The Best Ooey Gooey Chocolate Brownies - Ever

Friday, April 4, 2014

I owe you guys an apology... I've been trying to post these - amazing - brownies for the past 4 months, to no great success obviously! The thing is, I always did a batch, and when I came back to it there was a bit missing! Which isn't great for blog picture taking... ok I'll admit I always take the first piece, they are just that good!

I mean look at these ooey gooey little beauts, they're fluffy and dense at the same time, intensly chocolatey and milky all at once!

They come from an amazing book J gave to me by Hotel Chocolat, and I've only tweaked it a little bit!

To make 12 quite big squares you will need:

  • 125g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (for extra chocolatey flavour it's optional)
  • 150g dark brown sugar (the squidgy kind)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
  • 55g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
I bake quite a lot... so I've made my own vanilla essence which you can see in the baby Grand-Marnier bottle above! It's much better, cheaper and healthier than the store-bought stuff! I'll post a recipe up soon.

So let's get baking!
  • Heat up your oven to 180°C
  • First melt the butter and 50g of dark chocolate, (that's two rows or eight squares of the cadburry chocolate above), in a small saucepan on low heat.  Once it's all melted leave to cool.
  • Beat the brown sugar and two eggs until fluffy (about a minute), add the vanilla essence and stir. 
  • Add the flour and baking powder (and cocoa powder if you are so inclined) to the sugar mix, stir well.
  • Add the butter and chocolate yummyness to the sugar mix, stir well again.
  • Lastly, chop the rest of the chocolate into chunks and add it to the batter. Do a taste test, you know just in case.

Pour the batter into a square tin, which you've lined with parchment paper. Pop in your oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Now, I would say wait for it to cool, cut into squares and then enjoy... but let's be honest we all know you're going to grab a spoon and taste it straight from the oven! Well that's what I do anyway... Bon Appétit!

St-Dunstan in the East - Secret Church Garden

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ah sunny London, I love you! I've seriously learnt to appreciate sunny days since moving to England, there's not much better than a warm sunny weekend in London. Ok maybe these are better, but it's close. The problem with sun in London is that everyone is out, and they've all got the same idea as you: Picnic in the park!

You're thinking of having this nice relaxing lunch, lying down in the grass with friends, enjoying the sunshine, and you end up surrounded by tons of people. Which is great for people watching and conversation snooping, don't get me wrong, but sometimes its nice to have your own little park.

And this is where secret gardens come in - taaddaa! London's greenery isn't restricted to Hyde Park, Green Park and Regents Park... there are tons of secret gardens which I hope to make you discover! Here's the first post in the "Secret Gardens" series: St-Dunstan in the East.

The church was built in 1100, severely damaged during the Great Fire of 1666 and patched up throughout the years. During the Blitz of 1941, most of the church collapsed under the bomb's impacts... After the war instead of leaving it to ruins, the City of London Corporation decided to turn the remains into a public garden and so here we are!

The church is hidden away at the end of a little street, surrounded by skyscrapers.... You'd never know it's there! (you can find it here but shhh)

The few people there sit quietly enjoying their lunch, looking at the cute water fountain at the center of the garden. I can't wait to go back this summer when all the trees have bloomed and the vines are full of leaves!

My brother and I had a quick 'picnic' and a good catchup. St-Dunstan is right next to the city, so it'd be great for a lunchtime getaway for all you city bankers!

Couldn't help but whip out some yoga moves... the blossoms were too pretty!!

Hope you're all enjoying this pretty spring weekend!

Chaussons aux Pommes - aka Apple Turnovers

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ah... Spring has arrived, well sort of. We had three beautiful days, temperatures soaring to high 16°C, everyone was in t-shirts and shorts... and today well, it's March again. But all is not lost! Here's a delicious recipe that's sure to put a spring in your step!

I remember eating so many of these after school, before synchro practice! I try to eat (slightly) less of these now, but making them yourself is so satisfying it takes the guilt out of eating 3 in a row!

First of all you'll need some puff pastry, you can make it as I had shown here! One recipe will give you about 8 chaussons. Let's get to it then!

To make the filling:
(Tbsp is tablespoon and tsp is teaspoon just fyi)

  • 7 Apples (any local sweet apple or Granny Smiths if you like sweet and sour apple pies)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp White sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
For the chaussons:
  • 1 Puff pastry batch (recipe here)
  • 1 Filling batch
  • 1 egg
Grab your apples, strip'em and chop'em!

Put the honey and butter in a heavy bottomed pan, let it all melt and brown a little, then throw in your apples and coat them with the sweet buttery mix. Add the sugars and the cinnamon, cover and let it soften for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the apples you used.

Once they are nice and soft, crush them a little with a fork or a potato masher, just so that it's more of a sauce consistency. I like to leave some bits of apples, but that's just preference! Let it cool completely.

Ok, sweet, cinnamony apple filling done! Now onto making the chaussons.
Grab your puff pastry, cut about 1/8th off, and put the rest back in the fridge to keep firm. Roll out your section, on a clean floured surface, to about 1/2 cm or until you can cut a circle 12cm diameter in it. I don't have a 12cm diameter cookie cutter, so I used my cute little bowl and a knife. Anything goes!

Once you've got a nice circle, use the rolling pin to make it oval shaped. Then paint one side of the oval edges with egg, and add your filling to the same half. Fold it onto itself, and seal the edges with your fingers!

At this point you want to leave them in the fridge for 30mins or 1 hour, so that the pastry is nice and firm. Now preheat your oven to 200°C. Once they've chillaxed, put some egg wash all over (make sure that it doesn't go underneath the pastry or it'll stick!) and with the back of a knife decorate the top with horizontal lines. 

Bake at 200°C for 20 to 25 mins, or until a beautiful golden brown. Try to wait until they've cooled to bite into them, I didn't and my tongue still hates me for it!

Bon Appétit!

It's my Birthday! (sort of)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I meant to post this ages ago but then completely forgot about it... I know I know that's terrible blogging behaviour. But I'm still a newbie!

My birthday was a bit more than a month ago, and it feels like so much has happened since. It's been so great going over these pictures and remembering, (non-rainy), happy memories.

I came back from Canada a few days into 2014 ready to celebrate my birthday back home in Nice. J flew over to join me and I played tour guide for a few days. I love it when friends come to visit, that way I can do all the touristy stuff us, as locals, are too embarrassed to do!

We started by a wintery walk around Gourdon, which I've already talked about here. It's so nice to go on a sunny winter day, the streets are deserted, the air is crisp and the view goes on for days. We warmed our hands with a nice cup of hot chocolate waiting for the bell to tell us it was time to go home for lunch.

Our next adventure hit home in more ways than one. I took J to the small artistic village I grew up in, Saint Paul-de-Vence. I hadn't been in a while and the memories flooded straight back. It is renown for it's art as many of the greats came here for inspiration.

Walking through the stone-clad streets you can almost hear the whispers of the many painters and poets that walked the same path as you. If you go keep an ear open for Matisse, Jacques Prévert and Chagalle.

Maybe they threw coins in the fountain just as J and I did!

Although I hope for their sake that they had a better aim than I did... took me forever to get it right!

After a lot of walking we ordered a good old french pancake with lemon and sugar and made our way home for some birthday celebration!

Okay fine, I scoffed it down and didn't even let J have any... Birthday girl rights!

I hope you've all had a great Valentine's day full of love, family and friends... and remember to love yourself too!

Christmas in Canada

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I couldn't imagine spending Christmas anywhere but in Canada. I'm very fortunate to be able to go back every year and I appreciate it more and more as I get older. This christmas was colder and whiter than any I can remember... and it made it all the more cosy!

Arriving from the airport we were greeted by a rather unsettling site, well for a London girl anyway, and had to make way for a snowplow.

It continued to snow for a couple days whilst we were busying around christmas preparations. We made cookies, set up the christmas tree, wrapped presents and even wrapped siblings!

Finally a silent night...
Once all of this was prepared the snow settled and the sun came out just in time to play!

This is the same lake we were water-skiing on less than 4 months ago... amazing isn't it?
A frozen - snowy lake is a great place to practice some yoga moves (said no one ever), but at least the snow will catch your fall!

I'm quite new to yoga and can't wait to try those same stands on the stand-up-paddle board this summer, it'll make for great before/after and winter/summer shots!

I must admit I got a brain freeze doing this one... but it was worth it!

All the photos were patiently taken by my (and now superstar) big sis Vanessa.

Photo by Linda

After some restful yoga on a lake anyone is ready for the whirlwind of Christmas! We drove up to Mont-Tremblant where the rest of the fam-jam set camp. Every year our Christmas parties get bigger and bigger and this year was no different! We were around 60 people gathered around a beautifully lit christmas filled to the brim with prezzies!

Photo by Megs!

We wait all year for Christmas and New Years and it all goes by in a flash... I'm glad I can blog about it so all these memories are just a click away!

Hope you all had restful and happy holidays! Stay tuned for a 2013 recap...

PS: It's snowing behind me wooo! 

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground