Thursday, July 17, 2008

life's little instructions

there's a framed poster my mom put up in our bathroom called "life's little instructions." it's got all these cliches like "treat everyone like you want to be treated" and "be forgiving of yourself and others." my favorite, though, is the 5th one on there: "never refuse homemade brownies." i couldn't agree with this one more.

i'm currently attempting to try a bunch of recipes to pick out my favorites [favorite chocolate chip recipe, favorite favorite brownie recipe, etc]. i recently stumbled upon this recipe for "new classic brownies"...perfect! that is exactly what i am trying to find/create/realize. so of course, i gave it a shot.

this recipe is a bit different than ones i've tried in the past because instead of using cocoa powder, you use melted making chocolate. also, as soon as you take the brownies out of the oven, you put them in a ice cold waterbath to stop them from cooking any further. interesting concept...seems like it would keep them really fudgy in the middle.

after baking them for the recommended 20 minutes, they looked perfectly done, so i stuck them in the bath i had prepared. and after waiting for them to completely cool [which was superhard because they smelled delicious], they were still really mushy inside and hard to cut. my sister and i tried a little and decided they needed to go back in for a bit longer. underdoneness aside, let's get on to the more important success factor: the taste.

oh my god. amazing. i almost didn't want to put them back in the oven because i didn't want to part with them. but i did, if not for the doneness then for the sake of them holding up well enough to take pictures of them.

after taking them out the second time, they were perfect. i already wrote down the recipe and put it in my keepers box :]

i did, however, make some minor changes to the original recipe. here's my adapted version:

new classic brownies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.

Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add nuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 22-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: Pour ice water into a large roasting pan or kitchen sink to a depth of about 1 inch. Remove pan from oven and place in water bath, being careful not to splash water on brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out and cut into 1-inch squares or wrap in foil.

mrs. field day

i have a problem. i keep collecting recipes with the full intention of trying them out...and then i never follow through. i just make the same stuff over and over and never try anything new.

that is about to change.

i've finally organized my recipes into two categories: the tried and true go on my recipe box and the to-try recipes go into a three ring binder. that way, it's easy to flip through, pick out something new, try it out and toss it if it turns out to be crap. or, copy it onto a recipe card and file it. i'm really pulling for the latter.

the first two i decided to try were top secret mrs. field's cookie recipes [let's just say i know people who know some people who know some things]. and needless to say, i expected these to be pretty good. i mean, c'mon, she makes money off these cookies...they gotta be pretty good right?

i made three different kinds: peanut butter [bottom left], white chocolate chip [bottom right], and my own variation, peanut butter with crushed pb puffins [top center]. they came out really really big. like really big. and flat. each recipe said it yeilded 12 cookies (rounded tablespoonfuls worth of batter). um, no. i did huge, heaping, tableglobfuls and still had about 18 cookies for each batch. ok so the size was kinda my fault but i always remembered mrs. field's for having ginormous cookies so you know...when in rome.

but i really didn't like how flat they came out. i like my cookies a little more cakey and a little less chewy. to be honest, i really wasn't blown away with the flavor. i mean, they tasted all right, but i wanna be better than just all right.

the whole crushed puffins thing was pretty much because we had over half a box left and no one was eating them. they actually turned out pretty good. not as crunchy as i expected, but they definitely gave some substance to the otherwise kinda blah pb cookie. i'd do it again. but as for the mrs. field's recipes...i'm gunna keep on looking.

oh well, on to the next experiment.