Sometimes when the sun shines and the sky is blue, life feels like a Kinks’ song. On Saturday, I found this especially true when surrounded by good food and family in the Chilterns. As the sun came up, the t’wit t’twoo of the previous night’s owls gave way to birdsong. At breakfast, gray skies rolled in and rain poured threatening our afternoon of fun. Thankfully the sun soon emerged and everyone sighed a sigh of relief then began basking in its glow.
My three year old sat listening to the ticking of the clock in the foyer (she can’t tell time), until her cousins arrived for lunch at half past noon. This is when the real fun began. The kind of fun that starts with the holding of little hands in the garden, laughing at grownups, and racing up and down the lawn. Of course this merriment ends with grass stains, wine stains, coffee stains, and endless laundry for days, but all of that scrubbing is worth every giggle and good moment.
Post chicken, ham, and leek pie, we taught the little ones about spread betting. We had to. It was the Grand National. Unlucky for us, we were placing a bet on Many Clouds at the last minute but the William Hill server was too busy and the race started before our transaction completed. C’est la guerre.
The children had no interest in the Oxford Cambridge boat race and thusly engaged in their own championship game of Beetle. The winner got the rest of last weekend’s Easter candy. The losers got sour grapes, marmite toast, and tea with Super Ted.
Finally, we had an all family boules tournament fuelled by brownie sundaes. With hot salted caramel and chocolate sauce to choose from, everyone was a winner. Below are my recipes for both. I hope you enjoy them. The brownies I made were Alice Medrich’s from Food 52.
300ml of thick cream (double cream)
100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into pieces
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup of caster or granulated sugar
100 grams of butter (cut into cubes)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
fleur de sel
For the chocolate sauce – In a heat proof bowl, combine the chocolate and golden syrup. Place it over a simmering pot. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir it. Add half the container of cream and continue stirring to incorporate. Take off the heat and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and a pinch of fleur de sel.
For the salted caramel – Put the sugar in a small pot and melt over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until melted. When it starts to turn tawny in color, add the butter. Be sure to keep stirring though take caution as the butter can cause the caramel to sputter. Once that’s incorporated, add the remaining cream. Take off the heat and add 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel and 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
Serve over your favorite ice cream and enjoy. Keep the remaining sauces in glass jars in the fridge and reheat as needed. I keep them for about a month.