So I took my paracetamol, ate a couple of hot, buttered crumpets with divine blueberry jam, drank a strong cup of hazelnut coffee and decided to bake something delicious.
One of my best customers is our local coffee shop. I've supplied them for nearly 6 years, and the lovely thing about them is that they don't exactly order from me - they just let me bring them whatever I feel like each morning. This is such a gift, because I get to try out recipes for my book on the general public & I can cook just what I want to according to the season & my mood!
And when I needed inspiration & comfort this morning, I turned to one of my books of the moment:
The wonderful Baked - New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito. A while ago, a very good friend sent me a set of baking cups - something I'd resisted for many years, being firmly entrenched in the British psyche of weights & scales. What a revelation! It's opened up a whole new world of baking to me & totally rejuvenated my repertoire...and it's so easy! It also helps that Australia uses the cup system too...so my sister can send & recommend books to me from there too - and Aussies DO baking like Americans do! The only problems I had to begin with were in translating sticks of butter. But I've worked out that 2 sticks are about 250g or 1 pack of butter...so using that (which seems to work fine) I've been able to cope!
For more recipes & words about the book, try the wonderful Marzipan 's blog!
I've tried most of the recipes now all wonderful although I must admit that I sometimes 'play around' with the methods & ingredients as I've been doing it so long now. But it's a great source of inspiration!
And deliciousness - take this Malted Milk Chocolate Cake for instance:
one of my all-time favourites. The Salted Caramel Cake is just to die for too...irresistible..and the Red Velvet Cake with Cinnamon frosting
This morning, I needed to make some sort of bars though. I've taken the image below from Tracey's Culinary Adventures because mine are still in the fridge & not fit for photography just yet....I hope she won't mind, because they look fantastic & she has a great, fun blog too..
but I've made them before & they really DO turn out like this!
Peanut Butter Crispy Bars - makes 9 greedy portions!
For the crispy crust:
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup (for those of us in the UK, you can get the Karo brand online or at Selfridges Food Hall - lasts for ages!)
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
For the milk chocolate/peanut butter layer:
5 oz good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate topping:
3 oz dark chocolate - 60 to 72% cocoa solids, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 tbsps (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick baking paper. You can also use a glass or china dish for this as there's no baking involved - but GREASE it well!
Put the cereal in a large bowl. Pour 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar & corn syrup & stir until just combined. Cook over a medium high heat & bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, or reads 235F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, stir in the butter & pour over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thouroughly coated, then pour ionto the prepared pan. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan - you can use your hands, as it will cool quickly. Leave to cool while you make the next layer.
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate & peanut butter. The book says, at this point, to set the bowl over a pan of simmering water & stir until the chocolate is melted & the mixture is smooth. You can do this of course...I used the microwave to save time & washing up, but melt in short bursts & don't stop watching it! Pour over cooled crust & put in the refrigerator for 1 hour to harden. I must admit that, gilding the lily as usual, I scattered over a generous handful of salted, roasted peanuts at this stage too - up to you! x
Again, for the topping, mix the ingredients together & melt using your preferred method until smooth. Pour over chilled peanut layer & return to the refrigerator to firm up. Cut into squares to serve. Devour!! Bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days (if they last that long!)
If you love peanuts & chocolate - or know someone who does - try them. Absolutely gorgeous!
Ok, now I'm off for a hot bath & a day of DVDs & cuddling on the sofa.
Find time to relax this Sunday....have a wonderful day xox