Chocolate and Fig Brownies

“Who doesn’t like chocolate brownies?  Well, from the speed these flew off the plate, I’d say no-one!  I’ve made so many different versions of the humble brownie: date, white chocolate, GF with almonds, the list goes on.  This was one of those fortuotous moments when I had a container of diced dried figs sitting on the bench from a previous recipe and only a short amount of time to cook something.  So my brownies got a healthy dose of figs at the last minute.  I love the extra texture and flavour they impart.  I’ve also found that grinding my own almond and hazelnut meal gives me more control over the texture. I like to process the nuts with the skins on and mill to a slightly bigger grain than the store bought versions. Finally, the trick in getting a really good brownie is having the courage to take them out of the oven before they feel totally cooked.  You just have to trust your own judgement and get used to your oven.  But even if they’re slightly underdone they’ll still taste amazing. Enjoy!” 

(Photo by Gary Donald Corbett)

Ingredients

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 200g butter
  • 1/4 tsp flaked salt
  • 150g dark sugar
  • 150g white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 175g Self raising flour
  • 130g almond or hazelnut meal
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 150g chopped dried figs
Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C.
  2. In a medium saucepan on medium heat melt the chocolate and butter, stirring regularly.  Once melted stir through the salt.  Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Mix together the sugars with the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add the flour, almond/hazelnut meal and cocoa and mix until combined.
  5. Pour in the chocolate mixture and figs and stir to combine.
  6. Spray a 20cm square baking dish with baking spray and line with baking paper.
  7. Transfer the brownie mixture to the pan and bake for 40-50 or until the brownie stops wobbling in the pan and a seeker comes out with a few crumbs on it.
  8. Allow to cool to room temperature or eat warm with ice-cream.  Brownies also freeze really well, so make another batch to keep for later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana loaf with dates, figs and chocolate

“I love a recipe that is born from necessity.  In this case it was from trying to make room in my freezer for some kick-ass chilli con carne I’d made.  So it was time to use the numerous over-ripe bananas that I’d frozen so I wouldn’t have to throw them out.  The first loaf I made was delicious but lacked a certain something.  Chocolate of course!  After a few more attempts I settled on this combination.  I can highly recommend taking it straight out of the oven, slathering it in butter and devouring a couple of pieces before anyone else finds out.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 80g dates
  • 50g dried figs

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Mix the flour, bicarb, mixed spice, sugar and cocoa together
  3. Process the bananas with the milk and eggs
  4. Add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Cut up the dates and figs and stir into the mixture along with the chocolate chips.
  6. Grease and line a loaf tin and fill with the mixture
  7. Bake for 50 – 65 minutes until the loaf is cooked in the middle.  (The chocolate makes this cake very moist so when a knife is inserted it will still come out with some moisture on it.  It’s trial and error I’m afraid.)
  8. Eat hot with lashings of butter then go straight to the gym!

Fudging it!

“I love it when you find a recipe that is simple and easy to adjust to your taste.  A recipe where you can let your creativity go wild and make beautiful creations to tempt the taste buds with the minimum of fuss and effort.  Making fudge fits into all these categories.  The basic recipe is a can of condensed milk and chocolate.  After that it’s up to you.  This Christmas I’ve been making fudge for presents and for sale at some local cafes so I’ve tried to get a varied selection that should satisfy everyone’s palette. A few pointers before we start: don’t walk away when you’re heating the condensed milk.  It can go from hot to burnt in a second!  To make it easier to stir the chocolate in you can cut it into smaller pieces or stir it in two batches.  And finally, try not to eat it before it makes it into the fridge!  It’s very addictive and impossible to stop at one piece.  Enjoy!”

Salted Dark Chocolate with Rum and Raisin

“A very adult fudge!  The longer you let the raisins soak in the rum the better the result.  It’s worth using really high quality chocolate and getting a good flaked sea salt to sprinkle on the top.”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g dark chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • Flake salt

Method

  1. Place raisins and rum in a sealed container and let them soak for a couple of hours or overnight.
  2. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  3. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  4. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  5. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the raisin and rum mixture, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  7. Sprinkle a small amount of flake salt over the fudge.
  8. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  9. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

White Christmas Fudge

“What’s Christmas without some white Christmas in the fridge?  Here’s a fudge version full of dried fruit and nuts.  It makes a great standby present when going to Christmas parties.”

Ingredients

  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g white chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 80g pistachios
  • 150g dried apricots, diced into small pieces
  • 1 cup rice bubbles
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Method

  1. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  2. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  3. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  4. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the cranberries, pistachios and apricots, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  5. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  6. Cover the top with coconut and press into the fudge.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into diamond shapes.  Keep refrigerated.

Fudgy Rocky Road

“Rocky road is a favourite with several members of my family, so the fudge version should go down a treat!  I used mini-marshmallows in this recipe but you could use regular sized ones if you prefer.”

Ingredients

  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g milk chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 100g mini-marshmallows
  • 200g glace cherries
  • 200g roasted peanuts

Method

  1. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  2. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  3. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  4. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the cherries and peanuts, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  5. When the mixture has cooled slightly add the marshmallows. (If you add them while the mixture is hot they melt!)
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners.  Press your fingertips into the top of the fudge for an uneven finish.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into bars.  Keep refrigerated.

Peanut Butter and Roast Almond Fudge

“This would have to be my all-time-favourite fudge!  The combination of sweet fudge, salty peanut butter and roast almonds is a winner.  I’ve had to limit myself to one piece a day.  Damn you self control!”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g white chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 2 tbsn vanilla extract
  • 300g crunchy peanut butter

Method

  1. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees c for 10 minutes or until the nuts start to turn an amber colour.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  4. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  5. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  6. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the peanut butter, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  7. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  8. Cover the top with the roasted almonds and press into the fudge.
  9. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  10. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

Caramel and Macadamia Fudge

“This fudge recipe is slightly more complicated than the rest but worth the effort.  You need to heat the butter and sugar mixture to a high temperature to get the caramel flavour so a small amount of vigilance is in order.”

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 375g white chocolate (1 x 375g bag)
  • 200g macadamias cut into quarters

Method

  1. Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup and heat in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until the butter and sugar have melted.
  2. Stir in the condensed milk and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture has changed to a darker colour.  This should take about 10 minutes.
  4. Finely dice the chocolate and stir into mixture until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted.
  5. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

Honeycomb Fudge

“If you’re not feeling adventurous you can buy honeycomb at the shop for this recipe, but making it is so much fun!  I decided this fudge needed to be cut into smaller pieces than the others because it’s so rich and the honeycomb is very sticky.  Of course that means you’ll have to have 2 pieces.”

Ingredients

  • 160g honey
  • 50g water
  • 200g white sugar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g milk chocolate (2 x 375g bags)

Method

  1. Line a cake tin or roasting dish with baking paper.
  2. To make the honeycomb put the honey, water and sugar in a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil stirring to combine.
  3. Once at the boil insert a sugar thermometer into the liquid.  Let the mixture increase in temperature until it gets to 150 degrees c.
  4. When the temperature is reached add the bicarbonate and whisk quickly into the mixture.  It will immediately bubble up.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and let cool completely at room temperature.
  6. Once cool break 2/3 of the honeycomb into chunks and the remainder into small shards.
  7. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  8. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  9. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  10. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the chunks of honeycomb, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  11. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  12. Cover the top with the honeycomb shards and press into the fudge.
  13. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  14. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.