The Story of the Travelling Brownies…

Well – it’s been a while. Too long.
Too busy? Too lazy? You decide!

This is the story of a batch (love that word) of Brownies that made it’s way from Brussels to Paris and back to Parc du Cinquantinaire, where I then paid 2Euro to taste them. (DISCLAIMER: I may have tasted a crumb whilst in Paris – but celebrating winning the Six Nations Championship will work up an appetite).

Since circa 2007 Belgium GAA and FC Irlande  have been joining forces to help the people of Brussels, Irish and otherwise, celebrate our national day, and raise a few bob to help the running of our clubs in the process.

On whichever Sunday falls closest to the 17th March (AKA St Patrick’s Day) the kind, or foolish people in the Ecole Militaire allow us to use their terrain de foot in Parc du Cinquantinaire.

It started off with a few games of Gaelic Football, hurling, camogie and soccer with a bar and some food being sold along the sidelines.  Obviously Guinness was involved, and large green hats.

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Luckily for us, the people of Brussels seemed to like this and every year, as the rain kindly stayed off for most of the day, their numbers increased.  We added things like bouncy castles, kids games, cake and sandwich stands, more green things – this year was amazing – there was even a stage with excerpts from ‘Annie’, Irish dancers, and musicians.

Unfortunately I spent the Saturday in Paris and was only able to join the festivities around lunchtime where I got snap happy with my camera:

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Paris was a total drag, like totally. It was sunny, people were smiling, Ireland won the Six Nations Championship, we celebrated with a street party thanks to the French Police kindly closing it on our behalf.  WORST WEEKEND EVER.  As you can see below, I was not a happy camper.

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Anyway, I still wanted to contribute to the Cake stand in Parc du Cinquantinaire – so I chose something that would last (as I was assured by Sylvia that brownies were the way to go.  It was to be my first attempt, and twas a success (IMHO).

So I made the Brownies Friday  night, packed them into my overnight bag and brought them with me on the Thalys to Paris.  They survived, one disappeared circa 3am – a certain Colin Byrne was suspected, but I turned a blind, green-tinted eye as I fell into bed with dreams of Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney (drool) and Gordon D’arcy’s mighty fine beard.

Sunday morning, bright and early, they were packed into the bag (note: they did spend their time in Paris in a fridge!) and duly delivered to Sylvia’s cake stand.  Then I gave her 2Euro and bought one right back 🙂

Malheuresement I didn’t take any photos of the actual brownies – rookie mistake.  But here is the rest of the delights on display and the dedicated volunteers selling their wares!

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So after all that, I only got a little taste BUT I was very impressed – if I do say so myself.

So here is the recipe – if only so that I remember to make them again!

Avoca Brownies

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark chocolate (55 per cent cocoa minimum)
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g rich dark brown sugar
  • 110g plain flour
  • 80g nuts (hazelnuts/pecans/walnuts  – I only had hazelnuts and slivered almonds so I improvised with these)
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. Melt the butter and the chocolate in an ovenproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and pale – this will take about 10 minutes and can be done in a mixer with the whisk attachment. I did it by hand – be prepared to work  hard!
  3. Stir in the chocolate/butter mix.
  4. Fold in the flour and nuts.
  5. Pour into a greased and lined cake tin (30cmx20cmx5cm) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 170C/Gas mark 3.
  6. Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to cool.
  7. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar

 

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A coop of hens, and an attempt to be Sylvia…

My 3rd Hen Party

I mean the 3rd one I’ve attended, not held in my honour, thus far I have had none….

This was the Hen of Miss Sarah Knox Esquire, soon to be Mrs Sarah Hendrick, or some form of that, or perhaps she won’t change her name at all, anyway she’s marrying Danny, and he’s lovely.

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It was in Kilkenny, so I flew home for it and a great weekend was had by all. You understand of course that details cannot be divulged here.

All I can tell you is that there was alcohol, twerking, junk food, a dancing Grandad, and advice from a bouncer that the nightclub would be ‘too messy for us’…

It was a pleasure to spend time with old friends, and make some lovely new ones!

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For the occasion I took on the challenge to make Sylvia’s Guinness and Chocolate Muffins.

My flight landed at 11am, I got the aircoach home, slipped into Spar to pick up the ingredients, discovered a Tim Horton’s stand and got momentarily distracted.

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Headed home and whipped them up before making the trip to Kilkenny.  I got 24 out of the batch, plus a bit left over which I used to make a mini-cake for the family.

It will be a while before I’ll get them as perfect as Sylvia does, but I’ll definitely try again – practice makes perfect!!!

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Tiffin Biscuits

I forgot to post this alongside the Iced Lemon Traybake so here it goes…

I couldn’t find digestive biscuits so I used different ones, the biscuits turned out quite sweet (not surprising as they have alot of sugar in them!) but I definitely think using digestive biscuits would have helped this as they aren’t very sweet, so will make an extra effort to find them next time.

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 55g cocoa
  • 55g sultanas, washed
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 170g dark chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa)
  • 25g white chocolate
  1. Place the butter, cocoa, sultanas and sugar in a saucepan and melt.
  2. Break up the digestive biscuits but don’t crush completely.
  3. Add to the cocoa mixture and stir thoroughly
  4. Press into a 9” square baking tin lined with baking paper
  5. Melt the dark chocolatein a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and pour over the cocoa mixture.
  6. Melt the white chocolate in the same way and scatter over the biscuits using a fork
  7. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so and cut into squares.  The recipe says 9 but I got 16 – they are heavy so they don’t need to be huge but it’s up to you!

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Chocolate Orange Cake

By my Australian cousin…

Early 2010 my cousin Fiona visited from Down Under.  This is the daughter of the Aunt who gave me the wonderful cheesy bread cob… mmmm…cheese…

Anyway, Fiona enjoys cooking, she also taught me how to make sushi!  But mainly she bakes, very fatty delicious things.  She had a little handwritten notebook of recipes and from it she made this.  It was amazing, I want it now.

Not long after she left however I discovered that it was actually an Avoca recipe, how it got to Australia and into her notebook I don’t know but here it is…

Ingredients

  • 17g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa)
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • grated zest of 3 oranges (the most annoying part)
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • Orange slices, to decorate (if you feel like it)

Icing

  • 125ml double cream
  • 225g dark chocolate (55 per cent cocoa)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Cointreau – Fiona left this out as we didn’t have any so I have yet to try it!
  1. Break up the chocolate and put it in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the base of the bowl.
  2. Leave to melt and then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg yolks.
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate and the orange zest and then fold in the flour.
  5. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and fold them into the cake mixture.
  6. Spoon into a lined round 23cm cake tin and bake in an oven pre-heated to 170 degrees/gas mark 3 for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Turnout and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. To make the icing put all the ingredients into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and leave until the chocolate has melted.
  8. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10-20 minutes.  Pour the icing over the cake and decorate with the slices of orange.

Fi