Tag Archives: brownies

Super sexy brownies….for adults only!

This Welsh spring weather is proving to be a real misery. Rainy, cold and dreary its left me feeling uninspired, lethargic, unmotivated and in need of a quick kick. What better than a heady blend of pleasure inducing ingredients all rolled into one rich, moist, sticky chocolate brownie.

This is not a brownie for the kids mind; in fact it is a decidedly grown up brownie and uses not one, but four reportedly aphrodisiac ingredients. A wickedly decadent combination of chilli, chocolate, stem ginger and cranberries. I guessed that would wake me up and put a spring in my step!

Chilli is a fantastic waker-upper. It’s an anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic ingredient that gives you a real zing as it releases natural endorphins in the brain.

Chocolate also has a long-standing reputation as a natural aphrodisiac. The Mayans apparently used cacao beans to pay prostitutes and of course they were the first to use chocolate in a drink, often with a pinch of chilli added (read more on eat something sexy a blog all about..well eating sexy foods!). When we consume chocolate the chemical phenylethylamine which it contains, acts on serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. So when you hear people say chocolate is better than sex? Well it does work in a similar way and both make you feel good!

Ginger is a another ingredient that works on our serotonin levels, primarily the circulatory system and acting as a natural antiemetic. My other half swears by ginger and claims he feels better (generally) after eating it.

Cranberries, while high in antioxidants, are more likely to keep your urinary tract in good working order than take you to the heights of pleasure and passion. Having said this they do contain plenty of vitamin A & C, both of which act on the areas responsible for sexual activity and reproduction. Hopefully then the tiny sweet-sour berries really do help you keep your pecker up (so to speak!).

In this recipe added stem ginger and sour-sweet berries hide within the squidgy chocolate centre and make a pleasant little surprise and perfect counterbalance for the rich chocolate and chilli. If you’re not keen on cranberries you could try cherries (as Jamie Oliver does in his brownie recipe here) or even the original “happy berry”, the goji berry.

Sexy brownies:

100g Montezuma chilli chocolate & 150g Green and Blacks dark chocolate (or use 250g of Montezuma if you fancy a bigger kick)

250g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

4 tablespoons Green & Blacks cocoa powder

4 tablespoons self-raising flour

2 chunks of finely chopped stem ginger plus 1 tablespoon of the syrup

4 medium eggs

125g dried ready to eat cranberries, goji berries or cherries

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C. Line and grease a baking tray.

Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the oven to melt. Mix sugar, cocoa, flour, a pinch of sea salt and the finely chopped ginger in a bowl and mix together.

When the chocolate has melted, remove from the oven and give it a stir. Leave it to cool for a few minutes before pouring into the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Break the eggs into the bowl one by one and thoroughly combine everything. Finally stir in the berries or cherries and the tablespoon of ginger syrup.

Spoon on to the baking tray smoothing the top with a spatula until it is flat and even then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until set, but not over done. Mark out squares and leave to cool for as long as you can bear the temptation…then tuck in. I guarantee you will be smiling and bouncing again…as long as you don’t over do it!

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Alex James’s Harvest: the full foodie round-up

The Salad Club stall....it looked so pretty at night with all the fairy lights lit up....so much more alluring than many of the big food stalls

Another weekend another festival…well that’s kind of how it feels at the moment!  This time though I was working with award-winning food bloggers Ellie and Rosie of Salad club on their street food stall. There were four of us, helping the two of them, making a jolly band of six. The team members included Kirstin whose day job is at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen, Izzi, who writes Shepherd Market Sweet Tart food blog, Clare, a friend of mine who stepped in at the last-minute after a helper dropped out and myself. It was a lovely gang and we all got on immediately, sharing our passion for good food and promptly adopting the role of protective foster parents over Ellie and Rosie’s ‘baby’. I don’t think I have ever been surrounded by so many avid foodies (with the exception perhaps of my appearance on Britain’s Best Dish) and it was a great feeling just being on the same food loving wavelength.

The festival itself was a strange one. Not at all typical or what I expected. It was predictably all about the food, while music from the likes of Fat Freddy’s Drop, the Kooks, KT Tunstall, Benjamin Francis Leftwich (the ones I got the opportunity to see) provided an added bonus. It was clean, polite and considerably posher than the usual festival I tend to frequent. Wellies were more a fashion accessory than necessity. I guess all this was understandable since the Cotswolds is a pretty affluent area and food festivals tend to attract visitors with a higher than average disposable income. It was clear that many of the visitors lived in the Oxfordshire and Cotswolds area as indeed did most of the traders. It’s not a festival than I would have chosen to go to had a not been working there, but we had fun all the same.

It was on the Friday evening as we got ready to open for business, that it all became a bit weird. Rebekah Brooks (of News International phone hacking scandal) wandered past the stall and Alex James, once cool bass player with Blur stood at an inflatable tent flogging cheese on toast, the cheese being from his less than convincing Asda range.  Jeremy Clarkson rolled up in his Range Rover and on Saturday David Cameron wandered past baby strapped to his chest. So having got myself all excited over hugging and being photographed with Alex I promptly went off him, after seeing his choice of friends and tasting his curry flavoured cheese (heavy on the cumin and not much else). You can call me fickle if you like, but I like a man with taste and a high moral code.

Alex chatting to Rebekah Brook.....unfortunately didn't manage to snap her and the PM cosying up in the same field..he appeared on Saturday

As a few of us stood around his stall tasting samples from his range, while being given the hard sell by his publicist. I felt quite depressed about the fact that people actually want to buy bread shaped cheese slices flavoured like tomato ketchup. I wondered what was the matter with ‘normal’ cheese, good old-fashioned mature cheddar and when did we lose the ability to cut our own cheese or add tomato ketchup when it’s cooked? As for curry flavoured cheese….less said the better I think.

The chefs table...which sadly I didn't get to sit at

I guess Alex’s cheese, and not getting the chance to eat at the chef’s table (a rather lovely festival ‘restaurant’ featuring dishes created by Stevie Parle and Yotam Ottolenghi to name two), were the two culinary low points of the weekend but the rest of the foodie stuff was just fantastic.

So good in fact that I don’t know where to begin: Brewed Boy selling the smoothest, creamiest Square Mile coffee…..

Real proper burgers from Meat Wagon…thank you Yani for keeping us fed….

Meat Wagon

Real proper burgers

Brownies and ice cream from Choc Star gave us just the sweet kick we needed as we grew tired on the Sunday afternoon…perfect with yet more coffee, this time from the Little Green Coffee Machine, our lovely adrenalin and caffeine fuelled, pirate themed, hoolahooping next door neighbours….

choc star menu

fudge brownies yummy

brownies and ice cream...even more yum!

The Little Green Coffee Machine

I came home with a whole smoked Brie offered at traders price by Hall’s Dorset Smokery. It was absolutely delicious, possibly even subtler in flavour than from my usual provider…..the excellent Prosecco from Saltyard….beautiful dried rose petals and buds for the wedding i’m cooking at this weekend from Herbal Pantry and Fair Trade chocolate from Plush.

Whole Smoked Brie from Halls Smokery

beautiful dried flowers and herbs from the Herbal Pantry

I was like an excited schoolgirl meeting Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, which as some readers might have gathered is my strange foodie crush and watching him cook and tasting the food from his demo made my day. Yes I did become a touch giggly, tongue-tied and a hot and bothered imbecile when I actually got to talk to him. I was slightly more composed meeting Stevie Parle from the Dock Kitchen and even managed an intelligent conversation about visiting his restaurant and the lovely Tamarind sorbet he made. Sadly I didn’t get to meet Yotam Ottolenghi, but I did watch his demo and taste one of his dishes, a simple prawn and feta topped stew which was lovely. He really is the master of spices.

Stevie Parle's demo

photo opportunity with Stevie

Yotam Ottolenghi

diving into his dish as it was passed to the audience

 

Hugh with phallic vegetables

me getting all hot and bothered

Jay Rayner Observer food critic and friend of Ellie and Rosie’s paid us a visit at the stall on Sunday. I didn’t tell him I knew his mother (having once worked with her in my earlier career) and I’m ashamed to say I totally abused my position mercilessly bending his ear about Moel Faban Secret Supper Club and thrusting my card into his unsuspecting hand while serving him wraps. I couldn’t resist. It was an opportunity not to be missed. He was very gracious but got his own back when I insisted I HAD to take a picture of him (for the blog of course). When he left the girls laughed at me and told me I was shameless. Oh well, you don’t get anywhere by being coy!!

Jay Rayner at the stall...is that two wraps you wanted? 🙂

It was also great to catch up with Charlie Beldam of Cotswold Gold. He’s come a long way since we first met at Ms Marmitelovers produce market two years ago, now having no less than nine Michelin starred chefs using his Rapeseed oil! It was great to discuss our personal triumphs and long may his continue, he has a great product.

All in all it was a brilliant, if slightly surreal, weekend. We all worked hard and the salad club wraps flew…the Saturday rush left us feeling like we’d been hit by a truck! It must have been one of the most popular foods on sale at the festival (it certainly felt like it) and deservedly so. We ate a few ourselves. The simple combination of flavours worked perfectly; hot smoky chorizo or halloumi, a creamy butterbean and rosemary hummus, fresh beetroot and carrot slaw with sesame and Nigella seeds and sharp salsa verde with a little kick of chilli…all wrapped up in a holy land bakery flatbread.

filling the wrap

finished and wrapped up...ready to eat

Ellie and Rosie had worked hard to perfect the formula and it was spot on. They were also the loveliest people to work with and for and they looked after us well; they fed us, kept us in beer, tried to make sure we had plenty of fun time and bought Prosecco for us all to celebrate. Even the sun shone, a nice little bonus considering the forecast had promised rain, storms and hail….which finally arrived on Sunday night…as we headed home after a  fantastic weekend.

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