Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Five years ago today, I wrote about rainbows and unicorns. That was when M was four years old, and the Rainbow Cake that I made for her birthday soon became one of my most visited posts on A Merrier World. Now, little M has just turned nine and the rainbows and unicorns have grown up into cookies and brownies.


And M herself is not so little now, either. Her ‘good toes and naughty toes’ have transformed into Junior Associate feet of The Royal Ballet School


But there is still plenty of time for dreams …


… and choc chip cookie brownie cake.




Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Cookie base
8 oz butter
5 1/2 oz golden castor sugar
6 oz light muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
13 oz strong white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz choc chips

Brownie top
5 oz butter
9 oz castor sugar
3 oz cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 oz plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and baseline a circular 9″ springform pan.

To make the cookie base, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs gradually, beating to incorporate. Mix together the dry ingredients then stir into the dough. Stir in the choc chips.

Press the cookie dough into the base of the prepared pan (I filled it to about 1/3 full and used the leftover dough to make a giant cookie, about the size of my hand …)

Put the pan in the fridge while you prepare the brownie batter.

To make the brownie topping, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. It will look like it’s never going to come together, but it does …

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the flour, then give the batter a good stir for about 5 seconds to strengthen it a little (there isn’t much flour in the recipe, so it’s okay to develop a bit of gluten to give the brownie some structure).

Remove the springform pan from the fridge and pour the brownie batter on top of the cookie dough. Level the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then loosen the sides and remove the springform ring.

Cool completely (I left the cake on the base of the pan because I didn’t want to risk losing the whole thing if it collapsed while I tried to unstick it … nobody seemed to mind and it made it easier to carry to M’s ballet class!).

Melt some white chocolate and use a fork to drizzle over the top in a pretty pattern.

Me, You and the Cake


Mum: How come you get to come first in the title?

L: Because I’m awesome.

Mum: And I am …?

L: Do you really want me to answer that?

Mum: Hmmm. Perhaps not.

L: Anyway, you should be asking how come the cake comes last. It’s the most important thing here.

Mum: Aaahhh …


Here’s the story. Yesterday, I decided to clear out my baking cupboard. I found … golden and flame raisins (left over from the Haroseth I made for a school Passover meal), cranberries (left over from something I definitely made to do with cranberries), dates (left over from a sticky toffee pudding I made for Boxing Day), apricots (left over from the jewelled rice we also ate on Boxing Day). These all went into a large casserole pan. The dried mango-that-went-out-of-date went into the bin.

I hunted around the kitchen and came up with three clementines, a lemon, a lime, a bottle of whisky and a bottle of sherry. I added the fruit juices and good glugs of alcohol to the pan. I stirred in some molasses sugar, light muscovado sugar, vegetable suet, cinnamon, ginger and mace, then put the whole pot in the oven for three hours.


Now … over to L for the rest of the story ….

Mum didn’t know what to do with all the mincemeat that was left over so I said, “I love mince pies, but I’ve had a lot of them lately. Maybe we could put them into something else I really love like… fruit cake! So that is how it came into being – ME! Mum said shed. No, that looks wrong. Try again. Mum said she’d (that’s better) make up a recipe if I took some photos. I told her she looked like she had a long neck like a giraffe in the jumper she was wearing, so she’d have to change if she wanted me to take any photos of her. Mum said she didn’t want photos of HER … she wanted photos of THE CAKE. I said whatevs and she went to change.


Ha mum, a photo of you!

So, I took a photo of Mum with some eggs …


… Mum mixing up some batter …


… Mum with a pile of dirty dishes …


… and oh, look! There’s me!

Made with Love Fruitcake

3 1/2 oz unsalted butter
7 oz golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
10 1/2 oz self-raising flour
14 oz mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and line an 8″ square baking pan.

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and mincemeat until evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown, risen and springy to touch.

Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Serve as slices of cake with glasses of sherry … or with dollops of custard or ice cream for a pudding.

The Wooden Spoon Adventures

Let’s all sing …

Happy 5th Blogiversary to A Merrier World,
Happy 5th Blogiversary …

Hmmm. Maybe not. It doesn’t quite scan, does it?

But it really is my blog’s 5th birthday (despite the fact that the Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake above has seven candles. I was never very good with numbers).

Five years ago today, I clicked ‘publish’ for the first time and held my breath as my chocolate brownie tentatively announced my new, official status of ‘food blogger.’ Since that day, I have discovered friendships among an online crowd of passionate food bloggers and bakers, I have entertained Rose Levy Beranbaum and her assistant, Woody Woolston at home and abroad, and even conjured up a surprise at Dart’s Farm for two of my most loyal readers over the years, Melinda and Jeannette. My Great Pumpkin Cake seems to have spread far and wide across the internet whilst my Rainbow Cake and Unicorns post has inspired other Mums looking for party ideas for their young children. And WordPress tells me that this is my 150th post (gosh, how did that happen? A nice round, significant number like that? 😉 )

To celebrate this milestone (and five years is not so very short a time in terms of internet history), I’m sending a wooden spoon off into the big wide world to stir up some trouble.

Here’s the plan …

A few weeks ago, I snail-mailed a wooden spoon to one of my first-ever blog readers, Melinda. She had very generously agreed to come out of blogging retirement to write a post on her own blog about the adventures this wooden spoon would have with her when she used it to bake a tasty, local treat. She had also agreed to hound down, pester, cajole or bribe another willing food blogger to accept this wooden spoon afterwards and to take it on a further baking spree.

True to her word (for which I will be forever grateful), Melinda has introduced my wooden spoon to the delights of a Lemon Blueberry Buckle, nostalgically reminiscent of her roots in Oregon. She has also coined a new word – spoonee. Thank you, Melinda, for being such a wonderful first spoonee!  Next stop, Portland …

And so the wooden spoon’s adventures will hopefully continue, passing from baker to baker around the globe and whipping up a storm of regional specialities.

If all goes well, I will chart the Wooden Spoon’s Adventures here on A Merrier World by building up a page of links to all the delicious recipes the spoon has met on its culinary travels.

As for the lavishly-named, seven-candled Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake … here’s the recipe as a special birthday present from me to A Merrier World and its readers 🙂 .

Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Cookie Base
3 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar
2 1/2 oz light muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg
5 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.

Gradually beat in the vanilla and egg.

Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough in the base of a 9″ springform pan. Put in the fridge while making the brownie batter.

3 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
5 1/2 oz plain chocolate
4 oz butter
1/4 tsp coffee granules
5 oz caster sugar
2 oz light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir in the coffee granules.

Turn off the heat and whisk in the caster and muscovado sugars until completely combined.

Take the bowl off the pan of hot water and whisk in 1 egg, the egg yolk and vanilla.

Whisk in the second egg, but be careful not to overbeat at this stage.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the top and fold in with a spatula.

Pour the brownie batter over the chilled cookie base.

Bake for 25 minutes until the brownie is just setting. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart

Although we don’t have a television, which possibly makes us a slightly unusual family, we do watch a variety of TV programmes via BBC iPlayer and 4OD. Recently, we enjoyed Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s latest River Cottage series in which he gave up eating meat for four months over the summer. The programmes in this series charted his discovery of new vegetarian combinations and dishes, ranging from simple soups and salads to lavish banquets and wedding feasts.

Perhaps the most intriguing creation from the entire series however was Laura Coxeter’s raw chocolate ganache tart. Prepared with a heady mix of pecans, medjool dates, avocados and cacao powder, it really is a work of pure genius.

The idea behind the tart is that it can be served to raw food eaters, vegans and anyone wishing to avoid dairy, gluten and soya in their diet. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t normally associate such a recipe with something that turns out to be richly chocolately and sinfully sumptuous. But Laura really did appear to have pulled it off, judging by the velvet gooiness of the ganache and the fervent lip-smacking of its tasters. I was inspired to give it a go.

Now, I have to confess that I’m not a raw food eater. Okay, it’s probably not such a huge confession – Laura’s the first raw food eater that I’ve ever come across. I did therefore make a few changes to the tart, which will no doubt have raw foodies shuddering in their graves. In essence, my recipe is more or less true to the original although not an exact replication.

The secret behind the ganache is avocado. Whizzed up in a food processor with cocoa powder and sugar, avocados form the basis of a smooth, luxurious texture that is normally achieved by mixing chocolate and cream. The whole tart is ridiculously easy to make – you just need to make sure that you’ve allowed plenty of time for it to chill and set before serving.

The finished tart got a thumbs-up from my children, and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to present it as the pièce de résistance at the end of a more grown-up dinner party. All in all, this recipe is just in time for the festive season. Happy Holidays 🙂

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart (adapted from a recipe by Laura Coxeter)

For the base
300g/10 1/2 oz pecans
1 tsp salt
200g/7 oz medjool dates

For the filling
4 medium, ripe avocados
150g/5 1/2 oz rice bran oil
Seeds of 2 whole vanilla pods
200g/7 oz cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
300g/10 1/2 oz castor sugar

Blend the pecans in a food processor, then add the salt and dates. Whizz them all together until the mixture balls into a dough.

Press the dough into the base of a 9″ springform pan. Chill in the freezer to harden.

Peel and de-stone the avocados, then blend the pulp in the food processor. Add the oil, vanilla seeds, cocoa, salt and sugar and process until smooth.

Scrape the filling onto the base and spread evenly with a spatula or palette knife.

Set the tart in the freezer for an hour before serving.

The Night of the Lemon Tart

I nearly entitled this post, “Happy Birthday Dear Blog”, for that’s what it is today. Two years ago on August 9th 2007, I first put the virtual pen to the virtual paper and told the world about my obsessive quest to find the perfect chocolate brownie.

Far from counting down the days to this second blogoversary, I only realised it was nearly time to celebrate when I published my last post about our candyfloss activities and was diverted into looking in the archives. I actually got a bit confused and thought we were further into August than we were, so I nearly added a postscript saying something like, “Oops, I’ve missed my birthday!” It just goes to show the addling effect of summer holidays on my brain!

This is the part where I should wax lyrical about all the things that have happened here in this last year … the culinary triumphs (had to get that in for you, Dad 😉 ) and lessons learned. When I look back however, this year has been as much about people as it has been about recipes and food. It has been  a year filled with the excitement of meeting face to face with friends I’ve met through this blog … Rose Levy Beranbaum, Melinda and Jeannette. It has also been a year in which I’ve travelled the world virtually, from Canada to America, the Caribbean to Azerbaijan, getting to know the most wonderful fellow food bloggers on my journey.

This blog has become more than just an online record of recipes. It is a true sharing of experiences and point of connection with my family and friends.

In celebration of this second year of A Merrier World, I’d like to leave you with the most wonderfully sublime, dreamily ethereal lemon tart I’ve ever tasted. I’ve made it several times since I first found Ellie’s recipe on A Kitchen Wench. Yesterday, I made it again for friends who came to dinner.

It’s a tart to die for.

lemon tart

It’s a tart to sink your teeth into, to roll around your tongue and drift away on the smooth, lemon custard of its filling. I can feel my mouth watering as I write, so please excuse me while I go to drool over a slice of the real thing!

lemon custard