I tend to cook a lot throughout the Christmas season, sometimes starting as early as mid-November, so by the time New Years rolls around I’m pretty much done. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to cook, just that I want to do things that are simple, stress-free and will be perfect every time. With that in mind, I want to offer three easy, foolproof recipes that can be made quickly and are guaranteed to be a hit with friends and family.
The best fudge brownies
If you’ve always been looking for that perfect fudgy brownie recipe that has a nice thin crust on top and lots of goo and chewiness on the bottom, this is it. Follow the instructions carefully and use very good quality chocolate.
85 g unsalted butter (plus a little to grease the mold)
170g dark chocolate
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
220g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 176°C. Grease an 8-inch square pan, line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides, grease the paper and set aside. Put the butter, dark chocolate and cocoa powder in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts until the butter and chocolate have melted and all the ingredients are well combined. You can also do this in a glass bowl set over a small pot of simmering water on the stove. Once the ingredients have melted, allow to cool slightly. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or electric hand whisk, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for at least 4 minutes (this will help develop that nice thin crust on top of the brownies so be sure to you mix well). Add the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes. A skewer inserted into the brownies should come out with a few gooey (but not wet) crumbs on them. Lift the brownies from the pan using the excess paper and let them cool completely on a wire rack before cutting them into squares.
Three Easy and Enjoyable New Year’s Recipes That Turn Out Perfect Every Time
Mixed Berry Bread Pudding
This is a twist on my Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding, but it’s just as easy to make and delicious without much work or effort. It’s also a great way to eat lots of healthy berries for breakfast or dessert.
350g brioche bread (cut into cubes)
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
175g frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries)
Preheat the oven to 175°C and lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. Put half of the brioche bread in the dish, add half of the berries and repeat with another layer of bread and berries. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla essence, and pour over the bread and berries. Press the bread into the milk mixture with a spatula, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes or until bread pudding looks puffy. Serve hot or cold.
Banana Nut Muffins with Streusel Topping
If you love banana bread (and who doesn’t), you can’t get enough of these muffins! Not only can you use all those overripe bananas on your counter, but you also only need two bowls and a muffin tray to whip up the entire recipe.
150 g) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 pinches of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
113g butter (melted, cooled)
300g bananas (mashed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
57g melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour (may need more)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 muffin pan with paper cups. Toast the nuts in the oven until fragrant, then coarsely chop them. In a large bowl, combine nuts, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the eggs, melted butter, mashed bananas and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir with a spatula until just blended. Do not overmix. The dough should be thick and thick. Fill muffin cups almost to the top.
Combine all streusel ingredients in a small bowl until chunks form, sprinkle generously over muffins, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
The writer is a pastry chef by profession and holds a Le Cordon Bleu pastry diploma
Originally published in Dawn, EOS, January 9, 2022