At this time of year, it’s so useful to have some recipes for quick sweet treats that you can turn to, when needed, for a unexpected get-together, surprise guests, a bring and share party, or a quick foodie gift. These blondies, which if you don’t know, are a kind of non-dark-chocolate-brownie, with all the deliciously fudgy sweetness that that implies, exactly fit the bill. They take about 10 minutes to stir up, are out of the oven in 25 mins, max (20 in my fan oven), and are pretty much foolproof.
I am not going to apologise for the fact that these are super super sweet – my solution to this is to cut them into very small pieces – no more than a couple of inches square, or you could even cut them to petit fours size. Of course, then you have to really work on the temptation to scoff more than one…! Feel free to play around with the additions – next time round I am going to try dark chocolate pieces and chopped apricot – and there’s definitely potential for chopped roast hazelnuts and sour cherries…
A word about crystallised ginger – a few years ago I discovered Crazy Jack’s crystallised ginger – which I fell in love with because it was so much more spicy, gingery and seemed to bear much more relation to actual ginger than other available versions. Sadly, Crazy Jack stopped doing this wonderful stuff and I have been searching for something similar ever since. Finally I have found it – Whitworths Fiery Crystallised Ginger is absolutely brilliant – spicy and quite definitely fiery, and here it makes a brilliant contrast with the soft creamy flavour of the white chocolate, so if you can get hold of it (and most supermarkets seem to stock it here in the UK) then do give it a try.
Ginger and white chocolate blondies
- 100g butter
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 100g plain white flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp milk
- 40g crystallised ginger, chopped into small pieces
- 50g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 (170/Gas Mark 3 for a fan oven) and line a 8 inch (20cm) square baking tray (or equivalent-ish – I have used a 7 inch tin with no problems) with baking parchment.
- Melt the butter over a low heat in a large pan.
- Remove the butter from the heat and add the sugar straight to the pan. Beat the sugar into the butter for about a minute, the texture of the mixture will change a bit and stick more to the sides of the pan as you beat it – that’s what you are aiming for.
- Beat in the egg until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Stir the flour and ground ginger into the mix, quite gently, until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Stir in the milk and then the ginger and chocolate pieces.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes in the first instance. The blondies need to be just barely set when you take them out of the oven and it’s always best to err on the squidgy side (they will firm up as they cool), but you can add an extra couple of minutes if you need to.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cut into slices when cool.
These blondies keep for 3 or 4 days in an air-tight tin, or they freeze very well too. I freeze them between layers of greaseproof paper in a plastic box, which means you can sneak one out and quickly defrost it when you are in need of a boost (don’t tell anyone…).
Rocky Road is such a great make for party/treat season – packaged up, it would also make a fabulous gift. It’s versatile too because you can fancy it up to make it rather sophisticated, or you can add all kinds of colourful goodies if you want to go to town with the festive cheer.
It’s also a really useful recipe if you are baking for someone who is gluten-free. All you need to do is to take care to make sure that the biscuits and any other ingredients that you add are gluten-free – easy! Of course, if you are baking for someone with Coeliac disease, you need to be incredibly strict and make sure that the chocolate is also gluten-free (i.e. not have a ‘may contain’ listing on the packaging) and it also absolutely vital to make sure your kitchen surfaces/tools etc. are spotless too – there’s loads of advice about what you need to do on the Coeliac UK website.
For UK readers, I also wanted to give you a heads up on how deliciously tasty Sainsbury’s Freefrom Rich Tea biscuits are, and how well they work in this recipe. They are lovely and buttery, and not too sweet, which is absolutely perfect for a recipe which is unapologetically rich. I also added Freefrom Ginger Crunch Cookies – these give a hint of ginger and a lovely bit of chewiness too. Perfect!
The great thing about Rocky Road, of course, is that you can mix things up so easily – swap in different cookies and biscuits and add extra ingredients, like marshmallows, dried fruit or nuts, a little bit of spice, or other sweet treats – just make sure, if you need to, to check EVERY ingredient for gluten. Next time I make these (for people that I know like nuts!) I will add walnuts and maybe some extra stem ginger too.
I prefer a much higher biscuit to chocolate ratio in my Rocky Road than you will find in most recipes… try it, you might find that you agree.
Gluten-free Gingery Rocky Road
- 150g Rich Tea biscuits (or other plain biscuit)
- 150g crunchy ginger biscuits (preferably with added stem ginger
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 130g butter
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Line a shallow baking tin with baking parchment. The pan I used was 23cm square – but you don’t have to be too accurate about this – if your pan is smaller, the Rocky Road will just be a bit thicker.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a large pan with the butter and syrup. Melt them gently together, stirring occasionally. Make sure the chocolate mixture doesn’t get too hot.
- Put the biscuits in strong plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. You need to aim for a texture that includes bite-size pieces as well as small bits, you definitely DON’T want a uniform small crumb. You can do this in a large bowl with a
- Stir the biscuits and ground ginger into the melted chocolate.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and then put into the fridge for at least 2 hours, until it is set.
- Slice into small pieces with a sharp knife and store in a airtight box. These kept really well for 3 or 4 days – they also freeze and defrost excellently.
This is my favourite-ever carrot cake recipe, it’s full of delicious flavours and good things, and is not too sweet. Although I love a big round carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese topping, sometimes you want something less fiddly and quicker to make, and perhaps something without a load of extra calories. This recipe is so delicious it absolutely does not need the topping – so I bake it in a loaf tin and enjoy it in slices, fruit loaf style – you don’t even need a plate!
- 175g carrot (this is approximately 2 large carrots)
- 2 large eggs
- 70g soft dark brown sugar
- 75ml rapeseed oil, or other oil (suitable for baking) of your choice
- 100g self-raising wholemeal flour (or plain wholemeal flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 50g desiccated coconut (or 50g of ground almonds if you are baking for coconut-haters)
- 75g raisins
- Preheat oven to 190C (180C fan) or gas mark 5 and line a 1lb loaf tin (a rectangular loaf tin approx 19cm x 12 cm x 6.5cm) with baking parchment.
- Scrub (and peel if they are older carrots) then finely grate the carrots.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until they are very thick and creamy.
- Whisk in the oil, pouring it slowly in a thin stream.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
- Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake until golden brown on the top and firm to the touch. This takes about 35 minutes – check after 30, and if the cake still seems a little gooey to the touch but quite brown on top, cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more.
- Take out of the tin immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool.
The cake will keep in a air-tight container for about 3 days.
Pretty simple, I am sure you will agree. Do let me know if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how you get on with it.