Peanut butter and tahini, two lovely, tasty oily pastes that can be great editions to baked goods. I love peanut butter, especially good stuff made without daft additives. It doesn’t need added sugar, it doesn’t need artificial sweeteners and it doesn’t need palm oil, soya oil, rapeseed oil, especially not hydrogenated oil.
Peanuts, simply ground up, make for a delicious and suprisingly nutritious product. Peanuts are actually legumes – more pea than nut – so are full of protein for starters. I remember learning about calories in biology at school (many many years ago) by weighing then burning then weighing a peanut. They’re essentially half fat, but much of that is unsaturated: 31% polyunsatuared, 46% monounsatured, 18% saturated*. Peanuts also contain fibre, antioxidants, vitamins thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), folate (B9) and others, and minerals magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and manganese . Tahini, ground-up sesame seeeds, meanwhile contains essential fatty acids, copper and manganese.
Adding peanut butter and tahini to a brownie mix makes it especially gooey and delectable. I’d seen recipes online that used some one or the other, but as I had a jar of each, both running out, my version involved both, plus the tahini swirl. My version also involves both cocoa and chocolate, cut up into coarse chunks. If you’re making brownies, you can’t mess around with the chocolate – it has to be plentiful, rich and dark.
As for the peanut butter, I used my normal type, which is wholenut crunchy, with skins and all, no added sugar. Some brownie recipes might suggest you use a smooth type with all that sugar and extra oil but meh to that. The wholesome crunchy type adds depth of flavour and texture. I’ve also used some oats as they help keep it moist. And as I don’t have a problem with wheat – indeed, I love the stuff, especially well-husbanded grain ground into quality flour – I added some wheat flour too.
I’m not going to pretend these are “skinny” – there’s enough sugar in there for them to qualify as a properly sweet, calorific treat, an indulgent part of a balanced diet and relatively active lifestyle. They do at least contain a smattering of the abovementioned vitamins and minerals if you’re the type who likes to beat themselves up about their foods.
70g peanut butter
80g full-fat yoghurt
160g full-fat milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
50g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
130g light brown sugar
100g dark chocolate (60% cocoa mass or more), chopped into chunks
20g caster sugar
1/2 t vanilla essence
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Grease and line a square 20 x 20cm baking tin.
3. Sieve together flour, cocoa and baking powder.
4. Stir in the salt, oats, sugars and chocolate chips.
5. Beat together the peanut butter, yogurt, milk, egg.
6. Pour the wet mix into the dry, beating with hand blender.
7. Blend to a runny mixture.
8. Pour into the baking tin.
9. Beat together the tahini swirl ingredients until well combined and blended.
10. Drop blobs on top of choc mixture and swirl with tip of a knife.
11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
12. Cool, cut and serve.
* ‘The Food Bible’, Judith Wills