Is every brownie equal? Never! Most brownie recipes will ask for the same basic ingredients, but what sets one apart from the other is the quality of those ingredients.
Find out how you can instantly upgrade the entire depth of flavour, texture and richness of your creations. Here is a valuable list of key ingredients that you should have on hand so you can rustle up your favourite brownies or banana bread that will surely be a cut above the rest.
Keeping a sealed bag of high-quality chocolate chips in your cupboard could open up a whole world of baking options! Use them in chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, brownies or even as an inclusion in your banana bread.
For most recipes a milk chocolate like our Barry Callebaut 823 is an excellent choice, but you might also want to keep other grades of chocolate such as a dark origin chocolate, a ruby chocolate or a flavoured chocolate like caramel for other recipes. If you prefer your chips to hold their shape when baking treats like cookies and muffins, your cupboard chocolate chip staple should read “bakestable” chips on the pack.
If you upgrade your cocoa powder, in one fell swoop your favourite cakes will suddenly taste more aromatic and rich, your cookies will be less crumbly and more flavourful, and your hot cocoa will be bolder and more velvety. Cocoa powders range from Warm Brown and Robust Red to Intense Deep Black and they vary in flavour, colour and richness. Check the flavour profiles and select at least one variety to keep in your cupboard. You can also use cocoa powder when making chocolate buttercream for icing and filling cakes.
Also known as almond meal, this is a tasty and healthy gluten-free option. It’s often used in place of flour or as well as flour in cake recipes. They produce a moist cake and work really well as a pie base or in banana breads and brownies.
Vanilla extract is one of the most important baking essentials. There is a big difference in quality and taste between vanilla extract and vanilla essence. The extract is made by soaking vanilla pods in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and water. The flavour of the vanilla is taken up by the liquid ingredients which results in the aromatic vanilla extract we use in our cooking. Vanilla essence is usually a synthetic vanilla flavouring. By using this pure extract in your bakes, you can add a real depth of flavour and complexity to your cakes.
Mixed peel is basically candied lemon and orange peel. You often see Mixed Peel featured in a lot of British baking. Some fruit cake favourites include Marmalade Loaf Cake, Dundee Cake and Christmas Cake. It’s also favoured in teatime treats like Eccles cakes and Hot Cross Buns.
A little bit of mixed peel can also liven up a plain sponge cake mix.
Desiccated coconut will add flavour and a light texture to your creations. Whether it’s in a Coconut Cake, Bakewell Tart or sprinkled on top of icing to finish, this will go a long way. It’s also great in macaroons, lamingtons, brownies and cookies
Whether it’s dried cranberries, chopped apricots, sultanas or raisins, dried fruit is an absolute baking essential. So many everyday baking recipes call for some kind of dry fruit. A good quality dried fruit can add an extra zing of flavour to your favourite tray bakes, cereal bars, cookies or granola bars. They also make a great addition to breads and chocolate
Mixed, chopped, caramelised or roasted nuts are a staple ingredient for both sweet and savoury creations. Hazelnuts, flaked almonds, pistachios, pecans and peanuts are among the nuts you might want to have on hand. Choose the ones you like the best as often one type of nut can be substituted for another in recipes. Use them in your cakes, desserts, tray bakes and so much more. You should store your nuts in an airtight container or they will absorb moisture and lose their crunch.