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.
My last Christmas recipe for you before I take a blogging break for the next few days. But it’s a real goodie, I promise, and so quick and easy to do. These Christmas-spiced muffins, scented with the warm flavours of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice and packed with the deliciously sweet chunks of marzipan and sharp fruitiness of currants, really hit the spot if you are a fan of a Christmas stollen but haven’t got round to making/buying one. They’re also brilliant if you love those rich spicy flavours of Christmas, but fancy something a bit lighter for festive breakfasts and coffee-time treats.
If you don’t have marzipan spare, or you don’t like marzipan (NO!) you can add more currants, or other dried fruit, or some almonds maybe, and up the sugar content to 75g. I have included a list of spices to add – but another option is to use a level teaspoon of a pre-mixed Speculaas spice mix, or a level teaspoon of the leftover spice mix from my recipe for speculaas cookies.
If you want to line the muffin tin with baking parchment rather than muffin cases – here’s how to do it.
Spiced Christmas Muffins with Marzipan
- 250g self raising wholemeal flour (you can use white flour if you prefer, or a mix of the two)
- 50g butter
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- pinch of ground coriander
- pinch of ground allspice
- pinch ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g granulated sugar (75g if you aren’t using the marzipan)
- 100g currants
- 50-100g marzipan (whatever you have spare is fine), cut into small 1cm cubes
- 2 eggs
- 250ml buttermilk (or half and half plain milk and natural yogurt, or even just milk will do)
- handful of flaked almonds for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190C (170C fan). Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases.
- Rub the butter into the flour until you have a fine sandy mixture. You can do this by hand or machine, either is fine.
- Stir in the baking powder, spices, sugar, currants and marzipan chunks.
- Measure the buttermilk (or equivalent) into a jug and then beat in 2 eggs.
- Add the liquid mixture to the flour and stir very gently until just combined. Don’t beat it, and don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy – the key to a good light muffin is to stir as little as possible.
- Fill the muffin cases, sprinkle with the flaked almonds and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are firm to the touch and just lightly browned.
- These are best eaten while fresh and warm from the oven. If you want to eat them for breakfast you can prepare the dry ingredients and the wet (keep the milk/egg mix in the fridge), and line the muffin tin the night before, then they only take about 30 minutes to get ready in the morning. They also freeze well and can be reheated after freezing by wrapping them in foil and putting them in a hot oven (Gas 7/220C (200C fan) for 5-7 minutes.
Hope you enjoy these over the Christmas holidays! Have a wonderful time. 🙂