I try and schedule blog posts, I really do. I try to be organised. Like with this chocolate flapjack recipe – well it’s a bit off the cuff because I never meant to blog it. I just made it one day because I was in a really bad mood about some sticker printing issues I am having with Mrs Bell’s Brownies. I was so angry I needed to bake. And I wanted something that felt like a breakfast item with added naughtiness. And this recipe for pecan and hazelnut chocolate flapjack was born. READ MORE
So as you all know by now, I make a lot of treats and baked goods. Of course I don’t eat ALL of it. I wish I were one of those people who could eat whatever they like and remain whippet like. I haven’t resembled a whippet since 1995. However, every so often I make something that really gets under my skin. I then tend to give it teenage music treatment – you know, where you play a record to death upon buying it? These are one of those bakes that I can’t stop making. They are good… I can only apologise.
Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm tray with non-stick parchment that reaches up the sides. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the flour and cocoa and beat again. Press into the prepared tin using clingfilm on the top and a tin to get an even base, then chill for 1 hour. Whilst the shortbread is chilling, toast the pecans in a frying pan over a low heat until lightly browned. Pour onto a plate to cool.
Next make the caramel… first, choose a method.
Microwave method: Make the caramel mix the butter, sugar and salt in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high until the butter has melted – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the condensed milk, stir and microwave for a further 3 minutes. Stop half way through to stir well. Add the double cream, stir well and microwave for 30 seconds. Leave to cool a little.
Hob method: Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the salt and sugar and stir. Add the condensed milk, stir well and turn the heat up until the mixture bubbles. Keep stirring on a medium heat like this for 3 minutes. Add the cream, stir well and return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat.
Scatter the pecans over the shortbread along with the chopped chocolate, then pour over about 600g of the caramel sauce – enough to cover the nuts completely and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for 25 – 30 minutes. The top of the caramel will bubble up and crisp, the caramel underneath will remain soft. (Keep the remaining caramel in a jar in the fridge and pour over ice cream or crumble).
Allow to cool and then chill the traybake in the fridge for 4 hours before cutting.
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I want my husband to eat more nuts. I am slightly obsessed with his diet, though sssh, he’s not aware of this. I haven’t verbalised this concern about what he eats. And it’s not as if he eats badly. He doesn’t at all! It’s just that he’s older than me and I have this irrational, pregnant fear that he will pop his clogs before me and leave me alone and lonely, wishing I’d fed him more nuts, seeds and vegetables.
So like a woman possessed I find myself making weekly industrial sized vats of nutty granola, buying tart natural yoghurt instead of anything remotely sweet and flavoured and ‘forgetting’ his beer and wine in the weekly shop.
When we first met he used to lament that we’d not gotten together earlier, when we were younger and I scoffed. ‘Oh no!’ I squawked, ‘We were busy sowing our wild oats – it’s better this way, less chance of affairs or any of that nonsense later on. We’ve done our experimenting.’ But as I am now the age he was when we met, I understand. I’ve come of age and I mourn for those lost years spent dating dreadful men who broke my heart. I wish I’d met him earlier. Less time spent sowing youthful wild oats might mean less time making them into granola now.
Makes a large kilner jar that holds 3 litres of liquid
80g brown sugar
200g porridge oats
30g sesame seeds
70g jumbo raisins
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3 and spread 2 baking sheets with non stick baking paper. Melt the brown sugar, honey and butter in a large saucepan until just molten. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the oats, seeds and nuts, then spread carefully over the baking sheets in one thin layer.
Bake for 15 minutes then turn the granola mixture over using a slice/spoon and bake again for another 20 minutes, checking for any burning periodically. You are looking for a golden brown colour to develop. Take the trays from the oven and press the granola down with a potato masher then return to the oven for 5 – 10 minutes until a lovely brown slab of granola has developed.
Remove and leave to cool. When cold break the granola up into bite size pieces and mix with the raisins. Pour into jars and enjoy with yoghurt/milk/fresh fruit or whatever you fancy.
Crumble means Autumn and Autumn brings with it sewing names into gloves, collecting pine cones, drinking more red wine than in summer and icy cold putting the washing out fingers. If you find yourself lucky to be bestowed with a bag of apples, plums or any other glut of fruit may I suggest you make a crumble using this topping. As for the fruit… well I used raspberry and apple and a small handful of sugar. Stewed until just tender and the juice thickened a little. You can use raw fruit instead, just expect a little more juice leakage. Serve with custard, cream or ice-cream.
Mix the pecans, flour and sugar then rub in the butter using your hands. I’m afraid I’m not of the belief you can make good crumble with a food processor. It seems to result in sand rather than rubble. Then stir through the oats and the cream. Use your hands to gather clumps of crumble, scrunching until some pieces are large and some smaller. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then use atop any fruit you desire. I bake my crumble at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 40 minutes until golden.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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Remember to check your inbox for a confirmation email and also to add my email email@example.com to your contacts. Otherwise I could go to spam.