‘Cute as a Button’ Frownies

Chocolate brownies are pure indulgence in my opinion, and perfect for chocoholics like me. They never fail to impress and are always first to sell out at the local cake sale. I like to eat mine with a hot frothy cappuccino on the side.

But I keep wondering if I could make those little squares of gooey dark loveliness even better. My mind whirred into action recently when I read about an opportunity on Bakingmad.com to have a recipe published in a new baking book that is being created in partnership with Silver Spoon and Macmillian Cancer Support.  The book is called Little Book of Treats and will be sold in Marks and Spencer stores around the country in August and September this year.  Fingers crossed my recipe gets chosen to go in the book.

The brief was to be innovative and exciting, but with a touch of luxuriousness. What better excuse to get my thinking cap on and turn my kitchen into a brownie experimentation lab.

I knew right from the start that my experimentation should primarily involve adding ingredients to the brownie mix, and over the next few days my mind was full of ideas. Most thoughts got dismissed straight away either because they had been done before or they just did not seem special enough. But then an idea came to me which I thought was perfect.

Let me introduce to you my ‘Cute as a Button’ Frownies. No that’s not a spelling mistake.  A Frownie is my very own combination of flapjack and brownie, bringing the best elements of two popular tea time treats into one delicious square of cake.

The main added ingredients are oats, hazelnuts and dates. The end result is a chocolate treat that is more satisfying and gives the lucky person eating it both brownie gooeyness and flapjack chewiness.

Why are they so cute? Because I’ve topped them with my own homemade chocolate buttons which happen to be my favourite decoration at the moment. These could quite easily be topped with a shop brought chocolate button too.

My Frownies are easy to make, look scrumptious and taste amazing.  I don’t think you need any more convincing. Here’s the recipe.

What you need:

  • 200g luxury dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g chopped dates (mine were pre chopped so I let them sit in hot water for 10 mins before I used them just to soften them up a bit.  Don’t forget to drain the water before you add to the mix)
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts
  • 50g oats
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g white chocolate and a button mould (I got mine from the lovely Sew White) if making own or a packet of chocolate buttons
  • 21 x 27 cm baking tin greased and lined with greaseproof paper
  • Makes 12 medium squares or 24 mini squares

How to make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas 3
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt together
  3. Mix in the sugar and stir until dissolved, then add the flour, dates, oats and hazelnuts and give it a good stir
  4. Finally add the eggs and stir again until completely mixed in then pour into the baking tin and gently smooth over
  5. Put in the oven for 25-30 mins.  I tested mine after 25 mins with a knife and it came out with a bit of residue on, but I think for brownies this is fine as they are meant to be gooey inside.  If it is a wet residue then it needs a bit longer
  6. Leave in tin for 10 mins then cool on a wrack.  Cut into desired pieces and decorate with buttons sticking them on with a little bit of melted chocolate

I’m also going to enter this into a favorite blog challenge of mine, Alphabakes hosted this month by Ros from ‘The More Than Occasional Baker‘ blog. Ros shares the hosting of this challenge Caroline from ‘Caroline Makes‘ blog.  This month the letter is B and on the basis that my Frownie creation is a variation of a Brownie, I can link to the letter B and enter 🙂

Don’t forget that my Natural Selection baking hamper giveaway is still running until 24th April and it includes chopped dates!  Just comment on the giveaway blog post to be in with a chance of winning.

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17/04/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Homemade gifts, Sweet Baking, Uncategorized. 19 comments.

No Added Sugar Fruity Flapjacks

I’ve got a really good feeling about 2012.  It’s a gut feeling, and I know to trust those so its quite exciting.  The last couple of years in particular have been quite hectic with moving house, having baby number three and all the usual family of five shenanigans!  But this year I’m planning on enjoying my gorgeous little family without any major upheaval (I hope) and focusing on settling ourselves further into our new life in Kent.  This might also be the year that I can spend a bit of time doing something for myself.  Wow, did I actually just write that?!  Having spent the last six years either pregnant or with a newborn attached to me I’m just not used to this idea.  But with my girls getting increasingly busy social lives (even at 6 and 4) and my youngest entering the world of toddler independence I see a small space opening up for me.  So what are my goals/resolutions/plans for 2012? Here is my list:

  • Exciting plans for my blog – seems appropriate to mention my blog first.  It has quite simply been amazing for me.  I have my brother to thank really as he sent me the following quote when I was considering whether to start it or not. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’ Steve Jobs. Planning, baking and writing for my blog has become such a highlight to my week.  I’m starting to make friends with other bloggers which I did not expect but is a fantastic bonus.  I have also been totally inspired by other blogs.  Truffle trees, mincemeat bread and butter pudding and blog challenges to name a few.  So my plan is to continue writing and build up more readership in the process. This might be a good time to ask you my readers for a bit of help.  If you enjoy my blog do consider sharing a link to it on your Facebook page, liking my Facebook page, telling your friends about me or tweeting a link to my blog.  All these small acts make a massive difference to me, and I will send you a virtual hug in return.   Thanks to all those who have done this already.  The great news is that I have lots of exciting ideas planned for my blog (with help from family and friends) and I look forward to sharing these with you throughout the year.
  • Spend at least 30 mins a day playtime with my children – need to put my blinkers on to everything else around me (e.g. huge pile of never decreasing washing) and play, or it will be too late and they will be off with their friends and it will be seriously uncool to play with their mum.
  • Regular date nights and at least one weekend away with my hubby – at times we are like ships in the night both exhausted at the end of the day. But we are soul mates and could not do what we do on our own.  I’m looking forward to this one.
  • Keep up current fitness – I like being fit and have worked hard to achieve it, so just need to keep on booking those spinning classes!
  • Continue to work hard on my counselling course – something that I have been working at for the last 18 months and about the same to go again.
  • Get green fingers – my Mum helped me grow some vegetables last year and this year I want to do most of it myself and grow lots of new things.  Going to be out in the garden loads!
  • Add three feathered friends to our family- just got to encourage hubby to finish the pen and then we can provided a home for three lucky ladies. Picture shows construction of the hen house last year.
  • Curb the sweet tooth – OK maybe a bit ambitious especially as baking is my thing, but at least think of ways to reduce sugar where possible.

Hmmm, I’ve got quite a lot to keep me busy but that last resolution leads me seamlessly into the recipe for this blog post.

No added sugar fruity flapjacks.  Fabulous way to use up any dried fruit or nuts you have lying around after Christmas.  Feel free to substitute any of the fruit and nuts in my recipe other than the dates (as these are what help to stick it together).  I had a good old dig around in my cupboard and found all the ingredients already there.  This is a great mid morning snack for you (oats = low GI) and they will fill you up nicely.  They are also excellent for your children’s lunch box or after school. These are beautifully soft and chewy in texture.  Mine were a bit crumbly around the edges, which I think adds to the appeal.   But do make sure you wait until tin has completely cooled to get them out and do so quite carefully.

What you will need:

  • 150g reduced fat butter – I used Lurpack lighter
  • 150g ready to eat, soft stoned dates
  • 5 tbsp apple juice
  • 50g roasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 3 dessert apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  • 225g porridge oats
  • 17.5 cm square tin greased and lined with baking paper

How to make:

  • Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4
  • Put dates and apple juice in food processor and whizz until mostly smooth.  It does not matter if there are a few lumps
  • Put all of the dry ingredients plus the chopped apple into a mixing bowl
  • Melt butter in pan over heat and add the date mixture
  • Add butter and dates to the bowl of other ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until nicely incorporated
  • Spoon mixture into the baking tray and press down either with your hands or the back of the spoon.  Bake for 20-25 mins
  • Once out leave to cool for 10 mins, then cut out squares with knife whilst flapjack still in the tin, then leave until it has completely cooled before you take your flapjack squares out.  I used a fish slice to get under them and lift them out
  • Enjoy without any guilt what so ever!

29/12/2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Homemade for the kids, Sweet Baking. 4 comments.