Chocolate Banana Brownies

This is it for me, a whole new level in my vegan cooking experience.

These little beauties are so good, so moist, and so damn ‘fudgey’ I couldn’t be more pleased with them if I tried. Seriously, they are the culmination of my cooking abilities to date, and I am very alright with that. 🙂

banana brownies

1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C.

Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and salt.

In a smaller bowl mash both bananas until good and gooey. Add the maple syrup, corn oil, water and vanilla essence and mix together.

Add the wet mix to the dry and stir together until just mixed. Add the chocolate chips and stir in.

Pour batter into a greased medium sized baking tray, spreading it out level. Sprinkle with a few more chocolate chips for good luck.

Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until a knife dipped in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

And there you have it, my finest achievement in the kitchen, ever! (that involves cooking, anyway ;)). These are the best brownies I’ve ever made, and some of the best I’ve ever tasted if I do say so myself. Solid without being too heavy, chocolatey without being too rich, if you give them a try please let me know how you get on.

With the completion of this recipe I now have the six cakes and cookies I’m going to use for the recipe postcards I’ll be producing shortly. Might be a few weeks before they’re done, but I’ll let you know when they’re available to buy online. It’ll be a new chapter in Kiki’s Kitchen, and one I’m very much looking forward to. 🙂

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Shortbread

Don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but this is a damn fine recipe! Honestly, I’m having to restrain myself from scarfing down the whole batch right now, they’re that good! I wish you could all come round and have some to see what I’m talking about. Guess you’ll just have to settle for giving it a go yourself. Take my advice, do. You won’t regret it.

vegan shortbread

165g (6oz) plain flour
85g (3oz) ground almonds
165g (6oz) margarine
85g (3oz) unrefined cane sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Mix the margarine and flour together in a large bowl by hand, until the mixture becomes like the consistency of breadcrumbs (kind of).

Add the sugar and combine softly until just mixed. Don’t over-work the dough.

Roll into a sheet about 5mm thick, then using an upturned tumbler cut out as many cookies as you can (approx. 15), repeating the rolling and cutting until all the dough is used up. NB: I did two roll-outs then made one big uber-cookie with what was left over.

With a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray (greasing the tray lightly will probably work fine is you don’t have any parchment paper available) bake in a pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the outermost cookies start to go a little brown.

shortbread, straight out the oven

Remove from heat and leave to cool, sprinkling the tops of the cookies with sugar straight out the oven. Allow to cool completely before demolishing. 😉

Don’t mind admitting, I’m pretty damn pleased with this little creation of mine. These are some damn fine biscuits, soon to be one of six recipes I’ll be turning into a pack of recipe postcards that I’ll be making available to buy.

I have plans for four different sets – cakes & cookies, pastries, winter warmers and summer snacks – some of which I have most of the recipes for, one of which I have almost no recipes for (yet), but all of which will be hand packaged, numbered, and well worth your hard earned cash. Stay tuned for further developments.

Potting Triptych

Decided to get all green fingered, as the sun is out and it’s a Sunday. The result of my efforts are thus…

jamie pots

Someone got me a Jamie Oliver starter kit for Christmas. It’s a bit twee, but a pot is a pot, so I planted the basil it came with but swapped out the chives for some red chillies instead, as I already have some chives on the go.

lettuce

Decided to get some salad on the go again this year, as I always end up wasting half a bag when I buy any (not a big salad fan, but I do like the odd bit on me burgers). And just for laughs I got a pumpkin as well. Dunno how big it’ll turn out, but I hope it’s MASSIVE! 😉

windowsill

And finally my fairly well established windowsill. Only the coriander is new; the two mint plants, the chives, and the bonsai tree (not for eating, obviously) have been on the go for a while now. Gives me something nice to look at when I open my curtains in the morning.

Can’t wait ’til I get my own house with a proper garden, then I’ll have loads of veg on the go. Plus, some time soon, I’m going to start growing a dozen cherry trees so that one day, when I have my country home, I can use them to line the avenue leading down to the house. Then every year I can enjoy the gorgeous cherry blossoms that bloom, as well as harvesting the cherries to stick in my pies and muffins. That’d be awesome! 🙂

Bad backs, bakeries, and book publishing

I wish I could take my own advice.

I had this ‘great revelation’ about not doing vs. trying too hard, especially when it comes to my yoga practice, and then I go and over-stretch doing a sitting forward bend and pull a muscle in my back. Lord what fools these mortals be.

But, no experience is wasted if we learn something from it, and even though I was forced to take it easy for 4 days – which meant canceling getting my car serviced, canceling my trip to Brighton, and missing out on a yoga seminar – at least I may have learnt my lesson when it comes to exercising properly (I recognise the fact that, like a naughty puppy, sometimes I need to be smacked round the nose with a rolled up newspaper :)).

The reason I went too far is simple; I’m over-eager to advance in my practice and thus one day become a teacher. You can’t force these things, and I now have to admit it may take me a year or two before I’m of a good enough standard to teach. After all, if you can’t do, you shouldn’t be teaching.

hazel gingernuts 2

I do however want to teach, at least that much is clear. I’ve been getting distracted recently by the idea of opening a vegan bakery, so much so that it had become forefront in my mind. But it was only meant to be a secondary project; something to do in addition to the yoga studio upstairs. It was just the immediate possibility of the idea, the fact that there’s a gap in the market, and watching Stranger Than Fiction that shifted it’s position in my head. Really, if I’m honest, the idea of getting up at 6am every day and having to deal with the General Public does not fill me with heady enthusiasm. I mean I can do it, but I need to be doing something else too, just to help balance it out a bit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been distracted by ‘reality’ either. Back in the day I wanted to be an author. When I was 8 I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. By age 10 I was sending stuff off to publishers, and though I’ve yet to have anything published, I still write. However, what I write has changed throughout the years. It started with books, then comic strips, then movies, until finally I’ve come full circle back to books again.

I recently asked a friend of mine, if you could do one thing before you die to somehow make your mark on the world, what would it be? Now I’ve had lots of ideas over the years, things I’ve invented, memes I’d like to be taken up, but in the end it boils down to one thing: Before I die I’d like to get a novel published. I want to see my name on the spine of a book in Waterstones, squeezed in between Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson, then I’d feel like I’d accomplished something tangible, something that will live on after my death. How funny it is that, after 30 years, it all comes down to the same dream I had when I was 8 years old.

So there’s where I’m at at the moment. I’m going to finish the novel I started working on last year, whilst gently getting back up to speed with my yoga practice, and to appease the baking Gods I’m going to produce a series of recipe cards to sell online. That should keep me busy enough for a while, then in the summer I can reevaluate and see where I want to go next.

NB: Had some feedback on the script I finished in December. The friend I gave it to the other day to proofread said she picked it up to look at and couldn’t put it down again ’til she was finished. That’s the sort of stuff a writer wants to hear! No major problems either. The odd bit of dialogue that slowed things down a little (mostly expositional stuff that needs to be there, what they call ‘laying pipe’ in the business) but generally it sounds like it’s 95% there. Look forward to getting a more detailed analysis, plus the thoughts and opinions of my other proofreader, but it sounds like it’s on the right track so far. Happy days. 🙂

Hazel Gingernuts

I’ve been trying to come up with an original recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, and it ain’t easy.

I started off adapting my chocolate chip cookie recipe, by simply adding cocoa powder instead of some of the flour, but it came out way too dry. So I added more liquid, but then they came out like little flat cakes! (NB: Keep an eye out for a brownie recipe, coming soon. ;)) Then I got bored of eating half-arsed chocolate cookies, so I ditched the cocoa and came up with these instead.

hazel gingernuts

makes 15-18

1 1/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Sift the flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt into a large bowl. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

In another bowl mix the sugar, corn oil, soy milk and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix together until just combined. Add the hazelnuts and stir in evenly.

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Make golf ball sized lumps of the dough and press them flat on the greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until done. Cool on rack.

I’ve still got to come up with an original chocolate chip cookie recipe, but this one will do for now. Another notch to the bow. So far the reviews are good, which works for me. Hopefully if I ever do open my own bakery these guys will make it onto the menu. 🙂