When I’m stressed, I like to eat comfort food. I’m sure I’m not alone in this admission, after all the expression ‘comfort food’ has been around much longer than I. These last couple of weeks have been particularly stressful for us; we’ve had building work going on, essays to write, work pressures and a general feeling of needing another holiday. How great would it be to be able to go on holiday all the time by the way? I think I’d like to go to Paris today, I’ve got a hankering for some freshly baked croissants.
I find that all of my good intentions go out the window when the pressure is on, our usual healthy eating makes way for pepperoni pizza and sometimes, our food even comes out of a box (gasp!). When I eat like this I am racked with guilt. It is possibly the constant sugar high but it does seem to work for us, at least in the short-term. I try to remind myself that most of the time I eat well, and most of the time we reach a limit and revert to normal. Sometimes I wish I had a personal chef like Oprah or George Clooney who could come and cook me a healthy feast each night, but since that’s never going to happen I’m just going to accept that sometimes I need to bake some brownies and eat them by the fistful. Whatever works, right?
Food guilt is a funny thing. We assign labels to different foods to help us make sense of what we’re putting in our mouths, I imagine that if one thought about this for too long eating would become quite a chore. Thankfully I don’t experience that problem, when I’ve hit my sugar/junk threshold my body starts naturally craving healthier food options and within a few days I’m back in my kitchen cooking and eating as I normally do, with the occasional baked good (or pepperoni pizza) thrown in for good measure.
But for now, brownies. Let’s do this. Let’s eat freakin brownies and be happy about it because hell, life’s too short and sometimes you’ve just gotta eat salty peanut butter coupled with fudgey chocolate and butter. Mmmm. Butter.
This recipe is a bit of a keeper. It was scrawled on the back of an envelope quite some time ago, and I return to it over and over. Simply melt chocolate and butter, combine with eggs and flour and then swirl in some salty peanut butter. I like to use raw sugar in my brownies because sometimes the sugar doesn’t dissolve properly and you get this fantastic sugary crunch. If you’d prefer to avoid this then I’d suggest substituting with light muscovado sugar, or something that’s going to both dissolve and add a caramelised flavour to your batch.
- 140g unsalted butter
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200g raw sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1 tspn vanilla bean paste/essence)
- a pinch of salt
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 85g plain flour (sifted)
- 2 tbspn peanut butter
- Heat your oven to 160 degree centigrade (320 F)
- Grease and line a 22cm baking dish or brownie pan.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn't touch water). Alternatively, melt in the microwave according to packet instructions.
- Remove from heat and add to the bowl of your mixer.
- Add sugar and mix on low to combine
- Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt.
- Add eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing through well before adding the next.
- Add flour to the mix and stir through until just combined.
- Pour out mixture into pre-prepared pan.
- In a small pan heat the peanut butter until melty, then pour over the top of the brownie batter.
- Use a chopstick to create a swirly pattern.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes - keep an eye on them as each oven can be different.
- Check for doneness with a toothpick which should come out clean.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan (if you can resist) and turn out on a wire rack if serving.