Falling prey to the clichés is easily done as a blogger. Aside from the fact that all of the above look seriously irresistible when scrolling through Instagram, there's definitely a pressure to keep up with the Jones's of the blogging world. There are so many talented, creative and smart writers out there, and it's easy to feel inferior and just a little fraudulent.
As time goes by, I'm trying to make a conscious effort not to sweat about whether my blog is as good as all the others that I love reading. Aside from the fact that it's a total waste of time, it also makes for a lot of unoriginal and clichéd writing - which is the last thing you want from a blog.
That said, there's no smoke without fire and, ultimately, trends don't tend to grow without foundation. The salted caramel revolution is a little 2013, but Pudding Lane still has a lot of time for the stuff. Throw in some toasted hazelnuts to make a praline then sandwich with layers of gooey chocolate brownie batter, and you've certainly got something trendworthy.
Of course you can save yourself a little time and buy the caramel, but it's so easy to make your own. I tend to make a big batch a keep it in the fridge for, you know, those moments when a sugar low hits.
150g caster sugar
125 ml double cream
25 g butter
1 tsp salt
75g toasted hazelnuts
150g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
70g cocoa powder
For the caramel, melt the caster sugar and salt in a heavy based saucepan. When it's golden brown and the sugar has just dissolved, remove it from the heat and pour in the cream. Being careful (it will bubble), beat the mixture to combine. If any lumps of sugar solidify, return the pan to a gentle heat and stir to melt through. Add the butter, stir to melt, and pour into a sterilized jar. Leave to cool.
For the brownies, preheat the oven to 160C, and line an 8" (20cm) square tin with baking parchment. Weigh the butter, sugars and cocoa into a small pan, and melt over a gentle heat until the butter is melted and you have a combined mixture. Don't panic if it's still a little grainy.
Remove from the heat, and crack in the eggs. Beat quickly to combine - the mixture should become smooth and glossy. Sieve in the flour, and mix until just combined. Next, pour half of the brownie mixture into your lined tin. Add a layer of caramel, ensuring you leave a few centimetres of margin around the edge. Try not to smooth it at all, as you'll end up mixing it with the brownie batter.
Scatter with the nuts, and then spoon over another thin layer of caramel. Top with the remaining brownie batter, and gently smooth into an even surface. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. You will be able to tell it's done when the brownie has only the slightest wobble in the middle when shaken.
Cool in the tin until just warm, then carefully lift the paper out and leave on a rake to cool completely. Slice up and share.