I have an incredible sweet tooth. Puddings, cakes, sweet and buttery enriched breads are my weakness. I'd much rather eat anything like this than a normal meal if I'm perfectly honest. When out for dinner I eye up the dessert menu to make sure there's something excellent to look forward to. I completely understand when children say they are full but their pudding tummy isn't!
But I am completely aware this isn't a sustainable or adult way to function. So I treat myself from time to time and fill in the savoury, healthy gaps with day dreams of treats and Pinterest baking ideas to satisfy my cravings until it's time to get sugary again.
I gave in recently. I craved a Brownie, but not just a normal Brownie, one with peanut butter. I think this could have been a way of putting of work I had lined up. I'm really enjoying putting together Food at Twelve, it's been a huge learning experience and one that is steadily showing signs of progress, but at times, the enormity of what I'm trying to achieve can overwhelm me, so I fall back on my comfort zone, the Kitchen.
I have a fall back Brownie recipe, one that I know off by heart from my days of running the cafe in Oxford with Sophie Grigson. It's intense and brilliant, the chocolate engulfing you from just the smell and look of it's crispy top and wobbly edges. This time though I needed something more soothing and softer in its chocolate hit. I've played around with Brownie recipes time and time again, adding ingredients (extra chocolate bites, nuts, fruit) but I knew the one that would hit the spot. Jane Hornby's Fudgy Brownies.
Jane's brownies are squidgy and gooey, well any adjective that you'd like a brownie to have, they've got it!
I've only adjusted the recipe slightly, I use half 50% cocoa chocolate and half 70% cocoa chocolate as I didn't want to be overwhelmed with the intensity. I also included a good few tablespoons of peanut butter into the batter as I craved that peanut hit...
Jane Hornby's Fudgy Brownies
For the brownies:
200 g butter, plus extra for greasing
200 g bittersweet (dark) chocolate
300 g sugar
125 g all-purpose (plain) flour
50 g cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cheesecake topping:
200 g full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) square cake pan with a little butter, then line it with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°F (160°fan/gas 4).
Make the brownie base first. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. While you wait, break the chocolate into pieces, then add them to the melted butter and take the pan off the heat.
Let the chocolate melt until smooth, stirring now and again with a spatula.
Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Using a whisk, beat together until frothy and a little thicker, just for 30 seconds or so.
Pour the melted butter and chocolate into the eggs and whisk to combine. Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt into the bowl.
Beat together using your (already chocolate-y) whisk, until smooth and thick. Scoop about ⅓ cup (4 tbsp) of the batter from the bowl and set aside, then scrape the rest into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Now make the topping. Put the cream cheese in a large bowl, add the egg, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
Spoon the cheese over the brownie batter in the pan, then spread it into thin layer using the back of the spoon or a spatula. Spoon the reserved brownie batter over the cheesecake topping. Drag a skewer or the tip of a knife through the cheesecake layer to create feathery swirls.