Three (or more!) ingredient Nutella Brownies

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I’m pretty skeptical about “three ingredient” anything. Besides, I know I’ll never stick to it. And why would I? Most recipes are improved by the addition of some easy detail. Fresh herbs or a sprinkle of spice. A squeeze of citrus. One of my favourite Aussie food blogs Stonesoup is all about five ingredient recipes. I’ve made a bunch of things on there that have been great, but a lot of time I end up adding three or four more things to the mix. What can I say? I bore easily. I can’t leave well enough alone.

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When I first turned to these Nutella brownies it was mostly out of desperation. I was ill and craving baked goods and there was no sugar in the entire house. None. But there was… chocolate spread. Anyway, I didn’t think it would yield a terribly exciting result, but I went for it anyway.

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I’m glad I did, because actually these are pretty excellent brownies. Soft and gooey and chewy, with that crackling effect on the top that I like so much (which, I suspect has something to do with the eggs). I only made a half batch and they were gone in two days. They were so good I made them again later in the week, so I could photograph and share. Of course my brownies ended up with five ingredients instead of three, but they’re still super simple and suuuuper good. I added hazelnut chocolate to my second batch, but you can add whatever you like.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Nutella
heaped 1/2 cup of plain flour
2 eggs
pinch salt
extras

 

Method:

Combine ingredients! Bake at about 180 degrees for around 20 mins.

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Ginger Wieners

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Believe it or not, I have only used this dachshund cookie cutter once since buying it about a year and a half ago. Luckily, not only is my sister’s enthusiasm for sausage dogs equal to my own, but her enthusiasm for gingery baked goods is unsurpassed. So, when she was visiting last week we set out to bake some ginger wieners and stegosaurus.

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Setting out to create a dairy free gingerbread, I googled a few recipes. But in the end we turned to my old favourite, substituting a few of the ingredients for dairy free/heathier options. We went for coconut oil instead of butter, which tasted weird in the batter (some of which we may have eaten raw, with icing), but which when baked blended in perfectly. For the flour we used a combination of almond meal, wholemeal flour and plain.

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Actually I had to make this recipe twice, since the first time I only photographed the finished product. The second time I had no eggs in the house so used chia as an egg replacer, making them vegan, which turned out great.

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Miraculously this recipe results in some of the best gingerbread I’ve ever made. The combination of ingredients makes the dough easier to handle, which means less extra flour for rolling, resulting in a softer biscuit. Plus, the almond meal and wholemeal give the gingerbread an appealing speckled appearance, and a chewier more robust texture, which holds the oodles of spice I like to put in my cookies just perfectly.

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Because when it says 1 tbsp of any spice you always put in, like, twice that, right? I know I do. This recipe uses the real amount of spice you should put in. Dial it back a notch if you’re not into the potent tasting things. Anyway, Sarah and I ended up only wanting to eat one each, but didn’t want to miss out on trying them both. So we broke them down the middle and made little mutant gingerbread things!

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The second batch were just boring old teapots. But they were just as delicious and appropriate as study fuel.

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Ingredients:
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 egg yolk or chia egg replacer
1 cup almond meal
1 cup wholemeal flour
½ cup plain flour
1.5 tbsp ground ginger
1.5 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarb soda
plain flour to dust
vegetable oil for greasing or baking paper

Royal icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg white
food colouring
decorations (like sprinkles or smarties!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to about 160 fan forced. Combine coconut oil, sugar and molasses. Add egg yolk. Gradually add in dry ingredients until mixture forms a firm dough. Refrigerate dough for at least half an hour, until firm. Roll out dough with a rolling pin, or a big cylindrical jar or glass. Cut and lay out on baking trays. Cook for 10 minutes and lay out to cool. Keep the oven on.

While the cookies are cooling beat egg white until it forms soft peaks. Sift in icing sugar. At this point you can set aside a spoonful if you want to give your critters eyes. Add food colouring of your choice to the rest of the icing. At this point Sarah made a second batch of icing with cocoa replacing some of the icing sugar and we used that to ice the dogs. Just have fun with it. To make the eyes we used toothpicks, which we first dipped in the white to put a blob where we wanted an eye and then dipped in the brown to make a second smaller blob in top of that. When your cookies are iced whack them back in the over for a minute to set the icing. Let the cookeis cool a little: and you’re done! Go make a cup of tea.

Dark chocolate cashew spice cookies

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Last night I realised it’s actually only a few weeks away from Christmas and holy crapsticks I have a lot of stuff on in December/January and I’m going to have to be on top of that. Luckily I’m spending this weekend at my mum’s place, where things are quiet, because from here on in it’s all Christmas parties, Christmas lunches, music festivals and travel. There are cocktails to drink, costumes to assemble and several flights to successfully catch. There’s also a bunch of boring administrative stuff I have to get done. Oh, and I’m going hiking.

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Which brings me rather clumsily to these cookies. Because, look, there’s no clear segue between my holiday plan freakout and the cookies or between the individual holiday events themselves. Both the cookies and these next two months are packed full of complex events. As complex as my feelings about the word “cookies”, as complex as my attitude towards this calm spell and the possibility of its ending. There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon, but at present I’d just as much enjoy a morning curled up with my kindle. This is all tied in with the fact that I’ve almost finished book four of A Song of Ice and Fire and the idea of finishing the series (thus far) fills me equally with eagerness and dread. The best thing about catching up to what’s been published will be knowing I can’t go any further, meaning I’ll have to get back to important real-life things. At least when the next book finally comes out, I’ll have a payoff for all the work I’ve been forced to do in its absence.

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If I could hand these cookies over to George R. R. Martin as encouragement to please write faster I would. And if he were as much the Santa Claus of fantasy epics as he appears, I’m sure these would make an ample offering. But I know first-hand that these things can’t be rushed, no amount of cookies will get me that elusive sixth book. This year I wrote not even a quarter of the length of one of his books and called it an accomplishment. Tenuously this brings me back to cookies. I only made four from this batch and squirrelled the rest away, because right now I have the calm and space to make unwarranted baked goods. The rest of the dough is rolled up in a piece of baking paper in the freezer, waiting to be thawed out when things get too hectic and baked goods become warranted again. In the meantime I guess I’ll begin the printing of boarding passes and wrapping of gifts, knowing that very soon I won’t have any time to bake or read or bemoan the time it takes to write a book. Christmas is coming.

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Ingredients:

125g butter
½ caster sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp finely ground coffee beans
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
200g dark chocolate
½ cup roughly chopped roasted cashews (salted or unsalted)

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar. Combine with egg. Gradually mix in flour, spices and coffee. Finally, add dark chocolate and cashews. Either form into balls and squash onto lined baking tray right away or roll into a tube of baking paper and store in freezer or fridge until needed. If using baking paper method you can unwrap dough as needed and slice into rounds. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 160 degrees fan forced. Leave to cool for ten minutes before moving from tray.