So this is Christmas

Well, lo and behold, Christmas is around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel very festive this year. A lot of us will be glad to see the back of 2016 and after all that’s happened, we might wonder why we’re bothering to celebrate. We’re faced with a ridiculous pressure to spend money, go to parties and buy presents that no one really wants. Christmas can be a very special time (especially for kids) but we often get caught up in its consumerism and forget what it’s really about: caring for and sharing with others, particularly those who really need it.

I don’t really need or want anything so this year I’ve asked my family to give a donation to the Huggard Centre instead of buying me presents. We can all help this Christmas by donating to a local foodbank or buying some extra festive goodies when shopping and leaving them at supermarket drop-off points. A box of mince pies and a Terry’s chocolate orange is bound to make someone’s Christmas a little bit nicer.

If you’re lucky, it’s likely that you’ll find a Terry’s chocolate orange at the bottom of your stocking so I’ve tried to recreate that Christmas morning magic with my recipe for dark chocolate orange brownies. Baking them fills the house with the smell of Yuletide and will make even the soberest of Scrooges smile nostalgically. If all else fails, this playlist might instil a bit of cheer. Things can only get better in 2017.

These brownies are gluten free, although you can use ordinary plain flour if you prefer. And if you’re allergic to nuts, substitute the ground almonds with the equivalent amount of flour.

Chocolate brownies 2.jpg
They’re not Terry’s…

Dark chocolate orange brownies

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 75g rice flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ oranges, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp date/maple syrup
  • 300ml almond, soya or oat milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Break 150g of the chocolate into small pieces and place into a microwaveable bowl. Heat on medium power at 60-second intervals until melted. Set aside and allow to cool. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds (if using), the date syrup, orange zest and juice, almond milk and a pinch of salt, and stir well. Now, add the melted chocolate and the remainder of the chocolate, cut into small chunks, and stir into the mixture.

Grease a square baking tin (roughly 20cm) with a little oil and line with greaseproof paper. Pour the brownie mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until cooked on the outside but still gooey in the middle. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then turn out into a wire cooling rack. These will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days, although they’re so deliciously moreish they might not last that long…

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