June 19, 2010

The Beginning of an Addiction

Yes, it's official.  I, The Speeding Turtle, am addicted and obsessed with peanut butter.
It probably isn't healthy to have little twitch-fits and hyperventilate with the mere mention of the delicious food, and yet it happens to me.

I'd never been much of a fan of peanut butter before, and only really ate it when it was mixed with honey on toast.  So where does this addiction spring from?  I'll tell you.  It all began the fateful day that I made Nigella Lawson's Peanut Butter Bars.

The Peanut Butter Bars were amazing; sweet, chocolatey, peanutty and so good I wanted to whip up another batch right away and devour it all.  It's easy enough, too, with no baking involved (unless you count microwaving).  In the words of Nigella Lawson: "You may think that seeing how the dough is made - just peanut butter, butter and sugar - might put you off eating them.  Sadly not."

I made them so often after that first time that Mum had to restrict me to making them only once every two months.  *Sigh*
12 days until July.

Recipe Adapted From: How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
Ingredients - Base (20 cm (8 inch) square tin)

50g brown sugar
200g icing sugar
50g margarine (you can use butter, but I think it tastes better with margarine)
200g smooth (or crunchy) peanut butter

Ingredients - Topping
150g dark/milk chocolate (I use dark)
1 tablespoon margarine/butter

1. Combine the ingredients for the base.  I use my Kitchenaid with the K beater attachment.

2. Sample the dough.  If you want it more peanutty, add more peanut butter; but know that this will make the dough softer and more squidgy.

3. Line a 23cm square tin (or equivalent) with baking paper.  Press the dough evenly into the tin and refrigerate.

4. Make the topping.  Put the chocolate and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until mostly melted.  Stir.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the base and spread.  To get the chocolate flat, rap the tin on the tabletop and it should flatten out.

6. Refrigerate until chocolate is just set.  Occupy yourself with other tasks so you don't die of anticipation.

7. Cut the peanut butter bar into little squares with a hot knife.  If the chocolate is too hard and the base too soft - meaning that when you try to cut, the base all squidges out of shape - then turn the bar upside down and cut.

8. Eat.  Omnomnomnomnomnom.

For a bit of class, instead of having Peanut Butter Bars you can have Peanut Butter Balls.  Instead of forming the dough into a bar, roll the dough into small balls and freeze them.  Then dip in chocolate.  If desired, you can drizzle more chocolate over the top once the bottom layer is hard.

Another change you can make is to add Rice Bubbles to the dough.  This is a good thing - the crunchiness is good, and the addition of another ingredient means the volume of dough is greater.  Therefore, you can get more yum out of the same recipe!

I thoroughly recommend that you try these.  Enjoy!

June 6, 2010

Sticky Date Pudding

It seems that my posts at the moment are all about birthdays!  My brother's birthday was in May, and I made him Sticky Date Pudding.  It's the perfect weather for it right now: cold.
The Sticky Date Pudding I make is dense, filling, and warming. Sometimes I add good quality chocolate to the pudding, which adds another layer of goodness to the dish.  Of course, a sticky date pudding is not ever complete without a generous covering of the stuff that makes it sticky - butterscotch sauce.  I am always super offended if a restaurant serves their sticky date pudding without enough sauce.  This recipe makes more than enough delicious, rich, utterly unhealthy sauce; enough to drown each piece of pudding in.  Perfect.

Recipe adapted from: The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander
Ingredients - Pudding (18cm square cake or equivalent)
170g dates (without stones)
1 tsp bicarb soda
300mL boiling water
60g unsalted butter
180g caster or brown sugar
2 eggs
170g self raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence/extract

Ingredients - Butterscotch sauce
400g brown sugar
250mL thickened cream
250g butter
2 tsp vanilla essence/extract

Method - Pudding
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line an 18cm square tin with baking paper.  You can also use a circular tin of equivalent size, or use a cupcake pan for sweet little desserts you don't have to cut up.

2. De-stone your dates if they aren't already, then chop them up.  Don't cut them too thin, each date should go into 3 - 4 bits.

3. Put the dates in a bowl and mix with bicarb, then pour the boiling water in and let stand.

4. Meanwhile: cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

5. Fold flour in gently.

6. Add vanilla, and the date mixture (water and everything!) then stir until combined.  The batter will be quite liquid.

7. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Method - Butterscotch sauce
I usually make the butterscotch sauce just before the pudding is served - this way the sauce is nice and hot.  It doesn't take long to make so it can easily be done while the main course is being cleared from the table!

1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan.  Make sure you use a big enough saucepan, as the sauce will boil quite vigorously!

2. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Plate up the pudding...

4. Pour the hot sauce over and leave to soak for a few minutes.  I keep some sauce aside to tip into a jug and pour over each individual piece of pudding.

5. If it's your little brother's - or anyone's - birthday, skewer the pudding with a candle, set it alight, sing, etc etc etc...

6. Even if it's not anyone's birthday, cut up the pudding into smallish pieces, pour some more sauce on and devour.

Happy birthday, brother of mine.  I love you.