Peanutbutter Brownies

A number of members of my collaborator’s group are leaving for pastures new, so I have made cake as a goodbye-you’re-really-gonna-miss-it-here gift.

raw brownies

The brownies prior to baking. The peanutbutter and chocolate chunks sink into the hot brownie batter during cooking, so this method allows even distribution of filling.

The recipe is my usual brownies recipe (also found in the cheesecakebrownies recipe) with the addition of blobs of peanutbutter instead of nuts. I did have nuts, but it was a bag of hazelnuts, and would have needed roasting and skinning, but peanut butter is delicious with chocolate, so this “laziness” worked out well too.

  • 225g butter
  • 375g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (orignal recipe called for 4 medium, but we buy ex large normally)
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 100g bar of chocolate (or “chocolate”, as I often use scotbar)
  • Peanutbutter (about 3 tablespoons, have more than enough anyway, there should always be peanutbutter in a kitchen)

Grease and/or line a cake tin (I used my 17cm tin and a small dish, the small dish is for have a small set of home brownies when the big tin is brought to work). Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (170° for fan ovens).

Melt the butter and add the sugar. Beat in the eggs one by one. Sift the cocoa and flour together, and add to the mix in three parts.

Divide between cake tin(s). Break up the chocolate bar and plop pieces around on the brownie. Get a teaspoon and a knife and plop 0.5tsp sized dollops about the surface. The chocolate and the peanutbutter will sink during cooking anyway. Put into the oven for 40 mins.

Cooked brownies

See? Allllllll sunk into the brownies. The greaseproof paper means the sunk/melted chocolate chunks wont glue the cake to the tin (trust me, voice of experience, chocolate glue is hard to get off tins without heating).

Let the brownies cool in their tin, then turn them out and cut them up. Alternatively, don’t wait for them to cool and attack them with a spoon… just mind yourself, they’re pretty hot.

spoon on a brownie

Too impatient to wait for them to cool…

Cheesecake brownies (bonus three recipes in one)

I’ve been meaning to make cheesecake brownies for a few years. I’ve a great recipe for brownies from Chocolate Cookery (you’ll have to look this one up on abebooks) and an equally great recipe for white chocolate cheesecake. Others have combined these before with much success, so it was my turn to have a go off them.

Slices of cheesecake brownies waiting to be brought to college

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Microwave experiments – chocolate sauce

After rearranging the freezer to fit stuff in properly, I (re)discovered a tub of Aldi Strawberry flavour frozen yoghurt. This stuff is actually really nice, more fake strawberry sweets flavour than Wexford’s finest, but that suits me down to the ground. On its own it can be a little dull, and I’m all out of chocolate or otherwise sauces, so I decided to have a bash off making a quick chocolate sauce.

Many of the nice chocolatey sauces I’d come across before contained golden syrup to make them sticky, so I figured I’d bung some of that in (well, honey, as there was a squeezy bottle to hand, and the tin of golden syrup is a bit of a pain). I also threw in some butter, to give that nice buttery flavour and also to stop the chocolate being so firm (just in case the syrup didn’t do it’s thing). The chocolate came from Lidl and was very nice. “Bellarom creamy milk chocolate” is what the packet tells me.

After microwaving, the chocolate still looked solid, but the liquidy ingredients were well hot, so after years of making ganaches, I just gave it a few second to stand and then stirred it till the chocolate was smoothly distributed. At first the sauce on the frozen yoghurt (I keep calling it icecream tbh) was nice and saucey, but when it got chilled by the icecream it turned into a lovely soft-chewy toffee. So there was both failure and success in the same chewy bite. Will certainly refine this micro-sauce method in future.

Chocolate sauce on frozen yoghurt

Chocolate sauce on Aldi's finest fake strawberry flavour frozen yoghurt (it's actually well tasty if you like that sort of thing)

Into a microwavable mug add:

  • 40g milk chocolate (the total bar weight, divided into the relevant number of chunks, practising arithmetic is good for you)
  • 2 tsp honey or golden syrup (squeezy bottles of these are great)
  • 1 heaped tsp of butter (ie a chunk that fits on a teaspoon and some bit above)

Microwave on full power for 20 seconds (I have no idea what wattage my microwave oven is, and I have no intention of pulling it out to read the sticker on the back (why they can’t write these things on the front is beyond me)). Be careful, the honey/syrup will have gotten pretty hot at this stage. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and pour quickly over icecream. If you eat it immediately the first bits of sauce are still runny, if you take loads of photos until you get a non-blurry one, it’ll be a bit toffee/chewy, but still nice (guess what happened to me…). Makes enough for one bowl of icecream for greedy people, two if you can share and aren’t fond of loads of sauce.

Chocolate biscuit cake experimentation

I’ve had half a pack of digestives staring at me for the last week and a bit. Shocking stuff I know, but as a caffeine half-intolerant (none after lunch) coffee drinker and someone who doesnt like tea, I don’t have much opportunity for chowing on digestives in the evenings. The other half of the packet was sacrificed to the noble cause of being a cheesecake base (I’ll write it up soon, honest). I’ve never made chocolate biscuit cake before and got the idea into my head earlier that that’s how I’ll use up the biscuits.

A Slice of Chocolate Biscuit Cake

A squidgy slice of chocolate biscuit cake, and a butterknife covered in squidge

I couldn’t find a recipe in one of my books, so armed with duckduckgo I did a quick search. The one I settled for is roughly based on the odlums recipe, except for a few changes due to what I had to hand. I can vouch for maltesers being great in biscuit cake, but I dont usually have them lying around the house.

  • 200g chocolate digestives (broken up, not pulverised)
  • 140g butter
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 dessertspoon cocoa powder

Put the butter, chocolate, and syrup in a pyrex jug and microwave on full for 40 seconds. Stir, and put it in for another 40 seconds. Stir and decide if it’s no longer lumpy or not, if needed give another short nuke/stir cycle. If the mix is smooth, mix in the cocoa powder and then throw in the biscuits. Smush into a lined springform tin or cake tin and chill in the fridge (honestly, the lining is essential, I poured straight into my springform tin with a nubbly-cheesecake-holding base, whoops).

After chilling for two hours, I took the squidgy slice shown above, despite being imperfect it’s still lovely with a big glass of milk. I reckon it’ll set better by the morning (I’ll let you know if it doesn’t). Changes to be made in the future: increase biscuity content (quantity AND type, eg. rich tea), add malteasers, line the base of the tin, learn to wait for it to chill overnight.