Hello Dear Reader,
I have a feeling that this blog will hit a nerve. At this time of year, the brownies, the scouts, the local football team, the playgroup, the Sunday school, the church group are all having fund raisers. You may well feel that you might as well give them your chip and pin and be done with it! I consider myself to be a generous person and often recycle things to the charity shop that I could sell at a car boot sale or on the flea-bay. However, like many people I don't have access to ready cash but I don't want to appear to be Ebenezer when so many good causes need the donations more than ever before.
It's at these times that I get my pinny on and start cooking. Ingredients, especially baking ingredients can be expensive which means I turn to bargain basement supermarkets such as Lidl or Aldi to get my ingredients so I can cook something that will help bring in the funds without totally depleting mine. To make sure I have an adequate donation, I'm cooking half tonight and the other half tomorrow night. I've begged, borrowed and stolen every biscuit tin and tub I can get hold of so they will be sealed, totally air tight until they are needed on Friday.
A huge favourite as a fund raiser as it can be cut into small pieces and sold in bags of four are Chocolate Brownies. I made triple chocolate Brownies (well quadruple as I used cocoa, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate) I doubled the mixture and made two tins. I leave them to cool completely before I cut them into sixteen pieces. Every single piece has enough calories and deliciousness to double the membership of my local weight watchers group! I used Aldi's chocolate, which I chopped into chunks which meant each cake had under £1 of chocolate but is actually totally luxurious.
Here's the finished tins of brownies which I will leave to cool until morning and then cut them up and store them in an air tight tin until they are needed. They will last two or three days if you can resist the temptation before taking them to your children's Christmas Bazaar.
To make two cakes I used:
660g granulated sugar
360g of marg
50 ml water
4 beaten eggs
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
300g of plain flour
150g of cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking powder
200g of chopped chocolate, white, milk and dark
1. Melt the butter and add to the sugar and vanilla extract
2. Add beaten eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa
3. Add chocolate.
4. Pour equal measures into two square baking tins (tray bakes tins)
Cook on 180 degrees for 45 mins to 1 hour. Mine needed an hour.
Next I made Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Peanut cookies.
160g of sugar
2 drops vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
200g plain flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1 level teaspoon of baking powder
1 bar of dark chocolate (100g) chopped into chips
Three chocolate peanuts per cookie - I used Aldi's own version.
1. Beat sugar and marg together
2. Mix in egg, vanilla, cocoa, flour and baking powder,
3. Add chocolate chips.
4. Form into walnut size balls and place on baking tray with baking paper.
5. Flatten with fingers and add three chocolate peanuts per cookie.
Bake for 15 - 25 minutes.
Finally, I made the world's easiest luxury chocolate cake
225g of marg
4 beaten eggs
225g of sugar
225g of SR flour
2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa
Beat the lot together in bowl and divide into two line sandwich tins, bake for 30 minutes at 180.
To fill - Use Aldi's version of Nutella - just the same and half the price
To top - melt one bar of milk chocolate and decorate with white chocolate buttons. Allow the cake to cool completely before decorating.
Any one of these cakes or cookies would make a great but cheap donation and people will think you've gone to a lot of time and effort where in fact they are quick and easy. They may not be the cheapest cakes to make as I've used eleven free range eggs and lots of cocoa. The rest was relatively cheap and I can donate frugally without making a dent in my finances.
Over to you Dear Reader, anyone else, especially those with children find the expected donations, shepherd's costume and everything made from a doily particularly expensive at this time of year. I remember I had to be creative to get round the expectations.
I'll be back tomorrow with part two of the frugal Christmas donations.