Adult Brownie Scotch Eggs

Many things led to this recipe! I’ve lived in Dublin now for 7 months (SEVEN! Wow, time has flown by!) and I realised I hadn’t cooked or baked with Guinness. This is poor on my side, one: I live in the home of Guinness and two: The Boy works for them, which has meant we have a lot of Guinness in the house! Plus Easter is just around the corner so we all need a good themed Easter recipe in our lives. Also, why should kids get all the chocolatey goodness…

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Ingredients

Brownies

130g Butter

200g Caster Sugar

3 Eggs

125g Plain Flour

½ tsp Baking Powder

150ml Guinness Extra Foreign Stout

Buttercream

150g Icing Sugar

300g Butter

60ml Baileys

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder plus extra for dusting

 

6 Crème Eggs

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 25x19cm tin.

Melt the butter in a medium sized bowl and stir into the cocoa until it forms a paste. Slowly add 100ml of Guinness, it will foam! Slowly mix together, this is why you need that medium sized bowl! Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until nice and pale. Add the flour and baking powder and fold together until smooth.  Repeat with the cocoa powder and remaining Guinness.

Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes. They should be soft to touch but baked all the way through, insert a skewer to check they are done. Set aside, and leave to completely cool.

Whisk together the icing sugar, butter and baileys until light and fluffy. Take about a third of the buttercream and place in another bowl. Add the Cocoa Powder and whisk until smooth to make your cocoa buttercream for the outside of the scotch eggs.

If you have a food processor, place the brownie in and pulse until they look like breadcrumbs. If you don’t, don’t worry! Break up the brownies into small ish chunks, using your electric whisk, on the lowest setting whisk until they break up and again look like breadcrumbs.

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Mix the brownie breadcrumbs with Baileys buttercream! Using your hands separate the mixture into 6 balls, approx. 135g each. In your hand, flatten one of the balls, place the crème egg in the middle and fold the brownie mixture around the egg. Squeeze together until you have a smooth ball. Repeat with the other crème eggs.

In a bowl add some cocoa powder ready to cover the scotch eggs

Now it gets messy…

One at a time – using a palate knife, cover the ball in the cocoa buttercream. Place in the bowl of cocoa powder and light roll around until they are completely covered. Repeat until you’ve finished all six!

ENJOY!

 

(N.B –  remove the alcohol and this is great to make with kids – you can even cover in sprinkles instead of cocoa powder!)

48 Hours in Edinburgh

The opportunity for me came up to live in Edinburgh for you a year…I say opportunity, The Boy got onto the Brewing and Distilling Masters course at Heriot Watt so being the loved up girlfriend I followed him up. I’m so glad I did. At first it was incredibly hard leaving friends and family but Edinburgh had so much to offer. So I’ve decided to do 48 hours in Edinburgh for all those looking for something to do. I’ve tried to add the links to most places (sorry if I’ve missed some!) to make it easier for you to book things. My main bit of advice regardless of the season –

ALWAYS HAVE YOUR RAIN COAT!!

Day 1

img_20160319_112021Start your day nice and early at the Caffeine Drip – a South African Café and Bakery. The entrance is just the door but head down to be welcomed and seated. Do start early as this place is incredibly popular and fills up quickly! My go to is the French toast with bacon and maple syrup. It’s unbelievably filling and will give you fuel for the day.  I naturally have a coffee but also highly recommend their smoothies. You definitely won’t be hungry if you eat all this.edinburgh-in-the-castle

Head up to Edinburgh Castle, its £16.50 per adult. Have a good walk around. There is a lot to learn here. Go to the Crown Room where, you guessed it, you’ll see the Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State which were first used in 1543 by Mary Queen of Scots! There can be a bit of a wait but it’s worth it. Look around the prisons (or vaults if you wish to use a nicer word!) that were used to hold prisoners of war during the 18th and 19th centuries. Then walk up to St Margret’s Chapel which is the oldest part of the castle. Take a minute, or two, to look over the edge and at the view, it’s breath taking!

img_20151124_115103Leave the castle and take the 1 minute walk to the Scotch Whisky Experience . If you have time and want to learn more about whisky (and remember you’re in Scotland so there is no E in Whisky!) take the tour where you will also get to see the world’s largest collection of whisky. Also the “ride” you start on is a bit of fun and an original way of learning about the process. If you don’t fancy this, head down to the Amber Bar. The ambience is incredibly touristy but the barmen will talk you through picking the perfect whisky. It’s great if you aren’t sure what you will like. My favourite is the Balvenie 14 year rum cask!!

Having had a couple of whiskies it’s time for a snack. Go to Lovecrumbs and get a coffee

img_20160714_131758and cake. It’s by far the best in Edinburgh, I took most people here when they came to visit. Opened by Hollie and Rachel in 2011 they have been rushed of their feet ever since. However, since then Rachel has stepped away, leaving Hollie to run the show. She’s doing a fantastic job, the cakes sell themselves and check out those signature swirls! They are expanding their menu from just cakes to include some savoury items too. Now fulled up on coffee and sugar head down to Grassmarket, which actually only has a market on on Saturdays but it’s a nice walk through. Head to your right and see Greyfriars Bobby, rub his nose for some luck before carrying on to the Royal Mile. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you can see the café where J K Rowling wrote the incredible novel, The Elephant Café. If I am honest don’t go in, it’s not worth it! Have a wonder down the Royal Mile to Hollyrood House and Arthur’s Seat!
The walk up Arthur’s Seat is a must. It can be a bit of hard work (I fell over, ironically
trying to avoid the smallest bit of mud!) but it’s worth it. The view up at the top is gorgeous. Be warned though, even though you are only 251m above sea level it can still get incredibly windy up there. On taking my sister up she mocked me for wearing a ridiculous coat until she got up there and realised why! We were nearly blown away. It’s perfect on a sunny day to just take a seat and watch the world go by.

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img_20160422_193326By this point, it’s definitely lunch time! Head back down and go to Salt Horse. They let different people occupy their kitchen so check out there website before going to see what you can expect. The beer menu is also on form and regularly changing, having the choice of 12 different beers on draught. They do only serve schooners and thirds though. For some this is okay as they are high in strength but sometimes you really do just want that pint of beer. Head to their bottle shop after and pick up a few cans. Someone here will always be willing to help you pick something! The staff are incredibly friendly. And take a meander down to The Meadows. Time for a bit of a chill. Have your beers before heading back and getting ready for you evening.

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The Dogs
, on Hanover Street is a British cuisine restaurant with a quirky love of dogs. The food and wine are both great. The pork cheek to share is definitely worth a go. Take time to relax and take it all in. Don’t rush!

 

If you fancy a few more drinks go to the Lucky Liquor for a cocktail, don’t expect anything normal, it’s definitely not there thing! Then move on the Panda and Sons (I don’t want you to have to walk to far now between drinks, these are all within 5 minutes of each other), another quirky cocktail bar. This one is a bit more speak easy as it masquerades as a barber shop. Go for the Monet Talks, it’s bellinis with a twist! Be the artist as you use the “paint” (peach, mixed berry, melon, and kiwi coulis) and prosecco to create your own drinks.

Day 2

img_20160311_113644After your busy first day time to relax a little! Go to Spoon  for a bit more of a lighter brunch. It’s got a great atmosphere and the waiters are always willing to help with any dietary requirements. It’s a very bright open restaurant with a homely feel. The toilets are great, covered in old adverts – see if you can find any you recognise. They use top ingredients and the coffee is fantastic, what’s not to love!

Take a leisurely walk through town and down to the Water of Leith Walkway. Go via theedinburgh-walkway Scottish Gallery of Modern Art . Remember to check out all the art, including the bits outside. It’s not massive but it’s nice to take a little mosey around, especially as it’s free you don’t feel as if you have to stay there all day. Also note that there are two parts to the gallery, one on either side of the road. Once you’re finished carry on down the Walkway to Stockbridge. If it’s Sunday you are there check out the Market. Pick up a coffee from the img_20160320_131703Steampunk Coffee stall, if you’re lucky their campervan will be there, before having a mooch round. There is a little of everything going on from crafts, to food, to of course alcohol! If there is no market take a walk around the boutique stores. For lunch take a quick 5 minute walk Smith and Gertrude and enjoy some cheese with wine pairing! If you don’t fancy more cheese head back into town and go to Checkpoint, it’s a nice walk to get there and the portions are massive!!

img_20160503_163332From here, go to Prince’s Street Garden via George Street and Prince’s Street for a wee bit of shopping. Admire the Scottish Monument and head up it if you’re feeling brave! From here go to the National Gallery. It’s full of some fantastic piece of classic art. You can lose yourself there all afternoon. Which is great if it’s raining! But again it’s free to get in so you don’t lose anything if you choose to only pop in for half an hour.

You’ve done a lot of walking by this point and hopefully seen some different parts of 20160228_105151Edinburgh! Reward yourself with the Edinburgh Gin Tour . This time learn about the history of gin and how it’s made. They also give you a G&T at the end so why wouldn’t you go? Pick up one of their bottles to take home with you – the Cannonball or Classic are my favourites. If you do have more of a sweet tooth though, go for the Elderflower Liquor. Head straight up to dinner at the Huxley afterwards, literally, it’s located right above it! It’s the perfect place to put your feet up and unwind after all the steps you’ve taken in the last 48 hours!

I hope this has given you a good idea of what to do in the capital of Scotland. On a side note…I obviously have no idea where you will be staying so mix it up depending where you are based.

Also if you are there for longer I highly recommend the following…or try to squeeze more in if you can…or incentive to visit again!

Edinburgh Zoo – they have Giant Pandas!!

The Jolly Ristorante – great value for money, massive portions

Cuckoo’s Bakery – more great cake

Mary’s Milk Bar – if its sunny get ice cream, if its cold get ice cream float hot chocolates

The Potting Shed – great food in an unusal setting

The Hanging Bat – busy craft beer bar

National Museum of Scotland – amazing artefacts, great building, and head to the roof for another view

The Balmoral Afternoon Tea – want a treat, this is a must!

Leith and Portabello

 

 

 

Andrew’s Mars Bar Crispies

So it’s coming up to Christmas which means I start to get requests from the family what to bake when I come home. This isn’t a Christmas recipe at all, it just happens to be my brother-in-law’s all-time favourite thing I make. At every opportunity possible he asks for it – I think it might even make it into his Wedding Dessert Table! It makes me smile how the thing he likes most in the simplest thing in my “cookbook”! It shows that things don’t always have to have all the frills on to be considered a great recipe. I enjoy making it and I love how excited he gets. So for me these Mars Bar Cakes have become all about him and without fail whenever I make them I send him a photo! So this great recipe is dedicated to my Brother-in-Law…

They are best eaten on the day they are made but do last a few days in an air sealed container (well that’s if there are any left!). Now pop the kettle on and get baking!

img_20160124_133601Andrew’s Mars Bar Crispies –

Ingredients

7 Mars Bars

170g Butter

170g Rice Crispies

300g Milk Chocolate, Melted

Method

Line a L34.5 x W24.4 x D2cm baking tray. You can use a smaller one if you want them a little thicker. Cut the mars bars into small chunks and place into a saucepan with the butter. Melt on a low heat continually stir so that it doesn’t catch and burn. This is actually why my brother-in-law gets me to make them, my sister is too impatient and has burnt the mars bars on many occasions! So remember really slow and steady wins this race!

In a large mixing bowl, pour in the rice crispies and make a well in the middle. Pour in the melted mars bars mix. Using a metal spoon, mix it together until the rice crispies are completely coated. Spoon the mixture into the baking tray and lightly press it down, insuring you get it into the corners. While this is cooling, melt the chocolate until it is silky smooth with no lumps.This can be done either in the microwave in 30 second intervals or in a glass/heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Pour the chocolate over the mars bar crispies. Leave to set before cutting into squares, either bit size or bigger if you’re feeling a little greedy.

Fall in love at first sight – Amsterdam

Amsterdam, well known for it’s coffeeshops and red light img_20160828_190253district, but really this is just a tiny fraction of this gorgeous city…

I arrived on Friday morning with the boy flying in late that night after work (sucks to be him!). We were only there for a couple of days, flying out Sunday evening, so we really felt like we had to make the most of every minute!

img_20160827_102408I’m only going to write about one meal, breakfast! We really stick with the rule that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Neither I nor the boy can start the day without it, we get incredibly grumpy if we have to wait longer than 30 min from getting up to having food and coffee! So headed out and went to The Breakfast Club down Haarlemmerplein. And man, I’m still dreaming about the pancakes I had!!! They were incredible! Honeycomb butter, fruit and maple syrup and so light and fluffy! He went for buttermilk chicken, obviously he didn’t share so I can only presume they were good. And obviously we had vanilla iced white coffee which was pretty good too once you give it a really good stir! I highly recommend you go, they do also do dinner and beer!

One of the things that was incredibly important to me was seeing Anne Frank’s house. Knowing I was going to Amsterdam I thought it time I actually read her diary. It’s a 20160826_125320.jpgbrilliant, moving book and gives you an insight into what the War really was like for those living through it every day. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get over how well she wrote. She’s an inspiration. Her dad helped her achieve what she wanted to, it’s heart-breaking to think she couldn’t do it herself. Her house, in the loosest sense as it’s really more of a few small
rooms, is right on the canal near the Westertoren Church (Anne writes about this in her diary!). I wasn’t really thinking it all through and it turns out you have to book tickets way in advance if you want to go into the museum and her house. However, from 15.30 it’s tickets on the door; this is when I actually did my research and discovered people can start queuing from as early as 9am!! I was torn between wanting to see more of Amsterdam and an iconic piece of history. I decided to pick up a super hipster cold pressed juice and head to the queue at 1pm. Thankful it wasn’t that busy, it was a Friday so I’m not sure if that had something to do with it, but I was feeling pretty lucky. I had my book so I was set for the next few hours. img_20160907_113932And I have to say, it was worth it. Reading the book is one thing, but seeing the place they had to live, how they tried so hard to survive is incredible, so moving. It’s hard to imagine eight people hiding out there, it’s so small! There are still pictures on the wall that Anne stuck on herself, as well as the bookcase they used to conceal the door. It goes on into a museum which has a lot of information on the holocaust and what happened to those in the Secret Attic. It will stay with you, everything you read and see but it’s one of the best things you can do. Be more organised than me and book your tickets the second you know you’re going to Amsterdam – http://www.annefrank.org/

Now let’s move on to the more cheerful side of Amsterdam… In 2010, the Canal Ring was
added to the UNESSCO World Heritage List. You can see why, it’s what makes Amsterdam so original. When I first img_20160826_134904arrived I spent half the day just walking up, down and around the canals. They are so pretty and very romantic, though I may have gotten lost a few times (not that that’s a bad thing in such a beautiful place). There are many options about how to get around on the canal but we went for the super touristy City Sightseeing canal boat. It was so nice just looking up and around and soaking it all in. We ended up staying on for the full loop instead of getting on and off and I don’t regret it! It took around 2 hours for the green route which went around the outer ring of the canal. It stops at many of the top attractions such as Rijksmuseum and Albert Cuyp Market. Apart from our trip on the boat we walked everywhere! There were a couple of markets we went through which is always nice. Lots of food and cheese samples which was great! We ate a lot of cheese! We also did the Bloemenmarkt, which was nice but I wouldn’t say you have to go out of your way. It’s very touristy, I thought there would be lots of flowers and bright colours but it was mainly filled with magnets and knick-knacks.

While we were there the Museumplein, the green outside Rijksmuseum, had been transformed, hosting the Uitmarkt festival with music, food and stalls of all sorts! It was great fun looking round and going up the selfie tower and taking it all in. The only 20160827_1144330downside for me was that the famous Iamsterdam letters were slightly hidden but it was worth it to see a different side of the city. I got a tad overexcited with the Mountain Dew stand where they were doing instant photos. Thankfully the boy also got into it (well as much as I could ask for considering he hates photos!) and I’ve ended up with a fun keepsake on my fridge. We didn’t go in to the Rijksmuseum as we didn’t have the time. We probably would have popped in had it been free but at €17.50 we couldn’t justify it for 30 minutes but just the building itself was amazing to walk around it.

As the boy is super into his beer and a brewer we obviously had to do the Heineken Tour. It was good fun and you get a lot for your money. I recommend pre booking your ticket, saves
you time as you don’t have to queue, which when you are only img_20160830_124155in Amsterdam for little over 48hrs ever minute counts. A highlight for him was seeing all the rugby memorabilia they have! We got three samples of Heineken, one in the middle and two at the end with our tokens (these are on your wristband tickets so don’t go losing them!). You enjoy the last two on the top floor which has a balcony looking over the city! It’s a great view, we ended up spending longer than we thought up there admiring it and a bit of people watching too.

Sticking with beer, I also recommend Brouwerij IJ! The brewery itself is located east of the 20160828_140144city. It is worth the walk! The beer is great and such a range of choices. We had managed to try a few of them at this bar we happened to stumbled upon the night before, for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, sorry! Brouwerij IJ is located under Amsterdam’s img-20161028-wa0029largest windmill which definitely adds to the reasons why you should go. The windmill is an iconic symbol of the Netherlands and would be a shame not see one while you’re there. The labels are pretty cool, all well illustrated and colourful. We also got some nibbles of cheese (of course!) and meat which went great with the beer. Sticking with traditions the boy bought a beer related t-shirt which I have to say was actually pretty cool.

Go, pack your bags and head to Amsterdam! There is so much more to discover…