Creamy chocolate peanut-butter mousse

Having an obsession with something traditionally made with egg whites, double cream and/or gelatine is tricky as a vegan! When I was a child, my mother used to make an incredibly boozy chocolate mousse using dark chocolate, egg whites, cream and liberal splashes of brandy. I remember eyeing up the individual glass serving dishes chilling in the fridge in preparation for dinner parties. Perhaps I got to “help clean” the mixing bowl and I am sure I got my own dish at dinner, but I would happily have eaten the lot of them if I could have got away with it!

Since finally getting a long-wished-for Vitamix several years ago I’ve made a lot of moussey desserts, mainly based on nuts. They aren’t quite as smooth or light as the mousses of my childhood, but they have their own charms. Soon I hope to start experimenting with aquafaba but until then, I’m mighty pleased with the peanut-butter and chocolate creation I made a couple of days ago, especially as I think it will work as a recipe even without access to a high-speed blender if a few modifications are made.

The quantities I used made a huge amount, so I’ve frozen an ice-cream tub full in the hopes that it might work semi-frozen.

If you’re going to try this I suggest halving the quantities, which will still make several generous servings!

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Meridian organic because it’s palm-oil-free and I’m trying to be good about that, plus it was on special offer, £5 for a kilo from the Better Food Company in Bristol earlier this year)
  • 1 cup dark (72%) chocolate chips (I used Plamil)
  • 2 Tbs sugar (could be left out if using sweeter chocolate)
  • 4 cups non-dairy milk (I used value soya)
  • 1.5 Tbs flax seeds
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract

I put a cup of milk into the blender, followed by the peanut butter, flax seeds, then another couple of cups of milk and the extracts. That got blended up until the friction started heating the mixture, then I added the chocolate and sugar and it melted in and blended. It soon became evident that the mix was going to be too thick, so another cup of milk got added, then I poured it into a variety of containers and left it to chill in the fridge for a few hours. Once it sets it’s light and airy, creamy but with a slightly floury texture from the peanut butter. I daresay there would have been a smoother result from a more processed style of peanut butter, but this is fine, it’s kind of velvety!

chocolate-pb-mousse

I also added a few mix-ins to some of the pots, such as oats and raisins, and I blended an orange into the last cup or so of mixture to see if that would work (it was okay, but probably not worth repeating).

If I were going to make this without a blender, I would probably warm a couple of cups of milk, add the peanut butter and stir until it had thoroughly blended in, then add the chocolate and whip in another cup of milk, see what the texture was like and add more milk as necessary. I probably wouldn’t add flax if making a non-blender version as it’d make the texture grainy. If I try this version I will update this recipe, but if you happen to fancy trying it in the meantime please comment and let me know how you get on!

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I <3 peanut butter!

Eating peanut butter every day on the Below the Line challenge in no way diminished my fondness for the stuff. As a child I found it unpleasantly claggy and did not enjoy the taste, but as an adult something changed and now I love peanut butter in both savoury and sweet recipes, crunchy or smooth.

I found I had just over 100g left of my value jar, and since the rest had gone into savoury crackers and salad it was time to bring on the sweetness. I whipped up a batch of simple cookies with the help of some brown sugar and a dash of rum.

Ingredients:

175g self-raising flour

105g crunchy peanut butter

45g vegetable oil

50g water

125g brown sugar

10g rum (optional, or you could use vanilla. I’m finding the alcohol base in flavour extracts goes a long way to boost baked goods, regardless of the ostensible flavour, and using supermarket brand rum is about half the cost of vanilla extract).

Method:

Weigh peanut butter into mixing bowl. If it’s the last of the peanut butter in the jar, add the oil and water to the jar and shake vigorously to help dislodge the last of the stuff hanging on to the bottom and side of the jar. Scrape into mixing bowl. Add the rum and sugar, and mix it all up to a runny paste.

Add enough flour to make a soft dough. In my case this was around 175g, you might try a bit more or less. Mix in with a table knife or spoon until no dry flour is left.

Take spoonfuls of dough and roll into the obligatory walnut-sized balls. Flatten down a bit and place on a lined baking sheet in a 180c/350f/gas4 oven with a cm or so space (they do spread a bit) for around 15 minutes (check after 10 to make sure they’re browning evenly and not burning) until just beginning to turn brown. This length of baking turned out crunchy-topped biscuits which are still a little soft and cakey on the inside, if you want them crunchy all the way through turn the heat down a notch and bake for longer.

These are a simple cookie which I think would go nicely with a banana milkshake. Sultanas and/or chocolate chips would be a great addition as well. Maybe next time!

peanut butter sweet cookies on a blue and white patterned china plate

peanut butter sweet cookies on a plate


early supper, day 5

Since I had been hoarding the peanut butter and had so much left I decided to splurge on it, and had a nice early supper with the last of the baked potato, which I sliced up and spread quite thickly with peanut butter then heated up in the toaster oven until the edges of the peanut butter were beginning to bubble. I gathered a few more dandelion leaves, washed and tore them up and then put about 1/4 teaspoon of mustard on a fork and sort of swirled it around the wettish leaves to approximate a dressing. It wasn’t a gourmet meal by any means, but I feel better for it.

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I really should finish off the rest of the coleslaw if I’m to get enough vitamin C (100g dandelion will give about 60% rda and I think I’ve only had about 20g. I doubt there’s much left in the potatoes since those were baked Tuesday evening and it deteriorates with both heat and time) but I’m not sure if I can face it today. I might go to a supermarket and spend my last 30p on an orange!


Prep for next week, part 3 – peanutty red cabbage slaw (recipe)

I thought it’d be a good idea to prep a lot of my food, so it’s ready to portion out as needed over the week.

I’m going to cook all of the split peas in one go after soaking them (which is happening right now), then turn half of them into soup (with tomato purée and carrots) and the other half into a hummus-type dip flavoured with mustard and pickled onion. The packets always say “no need to soak” or something similar, but then tell you they’ll take 45 minutes to cook. Well, they won’t take that long if they’re soaked, so you don’t have to steam your windows up as much or spend so much money on fuel if you can just spare a few hours to soak the dried peas in some water. I’m also going to combine soaking with my other favourite way of saving money, which is to bring them to the boil for a few minutes and then turn the heat off and leave them to finish cooking with a lid on in the residual heat. Works like a charm!

I’ve already trialled the following coleslaw recipe a couple of weeks back, except I used spirit vinegar because I’d not yet bought the pickled onions. I’m tempted to chop some onions into the slaw as well, but I might see how many I need to use elsewhere before I do that, as I don’t want to run out of one of my few strongly-flavoured ingredients.

Red cabbage slaw with peanut-butter mustard dressing:

550g grated red cabbage(19.5p)

150g grated carrot (8.1p)

2 Tablespoons (60g) chunky peanut butter (10.9p)

1 Tablespoon (15g) everyday value mustard (2p)

2 Tablespoons pickling liquid from a jar of pickled onions (2p)

1 Tablespoon water.

Method:

Put the cabbage and carrot into a storage container, mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl then add to the veg and mix well. You could add another spoonful of water to the dressing bowl and use that to eke out the remains of the dressing and pour that over as well, as it’s quite thick and difficult to scrape out. Store in fridge. Leave flavours to meld for at least an hour before tasting for seasoning. Add more mustard/vinegar or a dash of salt if needed.

This is going to give me 5 servings of approximately 140g at a cost of 8.5p each, and it’ll go a long way to covering my vitamin C and A needs (I would say it’ll cover them entirely, but I’m not sure how much loss will occur over the days it’ll sit in the fridge).

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Peanut-butter snack crackers

Been practising some more recipes for the Live Below the Line challenge next week. I’m not a big fan of breakfast early in the morning, nor am I one of nature’s early birds. I generally get up in time to wash and dress myself, and don’t feel hungry for breakfast until I am already sitting at my desk at work. Usually I have some almonds with my coffee, but almonds are beyond my budget next week (as is coffee!), so I’ve been thinking about what I could bring to eat instead. I don’t actually dislike plain cornflakes as a snack but I think I’d get some strange looks if I started snacking on them in public. These crackers might be a bit more acceptable.

Ingredients:

120g self-raising flour (3.6p) – plus some for dusting which I didn’t measure, so let’s round it up to 4p

60g chunky peanut butter(10.9p)

5g mustard (0.6p) – I would put more in next time as you can’t really taste it.

pinch salt – (0.1p)

water as needed.

method:

Preheat oven to 180c (350f/gas4)

Put mixing bowl on scales. Pour in flour. Zero scales and spoon in peanut butter (will be a couple of spoonfuls). Add a teaspoon or two of mustard, depending on how much you like the flavour of mustard.

Remove bowl from scale. Add a pinch of salt. Cut the peanut butter and mustard into the flour as if it is fat and you’re making pastry. When it seems fairly well distributed and the mixture is a bit pebbly, start adding splashes of water, still cutting in with the knife. Carry on adding water a bit at a time until the mixture will stay together when pinched. Knead for a few seconds to make a soft ball of dough.

Get a baking sheet and put a couple of spoonfuls of flour in and spread it so it covers the base, to stop the crackers sticking.

Flour a clean, flat surface and place the dough onto it. Flour the top of the dough and start rolling out. The chunks of peanut will prevent the dough from rolling very thin the first go around but tend to start breaking down when the scraps are re-formed for the second roll out. Roll the dough out fairly thin, maybe 3-4 mm? Cut out into cracker shapes and dock with a fork to stop air bubbles from making them puff up too much.

Bake for around 18-20 minutes (less if they are thinner – check them after 12 minutes to make sure they don’t look like they’re scorching).

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This recipe made 20 crackers with a scrap of dough left for under 16p. They have around a gram of protein per cracker (I should be getting around 50g in a day) plus a decent amount of calcium and iron thanks to the fortified flour, they average out to about 32 calories per cracker, and they’re pretty tasty. I think they will be very nice spread with some split pea hummus as well, maybe topped with a bit of red cabbage and some pickled onion for snacks other than breakfast.


This way to cornbread!

I bought a few of my Live Below the Line food choices in duplicate so I could practice some recipes before the week itself. With the self-raising flour, the main thing I plan to make with that is a variety of quick-bread type things. Two days ago I made a dome-shape loaf using 150g SR flour, 30g peanut butter, a pinch of salt and just enough water so it formed a dough I could knead for a few seconds. It was pretty tasty!

Today, I thought I’d try adding more water to see if that improved the texture (I don’t think so, the firmer dough seems to rise just fine) and making it more of a cake batter texture so it formed a thin layer in the pan (which is about 8″ square). I also added 50g crushed cornflakes to vary the texture. It was quite pleasant, though I think next time I’ll add some mustard or onion pickle juice in too to make it a bit more interesting.
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Ingredients cost breakdown:

(bag of flour 45p for 1.5kg) 150g self-raising flour = 4.5p
(peanut butter 62p for 340g) 34g peanut butter (I was going for 30 but too much dripped off the fork) = 6.2p
(cornflakes 31p for 500g) 50g cornflakes – 3.1p
(salt – 25p for kg) pinch of salt. Let’s say .2p, as that rounds up the total to 14p.

The picture above is only half the quantity the recipe made, and it was pretty filling, so I definitely think that would do as a day’s worth of bready stuff.


Flapjacks on Sunday

flapjacks with chocolate chips melting on top

I’m still feeling a bit sore-throat-esque and also have been offered some casual work tomorrow morning so I’m not sure I’ll feel like getting up early and making potato scones as originally planned. Since I’m aiming to blog every day this month, if something gets posted just after midnight that relieves the pressure for a bit longer than normal!

Instead, here are some rather substantial snacks I made a few days ago based on this peanut butter and golden syrup flapjack recipe

Since my granulated sugar was nearer to hand I used that instead of light brown soft sugar. I didn’t have enough oats by about 65g, so I topped it up with about 35g of oat flour and 30g flax meal. To make up for no brown sugar I subbed one tablespoon golden syrup with molasses, but when I came to mix it all up it looked too dry so I ended up squeezing more syrup in anyway. I also wanted them to be ever so slightly cakey so I put a couple of spoonfuls of water in.  I used sultanas and dried sour cherries instead of raisins, and I couldn’t be faffed with the topping they suggest so I just sprinkled 100g chocolate chips over the surface shortly after they came out of the oven. Apart from those adjustments I followed the recipe faithfully!

And yes, I’ve finally decided to try Instagram three years after everyone else.

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