Guardian Book Club: Hilary Mantel

I didn’t get a chance to look at Saturday’s Guardian until this morning (Monday) because I was busy reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies. If like me you’ve been reading Mantel’s books then you’ll probably be interested in reading this article. In it she tells how she came to write the novels which would win the Booker – twice.

In it she also explains how she decided to call Cromwell ‘he’ throughout Wolf Hall and says that ‘Most readers caught on quickly. Those who didn’t complained.’

All authors see their books as their babies and can be a wee bit silly about any negative aspects of them. There were definitely a few clunky passages in Wolf Hall which were full of he said – the he not always being Cromwell of course. I didn’t complain, but did think that a bit of editing was needed to tidy some passages up.

Peanut and Chocolate Tart

This dessert goes down very well with the family, but it’s really a special occassion thing as it must be very fattening. My lot are all at the stage where they are only going to grow out the way as they have stopped growing up, and this pudding recipe is very moreish.

Peanut and chocolate tart

Peanut and chocolate tart

200g chocolate chip cookies (crushed)
100g melted unsalted butter
200g cream cheese (Philadelphia)
200g peanut butter
100g sugar
120 ml. double cream

For the topping:
125 ml. double cream
80g sugar
70g plain chocolate
60g unsalted butter

Crush the chocolate chip cookies in a plastic bag, giving them a good bashing with your rolling pin. Mix the melted butter into the crushed biscuits until well incorporated. Then tip the biscuit mixture into a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Smooth it out and press well down around the edges. Place the tin in your freezer for 20 – 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir the sugar into the cream cheese and the peanut butter and mix well, until it is smooth. Whip the cream to the stiff peak stage and carefully fold it into the peanut mixture.
Spoon this mixture onto your chilled biscuit base, and smooth it level.

For the topping.
Place the remaining sugar and cream into a heavy pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from the heat, and after a minute or two, add the remaining chocolate and butter. Stir until it has all melted, then leave it to cool slightly before pouring carefully onto the peanut mixture.
Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Serves 6 – 8 people, depending on how greedy you are.
Obviously this is a great recipe for preparing the day before your guests come, leaving you free to get on with the main course.

This recipe is based on one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in The Guardian. His has a baked base which I tried and didn’t like, it was too soggy for my taste.