Happy New Year, and a healthy new recipe

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year – mine was a little hectic with moving house as well as lots of baking, but it was definitely a good one.

For New Year’s Eve, I headed up to Oxford to visit friends for a house party, and made the cake pictured above to take – a cinnamon sponge with milk chocolate filling and white chocolate frosting. I didn’t get any photos of the inside, so I’m going to make it again and wait until then to share the recipe – it’s a good one though, I promise!

For now, I’m going to give you another recipe, which I think is rather fitting for my first post of the new year – healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies.

(Pro photo courtesy of http://www.seangeephotography.com)

I made several attempts last year at making healthier vegetable-based brownies, using a butternut squash recipe from Delicious and a sweet potato recipe from Dan Lepard at the Guardian.

I wasn’t entirely happy with either, but I think I finally cracked it with this recipe, which uses butternut squash to replace the fat, and can also easily be made wheat and gluten free by swapping the 25g of flour for more cocoa powder.

Cut into 12 slices, it comes in at 200 calories per slice – ridiculous for such a decadent tasting treat, and perfect for anyone on a new year health kick.

I also added a quarter teaspoon of scotch bonnet chilli mash, from the Bad Boy Chilli Company, which is based not far from me in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. You only need a tiny bit of the mash to give the brownies a really fiery kick, so use with caution!

Although the chilli does pack a spicy punch, the sweetness of the white chocolate balances it out, and these were a big hit with all of my taste testers when I made them.

I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a go, whether or not you’re starting 2014 with healthy intentions. I’m not planning any huge changes to my diet (cakes aplenty!) but I am going to be trying out some new classes at the gym to try and tone up and increase my fitness – I’ll keep you updated with how it goes…

Healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies (loosely adapted from Delicious)

  • 330g butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • ¼ tsp Scotch Bonnet Mash
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped

Start by microwaving the butternut squash for about 10 minutes, or until you can cut through it like butter.  Stir in the dark chocolate until melted, then blend with a stick blender to get rid of all lumps. Add the chilli – if you’re worried about it being too hot start with less and add more if you think it needs it.

Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar until the mixture triples in volume, then fold in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.  Finally, fold through the chocolate squash mixture and the white chocolate chunks and spread the mixture into an 8×8” square tin, lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until just set. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares to serve.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

As this is the first time I’ve baked anything with the Bad Boy Chilli Company’s Scotch Bonnet Mash, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, hosted by Linzi at Lancashire Food, who chose ‘new ingredient’ as the theme. I love trying out new things, so this may not be my only entry, we’ll see!

Advertisements

Autumn spiced butternut blondies

Autumn spiced butternut blondies

You’d possibly think after National Chocolate Week and Salon du Chocolat that I might want a tiny break from eating or thinking about chocolate – but if you do then you definitely don’t know me well enough!

Not only have I been munching on the goodies I brought back from the show, I also couldn’t resist orderinga chocolate brownie at dinner last night, bought a bar of salted caramel chocolate to get me through work this afternoon, and now I’m thinking back to these delicious blondies and wishing I still had one left to eat now.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, regularly hosted by Choclette but this month hosted by Jibber Jabber, challenged everyone to make something chocolatey with vegetables.

Exactly one year ago I was the We Should Cocoa host and chose pumpkin or squash as the theme, but I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with my bakes and so I thought this would be a great opportunity to give it another go.

I’ve made a couple of different versions of butternut brownies, but this time decided to let the fabulous colour of the squash stay and go for blondies instead.

I based the recipe on one from the Whole Foods Market website, but cooked and pureed the squash rather than grating it for a squidgier texture, cut down the sugar and added a different mixture of spices to give them a bit of autumnal warmth.

They turned out pretty much how I’d hoped in both texture and taste – reducing the sugar worked especially well as the white chocolate chunks added just enough sweetness to balance the spice.

My colleagues were also a fan, and I think I would definitely make them again as they’re a great way of using up half a butternut squash if you don’t fancy making soup!

Autumn spiced butternut blondies (adapted from Whole Foods Market)

  • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped

Start by microwaving the butternut squash for 8-10 minutes, or until soft enough to cut through like butter. Puree it with either a stick blender, food processor or potato masher, then set aside.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until they triple in volume, then pour in the butter and vanilla with the mixer still running. Add the pureed squash and beat until just combined, then sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and fold into the mixture. Finally, fold through the chopped white chocolate then spread into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees (160 fan), until just set, then leave to cool before slicing into squares.