Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies

Want a deliciously dense and fudgy brownie? The base recipe for these is all you need.

Want to take it to a new level with a swirl of one of the most addictive food products I’ve ever tried? Keep reading.

When I first spied a jar of chocolate peanut butter, I knew it would be love. What I didn’t realise was that it would be so good I would eat about a third of a jar in one go, spoonful by spoonful.

Yes I am a massive fatty.

When I needed to bake something to take to a party, that would be relatively quick and simple, didn’t need a long time to cool down or be iced, and that could be served in bite-sized portions, brownies were the obvious choice.

Inspired by these Nutella swirl brownies, I decided to buy another jar of the chocolate peanut butter and swap that in instead – a brilliant decision, if I can say so without sounding too boastful!

I used my favourite brownie recipe as the base, then just swirled the slightly warmed chocolate peanut butter on top.

Because I was in a rush, I cut the brownies while they were still slightly warm, which meant the chocolate peanut swirls were gooey and the process was rather messy, but the end result was totally worth it.

If you like the chocolate-peanut combination, you must try these, seriously. Writing about them and looking at the photos has made me realise how much I miss them, and another batch may have to happen soon.

Just as long as the chocolate peanut butter doesn’t mysteriously disappear from the jar first…

Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies (adapted from Apple and Spice)

  • 140g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 150g chocolate peanut butter

Heat the dark chocolate and butter over  a pan of simmering water until melted and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, then stir in the sugar. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until well mixed and glossy. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix until fully combined, then stir in the chopped chocolate.

Spread the brownie mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin. Heat the chocolate peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, just to soften it up a little. Spoon in dollops over the top of the brownie batter, then gently swirl in with a knife or skewer, making sure not to over-mix.

Bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are crisping on top but a skewer still comes out with some crumbs. Leave to cool for as long as you can, then cut into squares and serve.

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Peanut butter cup rocky road

Peanut butter is a pretty big deal in my house. I try and sneak some in to everything I bake. A certain other housemate likes to occasionally (very occasionally) eat it with a piece of chocolate as a spoon. And I definitely don’t judge, because if I had chocolate and a jar of peanut butter right now, I’d be doing it too.

For my birthday this year, I decided to go with an American theme for my party – largely driven by wanting to have loads of American-style food.

Reeses peanut butter cups feature heavily on a lot of the American blogs I read, so I knew they would have to be included somehow.

I bought a bag of mini regular peanut butter cups, and a bag of mini white chocolate peanut butter cups, and although I did briefly consider just putting them in a bowl for people to help themselves, I thought they could be put to better use in this twist on rocky road.

They’re joined by that other American sweet snack favourite, Oreos, to create a super chocolately, crunchy, sweet and salty bar, that was a HUGE hit with all the peanut butter lovers who tried it.

If you have a weakness for peanut butter and chocolate you probably shouldn’t make these to be honest, because they are so insanely addictive you will keep going back for more. But if you have a party to go to, you should definitely make them and instantly become the most popular person there!

Peanut butter cup rocky road

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 225g Oreos
  • 1 bag mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups
  • 1 bag white chocolate peanut butter cups

Heat the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring until all the chocolate has melted then set aside to cool. Bash the Oreos and stir these into the chocolate mixture, then chop the peanut butter cups into quarters and add about two thirds of them into the mix. Spread into a 9×9″ square tin, lined with foil, then push the remaining pieces of peanut butter cups on top. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, before cutting into squares and serving.

Elvis Sandwich Cake

Sun, sea, cake and coffee – I’m not sure there’s much else you need to make a mid-week day off work basically the best thing ever…

This week I treated myself to said day off, in the name of Clandestine Cake Club. Taking place at the Blue Tomato Cafe in Rock, Cornwall, the theme of course had to be ‘Rock n Roll’.

It took me quite a while to decide what to bake, mainly because I was debating the different between generic rock music, and the much more specific rock n roll. Luckily, I knew exactly who to turn to for advice – the fabulous Miss Charlotte White, of Restoration Cake.

Charlotte (who’s first book, Burlesque Baking, is out now, just in time for my birthday, hint, hint, HINT) suggested going down the Elvis route with a peanut butter, banana and salted caramel cake, in honour of the King’s favourite sandwich, and decorating it to look like a record.

I’m not sure my cake entirely lives up to Charlotte’s vision, but I was pretty happy with it nonetheless. Had it spent any longer than half a day out of the fridge the layers may well have been sliding all over the place, but it held up for long enough to look fairly respectful on the table of delicious cakey delights.

It was a pun-tastic cake club, with a Chuck Berry Bundt, Rock n Roulade, Rocky Road, Mint Aerosmith and my personal favourite, ‘Gums n Roses’ cake, adorned with wine gums and Cadbury’s Roses – brilliant!

We were also treated to some barista training from the lovely Mat, who showed us how to make the perfect coffee, create hearts on top of lattes, and even demonstrated the infamous ’12 inches of Italian pleasure’ – a thick and rich hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, a chocolate flake, giant meringue, more whipped cream and a malteser. Amazing!

I’m not going to write out the whole recipe for this cake – the sponge is exactly the same as this one, only increasing all of the ingredients by 50% to fill three 7″ cake tins instead of baking it in the smaller 6″ tins.

I used the caramel recipe from my Millionaire’s Shortbread, and made a peanut butter cream cheese icing by beating 200g cream cheese, 200g smooth peanut butter and 400g icing sugar together until well combined.

I spread a layer of peanut butter icing on the bottom and middle layers, topped with thin slices of banana, and then spread caramel on top. I stacked the cakes, spread more peanut butter icing all over, and then made the record by rolling out black sugar paste and using the cake tin to cut a circle. The lid of the peanut butter was used to cut a circle from the middle, and to cut another circle out of cream coloured icing, which I decorated with a gold icing pen. Done!

Big thank you to the wonderful Sean for all the good photos on this post – you can see all the other cakes on the round up over on the Clandestine Cake Club website. Can’t wait for the next one!

Peanut butter m&m blondies

Peanut butter m&m blondies

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends from uni celebrated her birthday with a night out in her home town.

Obviously this is a fairly normal thing to do, but for me it was a pretty special occasion, as despite having been friends for 7 years I have never managed to visit her for her birthday.

I know that makes me sound like a bit of a bad friend, but every year something has come up that’s stopped me being able to go – for example, last year I was all set and looking forward to it, until my car decided to die on me a few days before. Perfect timing!

Anyway, this year I was determined that nothing would stand in my way, and although horrific traffic did it’s best and made me several hours late, I was there, and all was good.

Considering I effectively had 6 missed years of birthdays to make up for, I needed to make sure I had a good birthday present to give, and in my mind there’s no better gift to give than something baked with love.

I was a bit restricted by knowing that whatever I baked would have to survive a 5-hour car journey – so no towering layer cakes that could fall over, delicate cupcakes that could get squashed, or icings that could melt.

Based on a vague inkling that my friend liked peanut butter, I decided that either peanut butter cookies or peanut butter brownies were the way forward. I then spotted these incredible looking bars on Averie Cooks, and knew I was on to a winner.

The peanut butter blondie base of these bars is great on its own, and you could pretty much add whatever you like into the mix – as Averie suggests, it’s a great way of using up whatever half bags of add-ins you have lying around in the cupboard.

I wanted extra peanuttyness (I know that isn’t a word, but it should be) so I bought some mini peanut butter cups to go with the dark chocolate and m&ms I already had. I used plain chocolate m&ms, but if you’re a real nut lover I would definitely throw in some of the peanut ones as well, or even the peanut butter ones if you can get your hands on them.

I kind of intentionally bought a gift box that was too small to fit the whole batch of blondies in, meaning a few were left over for sampling – what a tragedy!

My new chief taster (my dad) was a big fan, despite regularly telling me how much he doesn’t like peanut butter, and I really liked them too – the base is chewy, sweet and nutty, the m&ms bring texture contrast with their crunchiness, the peanut butter cups and dark chocolate add nice bursts of slight saltiness and bitterness to counter all the sugar, and I think the brightly coloured m&ms also make them look a bit more ‘birthday’.

Another plus is that they kept really well for about 5 days, not drying out at all, so they’d be great if you need to make something a few days in advance of being eaten.

Whether you have 6 years of missed birthdays to make up for, or just want to treat yourself, I would highly recommend you give these a try!

Peanut butter m&m blondies (recipe adapted from Averie Cooks)

  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 135g smooth peanut butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g m&ms
  • 100g Reeses miniature peanut butter cups

Beat together the melted butter, egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat again, then sift and fold in the flour. Finally, fold in 2/3 of whatever chocolate bits and add-ins you’re using and spread the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin, then sprinkle the rest on top (this will make the bars look prettier!)

Bake at 170 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until golden and just set. Leave to cool in the tin for an hour or so, then remove and leave to cool completely before slicing into squares.

Peanut butter cheesecake

Peanut butter cheesecake

Peanut butter cheesecake has been on my to-bake list since I first started this blog.

Up until maybe two years ago, I never liked peanut butter, and I couldn’t understand why anyone else did either. I wouldn’t bake with it, and I certainly wouldn’t eat it straight up – it’s not sweet, why would you?!

Before I was converted to the true delights of peanut butter, there was only ever one exception to my hating – a peanut butter cheesecake my mum made when I must have been about 9 years old.

Luckily my mum is the most organised woman you will ever meet, and so when I asked if she still had the recipe, the answer was of course yes.

I set about making the cheesecake myself, as a celebration of my new found peanut butter love but also to stir up a few childhood memories of good cake.

It’s a pretty simple recipe, with a chocolate chip cookie crust and creamy peanut butter filling, studded with chocolate coated peanuts. No need for any sort of topping or icing, it’s perfectly rich and decadent as it is.

My only complaint would be that it’s a little flatter than I remembered, so I think if I made it again I would do it in a slightly smaller tin or up the amounts of filling.

If you like peanut butter, or even if you don’t, you should try this recipe – it could be the one to convert you as it did me.

Peanut butter cheesecake (recipe from an old Waitrose recipe card)

  • 200g chocolate chip cookies
  • 40g butter
  • 115g cream cheese
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 115g creamy peanut butter
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 100g chocolate covered peanuts

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, or blitz them in a food processor. Melt the butter and then stir into the biscuits. Press into the base of an 8″ round cake tin and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time. Add the peanut butter and creme fraiche  and beat until combined, then pour over the biscuit base. Sprinkle the chocolate covered peanuts evenly on top. Bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 110 degrees and bake for a further 45-55 minutes, or until set but still with a slight wobble. Leave in the oven to cool to room temperature, then chill completely in the fridge before removing from the tin and serving.

Peanut butter banana muffins with salted caramel filling

Peanut butter banana muffins with salted caramel filling

It’s funny how tastes change. When I was younger, I never really considered myself to be a picky eater, but looking back now I can see that actually, I must have been a bit of a pain for my dad to feed!

The list of vegetables I liked was a short one – broccoli was my favourite, I liked peppers, and would eat cabbage with a roast at a push, but that was kind of it. ‘Traditional’ British veg like carrots, peas, green beans and parsnips were despised, and more ‘exotic’ vegetables like squash, aubergine, kale and sweet potatoes never made an appearance in my house.

I hated all beans (probably because everyone seems to think a child’s meal isn’t complete without baked beans sloshed on all over it, and as far as I’m concerned the sauce baked beans comes in is the work of the devil), pulses were never on the menu, and to be honest if I had been a vegetarian then I think I would have been a severely under-nourished one!

Now, near enough any vegetable you put in front of me I will eat, I love using beans in everything from chilli to burgers, and there’s nothing I love more than experimenting with new ingredients.

My feelings when it comes to sweet foods are kind of similar and I’m definitely branching out with flavours I used to hate. I’ve always found caramel too sickly sweet to really enjoy, but the discovery of salted caramel has completely changed my mind – now I can’t get enough of it.

I never used to understand why anyone liked peanut butter, but this could well be because I never had it paired with chocolate or banana and, although I still wouldn’t want it in a sandwich, I love using it in baking.

Anyway, the point of this all is that peanut butter, banana and caramel is most definitely not a combination I would have been keen to try a few years ago, but now I can’t think of three better friends to be baked into a muffin.

I needed to bake something fairly quick and simple using ingredients I had on hand, so I loosely based these on a recipe for peanut butter banana cupcakes but made a simple glaze instead of fancy icing, and made the caramel filling from some Cadbury’s eclairs leftover from a tin of Miniature Heroes.

I actually didn’t get to eat one of the finished muffins, as by the time I returned from a weekend away the pony had devoured them, but I did sample each of the components as I was making them and I’m pretty confident it’s a winning recipe – I’ll just have to make another batch to prove it…

Peanut butter banana muffins with salted caramel filling (loosely adapted from Perfect Cupcakes, Cookies and Muffins)

Makes 6

For the muffins:

  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 70g peanut butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium banana (90g), mashed
  • 90g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

  • 10 individual Cadbury’s eclairs, or other caramel sweet (about 100g at a guess)
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • sea salt flakes to taste

For the glaze:

  • 25g peanut butter
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Beat the peanut butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the egg and mashed banana and beat until well combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in lightly, then dive the mixture between 6 medium muffin cases. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 170 and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the muffins are risen and golden, and a skewer comes out clean.

When cool, use an apple corer to cut the tops out of each muffin. Melt the caramels with the milk, stirring until smooth, then add in a pinch of sea salt flakes – taste and add extra if you like. Spoon the caramel into the centres of the muffins, then replace the tops you took out.

Make the glaze by heating the peanut butter and icing sugar in the microwave, then adding the milk slowly until it reaches a pourable consistency. Pour and spread over the tops of the muffins – if it drips down the side I think it looks pretty, so don’t worry about being too neat!

These are especially good served warm as the caramel is extra gooey. Enjoy!

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars

When Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog picked ‘sugar free’ as the health-conscious theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I had a fairly good idea of what I would make – something similar to the chocolate fudge bites I made last year, but in a bar form that the pony could take to work.

It worked out quite well, as for the past three weeks I haven’t had a working oven, so no-bake treats are about all I’ve been able to make (don’t worry, the oven issue has now been sorted, so no more moaning I promise!)

I adapted this recipe from Love Veggies and Yoga, switching the cinnamon and vanilla for cocoa powder for added chocolatey-ness. I also forgot to add the milk, and wondered why the mixture didn’t seem to be sticking together – oops! But luckily adding extra honey sorted it out, and had the benefit of turning them into a dairy-free treat as well.

Technically speaking, these aren’t 100% sugar free, as the dark chocolate I used wasn’t 100% pure, but they definitely needed the extra chocolate on top in order to be acceptable to the pony, so hopefully Choclette will let me off!

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

I’m really looking forward to seeing the round up and all the ingenious ways WSC-ers manage to go sugar free – although I do kind of hope I’m not the only person to cheat a bit…

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars (adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga)

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 200g smooth peanut butter (I used a 25% less fat version)
  • 120g pitted dates
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • between 100-200g clear honey
  • 120g dark chocolate, melted
  • 40g dark chocolate, chopped

Add the oats, dates, peanut butter, cocoa powder and 100g honey to a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped and the mixture starts to come together. It needs to stick together if you press it into clumps with your fingers, so if it’s not doing that keep adding more honey until it gets to the right consistency. Press very firmly into the base of an 8×8″ square cake tin and leave to set in the fridge.

Melt the 120g dark chocolate and spread in a layer over the oat bars. Sprinkle the 40g chopped chocolate on top white the melted chocolate is still runny so the bits stick, then leave to set before slicing into squares.

Chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies

With all the things I’ve baked recently that haven’t worked out as well as I would have liked, these cookies really stood out as being every bit as good as the recipe promised!

I’m on a bit of a peanut butter kick at the minute, and cookies are one of my favourite indulgences (there really isn’t any way of making them healthy!) so when I saw these on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe I knew I would have to give them a try.

The first batch I overcooked a little as I didn’t allow for that extra bit of cooking they do on the baking tray once you’ve taken the tray out of the oven, but luckily even halving the quantity of dough as I did it makes 20 cookies so I had plenty more opportunities to get it right.

Properly baked, they end up deliciously chewy with a nice bite from the oats, and the peanut butter and chocolate works perfectly.

I strongly suggest that if you like peanut butter and you like cookies, you should make these – dead simple to throw together and keep well either in the fridge or freezer so you can bake up a few whenever cookie cravings hit!

Chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies (recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

  • 115g butter
  • 135g peanut butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g dark chocolate chips

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the oats and chocolate chips and fold in, until there are no more white flour spots.

Roll into 20 equally sized balls (I weighed them at 40g each but you don’t have to be that obsessive!) and place spaced out on a baking tray. Bake at 180 degrees, for about 10 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges and but still soft in the middle. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and/or your mouth.

Chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter icing

Bit of a mouthful of a title, apologies! But it does what it says on the tin – this is a moist, delicious banana cake, studded with dark chocolate chips, and topped with a peanut butter buttercream that required all of my strength not to eat straight from the bowl.

I know banana and peanut butter is a popular combination, but it’s one I hadn’t tried up until now – mostly because I spent 23 years of my life thinking peanut butter was disgusting. If only I’d realised all it needed was sugar to become amazing!

It’s a combination I’ll definitely be using again, and throwing chocolate chips into the mix can only ever make things better…

On another note, I found out today that I’ve been included in Woman and Home Magazine’s top 100 food blogs – I literally have no idea how this has happened or why they chose me, but I am pretty excited! Thanks Woman and Home, and congrats to all the other fab blogs that have made the list.

Chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter icing (cake adapted from Levi Roots Food for Friends, icing my own)

  • 115g butter
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 medium bananas
  • 4 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

For the icing:

  • 35g butter
  • 50g peanut butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • Cocoa powder to dust

Start by roasting the bananas, in their skins, for 10-15 minutes – this will make them really soft and easy to mash. Peel and mash in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the cinnamon, bananas and yoghurt, then fold in the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips. Pour into an 8″ round greased and lined cake tin, then bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, beat together the butter an peanut butter until no lumps remain, then gradually add in the icing sugar. If the mixture gets too thick, add a tablespoon of milk – use your judgement to get it to the right consistency. This doesn’t make a huge amount of icing – I thought it was enough, but doubling it would be no bad thing I’m sure!

EDIT – If you’re wondering what’s on top of the cake, it’s a dusting of cocoa powder which I forgot to mention when first writing this! Not really necessary, but I thought it looked rather nice 🙂

Snickers flapjacks (GF)

I’ve been at it again – buying reduced price chocolate that’s going out of date, with the vague idea that I’ll bake it into something…

Following the success of minstrel cookies and a mars bar loaf cake, this time around it’s snickers flapjacks – and dare I say it, I think it’s my best chocolate bar creation to date!

Peanut butter flapjack with chunks of snickers mixed in, topped with a layer of caramel and a layer of chocolate on top… what’s not to like!

I’ve been experimenting with quite a few flapjack recipes recently, and I think if you take away all the bells and whistles the basic flapjack bit of this is actually a pretty good go-to recipe, that could be changed up with whatever add-ins or toppings you like, and you could easily swap the peanut butter for more regular butter if you’re not a fan.

If you’re watching your weight then click away now, but otherwise keep reading and make these as soon as you can – they were a big hit with everyone who tried them and I’ll definitely be making them again.

Snickers flapjacks (basic recipe adapted from the Guardian)

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 100g butter
  • 100g peanut butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 90g golden syrup
  • 1 medium snickers bar, chopped
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 90ml water
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • 200g milk chocolate

Heat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan until everything has melted and mixed together. Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and pour the liquid over them, stirring until all the oats are coated. Add in the chopped snickers then spread into an 8×8″ square tin, lined with foil, and bake at 160 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

To make the caramel, heat the caster sugar and water in a large pan, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, not stirring at all, but brushing the sides of the pan with water if any sugar crystals form. Wait until the caramel turns a deep amber colour, then remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter and cream (ignoring the angry spitting) until you have a lovely smooth caramel.

Leave the caramel to cool until thicker but still pourable, then pour on top of the flapjacks and spread to cover evenly. Leave to chill in the fridge while you melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then once the caramel has set spread the chocolate on top. The chocolate should set quite quickly on top of the cold caramel without going back in the fridge so just leave until hard enough to lift out of the tin and cut into bars or squares.

They can be pretty tricky to cut if the chocolate has set too hard, so I cheated a bit and put the tin under the grill for a few seconds, just long enough to soften the chocolate – if you try this be careful not to leave it too long in case you end up with a big melty mess!