I am one of those strange and probably annoying people that likes to sit down every week and plan out our evening meals for the following week. It’s like a therapeutic task for me where I get the opportunity to sit down with my preferred cookbook, digest all the beautiful pictures and pick out a variety of recipes I’d like to try. Every week I’ll normally pick a different cookbook and find 5-6 recipes from one book that will keep us going and try to vary the recipes so that we have plenty of whole grains, seasonal vegetables, fish, meats and I’ll even try and sneak in a pure veggie meal if I can get away with it. Although the pure veggie meals tend to only get a mouthful down before Will asks the question, “is there any meat in this?!”
It might seem time consuming to cook like this but to me it prevents the daily question of ‘what do you fancy eating tonight?’ and then going and buying random rubbish or worse, wasting food that you’ve already purchased because nothing really works together to make a meal.
I love spending the time preparing for a meal and it never gets boring to me. How can it when there are so many different recipes to try and the best part is gaining confidence and making small twists to those recipes as you’ve now got the experience to know what flavours and techniques work well together. In my opinion, cooking only gets boring when you fall into the trap of ‘lasagna on a Monday, fish on a Tuesday etc.
I must admit though, whilst I have an OCD like obsession about choosing meals for Will and I, the struggle with coming up with things for Seb to eat on a daily basis is a real grind! I think a lot of that stems from Seb’s love of ‘one-pan’ meals, rather than eating a piece of meat / fish, a vegetable and some potato for example. In fact, since he’s really started to eat, I’ve yet to manage to get him to pick up a vegetable to eat! Disaster coming from someone who loves all types of food (although I must hold my hands up and explain that this love of all food didn’t come to me until very late in life). Of course, he’ll eat vegetables added into meals like Bolognese, Chilli or anything with a sauce, but getting him to just pick up a pea is a battle I have yet to win. All ideas are welcome to change this pattern – I’m all ears!
I’ve not done a lot of ‘sweet’ baking recently, mainly because I’m trying to prevent there being any cakes and cookies in the house that are all too easy to nibble on when you get a bit peckish or fancy something sweet after dinner. I am all signed up to the ‘if it’s not in the house, you won’t eat it’ philosophy.
But, it’s nearing the end of January, which must mean all those people that were being so good are thinking it must be time for a proper treat. And I think that a proper treat, really should be a totally mind-blowing awesome treat and it should come in the form of these Nutella Cookie-Blondies.
These are full-fat treats, no unrefined sugar here. Just plenty of butter, light brown sugar and chocolate, which of course makes them truly heavenly. They are a cross between a Blondie and a cookie because they don’t quite have the cake like texture of a Blondie, but still have that flavor you associate with a Blondie. The gooey centre is like an undercooked cookie, which to me is the perfect kind of cookie and the layer of Nutella is really just pure indulgence.
Get the ingredients in, (although you probably have most in the cupboard already) and bake these on 31st January, you know you deserve it.
Nutella stuffed Cookie-Blondies
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen
Makes 20-24 bars (depending on how generous your slices are!)
260g all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
230g unsalted butter
400g light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate cut into small chunks
16 tsp Nutella
Pre heat the oven to 180 and line a brownie tin (9 x 13 inch pan) with baking paper.
Begin by melting your butter over a medium heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly to prevent it burning. When the butter begins to brown and gives off nutty aromas take off the heat. Leave to cool.
Once your butter has cooled, whisk with your sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in your eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Don’t be tempted to over do it.
Add in your flour, baking powder and salt and slowly combine before folding through your chunks of chocolate.
Spoon half the batter onto your baking tray to form an even layer.
Dollop teaspoons of Nutella on top of your batter so that you have an even distribution to spread using a spatula / back of a spoon to form a Nutella layer. Don’t worry if you can’t make it an even layer, it’ll spread out on baking anyway.
Spoon the remaining batter on top of the Nuttella, trying not to disturb the Nutella layer too much.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the Blondies start to turn a light golden brown, but still have a gooey centre.
Leave to cool in the tin so that they firm up (they will still be very gooey in the middle) before removing to cut up into even bars.