Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Diary of a slightly disappointing (yet delicious) brownie

When reading other food blogs, I often wonder - do these people ever have any culinary failures? Their food always looks and sounds so perfectly wonderful, I begin to think that they never cook food they are not 100% happy with.

Then the (vaguely) rational part of my brain kicks in. Of course they must make some mistakes. Otherwise how would they learn to be such great cooks. Perhaps they just choose not to include the less appetising creations. Or perhaps, they really are perfect cooks. I take heart from Julia from brilliant blog, A Slice of Cherry Pie who posted yesterday about some gorgeous-looking strawberry and apple ice lollies. She described the way they were tricky to extract from the moulds and mentioned that whilst they were delicious, she'd make them slightly differently next time (less apple, no seeds). For me, part of the joy of cooking has to be the element of 'trial and error'. If I didn't experiment, risk failure, then I would never improve.

Like Julia, I have been having difficulty extracting things from their containers this week. On Sunday night, I threw away a whole tray of flapjacks in disgust. I had lost my usual recipe (which is, I have to say, pretty close to perfect) and decided to try another which looked similar as I couldn't quite recall the quantities. The result was a slightly burnt, yet oddly unset and sticky goo that simply would not cut into squares and was liable to pull all your teeth out. Very strange.

On Monday, I decided to whip up some brownies to take into work on Tuesday. I decided to follow my mother's recipe, which was an odd decision as I have used it once before and it didn't seem to work that well on that occasion (so much for learning from mistakes). She assured me that it always worked for her though, so I prepared to give it another go. I was initially concerned by the relatively small amount of chocolate in the recipe, but the resultant brownies were perfectly chocolaty. I am not a fan of 'bits' in brownies, especially nuts which I do not particularly like with chocolate (we are all different, after all). I therefore decided to add a dimension by using half Green and Black's Maya Gold chocolate which has a hint of orange, spices and vanilla.

Whilst cooking, the brownies filled the kitchen with a gorgeous chocolaty fug. Promising. On extraction from the oven, the top was suitably crisp and the interior gloriously damp and squishy.

The difficulty lay in extracting the brownies from the pan. Ok. Ok. I can hear you. I should have used non-stick. You are right, I am sure. However, I still think it would have been a struggle - they were so soft in the middle, they just would not hold a shape. I decided to pop them back in the oven a little longer - wary that I did not want to overcook the beauties. This made virtually no difference whatsoever. Hungry and frustrated, I scooped out 'some' brownie (as opposed to 'a' brownie). It tasted good, so that was something at least. It was late, I decided to cover the brownies and leave overnight and look at the situation afresh in the morning, once they were totally cool.

Tuesday morning, 6.45 am. I took a deep breath and tackled the brownies again. Not much improvement, but I succeeded in scooping out some square-ish shapes, though a fair bit of brownie was left in the pan...

...Wednesday pm. I return home and take a look at the brownies. A look, did I say? More like a great big bite. Or two. Or possibly three. Mmm. These are very delicious brownies. An odd shape, slightly too soft rather than chewy but very good all the same. There is definitely room for improvement though. I shall have to make a study of where I went wrong. Work I am only too happy to undertake...!

I have other recipes for brownies, of course, and shall be sure to try another soon. But I publish this one here (origin unknown as it is from my mother) - perhaps you can tell me where I went wrong?!


2oz good quality dark chocolate

4oz butter

21/2oz plain flour

8oz caster sugar (vanilla sugar, if you like)

2 eggs

(Walnuts - optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Melt chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool.

2. Add 8 oz sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition.

3. Add flour (and nuts if using). Mix together lightly.

4. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8 inch tin (or 7 by 11).

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until knife comes out almost clean.

6. Leave in tin to cool for ten minutes, they will firm up (no they won't - ed!). Cut into small squares and cool on a wire rack.


Lynn said...

I've just spent last night and this evening reading your blog from the start. Wonderful. Food looks great and I like your writing style. Added to my favourites.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm sorry you had problems removing the brownies from the pan - they look good, though! Fudgy and delicious!

A bit of a foodie said...

Hello Lyn,

Thank you so much for your comment. And I am so pleased that you 'found' me so that I could find you. I have enjoyed looking at yours and shall check back regularly.

Julia said...

Oh dear, not more extraction trouble! :-)

Yep, I can assure you I have my disasters, but as you say that's how we learn and improve (gotta look on the bright side, eh?).

I'm very flattered by your mention of me and my blog - thank you!

I did laugh at your description of taking out 'some brownie' as opposed to 'a brownie', but I bet it did taste fabulous with that gorgeous Maya chocolate in them - what an inspired idea!