P B & J Brownies

Peanut Butter and Jam is a flavour combination you really have to convince people to try. It’s a bit like telling a non-Brit that cheese and pineapple sticks are the best canapé ever. They scrunch their face up a bit and look at you like you’re potty until they try it and see the light. It sounds too weird to work.

There is just something about sweet and savoury combinations that really get me salivating. Peanut butter is salty, savoury and thick on the palate; pair that with a sweet, zingy jam to cut through the gacky peanut butter and you’re winning. 

Now I know you’re probably thinking that if PB& J is so good why screw with it by putting it in a brownie? Because my friends, I like to think of brownie as a blank canvas, waiting to be adulterated with naughty, new friends. A chocolate brownie in itself is a fine thing. Chewy at the edges and gooey in the middle, but I look at that gnarly top and think “what can I dress this with?” And because of this I’ve found out that you can put pretty much anything in a brownie and it will be amazing.

Ingredients 

  • 300g dark chocolate 
  • 200g butter
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g raspberry jam
  • 100g peanut butter

For the topping:

  • 200g double cream
  • 200g peanut butter
  • 200g White Chocolat 
  • Salted peanuts, chocolate chips and a little extra jam to decorate 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C or gas Mark 3. Line a square cake tin with non-stick parchment.
  2. Using a Bain Marie, melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl. Then add the sugar and stir until all the sugar has been incorporated. 
  3. Next add the eggs one at a time, combining fully between each one.
  4. Lastly stir in the flour and make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Pour the brownie batter in to your prepared tin. 
  6. Use a tea spoon to dot the brownie batter with blobs of peanut butter and jam. 
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The brownie should be risen and a little crusty on top, but still feel relatively wobbly.
  8. Leave the brownie to cool for at least an hour.
  9. When the brownie as reached room temperature you can prepare the topping.
  10. First heat the cream in a pan until just before it starts to simmer. 
  11. Stir in the peanut butter so that melts completely.
  12. Place the white chocolate in a bowl and pour the peanutty cream over. Stir until all the chocolate has melted.
  13. Pour this mixture over your brownie.
  14. Scatter the topping with peanuts and chocolate chips and a few swirls of jam.
  15. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, so that the topping is completely firm.
  16. Use a sharp knife to cut into neat squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container and consume within 3 days. It won’t be hard.



Creme Chocolat with Rose Chantilly

We don’t really celebrate Valentines Day in this house. We are way to cynical. Also the thought of my husband presenting me with some naff red roses and a Dairy Milk Tray make me cringe so hard it hurts. 

This pudding is really quick but it’s got a sexy French name and I’m sure you could lick it from a spoon in a suggestive manner if you felt that way inclined, which is why I think it would make a very nice ending to a romantic meal. It needs at least 2 hours to chill in the fridge, but you could make the chocolate cream the day before and put the cream on just before you serve it. 

Bonus point: there’s lots of whipping involved which is great for bingo wings. 


Ingredients

  • 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 300g double cream
  • 150g whole milk
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp rose water
  1. Put 150g of double cream and all of the milk in a pan and heat on a medium flame.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Slowly pour the hot cream and milk mixture into the egg, whisking constantly.
  4. Return this back to the pan and cook over a low heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened to the consistency of custard.
  5. Pour half of this on to the broken chocolate and stir until completely smooth.
  6. Pour the remaining custard into the melted chocolate and beat until smooth and glossy.
  7. Pour the chocolate cream into the vessel of your choice. Pretty tea cups, fancy glasses and jam jars all work well. As does a normal dish.
  8. Gently tap the pots of chocolate on the work top to get rid of the bubbles.
  9. Lick the bowl so that no chocolate goodness is wasted.
  10. After a minimum of 2 hours the chocolate should be set enough to decorate.
  11. To make the Rose scented chantilly, place the remaining cream and sugar into a bowl with the Rose water and vanilla. Whip until it forms soft peaks and is light and airy.
  12. Pipe or spoon on to the chocolate cream. Decorate with berries, rose petals and chocolate shavings. 

Blood Orange Tart

When you work as a pastry chef in a bakery where artificial colouring is outlawed, things start to get a little brown at this time of year. All summer we work with vibrant hues of pinks, purples and yellow. Autumn brings us beautiful purple and red shades from plums and spring brings us fluorescent pink from Rhubarb. There isn’t really a lot of colour to work with at this time of year. That is until blood orange season is upon us!

Blood oranges are in season from mid January to early March, so not long at all really. They get their beautiful colour from a naturally occurring pigment which only develops when night time temperatures are low. Some of them are stained red on the outside whilst some look perfectly, ordinarily orange. 

This Tart does take a bit of time, as it’s very important that you rest the pastry and chill the filling. Patience is most definitely a virtue when it comes to patisserie. Trust me when I say this took me a long-ass time to learn. If blood oranges are out of season, substitute with normal oranges. 

Ingredients 

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

For the curd:

  • Juice and zest of 4 oranges
  • 200g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar


To make the pastry:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar using a wooden spoon.
  2. Mix in the egg, then gently with your hands mix in the flour to form a dough. Be careful not to over work the pastry as this will leave you with a tough pastry case.
  3. Place in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
  4. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and line a Tart case. Make sure the pastry is pressed right in to all the knooks and crannies and leave a little extra pastry over hanging the edge of the case. Prick the base of the case with a fork.
  5. Place in the fridge or freezer to chill for at least an hour.
  6. When fully chilled, cover the pastry in greaseproof paper and fill the case with rice or dried beans. This stops it puffing up in the oven.
  7. Bake the pastry case in a preheated oven at 160 degrees/ Gas mark 3. It will need approximately 20 minutes, turning half way, plus another 10 with the paper and rice removed. Because of the sugar in this recipe, the pastry does colour quite fast, so keep a close eye on it.
  8. When the case is out of the oven, use a small sharp knife to tidy up the over hanging edges. Set aside to cool.


For the Blood Orange Curd:

  1. Set up a Bain Marie using a pan of simmering water and a heat proof bowl. The bowl must not touch the water.
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in the Bain Marie.
  3. In a seperate bowl, combine the eggs, orange zest and juice and cornflour. Make sure they are well mixed.
  4. Pour this mix into the melted butter and sugar. Cook it carefully on the Bain Marie, whisking continuously until it starts to thicken. It should be glossy, smooth and coat the back of a spoon when ready. 
  5. Place in a clean tub to cool, with some cling film on the surface so as not to form a skin.



When the Orange Curd is cool, pour it into the cooled Tart case and place this into the fridge to set. The Tart will be lovely just as it is, however if like me you have a constant need to go one step further, you can decorate your Tart with Swiss meringue…

For the Meringue:

  1. Over a Bain Marie, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches at least 63 degrees, or is just about too hot for your pinky finger. 
  2. Using an electric whisk, whip the mixture until it forms stiff peaks. 
  3. Pipe or mound onto your filled and chilled Tart and carefully toast with a blowtorch.


Tips

  • If your Orange Curd lacks acidity (as Orange often tends too), squeeze in a little lemon juice at the end of the cooking. If you have it, a pinch of citric acid works even better.
  • If you do not have a blow torch and still want to do the meringue, cover the whole surface of the Tart in meringue and cook it under the grill. 
  • Any left over Orange Curd will keep in the fridge for 3 days and it tastes amazing on toast.
  • If you think you may struggle for time, you can line the pastry case up to a week before you need it and store it in the freezer. The Curd can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge. 
  • Freeze your pastry scraps with a date label and store for up to a month. A small amount will defrost quickly and be ready to roll for when you next need it. 
  • If you will not be serving your Tart within a few hours of finishing it, I recommend glazing the inside of the pastry case with an egg wash. Do this when you remove the paper and rice.