping (when my student budget will allow it)!

Happy reading!