Searching for the perfect gluten free chocolate brownie version 1.0

There’s been a lot on my plate this last year – probably why I’ve been putting on weight! That and comfort eating. Anyway, not going there. Suffice it to say that I’m needing more comfort food again, with my brother in and out of hospital, and in… and the kitchen and heating not working well, and roof leaks, you get the idea.

Well, not being able to temper chocolate as I need it at the moment it has given me the chance to try out brownie recipes (and I want to have a go at fudge ones too). I’ll just deal with one at a time. I try to find a silver lining in most things.

This one is a moot point as to whether it should be on here – you see, shh- I’m cheating. After all don’t we all try a packet mix from time to time..? Well I haven’t, so I thought I’d give it a go and look at what is in it and compare, contrast and tweak in future. It would give me an acceptable comparison.

So I started with Udi’s gluten free brownie mix which I got at Tesco.

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Hmm, so it’s basically sugar (and I can modify the sweetener in a variety of ways for future attempts), chocolate chips (which I can certainly use better quality ones than are being used here), cocoa powder (I can swap in cacao powder, although raw may be affected with the heating there are probably still more benefits to be had), and the rest is basically flours and thickener. Rice, potato and maize are over treated and over used, how about trying some different ones… coconut, almond, chestnut etc.

I bodged the recipe a bit as due to HH health issues we have gone low fat so he uses the lightest Lurpak, which is pretty naff, in the interests of a ‘normal’ recipe I thought I’d give it a go – cut with some coconut oil. What they tell you to do is…

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So off I go a mixing. I love my mixing bowl – it comes from a potter between Keswick and Penrith. I came across her at Potfest – which always sound dubious to me! 🙂 Wonderful things – if there’s one in your area, please make time to go. They have everything from 50p ceramic buttons to £5,ooo garden sculptures and everything in between. Here’s Jan’s site , well worth a look, we’ve got quite a few pieces from her over the years. I love the nestled mixing bowls – which I believe is a complete pig to make.

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I used these nuts -they either came from Lidl or Aldi, both these shops sell good quality nuts at a good price.

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I used my new measures that a friend gave me for Christmas, as I felt the need for hugs 🙂

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Off the mixture popped into the oven to give the following transformation…

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Now it is cooling before cutting I’ll pop up another picture later -in version 1.1, of it on a plate with a topping or what it goes with. I thought coffee salt sounded nice, or a fudge sauce, or warmed with ice cream. Better stop it there, I’m only encouraging small dog and his salivating 🙂 Not helping HH with his low fat diet either!

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A Grand Day Out

Saturday was a dog and boy free day so we thought ‘ Wahay!’ I’ve been planning out next year in terms of shows, food faires etc. and had been told that this weekend the Foodies Festival in Edinburgh’s Inverleith park was on. We wanted to check it out and see if it was worth going to for next year, so off we toddled.

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It was a surprisingly big event – both in terms of the number and variety of stalls, and in the number of people that came. A word of advice if you plan to go today, or next year – go early. I’m biased in that I don’t like crowds much, and at around the lunch mark you could hardly move! Heaving mass of bodies everywhere so we made our escape around then.

There was a surprising number of gin stalls…oh dear, too bad, never mind, what a pity! snigger….apparently it was gin o’clock quite early in the day for me!

IMG_4263I’ve seen this driving around recently so it caught my attention – as designed to do! It was pulling  a dinky little trailer which turns into…..

IMG_4264Ta dah! a gin cocktail bar!

 

 

IMG_4265 I just had to force myself to try the Lady Pickering – which I have to say was scrummy, slurp!

IMG_4266 The drink itself coyly hiding behind the array of spices and herbs that flavour the gin. I had a good talk about them which was very interesting.They do tours and tasting at the distillery  www.pickeringsgin.com

I was amazed at the number of booze, especially gin stands there were, here’s a quick review of some, not all by any means…

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We (me, he was restrained) staggered on buying a wide variety of cheeses, chorizo, olives until we were told firmly by a sign to…

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And being relatively biddable people, we had to do what the sign said….:-)

There were a wonderful array of light, fluffy marshmallows from The Marshmallow Lady  (www.TheMarshmallowLady.com) so we had to try and buy some of them, the quote from Despicable Me comes to mind – “It’s so fluffy!”

This just whetted our sweet teeth so our sensible eating plan degenerated further with …

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Perfectly made, chewy on the inside, lovely flavours, though I could have done with the flavours being a bit stronger, though no website to order from, but he is in south of England, so you probably want local macaroons rather than being in the post. What you could order through the post is brownies – which he also does….and so does….

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Amazing GF brownie, scoffed already, oops!, a wide variety of normal brownies of varying flavours, and chocolate spread. This is something I’ve been thinking of making as an addition to hampers for Christmas and perhaps corporate hampers. What is interesting is that when I opened the jar to try it this morning, there was mold on it! Not so good, and with a sell by of end Oct I’d not expect that, though there is a high cream content in it. So this is something I’m going to tell them about, and something to be wary of myself if going down this route.

All the sweet stuff, I had to get my savoury mojo back, aided by…

IMG_4284 SeaVeg dried seaweeds.

Tees is a huge fan of Dulse, I suppose he is Irish after all! He bought a LARGE bag of Dulse, with my caveat that he wasn’t allowed to sit down and eat it like a packet of crisps! Which he would left to his own devices! I sampled their many other varieties and came away with a free bag of serrated wrack for skin care and small jars of all their dried, roasted seaweed seasonings. If you use a mix of red and green seaweed in your diet you cover all your trace mineral needs! No added salt, just seaweed.

IMG_4286 With my therapist hat on I recommend seaweed baths for skin conditions, or boiling it up for a gel that is better than your fancy expensive serums…

Taste buds refreshed by salty things we had to heal ourselves using Chinese medicine by tasting other things, next stop, chilli’s.

I’ve been trying to get a local chilli for my chilli bars but although Ceres has Chillilicious they don’t do ground chilli, which is really what I’m after. Unfortunately, none of the other 2 or 3 chilli producers did either. 😦

I loved the Chilli Bothy stall though

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And of course, reverted back to my alcoholic habits, and bought Chilli and Lime Gin! Haven’t  tried it yet, honest! Getting Chilli on my tongue is like coming home, perhaps because I convince myself that it’s helping my joints…so on that note the Chilli Lemonade had to be tried, Tees woosed out with a lovely tasting Lime Lemonade.IMG_4267 IMG_4268The Fresh Lemonade Company and my chilli lemonade, with yes, Scotch Bonnet Chilli floating around in there. They have their lovely tart proper old fashioned lemonade and add the extras, shake it up Martinin style, et voila!

We went ostensibly to see what the chocolate competition was doing, how it was faring, and to check out to see  if it’s worth our while going.

Charlotte Flowers was there and Fiona Sciolti, botanical chocolates. They were the only 2 remotely like us. In fact they were the only 2 chocolatiers, full stop.

Interestingly neither seemed to be particularly busy – but my mum, has always said people don’t buy chocolates when it’s hot ( I do, but then I’m a chocholic), and it was hot. Perhaps there is something in what she says – people buy choc to make them feel good, all those lovely chemicals in there, seratonin, theophylline, etc, and people feel good when the sun is out so they don’t need to buy choc to get that happy vibe.

Anyold hoo, I think it’s worth our while booking this for next year as it will raise our profile. Though I’ll be behind the stall and not having a great time tasting everyone else’s wares…. mixed feelings about that!

If you’re interested in going, there are some great talks and demos, but they are very oversubscribed – so prebook online if possible, or get there early and get your tickets in advance – the queues  were horrendous for the tickets! You have been warned…