Peanut butter parfait with brownie salt

(Peanut butter parfait with brownie salt)

When going on holiday, I usually suffer from separation anxiety from the creature comforts I love in life. Occasionally I wonder why I even go on holiday at all, when the things I enjoy most, do not require travelling across continents for. My favourite cushion, a large mug of tea, peanut butter smeared on warm toast and watching movies with B on the sofa.

Mind you, I used to have to cross continents to spend time with B, and it was through these interludes every year that we got to know even more about each other. We both love horror movies. He likes eating the same thing for breakfast every day. I don’t completely understand his obsession with potatoes. He dislikes peanut butter.

It is despite these flaws that we are still together, eyeing each other’s breakfast with amusement each Sunday morning. Peanut butter to me, is what foie gras is to most other people, albeit packaged in a plastic jar and easily obtained at considerably less expense.

One Sunday morning several weeks ago I started day dreaming about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-inspired dessert, involving a frozen peanut component and some chocolate brioche. I never got round to completing it, but at least I now have a parfait recipe to use as my starting point.

A chance encounter with some leftover brownies also had me wondering about what would happen if you took a brownie, compressed, froze, grated and dried it, then combined it with some flaky salt. Turns out, you get what I like to call, brownie salt.

Sometimes dessert components, like random words, fit together unexpectedly well to form a sentence. Some of these sentences develop further to become ground breaking novels or classics. Peanut butter parfait with brownie salt is not one of those sentences, but I hope it serves as a nice interlude while I set off for a few weeks on holiday 🙂

Peanut butter parfait :
(from The French Cafe Cookbook by Simon Wright)

200g caster sugar
40ml water
10 yolks
800ml cream
300g peanut butter

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, place over a high heat and boil until the sugar reaches 118’C. Meanwhile place egg yolks in an electric mixer and beat together at a high speed. Slowly add the sugar syrup in a steady stream and continue beating until the yolks have increased in volume and are thick in consistency. Place this mixture into a clean bowl. Wash out the mixing bowl and dry well, then add the cream and beat until the cream just starts to thicken. Add peanut butter and continue to beat until the cream is semi-whipped. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture and pour into your mould. Allow to freeze overnight.

[Note: I like using an organic, natural peanut butter which doesn’t contain any additives like sugar or salt.]

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Daring Bakers Challenge : Chocolate covered Marshmallow Cookies


(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.


Avert your eyes now if the idea of a supersized chocolate covered marshmallow cookie cake, sounds like too much to digest. To explain, let me start at the very beginning. This month, I somehow managed (once again) to leave the DB challenge until the last minute, so I opted to make just the marshmallow cookies, as they were something I hadn’t tried before.

Of course, my mind tends to wander, so while the cookie dough was chilling, I took a fancy to making Alice Medrich’s peanut butter-chocolate torte. The recipe is easy enough, and gluten-free to boot. However, I didn’t count on the cake cratering as it cooled. Despite the fact it looked wonderfully moist and possibly presentable with a simple dusting of icing sugar, I had a feeling the aesthetic police would not approve.

Since I was already in marshmallow-mode, it made perfect sense at the time, to convert the peanut butter torte into a peanut butter and jelly marshmallow torte! I slathered the raspberry flavoured marshmallow I had prepared on top of the torte and after it had set, covered the whole thing in the chocolate glaze recipe. A sprinkling of chopped peanuts for texture, some berry compote and a simple cocoa sauce to finish, and there you have it : my supersized DB challenge.

(Could I get at least one person telling me that it’s not such a crazy idea.. please?)


(Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter & Jelly Marshmallow Cake)

You can get the recipe for the marshmallow cookies from Nicole’s blog.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Torte :
(serves 12 – 14; recipe from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich)

113g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
90g unsalted butter, cut into chunks, slightly softened
4 cold large eggs
1 tablespoon bourbon or other whiskey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 175’C. Line the bottom of 8 x 3 inch round springform pan with baking paper.

Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until nearly melted. Remove from the heat and stir until melted and smooth.

Whisk the sugar, peanut butter, and salt into the chocolate. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs one by one, followed by the bourbon and vanilla. Continue beating at high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the batter is fluffy, lightened in colour, and the consistency of frosting.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it level if necessary. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted about 2 inches from the edge comes out clean but one inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. Set the pan on a rack to cool.

Serving suggestion : Sift icing sugar over the top of the cake and serve each slice with strawberry sauce.


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And sous it is..

-When is the part-time thing happening?, this sous chef asked.

I told him I had to wait until the end of the month to hear back from the powers above.

-You must feel special. They’ve never done anything like that for anyone before.

Yeah, special, I said, rolling my eyes.

I respect this sous chef a lot. He cares about the job he does, and in this very stressful environment, he does it extremely well. He treats everyone in the kitchen fairly, and is very level headed, despite the impossible number of coffees that he drinks and cigarettes he smokes. He buys Gatorade for the boys, and watermelon for me. Away from work, he also has twin baby girls and probably the world’s most understanding wife. How he juggles all this, is, really beyond me.

To tell you the truth, the one thing I really feel is maybe a bit guilty. Guilty that I can feel the tiredness scratching the back of my eyes. The loop of the blue striped apron hangs like a noose around the neck. Call it a derivative of Stockholm syndrome or whatever, but I still love my job, and can’t imagine ever doing anything else. Probably my one big problem is that I’m not good at the whole juggling thing.

This week, I will be mostly :

1 Listening to Heart by Stars
2 Reading The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3 Missing the boy, who flies to Vegas soon, “for work”

Last week, I finished reading a book. The first one in ages. I realised a long time ago, that one of the sad things about growing up is that I no longer have time to lounge around all Summer, sucking down chocolate Paddle Pops, surrounded by a sky-high stack of books. It was through many youthful (and pallid) years of avoiding the hot sun and the tyrannies of a sandy beach, that I discovered Hunter S. Thompson’s letters, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (ironic, isn’t it) stories.

In fact, these days, I kind of wonder what the 14 year old version of me, would think of myself now. Would I be disappointed to discover that I’m not that veterinarian or forensic scientist?

I think the 32 year old me will probably say to the 14 year old : Listen, the first thing you need to know, is that Chad Allen is never going to reply to your fan letter, and not just because it turns out that he’s gay. Secondly, life, is going to be nothing like you expected it to be. Disappointingly to your parents, you will not have “Dr.” in front of your name, nor will you sport a fancy ring on your finger or 2.5 kids at your hip.

No, it’s actually going to be even better. You will go to University and even though you will end up doing nothing related to your resulting degree, you will relish the experience. You will make friends there that you still count as some of your closest to this day. In your first year, you will also get your first computer account and through it you will meet even more new people, including one guy who will start out as a friend and eventually turn into someone who means so much more to you.

Today, he will come home from work and you will have soy glazed pork with slaw and potato fritters, followed by a frozen chocolate mousse cake. Whatever happens after that, and the day after, doesn’t matter, because it will be just as wonderful and unexpected as the days have been so far.

So, breathe, relax. It’ll turn out okay. Although, maybe you might want to learn how to juggle a little bit..

(Frozen chocolate mousse cake : chocolate sauce, sour cherries (compote and sorbet), peanut butter powder, peanut and banana tuille)

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