Wednesday, 21 December 2016


Recipe of the week ... Mince pie brownies!

Ingredients: 300g dark chocolate, 250g unsalted butter, 5 eggs, 400g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 150g plain flour, 50g cocoa, ½ teaspoon baking powder, a jar of mincemeat.

Time taken: Half an hour to bake (longer if you’re drinking) and 35-40 minutes to bake (longer if you’re unlucky).

Hi readers,

Four days until Christmas!!!!!!

Can you believe it? Seems so surreal! Christmas 2016 is literally, actually, unavoidably happening in four days time. Craaazy. But for real. I don’t know if it’s how it falls this year on a Sunday, leaving many of us working right up until Christmas Eve Eve on Friday, or if it’s the warmish weather, or my foray into adulthood… but Christmas just seems to have come all at once this year.

It’s practically upon us!! Lord. I won’t go on but, safe to say, readers, I’m feeling more than a little dazed by the run up to Christmas this year. I’m still working. We’re still liaising with the client and supplying creative and invoicing for jobs and estimating for new jobs and interrogating briefs… and Christmas is in four days!! Chriiiiistmaaaaaass!

Only four days to go!!

Shocking, readers. But at the same time it’s exciting, too! Isn’t it? How about you? What do you think?? Is it exciting or is it horrifying?? Because, thinking about it, I’m all wrapped now. So I have put the stress of presents behind me. Which IS a big relief. My heart goes out to you, readers, if you’re still shopping! You can do it!

I’m just working and eating lots and drinking lots at the moment, really. Wearing Christmas jumpers every day. Whistling Christmas tunes. Fearing the approach of Christmas Day. Pretty standard for this week, I think? Does this sound like you?? I hope, readers, than even though we’re hurtling towards Christmas you’re RIDING THE WAVE. And doing okay. Hang in there!

Alongside the excitement of Christmas, we also have the excitement of a new housemate in the ChefBeHere household! There’s never a dull moment. CoolyColey has gone off to see the sea and so NOW we have a new addition in her place. Who has introduced me to the craaaazy recipe that is our recipe of the week… mince pie brownies!

These crazy things!

Mince pie brownies… have you ever heard of such a thing?? This is totally new to me, readers, didn’t know it was a thing until this week. But, yeah, mince pie brownies. Apparently they’re hip-n-happening this year and causing widespread controversy. What you do is you go to bake brownies – and you chuck a whole jar of mincemeat in. That is all.

And it’s WEIRD. You end up with something with a chocolatey look, a cakey texture, and the taste of a mince pie. A cakey freak of nature!! So strange. It’s good (obviously) but you sort of can’t figure out what it is that you’re eating. There’s a certain mystery.

Intrigued?? Course you are! Get on the hype and bake some mince pie brownies. You won’t know until you try! Here’s how to bake mince pie brownies, readers, in just 15 simple steps…

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C and pour yourself a generous boozy bev. My drink of choice was prosecco, while baking, and things turned out well!
  2. Grease a baking tin and line it with baking paper.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I was face with either a regular-sized square baking tin or a gigantic rectangular baking tin. I went with the square tin and my brownie was reeeeally tall and took a long time to bake, as a result. What I needed was a regular sized rectangular baking tin. If you have one – make this your weapon of choice. If you’re faced with a decision like mine, then do opt for the bigger of your two tins.
  1. Break your chocolate up into pieces in a pan.
  2. Add your butter to the pan and melt both your chocolate and butter together on a reeeally low heat. Don’t rush things – just sip your drink and keep stirring – or things will burn.
  3. When the chocolate mix looks smooth, take it off the heat and leave it to cool.
  4. Measure the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you’re blessed with an electric mixer then you’re going to want to put your ingredients in there instead of in a bowl. Trust me.
7.     Beat your ingredients together for 3-4 mins, or until they're pale and fluffy.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you lack an electric mixer – just give it a good go with a fork or a hand whisk for a few minutes (or as long as you can manage). If it looks any paler or fluffier than in the first place then good for you. Top up your drink.
8.     Stir in the now-cooled chocolate mixture.
9.     Sift your flour, cocoa and baking powder into the bowl, and then fold these dry ingredients in to the mix with a large metal spoon, until smooth.
10.  Gently stir in the mincemeat. 
  1. Spoon your brownie mixture into the baking tin and smooth its surface for an even spread about the tin.
    My beautiful brownie mix ready to go
  2. Carefully transport your brownie mix into the oven, and clean up the utter chaos around you. Get the dishes done and have a dance around, and enjoy the wonderful chocolatey smell emanating from your oven.
  3. Bake the brownie for 35-40 mins, or until your brownie looks crisp and is firm to the touch but with enough give that you can image it’s still a bit fudgy in the centre.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to leave it in longer if you’re skewering and your knife is still coming out with brownie mix on it. My brownie took its sweet time to bake! Maybe just turn the oven temperature down a little, to stop baked bits of brownie from burning.
Et voila!

  1. Allow the brownie to cool in its tin for a good while. Don’t try to cut it up before it’s properly cooled as brownie can be very crumbly if it isn’t yet set.
  2. At long last, lift your brownie out of its tin and cut it up into squares, then take to bed, serve to your guests, or Tupperware for loved ones / colleagues.

And that, readers, is how it’s done. How did you get on?? Did it go okay? Hope this recipe goes smoothly for you, readers, and your arm doesn’t drop off whisking! What do you think of mince pie brownies?? Do you like them?

I… think I like them. I think I do! They’re incredibly indulgent, aren’t they? But, then, there’s just something about their taste that you can’t put your finger on. Or maybe YOU can! Do let me know if you do, readers, I’m very interested to hear what other people think of these crazy festive brownies.

Hope you find the time to get your bake on, readers, and hope you have a very merry Christmas indeed.

Celebrate safely,


Mince pie brownies - give them a go!

Thursday, 15 December 2016


Third festive bake ... chocolate orange flapjack!

Makes: At least 15 decent-sized squares.

Ingredients: 160g soft brown sugar, 200g butter, 500g oats, 120g golden syrup, 1 orange, 2 teaspoons of orange essence, 200g chocolate chips (or 200g chocolate hacked into small pieces), another 400g chocolate, and festive decoration stuff.

Time taken: Half an hour to make, 15 minutes to bake, 15 minutes for topping and decoration, and then quite a while to set (maybe an hour or so?).

Hi readers,

Just checking in Thursday-style (i.e. with low pep and tired eyes). Not sure about Thursdays, if I’m honest. What do you think? How’s your Thursday panning out? Hope it’s not too terrible. Nothing BAD's happened to me this Thursday. Nothing, specifically, to strike me down. It’s just not Friday (the best day of the week), is it?

And it’s been so long since it was last the weekend. Four days in the scale of a lifetime doesn’t seeeem a lot, but walking into work on Monday it’s like the weekend is OVER. Gone. To lands far far away. It’s a distant memory. Another lifetime. A different you. Left behind…

So my week really isn't going badly! On the contrary, I’ve been shopping for presents, and we had a chocolate meditation at yoga, and I’ve stuck to my plan to eat marginally better than normal for a few days. Go me! I suppose the weekends are just so much fun at the moment, what with Christmas festivities. It makes the weekdays seem grey in comparison.

BUT once Thursday’s out the way then life is looking preeetty rosy, I must say. There’s a cheese and wine night lined up for tomorrow (yessss!), my Mother Bear is taking me shopping to buy a present for ME this weekend. And me and Suzeroo are going to don Christmas jumpers for our December meet up, and have a festive feast together on Sunday. Can’t wait.

How about you, readers? What’s on the cards for the coming few days? Is it fine food and much merriment? With friends and the famalam?? Or are you still grafting ahead of your festive blow out, sorting shopping and decorating and wrapping? Either way – I hope your next few days are filled with joy and laughter and happiness! I sincerely do.

There aren’t many days left to enjoy of 2016, so I feel we should all start trying to make the most of every last one of them! Luckily, clever you, you’ve chosen to spent a few minutes of your day reading this blog post. A fine decision. Today I write to you, readers, to share a recipe that came into my life this last Sunday. ‘Twas truly a wonderful and unexpected surprise. Like the baby Jesus.

On Sunday I had a couple of the girls over for a cosy Christmas afternoon in. I turned on the tree during daylight hours and lit all my festive candles, and we put our PJs on and shunned the outside world for an afternoon. It was glorious. KatieKat brought her Love Actually DVD and HorseyHardy brought along ingredients for a festive bake… chocolate orange flapjack.

This recipe is favourite of KatieKat’s and HorseyHardy’s, I gather, borne from Christmas afternoons in of years gone by. And this flapjack BLEW ME AWAY, readers. Do you like Terry’s chocolate oranges? Do you like flapjack? Do you like baking? Do you like Christmas?

If you answered yes to any. single. one. of these questions then, I’m telling you, as a matter of urgency you need to get yourself to a shop for ingredients… and get your bake on.

Want to SIGNIFICANTLY improve your Thursday? Here’s how you can make your very own chocolate orange flapjack, in just 20 easy steps…

1.     Pour a boozy bev and heat your oven to 200C.
2.     Measure your butter, sugar and syrup into a pan, and melt together over a low heat.
3.     When melted into one buttery mix, remove from the heat.
4.     Add your oats to the pan and use a wooden spoon to stir them in, until all your oats are coated in the buttery mix.
5.     Use a grater to grate the zest from your orange into the pan.
6.     Then, chop your orange in half and squeeze all its juice into the pan.
7.     Add your 2 teaspoons of orange essence (the magic ingredient!) to the pan, and then stir everything together.

Put your antlers on and shake them!

8.     Once mixed, put the pan aside to cool a little. Top up your drink. Dance around! Sing as though you were Tina Turner! Shake that thang!

9.     Once the mix seems to have cooled itself down, add your chocolate chips and stirrrr these in so they’re well distributed throughout the flapjack mix.
10.  Spoon the mix into a baking tin and then use your spoon to press it down, until the flapjack mix is evenly spread about.

Podge it about to get an even thickness

11.  Carefully transport your flapjack mix into the oven, and leave to bake for 10-15 minutes until the flapjack turns golden brown on top and your house smells godly.
12.  In the meanwhile, get your pots washed and why not mull some wine? When you’re in your kitchen, with ten minutes to spare, in December… Mull. Some. Wine.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If, like myself at the time of baking, you find yourself attempting a festive recipe but unable to drink alcohol – do not fear. KatieKat brought some non-alcoholic mulled wine over on Sunday, and it was lush! Found in a Dobbies garden centre, I believe, but keep your eyes peeled they could be selling it all over the place.
13.  Once your flapjack looks and smells like it’s certainly well baked, safely take it out of the oven and then switch the oven off.

What a bake... beeeeautiful

14.  Leave your flapjack to cool a little on the side, and while it’s cooling you can break your 400g of chocolate up into squares.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Depending on whether you prefer a milk chocolate Terry’s or a dark chocolate Terry’s (or you just love them both in equal measure!) – feel free to use either all milk choc, all dark choc, or a combo of milk and dark choc – to your taste.
15.  Either microwave your chocolate, or pop it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, to melt your chocolate.
16.  Pour the melted chocolate over your flapjack until it’s coated entirely.

So. Much. Chocolate.

17.  Use total artistic license here and top your flapjack with something festive. It might be that you want to rest actual segments of a Terry’s chocolate orange on top, or maybe you have some crystallised orange peel to chuck on there, tiny sprigs of holly… anything goes! We went for golden sprinkles, and this looked nice I’d say.


18.  Once your flapjack is looking mightily festive, and you can do no more, then carefully transport it into the fridge to set.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: For those of your out there with a dodgy fridge – hollaaa join the club! Honestly, we put ours in the freezer for a good portion of Love Actually, and this did it no harm. Flapjack is a hardcore bake. Put your flapjack in the coolest location you have, so that it will set as quickly as possible, but try not to ACTUALLY freeze it in the process.
19.  Once the chocolate topping your flapjack is firm to touch and feels pretty darn solid, pause your film and take it out of the fridge / freezer / igloo.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: At this point, we sprayed it with a load of shimmer spray. Just because I had shimmer spray! And HorseyHardy had never seen it used before! This is entirely optional – but if you have shimmer spray – I say why not??

So shimmery!

20.  Then, tip your flapjack out of its tin and cut into squares – as many as you like depending on how big or little you would like them to be. Serve to guests, share with friends / family / colleagues / housemates / the homeless, or Tupperware to live for another day.

Adapted from an original recipe, which can be found here

What do you think?? After all my gushing, I hope this recipe doesn’t let you down, readers. Because – to me – it tastes just wonderful! There’s that homely, comforting, oaty taste of the flapjack. And a rich, sweet flavour coming from the SERIOUS amount of chocolate involved. And then the fresh, zingy citrus kick of all the orange in there. Glory!

Once you overcome the hurdle of finding the magic ingredient, orange essence, which I know isn’t something you can pick up at the corner shop – then it’s just simple ingredients otherwise and straightforward steps. An easy, fun bake which tastes gorrrrgeous if you’re asking me. Tis a must-have addition to your festive baking schedule, readers.

I sparred with HorseyHardy trying to get her to leave as little flapjack behind, as she possibly would, when heading home in the evening. Because it wasn’t safe with me. I’d be on it like the Vicar of Dibley. My heart couldn’t take double digit numbers of flapjack squares. BUT she insisted on leaving a few squares. And sure enough… half an hour later.

My chocolate orange flapjack didn’t make it into the evening – let alone into work! Let’s see how long yours lasts.

Do mull safely,


Do it!