Valentines Shmalentines.


I’ve never gone in for it. In the early days it was because it would have clashed with the cloak of cynicism, black jumpers and soundtrack of Tori Amos I carted around.

Each year February 14 meant; (cue a chorus of tiny violins, playing just for me) no cards in the sack at the front of the classroom. No flowers or balloons sent ostentatiously to the office from a pimple faced lad hoping to get to second base. 

Actually, I did get a gift one year. From a boy in my year 6 class.  He stole a necklace from his sister and gave it to me. My sister told his sister about the gift.  They twigged where it came from. I gave it back. That was the end of the affair. 

Between 18  and 21 the day involved drinking cheap champagne and peanut M& M’s with my brunettes. In a coincidental cleave of our circle by the time we left high school my friends with blonde hair had boyfriends. Most of us without, did not. If you think I didn’t read a lot into this you’d be wrong. There were a few salty tears shed in those years, listening to stuff like this late at night (where are those violins when you need them?)

I spent most of university bouncing around; occasionally clashing into others but never really knitting together. By the time I met The Hungry One I had no appetite for consumerist clod like Valentines.  I’d just been through a university production of Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’ (and special note must go to my Dad for having the stomach to sit through his youngest daughter perform a piece about lady gardens). February 14 from then was more about  ‘V Day‘- a campaign to stop violence against women.

And now, nine years on I’m married. The Hungry One and I celebrate the fact we found each other by spending far too much money on meals on pretty much any other night of the year. We go out on days when there aren’t set menus and the waitstaff don’t grimace every time they turn their backs.

Today I joked to him that as a present I would organise his sock drawer for him.

The best presents usually involves something you won’t do for yourself.  So I took 39 lonely socks and putting them into matched pairs  in a chaotic game of memory. At the end one was left without a mate. I put it in the corner of the drawer, carefully nestled. I think it’s ok on its own.

Despite the truly terrible card, these puddings aren’t really for Valentines Day.

They’re just a lovely, salty sweet treat that you can knock up in 15 minutes. There’s enough for two modest portions or one larger one. They’re made out of things that are probably skulking in your cupboard. Feel free to double or triple the portions if you’ve got a crowd.  When cooked the centre will still be soft and the salted peanut should ooze out.  They remind me of the peanut M&M’s I ate with my girls. They remind me that there’s often salt to go with things that are sweet. But most of all, they make me happy.

I hope they do the same for you.

Peanut chocolate fondant puddings




Serves 2

Equipment

1 muffin tray or 2 ramekins. 1 saucepan/frypan. 1 bowl. 1 whisk.

Shopping/foraging

50 grams dark chocolate, broken into smaller pieces.
35 grams butter (25 grams melted and 10grams for greasing the muffin tray/ ramekins)
1 egg
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp smooth peanut butter
Flaked salt, to taste.

Here’s how we roll

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

2. Grease two holes in a muffin tin or two 1 cup ramekins. Then roll a teaspoon of plain flour over the inside and tap out excess.

 3. Place 25 grams of the butter and the chocolate in a pan and melt the two of them over a medium heat.

4. Put the melted chocolate aside to cool for a minute or two.

5. In a medium bowl crack the egg.

6. Add the sugar and whisk together. Then stir in the vanilla essence and the plain flour.

 
 7. Combine the chocolate and butter with the egg, vanilla, sugar and flour mix.
8. Add a tablespoon and a half of the combined batter into the bottom of each of the ramekins. Nestle a teaspoon of the peanut butter in the centre and add a few flakes of seasalt. Divide the remaining batter over the top of the two puddings. 
9. Bake for 10 minutes and serve hot. Either serve in the ramekins with vanilla ice cream, or run a knife around the outside to loosen and gently transfer to a plate.