Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe – Sweet Potato Brownies

A few months ago I started going to a local Cake Club, run by the friend of a friend. The idea is once a month we all get together to eat cake and natter. It’s that simple really. Everyone who comes must bring some form (any form) of cake and each month we have a loose theme to inspire us to try a new recipe. I love that part of it. I mean I love making cake, but how easy is it to just fall back on one or two tried and trusted recipes? Having a theme gently guides you to consider bakes you perhaps wouldn’t have done otherwise. This benefits not only the baker, but also the rest of the group. It’s made for some really interesting evenings, and even more delicious cakes to try!

This month’s theme was Vegetables (and Fruit), a cheeky nod to the healthy eating that tends to go on in January. We also welcomed, for the first time, a member who cannot eat gluten. As soon as I heard these two things I knew I had to make my friend Bethany’s Sweet Potato Brownies. Gluten and Dairy Free, I’ve made them once before, when Oscar was eating a GF diet. This time I have tinkered with the recipe ever so slightly and boy do they make the most moist and intensely chocolately morsels. I urge you to give them a go, whether you need a GF recipe or not.

On a side note, I have found these to bake much more evenly than traditional brownies, which I always manage to over or under cook. Always a plus!

Although you can microwave sweet potatoes (like you do jacket potatoes), I have found that baking them from raw, gives a much sweeter result. Prick the potato all over and bake on a foil covered tray at 230/ Gas Mark 8 for an hour, turning half way through. When done, peel, mash and cool before using.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Makes 16

Ingredients
  • 1 large baked sweet potato (approx 180g)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 55g coconut oil. Often bought in it’s solid state, I’ve found it’s easiest to melt in the microwave on short bursts.
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 60g ground almonds
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 50g good quality dark chocolate chopped into chucks (or chips)
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C /Gas Mark 5 and line a square (9 x 9) cake tin with grease proof/baking paper
  2. Mix sweet potato, eggs, vanilla and coconut oil in a bowl
  3. Mix sugar, cocoa, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in another bowl
  4. Sieve dry mixture to wet ingredients a third at a time. Mix well after adding each third
  5. When the two mixtures are combined, add the chocolate chunks/chips and stir
  6. Pour batter into lined tin
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the middle
  8. Cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing, in greaseproof paper, to cooling rack.
  9. Let cool completely before cutting

These brownies are delicious with a cup of coffee and a sense of smug satisfaction that you’re practically eating one of your five a day.

Sort of 😉

Sweet Potato Brownies – practically a health food 😉

 

How do I say Thank You enough?

OK, so I know some of you have finished term already and most of you are probably more organised than I could ever hope to be, but I’ve spent the last few days agonising over what to get Oscar’s preschool Keyworker and Teaching Assistant as end of term thank you presents. These women have been working with him since he started in January 2015. They have bared the brunt of his frustration, dealing daily with his temper when he can’t express himself. And yet they are also the ones who have worked with him every session to ensure he can verbalise his wants and needs and to help him understand the very basis of communication, the back and forth, the my turn, your turn, without which he wouldn’t be able to manage communication at all, in any form. Yeah these ladies are owed big time.

But really, nothing is going to be enough. Nothing is going to express how thankful we are for their patience with him, or how grateful for the time they have taken with all the extra paperwork that comes with a child on the spectrum (and believe me it’s loads!). I’ve always been cautious of buying teacher gifts. I am loathe to buy any kind of trinket, anything without a practical purpose, because (and correct me if I’m wrong teachers), if everyone in the class did that you’d be left with 30 trinkets to find a home for. Every year! So I made a decision at the end of summer term last year, to always buy something consumable. The appreciation can be felt, but won’t take up room in their homes. Well that’s my theory anyway.

So back to this year. I don’t really know them well enough to buy them alcohol (also is alcohol appropriate for a preschool teacher?). Previously we’ve gone for posh coffee (for one) and posh tea (for the other) or vouchers for a coffee shop so they don’t have to make their own. But this year we wanted something that made a little bit more of a statement.

Which is why we we’ve gone for a box of Harry Specters chocolates each. A box of chocs might sound boring and unambitious, but bare with me. Harry Specters is a very special chocolate company, based in Cambridge. Their mission states:

At Harry Specter’s young people with autism are involved in all aspects of creating our award winning chocolates from production to packaging, sales, photography, graphic design and web design. In our safe and supportive environment they are free to use their strengths to grow, develop and build confidence.

In a country where 85% of adults with Autism are unemployed, Harry Specters are looking beyond the myths and media portrayal of Autism and have built an entire business model around utilising the strengths of an individual. As it should be! That they are also winning award after award for their chocolates just shows how this model is working. It just took one woman to look at things a little differently, to have faith in these people (and yes she is an Autismmama too)!

Box of chocolates

These are the chocolates we have chosen. Image courtesy of Harry Specters.

Don’t they look beautiful? Yes I want them to take them home and eat them, preferably away from any children and perhaps with a glass of something chilled. But while they do I want them to know how important they were in Oscar’s, and our, lives and how very grateful we are for their energy and how much O will miss them . Even if he doesn’t say it! Yes he’s ready to move on in his academic career, but he wouldn’t be had it not been for them.

It just takes one person to believe.

Toddler boy in buggy

Ready for his first day – Jan 2015

Maybe I’ll just put this post in with the chocolates. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey all this in person. Well not without crying anyway!

 

 

The Boy Makes….Homemade Bounty Bars

Over the Easter holidays, the boy and I were inspired to have a crack at some more sweet cooking projects. We made chocolate cupcakes one day and then, scrolling through Instagram one morning, I came across this post for Homemade Bounty Bars by the gorgeous Mrs Bishop over at MrsBishopBakesandBanter. I LOVE Bounty bars and the boy has taken a real shine to coconut and dark chocolate recently (there’s not an issue in the world that can’t be solved with a Mrs Crimble’s Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroon I tells ya!). We’ve never tried making proper ‘sweets’ before, so I thought this would be a fun place to start.

The recipe Mrs B (and I!) used was incredibly simple with just four ingredients:

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  • 100ml Condensed Milk
  • 75g Desiccated Coconut
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
I weighed out the ingredients.....

I weighed out the ingredients…..

...and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut.....

…and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut…..

...followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. Mix it all together.

…followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. We mixed it all together.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) Place on greaseproof paper lined tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for an hour or so. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) We placed the bars on a greaseproof paper lined tray and left them to firm up in the fridge for a couple of hours. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it in a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the choclate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit. Lift onto greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it over a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the melted chocolate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit, but it was a bit messy and I got no photos – boohoo! Lift onto a greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

Oh my life they were so good! We’re definitely going to make them again, but next time I am going to fiddle around with the proportions. I want to try adding more coconut and a little less sugar. I’m also going to make 16 small bars, instead of 8 big ones. Don’t get me wrong the big bars looked awesome, but realistically, I think a smaller bar would have been enough. You could also try making them in to bit size pieces, perhaps for a party. Bounty Bites, if you will! I think you’d easily get 32 bites out of this recipe, although I’m not sure if you’d need slightly more chocolate. Give it a go!

The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

Homemade Bounty Bars. The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

 

BakedPotato Mummy
Gym Bunny Mummy

Pretzel Pumpkins

Whether you subscribe to the traditions or even agree with it, Halloween in it’s current form is big business . Some years I join in, others I don’t. What can I say, I have a take it or leave it attitude towards dressing up and the boy is really too young to get involved. However, this year I have found myself feeling a little bit of Halloween love, partly because I was invited to several Halloween parties and partly thanks to the time vortex that is Pinterest! While this isn’t a post about Halloween as a festival or any of the other issues surrounding it (is it too commercial?, are we feeding our children too much sugar?, is trick or treating safe? etc, all of which are valid questions and should be answered by more learned folk than me!), it is about something I’ve made to give to friends this Halloween.

pumpkin

You may have seen my pictures on Instagram or Facebook of the Pretzel Pumpkins I made for the children’s party yesterday. I originally found them, via Pinterest, on a blog called Butter with a Side of Bread and couldn’t get over how cute and easy they looked. The hollows in the pretzels resemble the face of a pumpkin when covered in chocolate and despite never really going for anything quite so cutesy, this year I just couldn’t help myself! No they are not Slimming World friendly (I couldn’t even hazard a guess at how many syns one would be) but they went down a storm, with both the ladies and the children yesterday, so I’ve made some more for today’s party. And as so many people have asked me how I made them, I thought I’d write it up. You wont believe how easy they are.

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Ingredients. 300g of white chocolate, 1 tbsp of shortening, Pretzels, orange food colouring and green M&Ms.

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Break the white chocolate up and melt. I always melt chocolate in the microwave, but go slowly. This much only took 1 min and 10 secs. I’d start with 30 seconds, stir then blast again for another 30 seconds, stirring well each time.

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The shortening is to make the chocolate thick enough to coat, but thin enough to show the hollows of the pretzels (the face of the pumpkin). Melt it with the chocolate.

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I used about a teaspoon of this super concentrated Wilton colour, but you may need more or less depending on the type and brand you use. I think pastes would be better for this strong colour.

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I go slowly with the colour, adding a drop at a time, then stirring really well before adding more. Keep going until the colour is as bright as you want, but remember you can always add more, you can’t take it away! I used my glass jug as it doesn’t take on any colour.

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Separate out the green M&Ms. This many came from two large bags. Which does now mean I have lots of M&Ms left over. Not that Ben seems to mind! Someone suggested using green Smarties. Personally I think they’d be too big, but go for it if you’d rather.

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Then getting dipping. As messy as it may look I found using good old (clean) fingers was the best and neatest way to do this. Lay the wet pretzel on a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper and gently push an M&M into the crook at the top while the chocolate is still wet.

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Now you could let them harden in a cool room, but as I have no particularly cold areas of my house and a curious toddler flying around, I felt it safer all round to put them in the fridge. Yes the chocolate sets too quickly and you loose that shine, but really, it was that or a wet chocolate pretzel covered toddler. And any way I don’t mind the matte look.

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And there you go. Peel them off the paper when set and enjoy. Even those who were dubious about the coloured white chocolate loved them.

I loved making them so much. I noticed the pretzel shape is also one of a heart. I think I may have a crack at making red ones for Valentines Day, although as you wont need to the see the hollows I might leave the shortening out.

Happy Halloween folks!

 

 

 

 Toddler Approved Tuesday
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