Well, today is Valentines’s Day and to really show the love, you’ve got to have something chocolatey and decidedly decadent. More importantly today marks the 9th anniversary of this blog. As some of you will know, it started life as Chocolate Log Blog and was a means for me to explore one of my great loves – the world of chocolate. This chocolate peanut butter ice cream sundae seems like a fitting celebration.
This post is a tribute to fellow food blogger Isabella King, who tragically died last month at the age of 29 after a two year battle with cancer. Izzie blogged at Coriander Queen, where we used to find lots of tempting recipes with beautiful bright pictures. Sadly the website has now been taken down. These peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are my version of Izzie’s dark chocolate peanut butter cookies.
Whereas chocolate peanut butter cups have long been popular in the US as has peanut butter and jelly (jam), the salty sweet combination has only recently blossomed here in the UK. Following on from the craze for salted caramel, comes chocolate combined with peanut butter and it seems to have taken the nation by storm. I’ve become rather enamoured too.
My mother-in-law has a penchant for Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups – well who doesn’t? So along with the chocolate marshmallow crispies I made for our trip up to the New Forest a couple of weeks ago, I also made some chocolate peanut butter crispies. The recipe for these comes from the same book, Mast Brothers Chocolate: a family cookbook and go by the name of chocolate crunch. The combination of chocolate peanut butter and crisped rice sounded too good to miss.
With two bananas sitting quietly neglected in the fruit bowl and just about to expire, there was nothing for it but to make a banana cake. It just so happens that One Ingredient this month is bananas and I was keen to join in the fun. One of the cakes I remember being particularly pleased with last year was my caramelised banana, coconut and chocolate peanut butter cake. The combination of banana, peanut butter and chocolate worked particularly well and I wanted to try the it again, but in a different guise this time. I was also keen to try out a new cake mould sent to me for review (watch out for a forthcoming review and giveaway). It is shaped to look like a bar of chocolate and I obviously couldn’t resist. This also seemed like a good opportunity to try out the Atkins & Potts dippers which I thought would look good poured down the sides of the cake like lava. I based my recipe on one for Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery. I changed the quantities and added peanut butter to the mix.
This is how I made:
Banana, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake
- Melted 50g dark chocolate (85% Green & Black’s) in a bowl over hot water.
- Mashed the two bananas in another bowl.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 125g soft brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 2 tbsp of crunchy peanut butter.
- Stirred in the melted chocolate.
- Beat in the mashed bananas and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in one duck egg.
- Folded in 125g sifted flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white) and 1 spare tsp baking powder.
- Spooned into the cake mould filling it to just over 3/4 full. I also had enough left over to fill a mini loaf mould.
- Baked at 185C for 25 minutes until well risen.
- Left to cool in the moulds, then turned out.
- Drizzled the chocolate bar cake with Atkins & Potts buttery toffee dipper and the mini cake with the dark chocolate dipper.
Although very sweet, the cake was nonetheless delicious. It had a fudgy texture with crunchy bits from the peanut butter. Much to my relief, the cake turned out of the mould without getting stuck, although the definition of the embossed writing (“yum”) was not as clearly defined as I’d hoped. The buttery toffee dipper was just as delicious as it sounds and I had a hard job not to eat it straight from the jar. The dark chocolate dipper was also good and would be perfect for drizzling over ice-cream. They had both set rather solid, having spent some time in my very cold kitchen. However, when I warmed them up on the heater, they were more or less the right consistency for drizzling.
What cake event is complete without a brownie on offer? Well that’s what I thought anyway. So when it was time for my cake bake for the Book Swap event (some months ago now), it was just a question of what type of brownie to go for. I’d noticed a lot of peanut butter and chocolate combinations on the blogosphere and I’d not used this pairing since I made peanut butter blondies over a couple of years ago and before that peanut butter cupcakes. Both had worked well, so peanut butter brownies it was going to be. I based my recipe on one I had seen on the BBC ‘s Good Food site. Since then of course, I’ve also made caramelised banana and peanut butter cake and peanut butter cookies.
This is how I did it:
- Melted about 2/3 of a 340g jar of non sweetened peanut butter in a large pan over a low heat.
- Added a good glug of roasted peanut oil.
- Added 300g dark muscovado sugar and stirred.
- Added 150g dark chocolate (G&B 72% Cook’s Chocolate) and left to melt.
- Stirred it all together until well combined.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs, one by one.
- Stirred in 100g wholemeal flour.
- Poured into a 9″ sq cake mould and leveled out.
- Melted a tbsp of peanut butter in a clean pan with a small glug of roasted peanut oil.
- Dribbled this over the top of the brownie mixture.
- Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Melted 40g of milk chocolate (G&B 37% Cook’s Chocolate) and using a spoon, drizzled this over the top of the cooked brownie in a random fashion.
- Left to cool.
- Cut into 16 pieces.
The saltiness and creaminess of peanut butter works really well combined with the sweetness of baked goods and is a flavour combination I have recently rediscovered. It works exceptionally well with chocolate, but then I would say that wouldn’t I. When I was reviewing The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook earlier this month, I noted a recipe for peanut butter and chocolate thumbprint cookies which looked appealing. With my birthday tea fast approaching, I thought these would provide something a little different and would fill in the gaps between the slabs of cake.
When it actually came to making the cookies, I decided not to include the chocolate cookie dough thumbprint filling. To me it seemed as though they would be sweet enough without and more to the point, I was running out of time. Measuring cups of butter and peanut butter is not really on, so I did the best I could in terms of approximations.
This is what I did:
- Creamed 1/2 a jar of smooth peanut butter (about 170g) with 2oz (60g) unsalted butter.
- Added 1/2 cup caster sugar and 1/2 cup of light muscovado and creamed some more.
- When light & fluffy beat in 1 duck egg (large hens egg) and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Sifted in 1 1/4 cups flour (half wholemeal & half white) with 1 tsp baking powder and stirred until incorporated.
- Poured 1/4 cup of sugar into a bowl.
- Rolled tablespoons of dough in my hands to form large walnut sized pieces.
- Rolled these in the sugar and placed onto two lined baking trays, leaving a 3 cm gap between them.
- Flattened them slightly with a spoon.
- Baked in the middle of the oven at 180C for 12 minutes (until golden and firm).
- Transferred to a wire rack to cool.
- Melted 50g dark chocolate (G&B Cook’s 72%) in a bowl over hot water.
- Ineptly drizzled this over the cookies in a zig zag kind of motion using a cone made out of greaseproof paper.
These made about 32 very substantial cookies. Despite my ineptitude with the melted chocolate and paper cones, more of which covered the kitchen than the cookies, I was rather pleased with the results. They were sweet, salty and delicious and not surprisingly, proved to be very popular.
These would make excellent bake fare for a summer fete or cake stall, so I am submitting them to Tea Time Treats hosted this month by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. This monthly event is run alternately by Karen and Kate of What Kate Baked.
|Undercover in the undergrowth|
Did you know it is World Baking Day on Sunday 20th May? Sponsored by Stork, the idea is to have some fun baking a cake and then sharing it with others – whether that’s in actuality or sharing a picture. Ideally, photograph your cake “somewhere interesting” in an unusual place or setting, then share the photographs via Twitter using the hashtag #caking or go direct to the World Baking Day website. Stuck for ideas? You will find plenty on my blog or again you could take a look at the World Baking Day site.
I was lucky to be given some encouragement by the organisers in the form of an an amazing box of goodies to use in the making of my cake. This not only included flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa, Stork margarine and various cake decorations, but also a splendid silicone spatula which has a built in rest to keep the blade off the work surface and a very handy recipe journal.
So what to make was the big question? Well it didn’t take me too long to figure out. Last week I couldn’t resist buying up a load of bananas I saw going cheap. Then, serendipitously, the very same day I saw the most amazing banana, chocolate, peanut butter layer cake on Buttaz Blog. Although I wasn’t quite ready to make anything as grand as that, it did form the inspiration for the flavours I wanted to use. I was going to make a banana cake with chocolate chips sandwiched together with peanut butter icing. At Christmas last year I’d made Dan Lepard’s Butterscotch Banana Cake, in muffin format for the guys next door, using that most excellent of books Short & Sweet. Well caramelising the bananas was a revelation and transforms a simple banana cake into something else entirely. Inspired by this, I upped the quantities, omitted the spices and nuts, added coconut and then some chocolate, of course. The icing I based loosely on a recipe by Eric Lanlard in Cox Cookies & Cake.
This is what I did it:
- Poured 150g caster sugar and 50ml of water into a heavy bottomed pan and placed on a low heat until the sugar was melted.
- Brought the mixture to a boil, until it turned into a light brown caramel.
- Added 4 chopped bananas and turned down the heat to a simmer.
- Added 40g unsalted butter and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes until the bananas were mushy.
- Added 50g desiccated coconut & 2 tsp vanilla extract. Stirred and left to cool.
- Creamed 175g Stork margarine (I’d normally use butter, but as this was sent to me, I thought I’d try it out).
- Added 120g light brown sugar and creamed until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in a goose egg (4 medium hens eggs).
- Beat in the banana mixture.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp yogurt.
- Sieved in 200g self-raising flour, 60g rye flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp bicarb of soda and folded until just combined.
- Gently stirred in 50g of chopped dark 70% chocolate (G&B).
- Divided mixture between two 22 cm cake moulds and baked at 180C for 30 minutes.
- Left to cool for 15 minutes then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter.
- Added 150g smooth peanut butter & creamed some more.
- Sifted in 200g icing sugar and creamed until pale.
- Added 4 tbsp whipping cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract & beat until light and smooth.
- Sandwiched the two cakes together with half of the mixture and spread the other half on top.
- Decorated with various chocolate sprinkles.
I can only describe the result as being the Rolls Royce of Banana cakes. It had a good crumb structure and was really light – so light in fact, as CT stated, that you could have a really big slice and not feel full. The taste was fairly sublime too and neither of us are ordinarily big fans of banana cake. The peanut butter icing I could have happily polished off with a spoon before ever it got to the cake, but I held fast. The flavours balanced out really well with the sweet, salt and bitter each playing their part. The individual flavours of banana, peanut, coconut and chocolate could be tasted separately, but also formed a sublime whole. As Alexander Dumas would have put it: “All for one and one for all”.
So get your pinnies on ready for Sunday and join in the fun.
Due to a flurry of posts about the Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies in Rachel Allen’s Bake, I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about.
- Creamed 4oz unsalted butter with 6oz (1/2 jar) of peanut butter and 6oz sugar.
- Beat in 2 medium eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Mixed in 5oz sieved wholemeal flour and 1 tsp baking powder, which made rather a stiff dough.
- Finally mixed in 100g of chopped white chocolate.
- Spooned into a 8×10″ tin and baked at 175°C (gas 4) for 20 mins.
- Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 175g brown sugar until mixture really light in colour.
- Beat in 1 duck egg & 2 large chicken eggs (had run out of duck eggs) alternately with 150g of sifted wholemeal flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 30g cocoa powder
- Finally stirred in 1 tsp vanilla essence and 2 tbsp milk.
- Filled cupcake cases to about 3/4.
- Baked these for 17 mins at 180°C (gas 4).
- Melting 100g high cocoa content (36%) milk chocolate with 25g unsalted butter.
- When cooled slightly stirred in 125g smooth peanut butter until mixture was smooth.
- Poured a good tbsp of this onto top of each cupcake.
- Decorated all with chocolate coated peanuts.