Salted Caramel & Double Chocolate Cookies

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies // Amy Elizabeth

So… you want to win a bake off. I’ve been there, my friend. There is something about charity bake offs that brings out my competitive side, and my inner show off. However, in the past I have gotten a little too big for my boots; home-made pies and celebration cakes have been the order of the day. There are two problems with this approach; the first is that I am much less practiced at such bakes, and the second is that really… my colleagues just want to eat a whole load of chocolate. They don’t care about the flakiness of the pastry or the lack of a soggy bottom – unfortunately, I’m not baking for Mary and Paul. They’re just chasing the sugar high that comes with a good work bake off.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies // Amy Elizabeth

So this time round, I defied my ego and whipped up a batch of these cookies. They were demolished in about three minutes flat, with some people going back for seconds… and the votes don’t lie. These are a winner! I can’t take much credit for that; this recipe is from the incomparable Izy from Top with Cinnamon with almost no adaption. Just follow the instructions, and let victory reign down upon you… 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies
Yields 16
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Ingredients
  1. 110g butter
  2. 350g soft light brown sugar
  3. 55g cocoa powder
  4. 2 eggs
  5. ¼ tsp salt
  6. ¾ tsp baking powder
  7. 260g plain flour
  8. 100g milk chocolate chips
  9. 16 squares of Cadbury Caramel (or alternative caramel filled chocolate of your choice!)
  10. flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare two baking sheets by lining with baking parchment.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, followed by the eggs.
  3. Sieve in the cocoa powder, salt and baking powder, and stir through. Do the same with the flour, stirring until everything is well combined. Finally, stir through the chocolate chips.
  4. Using a tablespoon or dessert spoon, place 16 heaps of dough spaced out on your baking trays. You may want to roll the dough slightly before placing on the tray to make them a little more even.
  5. Take a square of chocolate and press down into the top of each cookie so it's nice and snug. Using the remaining dough, make 16 disc shapes and use to cover the top of each square of chocolate, pressing down around the edges so the chocolate is fully sealed inside.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool slightly on the trays before using a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.
Adapted from Top with Cinnamon
Adapted from Top with Cinnamon
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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All the Brownies // Brownie & Blondie Recipes

Baking is my therapy. I find it very soothing to create something out of flour, sugar and butter, surrendering to the process and then enjoying the fruits of my labour at the end of it all. Which means that I generally prefer to bake ‘easy’ things; lovely layer cakes with fancy decoration or elaborate patisserie creations rarely find their way out of my kitchen. Instead, simple bakes like brownies and blondies are my go to. They don’t involve a whole lot of brain power, or washing up, which makes them the perfect cure for what ails you. Whilst a really good fudgey brownie is a thing of beauty, sometimes it can be fun to mix it up a bit, so I’ve pulled together my favourite brownie and blondie recipes for you to try… 

Toblerone Brownies Recipe

Toblerone Brownies

Win friends and compliments with these super simple brownies. Best of all, they don’t use the whole bar, so you can still sneak a few triangles whilst you’re baking…

Rhubarb & Pistachio Blondies

Rhubarb & Pistachio Blondies

Rhubarb is my jam, and it’s still just in season – so make these quick! You could substitute for strawberries, if rhubarb is hard to come by – but you just can’t beat those beautiful pink stalks when you find them!

Mini Egg Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

Mini Egg Brownies

Mini Eggs are basically crack to me, which makes these brownies very dangerous indeed.

Vegan Coconut Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

Vegan Coconut Brownies

Don’t compromise when catering for vegan friends; these vegan brownies don’t use any unusual ingredients (by which I mean, you won’t have to make a special trip to the health food shop) and are just as fudgey as ‘regular’ brownies.

Lemon and Raspberry Blondies

Simple, summery and full of fresh raspberries that burst in every bite. Don’t give these all away, or you’ll regret it!

Dark & Stormy Brownies - Rum and Ginger Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

Dark & Stormy Brownies

Ginger, lime and rum all come together to make these brownies a bit of a tastes sensation. A little bit unusual; a lot more-ish.

Brown Butter Blondies

Sometimes it’s best to let your ingredients do the talking. Browning butter brings out a delicious nutty flavour that’s the star of these simple blondies.

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Double Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits // Amy Elizabeth

I’m a little bit in awe at the magic that happens when you combine butter, flour and sugar. That’s all it really takes to make these sweet, flaky biscuits – although I threw some leftover chocolate chips in, too, just because. On their own, they do an alright job – sweet sugar sprinkled over creamy porridge, or salty butter spread over hot toast are both pretty delicious, right? But when you combine them all together, they are so much more than the sum of their parts.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits // Amy Elizabeth

That’s the joy of baking; taking ingredients that are pretty ordinary on their own and whipping them up into something extraordinary. The same combination of ingredients, with a few simple tweaks to the way you treat them or what you add into the mix, can produce all manner of different, but equally delicious, things. Add an egg or two, and you have a light and fluffy sponge cake. Some cocoa powder or some icing sugar and you have a different set of biscuits entirely. Spread on some jam and cream, or grate in some lemon or orange, and that magic combination of butter, sugar and flour will show you what it can do. 

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits // Amy Elizabeth

Double Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
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Ingredients
  1. 110g golden caster sugar
  2. 250g softened butter
  3. 360g plain flour
  4. 100g mixed chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and mix until you have a soft dough.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips so they're evenly distributed. (You might need a bit of elbow grease for this bit, as the dough is relatively stiff).
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface and use your hands to bring together into a ball. Gently roll out to 1cm-ish thickness and cut out into rounds using a pastry cutter.
  4. Bring together any leftover dough and repeat the process of rolling & cutting out until you've used it all.
  5. Place the biscuits on two baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper, and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
  6. Pop in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C.
  7. Remove the biscuits from the fridge and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup // Amy Elizabeth

Apparently it is scientifically proven that soup will make you feel better when you’re ill. And none more so than chicken noodle soup, in my opinion. This soup is surprisingly simple to make, even if you’re a little under the weather, and the combination of comforting noodles, hot broth and a little spicy kick at the end is sure to cure what ails you. I’m not usually a big soup eater – I don’t find it really fills me up, so I get hungry almost straight away – but sometimes it’s exactly what you’re craving, especially when it’s so miserable out.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup // Amy Elizabeth

This soup is totally adaptable, too. Use up some of your favourite vegetables by throwing them in the mix, or swap out the rice vermicelli noodles for more substantial egg ones. You could even use small pasta shapes in place of the noodles (but don’t you dare think about leaving out the carbs altogether). Skip the chilli flakes when you’re making the stock for a mellower flavour, or garnish with fresh chillies or hot sauce if you like it fiery.  Want to make this even easier? Use the meat and bones from one of those supermarket rotisserie chickens to make your stock and soup. All that said, you must eat this under a blanket whilst wearing pyjamas and, preferably, with your favourite trashy TV show playing. There’s no negotiating on that part, sorry. 

Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
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For the broth
  1. bones of one whole roast chicken
  2. 1 large onion, peeled and chopped in half
  3. 1 large carrot, chopped into 2-3 pieces
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
  5. 1-2 tsp. dried thyme
  6. 1-2 tsp. chilli flakes
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 2 litres of water (or enough to cover the contents above)
For the soup
  1. shredded meat from 1 whole roast chicken
  2. 2 carrots, diced
  3. handful on mangetout, sliced
  4. 4 nests of rice vermicelli noodles
  5. fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pop all of the ingredients for the broth into the slow cooker, making sure the contents are covered by the water (add more if not) and cook for 5 hours on high or 10 hours on low.
  2. Strain into a large bowl and rest in the fridge overnight.
  3. Remove as much of the fat from the top of the broth as possible (it should be solid after the night in the fridge).
  4. Pour the broth into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the leek and carrot and cook until just going tender.
  5. Add the rice noodles and the chicken, cooking for a further 2-3 minutes until the noodles have softened and the chicken is warmed through.
  6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley, if using. Slurp noisily when eating.
Notes
  1. The finished soup can be frozen in individual portions and reheated when needed, either in a saucepan or by blasting in the microwave in one minute intervals until piping hot.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Tomato & Orzo Soup

Tomato and Orzo Soup // Amy Elizabeth

It’s soup season. I like to think I’ll be sipping my soup from a mug whilst dressed in autumnal knits and staring out over a beautiful foggy landscape, but more realistically I’m eating it al desko because it’s too cold to go on a walk at lunchtime. But, however you’re eating it, this soup is delicious and warming. It’s got all the classic flavours of a good tomato soup, but with the addition of some orzo for a bit of texture and some more substance. Orzo’s a bit of a new obsession of mine; I’ve been using it instead of rice in risottos and it’s kind of the best. As with all soups, it keeps well in the fridge or freezer until you need it, and is best served with plenty of cheese on top, and crusty bread to dip. It’s almost enough to make these colder temperatures worth it, isn’t it? 

Tomato and Orzo Soup // Amy Elizabeth

Tomato and Orzo Soup
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. olive oil
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 gloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
  4. 3 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  5. 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  6. pinch dried chilli flakes, to taste
  7. 1 tsp. caster sugar
  8. salt and pepper, to taste
  9. double cream, to taste
  10. 150g orzo
  11. parmesan, to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more, stirring regularly and checking the garlic doesn't start to brown. Lower the heat, if needed.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano , chilli flakes, caster sugar, salt & pepper. Mix together and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
  5. Stir the double cream into the tomato soup - a generous swirl should sort you out but taste as you go so it's just how you like it!
  6. Stir in the orzo and serve with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

Tomato and Orzo Soup // Amy Elizabeth

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Pomegranate & Walnut Chicken Stew

pomegranatewalnutchickenstew

I’m sure I’m not the only basic bitch around here who is a big fan of autumn. After a rather disappointing summer, it is a joy to be experiencing a season who knows its stuff, isn’t it? The crispness in the air in the mornings. The crunchy leaves under foot. This is the very best time of year, for me. The sun is still shining more often than not, but it’s still perfectly acceptable to turn your attention to comfort food. Because, of course, the joy of the changing seasons is so much in the change in menu, is it not? Roast dinners with plenty of gravy, freshly baked apple pies, stews and big hunks of crusty bread. The food of autumn is like wrapping yourself in a snuggly blanket. I have some old favourites that I always like to bring out at this time of year – sausage and bean casserole, my fail safe chicken curry and these pork, apple & cheddar meatballs – but it’s always nice to try something a little bit different. 

pomegranatewalnutchickenstew2

I made this pomegranate & walnut chicken stew for a dinner party of sorts, served up alongside some other middle Eastern inspired dishes, but I actually think it’s a pretty good weeknight meal. It’s warming and cosy, but with the bright crunch of the pomegranate seeds doesn’t feel too wintery. Plus, it reheats pretty well in the microwave (sans pomegranate seeds) if you want to take the leftovers in for lunch the next day. The combination of toasted walnuts and sweet pomegranate molasses is enough to brighten even the rainiest of days, and you can easily double (or triple) if you’re feeding a big group. Serve with rice or fresh flatbreads, and maybe some honey roasted carrots if you’re after some more vegetables in you life. 

Pomegranate & Walnut Chicken Stew
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 300g walnut halves
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 4 chicken breasts, cubed
  4. 400ml chicken stock
  5. 50ml pomegranate molasses
  6. 2 tbsp. honey
  7. 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  8. pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg
  9. salt & pepper to taste
  10. pomegranate seeds & chopped parsley, to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Toast the walnut halves in a frying pan over a medium heat. Allow to cool and then blend in a food processor until you have a fine meal.
  2. In a large saucepan or casserole dish, fry the onions and chicken until the onions have softened and the chicken has started to brown.
  3. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Stir in the pomegranate molasses, honey, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg followed by the ground walnuts. Season to taste.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-25 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve with basmati rice or flatbreads (or both!), and scatter the pomegranate seeds & parsley on top.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

 

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Apricot & Almond Cake

Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

Okay, so I know summer has barely shown its face so far this year, but we can still enjoy all of the yummy summer fruits, right? Obviously I am a big fan of sweet strawberries and raspberries, but there’s no denying that they get more than their fair share of airtime at this time of year. What about the other fruits? They’ve been waiting for their time to shine all year and then they get overshadowed by showy strawberries. Apricots, blackcurrants and cherries are all pretty damn delicious right now and I think we need to spend some time with them. This apricot and almond cake was a delight to make – a simple batter dotted with little golden jewels (it’s worth taking the time to arrange them in a pretty pattern, if just for you own satisfaction), which comes up smelling absolutely gorgeous and is perfect served warm with a dollop of cream. This is the cake we deserve this summer. 

Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

Apricot & Almond Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 110g unsalted butter, softened
  2. 150g caster sugar
  3. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  4. 90g ground almonds
  5. 40g self-raising flour
  6. 1 tbsp. milk
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 4-5 apricots, quartered
  9. sprinkling of flaked almonds
  10. dusting of icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a 20cm cake tin by greasing with butter, lining the bottom with baking paper and dusting with flour.
  2. Place all of the cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour, milk and vanilla extract) into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Place the apricot quarters on the top, pressing down lightly.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes if the top is browning too quickly and cover with foil if needed. The cake should be springy to the touch when cooked, and a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack and dust with icing sugar. Allow to cool completely or serve warm with cream or ice cream.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/
Apricot & Almond Cake // Amy Elizabeth

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4 Slow Cooker Meals That Are Saving My Life Right Now

slow cooker

[Photo by yvonne lee harijanto]

As you may have heard me moan about, we don’t currently have a kitchen. The people who owned this house before us took everything but the kitchen sink with them and, since we’re doing a bit of remodelling to get some more space and allow me that wine fridge I’ve always wanted, we’re on hold with actually building said kitchen. My current set up is an old chest of drawers in the garage, upon which sits my microwave, toaster, kettle and slow cooker. And do you know what? It could be worse. There’s a lot you can do with a slow cooker, which means we’re not constantly eating takeaways and ready meals. Here’s the five slow cooker meals we’ve been eating on rotation and which are very much saving my life right now. 

Harissa Chicken Stew

  • 4 chicken breasts 
  • 2 carrots, chopped into chunks 
  • 1 can coconut milk 
  • 1 jar harissa paste
  • big slosh of soy sauce
  • generous squeeze of honey

Drop everything into the slow cooker, give it a stir and cook on high for at least 4 hours. If you’re cooking for more than 6, I’d drop it down to low. Serve with salads, flatbreads and couscous. 

Lamb Madras Curry 

  • 500g diced lamb 
  • 1 jar of passata 
  • 1/2 jar madras curry paste

Mix everything together and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for up to 8 hours. Serve with mini naan breads cooked in the toaster or microwave rice. 

Sort-of Chicken Fajitas 

  • 2 peppers, sliced  
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 onion, sliced 
  • 6 chicken breasts 
  • 250g Nandos Lemon & Herb sauce 

Put all the veg at the bottom and lay the chicken on top. Pour over the sauce and cook on high for 4 hours or low for up to 8 hours. Remove the chicken and shred before returning to the slow cooker and stirring through the sauce. Serve with tortilla wraps, fresh crunchy lettuce and grated cheese. 

Sausage and Bean Stew 

  • 1 packet of sausages 
  • 1 can of kidney beans 
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • glass of red wine
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano 
  • big pinch of sugar 

Ideally, brown your sausages before adding to the slow cooker but you can skip this step if you’re surviving in a garage kitchen like me. Throw everything else in the slow cooker with the sausages (browned or not) and cook on low for up to 8 hours. Serve with crusty bread and the rest of the red wine. 

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Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies

Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies // Amy Elizabeth

Baking should be fun. It’s butter and sugar and flour and joy. For me, it’s sticking on a podcast, closing the door to the kitchen and taking my time making something delicious. Is there anything more fun than that? Some baked goods, however, are more fun than others – and I think anything with sprinkles very much falls into the category of ‘most fun’. I spotted these confetti cookies on the Smitten Kitchen blog and I knew immediately that I had to make them. All kudos to Deb, because when I’d finished, Paul hoovered up two in a row and admonished me for not making cookies more often. So I added a little cocoa powder, swapped my pastel sprinkles for chocolate ones and these were born. Cookies that are made of chocolate and fun – can there be anything better? 

Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies // Amy Elizabeth

Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 350g plain flour
  2. 25g cocoa powder
  3. 1 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  5. 3/4 tsp. table salt
  6. 200g unsalted butter, softened
  7. 80g cream cheese
  8. 250g caster sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  11. 140g (ish) chocolate vermicelli sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C and prepare two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt.
  3. Beat together the cream cheese, butter and sugar until fluffy (using an electric mixer is recommended!). Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.
  4. Add the flour mixture gradually until everything is just incorporated.
  5. Using your hands, roll a tablespoon-ish of mixture into a ball. Gently roll in the sprinkles until coated.
  6. Place on the prepared baking sheet and press down slightly so the cookies are flat and about 1/2 inch tall. Repeat, placing cookies about two inches apart.
  7. Bake for 9-10 minutes - they should still be a little soft. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Although soft, they should keep their shape after that few minutes - if not, they may need a couple of extra minutes in the oven.
  8. Using an electric mixer, add the butter and cream cheese gradually until
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/
Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies // Amy Elizabeth

 

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Mini Egg Brownies

Mini Egg Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

There are a lot of things that I can’t resist. An ASOS sale code. New books. Tuna’s little paw when she’s begging for food. But my biggest weakness is, and has always been, Mini Eggs. There’s something about the crunchy sugary shell and the creamy chocolate within that just hits all the right spots, and opening a bag of them is a surefire way to have me scoffing the whole packet. So it’s probably a good thing that they’re only really easy to get hold of for a few months of the year, because replacing meals with Mini Eggs is definitely not the sort of balanced diet that I’m going for right now.

Mini Egg Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

However, I do like to make the most of them when they are here, so as well as tipping them straight into my mouth, I baked them into some brownies because… well, why not? If it’s good on its own, then it’s bound to be better in a brownie. See also: Toblerone, which is also one of my weaknesses, chocolate-wise. With only a few days left until Easter, chances are that Mini Eggs aren’t going to be around for much longer – so bake up a bunch of these and share them with your friends (or polish them off yourself, I won’t tell anyone. Easter is a chocolate holiday, after all!). 

Mini Egg Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

Mini Egg Brownies
Yields 12
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  2. 175g unsalted butter
  3. 325g caster sugar
  4. 130g plain flour, sifted
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 200g Mini Eggs, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a square tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, followed by the flour, making sure each is well incorporated. Beat in the eggs until you have a thick mixture.
  4. Add about two-thirds of the chopped Mini Eggs to the mixture and fold in until spread evenly through the batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared baking tray and sprinkle the remaining Mini Eggs on top, pressing down slightly into the mixture.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until set on top but still soft and squidgy. Brownies are better slightly fudgy, so don't worry if they seem a little underdone - they'll firm up out of the oven. As long as they don't seem liquidy when you move the tray, then you're golden!
  7. Leave to cool and cut into 12-16 squares with a sharp knife.
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

 

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