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April 17, 2014

A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR

Got the blues? Immerse yourself in baking and reduce stress, sadness and anger with these delicious delights

Feeling stressed?

Lily Vanilli’s Biscuit Brownies

Not only do baker Lily’s chewy biscuit brownies (biscuits and brownies, united at last!) taste fantastic, Swiss experts have found that chocolate – specifically dark chocolate – reduces the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamine in your body, meaning you could begin to feel calmer within minutes of eating them.

Makes: 15

Ingredients:

  • 160g plain flour, sifted
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 30g unsalted butter; room temperature, cubed
  • 300g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) broken into pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 30g flaked almonds

Method:

Step 1: In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Step 2: Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or bowl over a pan of boiling water. Remove from the heat once melted and stir. Set aside and allow to cool a little.

Step 3: Beat the eggs and sugar together for 2-3 minutes, until pale and slightly thickened. Fold in the chocolate mix, then stir in the flour mix. Refrigerate for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180?C/gas 4

Step 4: Remove bowl from the fridge. Scoop up dessert-sized chunks of dough, round them with your hands and press them onto a lined baking tray, leaving a 5cm gap between each of them. Press almond flakes on top of each and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and cracked.

Feeling sad?

Peggy Porschen’s Lemon and Raspberry cupcakes

Not only are these cupcakes yummy, the smell of fresh lemon has been found to directly affect neurotransmitters in the brain, boosting levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Eat up.

Makes: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the icing:

  • 200g full-fat cream cheese
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the sponge:

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • Punnet of raspberries

For the sugar syrup:

  • 150ml fresh lemon juice
  • 150g caster sugar

Method

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 175?C/gas 4. Start with the icing, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, cream butter, icing sugar and lemon zest. Add cream cheese to butter mixture and mix. Chill until set.

Step 2: For the cupcakes, cream butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a bowl. Whisk in beaten eggs, sift in flour and stir. Pour batter into muffin cases in a muffin tray. Drop 3 raspberries into each cupcake. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Step 3: For the sugar syrup, boil lemon juice with caster sugar in a pan, then set aside to cool.

Step 4: Once the baked cupcakes have cooled for 10 minutes, brush the tops with sugar syrup while they are still slightly warm.

Step 5: Pipe a swirl of icing onto each cupcake. Top with a raspberry.

Feeling angry?

John Whaite’s Cranberry, Orange and Macadamia Nut Buns

The energy expended in kneading the dough can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels and quell anger.

Makes: 12

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 10g fast-action yeast
  • 200ml tepid water
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 egg u 40g salted butter
  • Flavourless oil

For the filling and glaze:

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g crushed macadamia nuts
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 70g of icing sugar
  • 35ml water
  • 35ml orange liqueur

Method

Step 1: Place flour in a bowl and stir in salt, sugar and yeast.

Step 2: Beat water, milk and egg. Add to flour along with butter. Mix well with a fork. Using your hands squeeze dough for a minute.

Step 3: Turn dough onto worktop and knead for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Drizzle oil into a bowl, roll dough in it, cover with cling film, let it rise in a warm place for an hour.

Step 5: Tip dough onto floured worktop. Roll into a rectangle. Spread on butter, sprinkle with sugar, nuts, cranberries and zest.

Step 6: Roll dough tightly. Trim and slice into 12 discs. Arrange in a deep tray. Cover with cling film and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

Step 7: Preheat oven to 220?C/ gas 7. Meanwhile, for the glaze put the icing sugar, water and liquer in a pan, boil, then simmer for a minute.

Step 8: Uncover dough and bake for 20 minutes, brush with two-thirds of glaze.

Step 9: Cool, separate and brush with remaining glaze.

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