Saturday, February 26, 2011

All American Blueberry Muffins

For Gill

For me America is the land of baking. Pancakes, brownies, cookies, whoopie pies. They are the stuff of dreams to an Anglo-Irish girl brought up on lardy cake, scones, crumpets and victoria sponge. The summit of America's baking achievements for me is the blueberry muffin. The ease of making, the simplicity of method, the crazy indigo of the vibrant berries in the light crumbed cake. Blueberries in Europe are never as good as American ones: ours are meaner and less flavoursome. But still each time I eat one I feel I am transported back to my first bite, in America, aged nine.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Secret Brownies

Brownies... the ultimate gooey, gunky chocolate sensation. But definitely NOT good for you.

Well not any more. These secret brownies are super-chocolatey yet light, gooey and cakey...and nutritious. The secret? Tofu! It replaces some of the eggs, sugar and butter. And you would NEVER know it was there! Tofu is a great low fat protein source. As well as containing all sorts of cancer protecting isoflavins and the like. I also find for some reason that they don't give me a nasty sugar high like other brownies.

You'll have to trust  me on this one. I do not do worthy bakery. But I may, in this recipe, just have found a perfect compromise. I ate six today...I'm not sure if they're THAT healthy... ah well!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


My kids know that Saturday morning means one thing, and one thing only: pancakes! They can choose between crepes (pancakes) or these classic American pancakes which we call "hotcakes". They differ from the English drop scones that I grew up with which are slightly floppier and more rubbery. The combination of buttermilk instead of milk, oil instead of butter and a dash of cornflour makes these so light and airy they could float off by themselves.

Toppings depend on the person. For me it has to be Vermont maple syrup, salty butter and if available hickory smoked American style (streaky) bacon fried till crisp. And they have to be stacked up. My children love strawberry jam or Nutella as well.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Florentine Crispies

Dear friends, brace yourselves to reach heaven. Well, that is if you like white chocolate, and if you don't we may need to reassess this friendship thing. You also need to be a little nutty... (if you know what I mean!) And yes you need to like candied peel. Now I know that this seems to disqualify most of my close friends. But their loss. Myself, my husband, sister and step mother sit and gorge on these. There is a reason that I only cook them once or twice a year! that and the ingredients aren't that cheap. But boy are they a good grown up treat. Gorgeous as a snack, or an after dinner snapple.

These are grown up chocolate crispy cakes with a florentine vibe going on. Regular readers know that contains nuts= a health food in my book and it cancels out the less wholesome nature of any other ingredients contained therein!

With credit to Andrew Garrison Shot's divine book Making Fine Chocolates for the original version of this recipe.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies

With thanks to Rachel Allen from whose book Bake I got the original, even sweeter, version. I know, because I know her, that she makes these for her school bake sale. Easy as pie to make, easy as sin to devour: blink and they're gone. Ditch the guilt and (like me) persuade yourself they're a health food because they've got nuts in! I nearly didn't make them. Cooked peanut butter, I thought, yuck, how American! But take it from me, if you like peanut butter these are all good!

Like brownies in texture and more-ishness, but not, obviously, in colour - hence blondies. Cunning!


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