Sunday, 7 February 2010

Baked on Sunday

This morning I woke with a real humdinger of a cold...blocked nose, sore throat, scratchy eyes, the whole works. The thing I've always especially hated about colds is that they're so very common that there isn't really any excuse for getting into bed & pulling the covers over your head (which is all I yearn to do) You're expected just to dose up & get on with life!
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

mmmm!
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



13 comments:

  1. So sorry you have a cold, but at least you are feeding your soul with the glory that is baking. I too resisted usiing cup measurements, but they are so handy and simple. Your book looks wonderful, I shall check it out :)
    Hope you feel better soon and get spoilt with lots of cuddles and coffee
    Love Morwenna xoxo

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  2. I hope you feel better! I love to bake as well... so therapeutic (and fun!)
    Those desserts look mouth-watering

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  3. i am getting in the car heading to the bookstore.....i LOVE that BAKED cookbook....

    gotta get that one..beautiful...
    loved all of this.....

    you make me want to get up and turn on the oven.....

    hope you're feeling better, my friend...sorry to hear you have a cold....

    take care, my sweet

    hugs to you and Alice....is China still there...?

    back soon,
    sending love,
    kary and buddy
    xxx

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  4. How decadent those bars look, just perfect with a cup of black coffee, or 'long black' as we say over here! I hope that you're feeling better soon, take care and sleep. Before sleep, perhaps do what I'm going to do tonight, have something yummy to eat and put on a favourite DVD, I'm only in the mood for one film tonight, and that is the incomparable 'Pride and Prejudice' the music, the words, the costumes, the walk through the misty fields at the end, sigh... Love love love

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  5. Thank you so much for visiting this morning - especially since you aren't feeling well!! And I have to say I am ueber-impressed that you bake and write such an elaborate post when you aren't feeling well. I can barely crawl out of bed when I have a cold... Feel better soon!! Love, Silke

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  6. Rachel...i am laughing over here...you are so funny...that was cute...

    hope your feeling better today

    take care, my sweet friend
    sending love,
    kary and buddy
    and hugs to Alice
    xxx

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  7. ok...i just found my new favorite blog!!! i can't wait to make your recipes!!! i am off to read more! thanks for you!

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  8. just wanted to let you know that i just ordered "baked". i can't believe i am buying another cookbook but it looks to good to pass on! thanks so much for the recommendation!

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  9. Hello Miss Rachel,

    I hope you're feeling better!! Sweet treats usually do the trick:). Thanks for your lovely comments, always. I wanted to tell you that I was able to download 'photoscape', a free photo shop software program. Just google it and voila! If I can do it, anyone can:).

    xoxo,

    Blair

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  10. The 'Baked' book is my absolute sweet delights bible, can't be beaten, until they bring another one out of course! xxx

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  11. Oh you poor dear. You do have permission to slip into bed, pull up the coverlet, and pamper yourself.

    I love this post and find it amazing that you had the wherewithal to do it when you're feeling under the weather. Yes, red velvet cake. It is an eye-opener, but so much fun for the children.

    Sending love, love and get well,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    Ok, I need "Baked," but right now I am entrenched in a kind of hippieish book called The Complete Tassajara Cookboork, Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen by Edward Espe Borwn (who was chef at the Zen retreat center in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur). I am taking a class from him next week and am SO excited. XX

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  12. I just rec'd my BAKED cookbook today and have had flipping though it but was sad to see it doesn't have the Sweet & Salty Brownie recipe. Is it out there somewhere to share?

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  13. Hi Tori, thanks for your comment & welcome! I know that the guys are writing a second book so maybe it'll be in that - or they may just want to make sure you keep buying thenm & want to keep it to themselves?! I will have a go at recreating it if you like, on my other blog - www.browniesformozart.blogspot.com if you check back there. Was the salty element in the frosting like the cake? Or actually in the brownie? Would be a real help to know!! Thanks a lot xox Rachel

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