Friday, March 26, 2010

Chocolate brownies with roasted plum sorbet

It has been months. And months.

I've been cooking. But I haven't felt like blogging. A variety of reasons I suppose. Two burglaries last year meant that I was without a decent camera for a while. The laptop was also stolen and took a while to replace. Our wedding is fast approaching (eight weeks to go) and preparations have taken up much of my time. We've also been dieting. My passion for all things bad for me finally got to a point where I felt the need to take action (...the prospect of looking reasonable in my wedding dress had nothing to do with it, of course....!). Between the flower-sender and I, we are now nearly five stone lighter. Quite an achievement certainly, but I guess I just haven't felt like blogging about it all.

Anyway, today I'm back in the mood. Or at least, I was in the mood until I discovered that blogger has changed and uploading and positioning photos has turned into something of a nightmare. Bring back drag and drop!!

The arrival of this little fellow on Wednesday, means that I am pretty much housebound until he has his second lot of jabs, freeing him up to go and explore the world. Currently, he is spending most of his time sleeping (during the day), chewing our shoes (in the evening) and howling (at nighttime). Not ideal, but he is adorable all the same... I hope you'll agree!

Months of healthy eating have left us deprived of good cakes (low-fat cakes hardly ever cut the mustard with me) and I'm also not good at the whole 'just a small slice' thing so it has been better not to have them sitting in the cake tin in temptations path. But we have been making exceptions when we have people round. It is a great excuse to bake something naughty and delicious and enjoy it knowing we've been good the rest of the week.

A few weeks ago, I fancied something chocolately. I'm still on a quest for my 'perfect' brownie recipe and whilst flicking through a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cook book, I was drawn in by a photo of divine brownies topped with a vibrant plum sorbet. I dug out the ice-cream maker (doesn't tend to get much use in the depths of winter) and set to work. The sorbet is simplicity itself - and it contains no raw egg white so is 'safe' for pregnant guests or anyone else who needs to be careful. The plums are roasted with vanilla and sugar before being pushed through a sieve (a bit time-consuming, but hardly arduous) and then churned until set. Served on top of warm chocolate brownies, it is perfection. The contrast of cold and warm and the sweetness of the brownies next to the slight bite of the plums is quite excellent. Well-done Hugh for an inspiring combination!

Use your own favourite brownie recipe (though Hugh's was rather good). You can find the original recipe for the sorbet on p360 of his excellent book
'River Cottage Everyday'. Here is my version.

Roasted Plum Sorbet (with chocolate brownies)

1kg plums
2 vanilla pods
100g caster sugar (plus more if the plums are sharp, but don't overdo it)
1 batch of your favourite brownies, warm from the oven

1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.

2. Halve and stone the plums and place in a roasting tin. Split the vanilla pods and chop into small pieces - add to the tin. Sprinkle over the caster sugar and add 250ml water. Roast for 30-40 mins until the plums are very soft and blistering round the edges.

3. Push the contents of the roasting tin through a sieve - this is time consuming, but hardly arduous. And it is worth it, I promise!

4. Taste the puree and add more sugar if required. You want a little bite to it though! Chill for a couple of hours before churning until thick in an ice-cream machine (or freezing in a shallow container and beating by hand every hour, three times to prevent ice crystals).

5. Enjoy with warm brownies!