Peanut butter is one of the strongest flavour memories from my childhood. It tastes like the end of the 10am news with Moira Stuart on BBC1 and the start of Playdays; a slice of bread spread with it and folded over and eaten in a few bites. It tastes like hiccups; a tablespoon of it downed in one as a catch-all cure to over-excitement, eating too fast and other ailments of being small. It tastes like my first baking endeavours – a batch of peanut butter cookies proudly made from a Dorling Kindersley baking book, ‘Makes 16‘ written over the recipe in fussy childish print.
Oddly, after years of eating peanut butter all the time, I’m fairly ambivalent about it now. Small amounts are fine, and I like satay, but I couldn’t eat peanut butter out of the jar any more. I do like it with chocolate though, as I think it brings out the best in both flavours, providing a slightly savoury ballast to the sweetness of the chocolate and rounding out the slight heaviness of the peanut butter nicely.
Indeed, Niki Segnit, author of the fantastic Flavour Thesaurus points out a similarity between the two flavours, noting that the Spanish word for peanuts is cacohuette. Thinking about this chocolate-peanut butter “flavour harmony”, I decided to swirl some into the batch of brownies I made yesterday as an experiment, and, unsurprisingly enough, they turned out pretty damn delicious.
PEANUT BUTTER SWIRL BROWNIES
Another relic from my childhood, this basic brownie recipe is the best ever, hands down. To make the peanut butter version I’ve made here, all you need to is heat the peanut butter gently and swirl it lightly into the batter before baking.
Makes nine big ones or 16 smaller bites.
4 oz (115 g) butter
6 0z (170 g) semi-dark chocolate
4 0z (115 g) caster sugar
4 oz (115g) self raising flour, sieved
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp chunky peanut butter
Preheat oven to 170°c and line a 9 inch×9 inch baking dish with parchment. Melt the chocolate in a large saucepan with the butter and the two tablespoons of water over a low heat. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir in so that it is fully incorporated and dissolves. Allow to cool. Sieve in the flour and stir in the beaten eggs. Mix fully and then pour it into the baking dish. Microwave the peanut butter until liquid and pour on top of the brownie mix. Use a knife to make swirls through the chocolate, being careful not to incorporate the peanut butter too completely. Bake for around 20-25 mins, or until a knife comes out fairly clean (but not spotlessly clean – brownies need a bit of chew). Cut into nine or 16 squares while still hot. Then either lift the parchment out onto a cooling rack or leave them to cool in the tin if you’re bringing them somewhere.