Monday, 27 March 2017


Recipe of the week...
... peanut butter swirled brownies!

PEANUT BUTTER BATTER … 200g crunchy peanut butter, 120g granulated sugar, 1 large egg, half a teaspoon vanilla extract, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
BROWNIE BATTER … 100g chocolate, 120g butter/margarine, 250g granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, 100g plain flour.
TO FINISH … A generous handful of dark chocolate chips

Time taken: An hour (Half an hour to make and half an hour to bake).

Serves: 12 decent blocks of brownie.

Hi readers,

How are youu? I hope you’re all well and happy today, you lovely people. And I hope that the sun is shining where you! We’ve certainly got the sunshine in Sheffield today. As I write, the sun is streaming through the window warming my cheeks, and we’ve been treated to three days of good weather in a row now. It’s incredible. And it really is – after months of cold winter and short days – the clocks have finally turned so the evenings are lighter, and the weather’s showed up for the occasion. And it really feels like Spring! Incredible.

Spring has sprung this week

Also incredible – MUMS. Big shout out to all the mums out there. We celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday and it’s so lovely to see everyone, in real life and on social media, acknowledging the small miracles mums carry out every day. Working and houseworking, with childcare and husband-care and grandparent-care… and all that they do that we never even realise. Mums are amazing and they deserve their cards, their flowers and chocolates, a million times over. And breakfast in bed, and a bloody long bath. With champagne and slaves.     

ALSO incredible – what an incredible time it is to be alive – Comic Relief 2017. The show hit our screens on Friday and has raised over £73 million for those in need. A staggering total. With lots of laughs along the way, we watched clips of the lives of people enduring the famine in East Africa. As we all do, I cried and donated money. And was just blown away with the footage – and with the idea that half the people in Liberia are hungry right now… that’s crazy! And horrifying.

Comic Relief - saving lives and raising smiles

As well as the footage from the African continent, I was also touched by the sequel to the film Love Actually. Much as we all chuckled, I’m sure, watching Rowan Atkinson’s gift wrap scene – was anyone else struck by the speech from Hugh Grant as Prime Minister?? In light of the Westminster terrorist attack, on people in London last week.. his words struck a chord. Even though that clip must have been filmed weeks or months in advance of the attack, and even though Hugh Grant isn’t our actual Prime Minister (though we may wish he were), it felt like such a solid address to the nation! A chill ran through me, just watching.

Anyway, readers, if you haven’t seen this film clip I recommend you go look it up. This last week certainly has been humbling, with the terrorist attack and then Comic Relief. Makes you appreciate the things that MATTER. Like, family and friends. Having food in your belly and feeling the sun warm your face. 

I stumbled upon a blog post this week called ‘How Would You Describe Yourself in Five Words?’, by Joanna Goddard (which you can read here). It’s a really simple idea for how to evaluate how you feel about yourself, and to track how the things that define you come to change through your life.

I had a go at describing myself in five words this week. Put ‘dieter’ on the list, because I have been trying quite determined lately to shift some last Christmas weight. Then I looked back over my list and thought: honestly, that’s pathetic. There are much better things to concern myself with than the nutritional content of a cereal bar. Like the famine, Hayley. The crisis in east Africa. So I've ditched the diet, in favour of a humbled, healthy outlook. Regaining perspective. 

I then happened upon a blog post for the best-looking cake recipe I’d seen in a looong while, and decided to make my colleagues happy. And take down everyone’s diets in one fell swoop. As I’d rather we were happy, and we could simply use ‘happy’ as one of our five words to describe ourselves like Joanna Goddard does. The recipe in question is for peanut butter swirled brownies, and you can find the original on the Smitten Kitchen blog here.

It’s chocolate brownie batter and peanut butter brownie batter, swirled together with choc chips on top. It’s Andy at work’s birthday and I’ve brought a batch of these brownies in the office for the occasion. Everyone is overjoyed. Want to bring similar JOY and HAPPINESS to your own life? You do?? Well, here’s how to bake up a batch of peanut butter swirled brownies in just twelve simple steps…

1.     Set some cheerful, sing-a-long music playing and heat your oven to 175°C.
2.     Grease an 8-inch square baking tin with butter or marg, and line the bottom with baking paper.
3.     To make the peanut butter batter, add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together using a fork until they’re well mixed.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: The original Smitten Kitchen recipe used smooth peanut butter, but that’s sacriledge in the ChefBeHere household. So, I switched it out. And strongly advise you do the same.  How did the creator of such an amazing recipe have such shoddy taste in peanut butter?? I wonder.

No fight at all, in my eyes

4.     To make the brownie batter, break your chocolate up into squares, and melt the chocolate and butter together in a small pan over a very low heat until only a couple unmelted bits remain. 
ChefBeHere Top Tip: You need to stir constantly to stop your chocolate from burning! Mustn’t burn the chocolate. Alternatively, you can stick them in the microwave in a bowl and heat in small bursts until the chocolate and butter melt, stirring every 30 seconds.
5.     Then when they’re mostly melted, off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted.
6.     Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and salt to the pan/bowl, and stir in using a big wooden spoon. Fold in the flour and then you’re ready to assemble your brownies! 
7.     Spread half of your brownie batter evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking tin, and then dollop peanut butter batter all over in big spoonfuls.
8.     Dollop remaining brownie batter in pan, aiming, if you can, between the peanut butter dollops.
9.     Use fork to swirl the two batters together in loose figure-8s, and sprinkle choc chips all over to decorate.
Brownie batter ready to go in the oven

10.  Bake your brownie in the oven for half an hour, until it looks nicely baked and your house smells like heaven on earth.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Don’t delay – get your dishes done and clear up your messy kitchen while the brownie bakes! Good to get these chores out of the way and it means you get to be near your brownie at all times, checking on it through the oven door. Sending loving thoughts.
11.  Safely remove from the oven and switch the oven off, then leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour (resist eating!!) before slicing up into blocks.
12.  Serve to adoring fans or Tupperware for another day. Brownies keep well at room temperature, so they’ll be fit to eat for a few days at least… if they last that long!

Baked and smelling dreamy!

And that, readers, is all there is to it. Quite straightforward, don’t you think? I got along really well with this recipe! I did wonder, with having different sections of ingredients and with having two bowls on the go, whether it was going to be quite tricky – but no! There aren’t any complicated or skilled steps, and you don’t need octopus arms it’s an easy recipe to tackle step by step.

I found the recipe easy to follow and my brownie came out the oven looking good. Smelling godly. I sat myself down, late on Sunday evening, closing the curtain on the weekend with a warm chunk of gooey brownie to sample and it. Was. Diviiiiine. Like, ahhhmagaaad. Ahh. Mmm. Ohh. Yeeeeeah!

Readers, if you don’t like peanut butter then go leave me in peace. If you do like peanut butter, please bake this brownie as a matter of urgency. And let me know whether you think it's a waste of your precious resource,  just not to your taste, or whether you ate this with your eyes closed and a smile in your heart. As I did.

Swirl safely,


Enjoy your life...
... eat brownies before bed somedays.

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