Easiest ever chocolate brownies

This may not be the ultimate brownie recipe, but it is really easy, and the low oven temperature and long cooking time result in a beautifully crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside cake which is just brilliant.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

makes 12-16

200g / 7oz caster sugar
2 eggs
110g / 4oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
90g / 3oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2.  Beat eggs and sugar together.  Melt butter in a small pan and add the cocoa powder.  Pour into the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Sift in flour and baking powder and mix.

Pour into a 15 x 25cm (6 x 10 inch) tin, lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack, remove paper and chop into pieces.

Mango chutney

Lovely, fruity chutney, great with chicken, cheese and of course curry!  This is another slow cooker recipe.

Mango chutney

Makes 3 jars

3 firm mangos
120ml / 4 fluid oz cider vinegar
200g / 7oz light muscavado sugar
1 small red finger chilli, split
small piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
5 cardomom pods, bruised
1 bay leaf
pinch salt

Peel the mangos and cut the flesh into small chunks.  Put into the cooking pot and add the cider.  Turn the slow cooker up to high and cook for 2 hours, stirring half way through.

Stir in the sugar, chilli, ginger, garlic, bruised cardamoms, bay leaf and salt into the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Cover and cook for 2 hours, then uncover and let the mixture cook for another hour, or until the chutney has reduced to a thick consistency and no excess liquid remains.  Stir every 15 minutes for the last hour.

Discard the bay leaf and chilli.  Spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.  Store for a week before eating and use within a year.

Biscotti

An easy version of the classic Italian biscuit adapted from a recipe by the brilliant Maida Heatter.

Biscotti

Makes 30 slices

75g / 3oz whole almonds
100g / 4oz plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp baking powder
50g / 2oz granulated sugar
100g / 4oz chocolate chunks
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp whisky

Toast the almonds in a single layer in a 180°C / 350°F / Gas 3 until they are lightly coloured and have a lovely smell of toasted almonds when you open the oven door.  Set aside to cool and turn the oven up to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 4.

Line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar and stir to mix.  Put an ounce or so of these dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with around an ounce or so of the toasted almonds.  Process for 30 seconds or so until powdery.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and add the rest of the almonds and chocolate chunks and stir to mix.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and whisky.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until it all hangs together in a slightly sticky ball.

Turn out onto a plastic sheet or some other surface where you will be able to add water.  Wet your hands and shape into a ball.  Cut into quarters with a sharp knife, and then shape each part into a long, flat sausage, about 9 inches by 2 inches and about 1 inch high.  The ends of each sausage shape should be rounded.

Place the four biscuits onto your baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, turning half way through to make sure they cook evenly.

Remove the sheets from the oven and slide off the trays onto a wire rack to cool.  Make sure the biscuits are completely cold by puttting in the fridge for a few minutes when they have cooled for a while on the rack.  When you are sure there is no sticky chocolate left inside, transfer onto a cutting board and slice up with a bread knife at a sharp angle.

Lemon cordial

A really easy recipe, more suited for Spring or Summer drinking really but very refreshing served over ice cold sparkling water.

Lemon cordial

Makes 1.2 litres

3 large unwaxed lemons
350g / 12oz caster sugar
1 litre water

Wash the lemons, then thinly pare off the rind with a vegetable peeler, being careful not to pare off too much of the bitter pith.  Put the rind in the cooking pot of a slow cooker with the sugar and water.  Cover and switch the cooker to high.

Heat for 3o minutes, then stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook for a further hour and a half, then leave to cool.

Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice.  Stir into the syrup, then strain through a sieve and pour into sterilized bottles.  Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.  Serve over ice and dilute to taste (4 parts water to 1 part cordial is about right) with still or sparkling water.

Lemon curd

Another slow cooker recipe. Although you use it more as a bain-marie than a cooker, so you could just balance a bowl over a saucepan of water instead.  There is a lovely point where it becomes curdy as you heat it at the end, which is very satisfying.

Lemon curd

makes 8 x 190ml jars

finely grated rind of 6 large unwaxed lemons
the juice of above lemons (about 400ml)
900g / 2lb caster sugar
a pack of unsalted butter, diced
6 medium eggs, beaten

Put the lemon rind, juice, butter and sugar into a heatproof bowl small enough to fit into the cooker. Pour hot water into the ceramic cooking pot until it reaches half way up the bowl.  Switch the cooker to high and leave for 15 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove the bowl and allow to cool. Sieve in the eggs and whisk to combine. Switch the cooker to low and replace the bowl, covering with foil and cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally until it thickens.  I usually have to pour the whole lot into a pan and heat it gently to get it to thicken up, but that might just be me.

Once the curd is the right consistency, pour it whilst it’s hot into warm, sterilized jars. Strain through a sieve before potting if you prefer a smoother curd.

Cover each jar with waxed disc and lid. Store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge and use within 3 months. Once opened, use within a week.