Hot chocolate brownies

Hot Chocolate Brownies |

Ah, yeah. It’s time to turn the lights down low and put a little bit of Barry on the stereo, cuddle up to your loved one and share this sexy, oxytocin producing hunk of chocolate love. Mmmmmmmm, baby!

Or you could just eat it on your own in your PJs, reading Twitter whilst your husband is on a late shift. That’s what I did.

Actually, although this is perfect for a valentines dessert, it came about after a cold walk in the park a couple of weeks ago. You know what’s perfect after a winter’s walk in the park, where your fingers are numb and your ears are tingling from the cold? A hot chocolate. Except I’m not massively keen on the hot chocolate, I tend to only have the drink to eat the whipped cream and marshmallows.

I am health personified.

So how do I make a hot chocolate I enjoy eating all the way through and make it even more indulgent? By making fudgy brownies instead of a drink, chewy meringues in place of marshmallows, a rich, chocolate sauce with a boozy kick and a dollop of whipped double cream. Because a hot chocolate ALWAYS needs some cream. You don’t need all the elements, of course, and if you just want to try just one of them, then I implore you to make the brownies. These are fudgy and gooey, but not overly sweet, and the hazelnut flavour is a classic but warming and earthy and perfect for this time of year. Dave can’t stand nuts with chocolate, so I swap the nuts for pieces of milk chocolate when I make this for him. This recipe will serve around four, but you’ll probably have some spare meringues and sauce by the end of it. The meringues will keep in an air tight container for a good week (and they freeze well too) and the sauce will keep for about four days in the fridge. It helps to make the meringues the day before so they can dry out in the oven properly.

For the meringue:

  • 2 Egg whites
  • 113g Icing sugar
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  • Pink food colouring

For the brownies:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light muscavado sugar
  • 115g plain chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 170g chopped hazelnuts

For the hot chocolate sauce:

  • 30g dark chocolate
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp brandy

To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 110ºC (fan oven temp), and line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper. Whisk the egg whites and icing sugar until they form stiff peaks. Scare and amaze your daughter as you hold the mixer bowl upside down over her head! Add the vanilla extract and whisk for another minute or so.

Hot Chocolate Brownies |

Get a skewer and dip it into a pot of food colouring and then run it along the side of a disposable piping bag, making stripes, and then fill with the meringue mixture.

Hot Chocolate Brownies |

Hot Chocolate Brownies |

Pipe into little ‘kisses’ by pointing the piping bag directly down onto your baking sheet, squeezing a little bit and then lifting up. I used a star-shaped nozzle, but anything will do, and you can pipe any shape you fancy as well.

Hot Chocolate Brownies |

Bake for 40 minutes until the outsides are crisp, turn off the oven, leave the oven door ajar and let the meringues stay in there overnight. This makes them chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The perfect meringue!

Living Arrows #56

Living Arrows

Not the best of photos this week (if you want some nice shots, check out this week’s 365, genuinely pleased with the pictures there), but it captures a lovely moment. Betsy and Arthur sitting at the living room window waiting for Dave to come home from work so Betsy can wave to him as he walks towards the front door. Betsy was showing Arthur her snow globes and would occasionally hug him and talk to him about all manner of things. Arthur would look up adoringly at Betsy, laugh and give her the brightest of smiles. I hope I see these little moments of this best friendship in years to come.

A couple more photos from the week:

Sleeping Arthur


Living Arrows

Project 365/2015 Days 19-25

Westminster Abbey
019/365 Popped into work for a training day and snapped this detail of Westminster Abbey on the way back to the Tube. It felt good to be back in town again, I miss being surrounded by all this amazing architecture (not that I notice it when I am at work, being stuck in a basement in a nondescript building along Millbank).

Ice on the boating lake
020/365 A very frozen boating lake at Enfield Town Park

Cat on the Underground
021/365 Ian on the Underground. Ian loves to sit in the children’s Tube tent and tunnel, but if discovered, he’ll run off embarrassed to be found, the weirdo.

Quincy and Betsy
022/365 Betsy and her friend Quincy with Boo practising her big fake laugh.

Penguin watching
023/365 Watching the penguins at London Zoo. One of those days that are a joy for every single second of it.

Sharing mini Cheddars
024/365 Betsy sharing her Mini Cheddars with Arthur. One of those sweet, special moments where I wasn’t noticed and I just sat and watched these two chatter and make each other laugh.

Early evening light
025/365 Betsy and I went for a walk around the block this evening and it is SO good to see that it it’s no longer totally dark at half four. Spring is coming!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

How the Garden Grows #12

The jasmine is so pretty at the moment

The jasmine is so pretty at the moment

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve last blogged about the garden. But I suppose in a space that is as teeny tiny as ours, there’s not a lot you can do once winter appears. Well, there’s not a huge amount to do here. We have been pottering and hopefully we’ll see the spoils of that in the next few months. There’s still a bot of veggies growing around the place such as the broad beans and cabbage (although it looks like it’s too late for a head to form on the cabbage by spring? I’ve never grown them before so I’m not sure how they should be at this time of year). The rainbow chard has been a brilliant success this season and is not only providing us with quite a bit of produce but is probably the brightest and cheeriest thing to see in the garden. I will definitely be growing this again this spring time.

How the Garden Grows

How the Garden Grows

How the Garden Grows

The rhubarb seems to have lost it’s leaves. There does seem to be a head. Will it be ok? I have NO idea. I think I should research the plants I grow rather than sticking them in the ground and hoping for the best.

How the Garden Grows

I also planted some bulbs last autumn. In the ground there should hopefully be narcissi, iris, tulips, allium (I’ve always wanted these in my garden, so I’m so excited about these!), crocus and Dave’s favourite flower, snowdrops. I say hopefully because those damn squirrels keep digging away in my beds so who knows if there are any bulbs there? I think I am most looking forward to seeing the crocus emerge as I’ve planted them into our patch of grass.

How the Garden Grows

There was one other job we did over the winter. It was quite a big job, and it’s possibly one that could be quite controversial. We did something quite dramatic, quite destructive. DON’T JUDGE ME!


Cheery Things

Cheery Things 2 Baking Betsy

1. Ice cream bear brooch
2. I am loving the new Boxed In album.
3. Oh, if only I had a massive dresser in which to hold an awful lot of china. I’d get this birds and geometric shapes teapot in a flash.
4. Dreamy Midnight Magic print.
5. How beautiful is this Belair instant camera by Lomography?
6. Nursing dresses! There’s not enough of them around you know, but this Spring Smocked dress from Frugi is lovely, and I know I’m late to the party with this, but it’s nice to see ASOS selling nursing wear now too. The bras look gorgeous and there are dresses now too, including this skater dress, although they all seem to be made as maternity wear too, which is annoying as the cut is different and looks a bit odd on a non pregnant body. Oh well, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Cheery Things Baking Betsy

7. I have found heaven, and it is called Lollopop Designs. Super sharp planners, things with constellations on, tape, cute stationary. This site has everything.

Also of note this week:

Hope you are all enjoying your week. I’ll leave you with this song which I’ve had on my brain for the past six days after being able to attend a baby rhyme time at our local library as Betsy had fallen asleep in the pram leaving me and Arthur to sing rhymes, including this one. Nice.

Living arrows – 55

Has anyone ever collected any stats on how many pictures taken for the Living Arrows project from all the bloggers feature their children on swings? I think it may be quite high. But then there’s something so joyous about something so simple. It really is one of life’s little pleasures, and now Arthur can sit up, he can join in the fun too. Betsy is mad keen on being able to push him, bu we have yet to have that chance, this picture was taken while she was at nursery. Soon, Boo, soon.

living arrows

The colours seem a bit off in that photo? I shoot in RAW, but I have a LOT to learn about colour, I need to learn to be able to read my histogram I think! If any of you clever photo people can point me to useful colour resources on the net, that would be brilliant.

Betsy’s picture was also taken in the park, but this time on Saturday. It’s so very rare we leave the house early on a weekend, but we had some snow forecast. Not a lot of snow, hardly any really, but enough to excite Betsy and wonder if Father Christmas was going to make another visit. So we wandered down to a very quiet and bitterly cold park, cracked all the ice in the puddles (and then tried to eat some) and when the snow did start to fall it was most exciting indeed. We stuck our tongues out in the hope of catching a snowflake and had I to explain why there wasn’t quite enough snow to make a snowman.

living arrows

Living Arrows

Project 365/2015 Days 12-18

Mucky eater
012/365 I am loving weaning Arthur, but ye gods it’s messy work!

013/365 Very odd weather this day. Left the house in bright sunshine and then had to run for cover to hide from the hail, thunder and lighting. Anyone would think it’s winter or something…

014/365 Crafting. My niece’s mobile is getting there…

Betsy reads Betsy
015/365 Betsy discovers a book in which she shares the protagonist’s name at the library. Funnily enough, she likes them!

016/365 Heh. Starting off a Jerusalem artichoke and lentil casserole with a mind to blog about it, but the end result looked like a grey sludge, so I won’t be sharing that. Tasted much better than it looked though.

017/365 SNOW! We got a millimetre of snow and I couldn’t have been more excited.

018/365 Some fungi.

Hello Arthur – 5, 6 and 7 months

Five months

Five months

Hello there, Arthur!

Well this writing to you once a month is going well isn’t it? We have missed a few months of these letters, and flipping heck, what months have we missed! You are doing so much more now you are like a different person. We’ve had your sister turning three (another letter I need to write…), your first Christmas and we’ve had many fun times. So this is a quick letter to update you on what you can do, just so things are written down and out there and we can do a slightly longer note once we’re back in the swing of things again.

In your fifth month you were so keen to move. You’d make swimming motions while on your front and lift your bottom in the air and a month later you were mobile! You’re not crawling on all fours yet, you’re doing the commando move (or zombie crawl as I like to call it). Already you are working on being on two feet. You can happily stand up and hold on to things (the corner of the sofa is your favourite spot) for a good long while and you seem to be starting cruising too.

Six months

Six months

You are noisy! You make me laugh when you learn to make a new sound as you’ll do it over and over and over again. We’ve had raspberries (which were HILARIOUS, you’ve not done those for a while now, I miss them), high pitched squeals and the sound your cousin Asher makes when he is excited that you picked up over the Christmas break. You also make a mumumumumumuma sound too, which is exciting. Just this week you have learnt to clap and you do so with the biggest grin on your face. You are happy and you know it. You have also done a few little waves too.

You have teeth! Two came through in month five and two months later, you have six! I think there’s another coming through too. I miss your gummy smiles though, this picture was taken the day before the first broke through.
gummy smile

Balloons will entertain you for hours, but your preferred toy of choice at the moment is anything that makes sounds. Maracas, shaky things and the wave drum especially will make you drag yourself across the floor in order to play with them. You are also very good at finding all the very small bits that get left on the floor and giving them a good old chew. Mainly bits of paper and goggly eyes. Methinks I need to get better at cleaning…

Seven months

Seven months

Since my last letter, we have started a bedtime routine for you. We have a bath, a story and then I feed you to sleep. You are in my bed at the moment and we don’t have plans to move you, like your sister you definitely sleep better when I’m next to you. You were sleeping really well and only waking a couple of times in a night (this was BLISS. I had evenings to myself!), but since Christmas you have been all over the place and I am currently spending more time upstairs with you than down in the evenings, which I’m struggling with to be honest. Betsy was always a terrible sleeper (sleeps through now though), but at least she was consistent. Having this sudden regression with you is hard. My Wonder Weeks app tells me you are in a developmental leap at the moment, so hopefully things will settle down again soon.

You still adore Betsy and she still adores you (unless you happen to be gumming one of her toys) and so desperately wants to play with you more. Sometimes I see glimpses of how you’ll both be when you are older – finding each other funny, getting on each others nerves a bit, but ultimately the best of friends.

Hello Arthur

Love from, your Mama who loves you.

Cheery Things

Flipping heck, what a terrible, heartbreaking week it’s been. Here’s some nice things.












How beautiful does Taproot magazine look? Shame the postage costs more than the magazine!

  • Stewart Lee took over the Freak Zone on BBC 6Music on Sunday and played some brilliant stuff. Good to hear him on the radio again. It was his Radio1 show he did with Richard Herring in the 90s that got me into music in the first place (and John Peel and Mark & Lard) and I’ve just discovered that those old shows are on the web. Of course they are! Thank you, internet, you have made my year.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the John Lewis website having been given some vouchers for Christmas. I want to get a sewing machine, but which one? Any advise would be brill. Thanks!

Living Arrows – 54

I’ve seemed to have taken an awful lot of photos this week, and there’s a reason for that as I’m attempting Project 365 again, but none have seemed to have quite caught the younglings quite right this week. Oh well.

living arrows

Tunnels! We have found Arthur’s new favourite toy. He love, love, loves crawling through ours, especially if there’s an Ian at the other end.

Digital Camera

We had the most brilliant day on Friday. Popped into Kings Cross, met up with a friend I’ve not seen in a year, had a jolly good catch up and a jolly good lunch (with a cocktail! Fancy that!) at Caravan. The fountains outside Granary Square are the best fun for a three year old. I think we will be back for those very soon.

Living Arrows