Now, that’s how to do a bank holiday weekend! Even though it was throwing it down Sunday morning, we were brave and ventured out and lo and behold, out came the sun. First we headed off to the Woburn Chilli Festival: first time we’ve been to this so I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was great fun. Lots of stalls selling all manner of spicy goods from chilli flavoured beer to chilli lemon curd and Lovecraftian chilli sauce which I can’t link to because it’s not on their website.
Having burned our mouths and spent lots of pennies, we carried on to our proper destination: the Sunset Safari at Woburn Safari Park, which was a spur of the moment outing but I’m really pleased we decided to go for it. We had two rides around the safari circuit: it was the first time we’ve visited since getting the electric car and the contrast between her eerily silent gliding and the coughs and splutters of the other cars was quite something. I like to think that the animals appreciated the peace and lack of fumes too, especially on the second trip around when we had the place to ourselves. That’s when the bear in the picture above came out for a lie down! We weren’t really sure what to expect of the evening ‘entertainment’ but we had a bird and creepy-crawly display followed by a ‘gourmet’ BBQ and live music, then a 3D cinema show with two short films and then more music to finish. The first of the two 3D shows was really aimed at small children and the grown-ups were fidgeting a bit but that was the only part that we felt was mis-judged. Certainly worth the entrance fee: getting to ride around the safari as the sun set and the elephants roared in the distance was an amazing experience.
To finish to weekend off in style, I made brownies. I was intrigued by the combination of a cheesecake topping + brownie base but as usual, a DL recipe worked perfectly.
The rum flavour is definitely a subtle hint rather than a full-on whack around the head with Jack Sparrow’s favourite tipple – it’s almost lost against the buttery mint and intense chocolate so I’d be tempted to increase it a touch next time. I love the pattern on the top and the contrast between the cheese-cake-style part and the gooey brownie is delicious.
They smell amazing: like caramel mints or peppermint candy canes, reminding me that the next bank holiday will be Christmas. It seems a long way off now but…
Rum and Mint Brownies (original recipe here)
Makes 9 rather enormous brownies, or 16 delicate nibble-sized bites
For the mint cream
- 175g full-fat cream cheese
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 25g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- About ½ tsp mint extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the brownie
- 225g dark chocolate
- 100g unsalted butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 whole medium eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 50ml dark rum
- 175g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Line the base and sides of a 20cm square baking tin with nonstick paper or foil. For the mint cream, beat together all the ingredients until smooth.
- For the brownie, melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan, spoon into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk and rum until smooth, then stir in the flour and baking powder.
- Spoon the chocolate mixture into the tin, then spoon in dollops of the mint cream, embedding each scoop into the chocolate with a wiggle of the spoon. With the handle of the spoon, carefully make swirl patterns through the chocolate into the mint mixture, then bake at 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4 for about 25 minutes, until risen and lightly golden but still a bit gooey inside. Remove from the oven and leave until cold, then slice.