Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shrove Tuesday isn't as Shriven as it used to be

My ‘giving up chocolate for Lent’ plan proved spectacularly unsuccessful, lasting as it did a mere three days. (Although on the 'being able to eat chocolate again' scale, it's actually been a roaring success, obviously!)

It wasn’t my fault, mind, it was the beer.

Ilkley ‘The Mayan’, specifically, at the Cask in Pimlico. It’s a chocolate chipotle stout, and certainly the best beer I’ve had this year. (And I've drunk some good beer this year).

Chocolate beers can be a bit hit'n'miss, and I’ve never drunk a chilli beer that I could honestly say I really enjoyed, but Ilkley – one of my favourite breweries at the moment –  manage to get the combination just right.

It wasn't that surprising given that, in just a few years, the Yorkshire brewery has shown itself to be remarkably adept at experimental beers - like their Crafty Jane cranberry milk stout - as well as doing a fine line in big, hoppy pale ales, which, to my mind, should be any credible brewer's meat and drink

At 5.3% the Mayan had enough stouty weight behind it not to be watery, but was still staunchly in ‘quaffable’ territory. The cocoa on the nose was like an upmarket chocolate milkshake, while the heat only comes through at the finish and leaves a nice lingering burn.

It's worth breaking your Lenten fast for!

Anyway, back when Mrs B-V and I were still hopexpecting to go 40 of the King’s days without chocolate, I made our Shrove Tuesday particularly shriven with a big, fuck-off pancake feast of depraved, sickly decadence.

(It’s a good word, hopexpecting, even if it’s not a real one.)

Peanut butter...
Wanting to do something a little bit special, I came up with the idea of a triple-decker pancakey stack with Peanut Butter, Vanilla Fudge Sauce and White Chocolate Cream.

I'll say that again. Peanut Butter, Vanilla Fudge Sauce and White Chocolate Cream.

One more time:  Peanut Butter, Vanilla Fudge Sauce and White Chocolate Cream. With my cream- and maple syrup-infused pancakes. All on the one plate.

Yes. Yes, I know. Sounds almost too good, doesn't it? Here's the recipe:

The Great God Pancakes

Ingredients - makes two stacks of three pancakes (with a bit of contingency for the first one going wrong)

Plain flour, 4oz
Butter, salted, for frying
...Vanilla Fudge sauce...
Eggs, two
Milk, Semi-skimmed, about 1/2 pint
Granulated sugar, a heaped tablespoonful
Cream, a dash
Real Maple Syrup, a dash

Crunchy Peanut Butter
Whipping cream, about 1/3 pint

White chocolate, several squares

For the hot Vanilla Fudge sauce:

Butter, salted, 1.5oz
Vanilla sugar, 3oz
Cream, one heaped tablespoonful


Make sure your flour is sieved, or at least work it over with a fork to get rid of any lumps, then stir in the eggs, sugar and milk, until the consistency is runny but smooth and takes about half a second to drop off a spoon.

Whip up the batter and add a dash of cream and a dash of maple syrup if you like - this will give your pancakes a bit of an edge and the crispy bits will caramelise slightly.

With pancakes it never does any harm to make the batter in advance and keep the stuff in the fridge. Whether or not you do this, you'll want to prepare your fudge sauce and chocolate cream before you cook the pancakes.

Making the fudge sauce is dead easy - just whack a saucepan on a medium heat and pop in the vanilla sugar and butter. As the butter begins to melt, you can start stirring it up with a big wooden spoon, and then pour in a little cream for extra, err, creaminess.

The sauce will be ready in a few minutes, and I'll warn you now: It's nigh-on impossible to avoid tasting some right now.

...and white chocolate cream!
The White chocolate cream is also a piss of piece (not literally, obviously). Finely grate the chocolate into chocolately snowdust and whip up the cream with a whisk in the traditional fashion. Sprinkle in the chocolate just as it starts to thicken and you're done.

Right... when you're ready to cook the pancakes, melt a little butter in a frying pan (or a dedicated flat pancake pan if you have one) and pour in the batter mix, making sure it's not too thick but not too thin.

Be prepared to throw the first one away (it'll come out odd-looking and unevenly cooked, but this serves to condition the pan for it's pancakey brethen) and do your own thing when it comes to tossing mid-way through if you feel so inclined.

Having done all the hard work, the rest of the prep is straightforward.

Pancake on the plate. Cover with peanut butter. Another pancake on top. Pour on the fudge. And then your top pancake, followed by the chocolate cream.

Eat while the pancakes are still hot, before the whipped cream melts, undoing all your good work with the whisk.

And there you have it, possibly the most decadent pancake dish ever devised.


  1. Dear Ben,

    Just a quick message to say I really love you food blog.

    I wish I could write like that.


  2. You can write like this, Ron.

    Firstly, believe in yourself.

    Then, simply cut and paste everything I've written into another blog and pass it off as your own work!


Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.