Whoa! Have we already turned 2? Yes, my virtual baby celebrates its 2nd birthday today! I really, really do owe you a lot for helping me complete 2 full years. Clichéd as it may sound, comments and mails from readers are one of the biggest highs in the life of a blogger. My sincere thanks to you for giving me these highs and always inspiring me to do better. A big heartfelt thank you!
While on this, I must admit, the blog has really, really grown on me. If you blog too, then you know it becomes so much a part of you. Blogging can almost be described as a life altering phenomenon.
Food, which was only fun and interest hitherto, becomes something you are really really serious about! The blog which starts out as a way to share your baking adventures, becomes almost an obsession. The little bit of baking you were earlier doing, now becomes something you have to do on an almost everyday basis or at least move in the direction of doing something. The little list of want-to-try bakes grows a mile longer. Baking for fun, becomes a serious ever growing passion. On a lighter note, by way of introduction, you may tend to say, 'Hey, this is me, I write a baking blog'. Things like, you kind of get irked not seeing 'blogger' as one of the tick options for occupation in forms :).
The little but indispensable fuel food blogging needs is a bit of appreciation from readers, a few satisfied ummms, a few plates licked clean. The 'it worked for me' mails and comments, which cheer you no end, add to the fire of passion!
Blogging and baking get to you, rule your mind. When you want to take your mind off things, the best stress buster you know - cook or bake something! Again, baking something good or not-so-good makes or spoils your day. You either are grinning from ear-to-ear like the proverbial cat who got the cream - successful recipe and decent pictures ! Or snap at folk around you and be a pain (or shall we make it less of a joy?) when you are not-so-successful with a recipe, compounded by barely there pictures. Happens to me and quite often :(. How about you?
And sometimes, you want to write something nice, but of course its just the perfect time for the writers block to make its appearance! You have something in mind for a particular post and you just-miss the mark, at more than a couple of attempts. You start all over again. The economy thrives, you buy more butter, more flour, more eggs ( poultry flourishes because of us!). You give away all the fruits..err breads, cakes, puffs of your labor to everybody you can think of, there isn't anyone spared. But you are still quite not there! So what you do you do? Now with very little time left for that post, you silence that persistent voice in the head to bake something you have not baked yet, something impressive. And stick to something seriously safe but still very good, like brownies...Moist, rich, the texture between fudge and mousse, very chocolaty brownies which are a chocolate lover's delight.
These are again from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-The-Mouth Cookies.
In the book, Alice says, when chocolate is melted and used in cookies and brownies the cacao percentage is really important for the right texture and moistness. But when you are using them as chips or chunks in the batter, you can use chocolate with any percentage of cacao. (Cacao percentage is the total of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor in the chocolate) Meaning chocolate with higher cacao percentage, will be darker and have a more assertive, more intense chocolate flavor, less sugar and less milk solids, hence less sweet. She says success rates are higher when the chocolate with the specified cacao percentage mentioned in the recipe is used. I find premium quality chocolate prohibitively expensive, hence I have used the brand of dark compound chocolate I normally use. This may have resulted in a slightly different texture than intended, but it was nevertheless very very tasty.
Alice describes the texture of these brownies as between a very moist cake and rich chocolate mousse. One of the secrets is whipping the eggs with some salt.
Bittersweet chocolate, chopped (70% cacao) - 224 grams / 8 oz
Unsalted butter, cut into pieces - 6 tablespoons - 85 grams approximately
Eggs - 3
Sugar - 7 oz / 1 cup ( I have measured and then powdered it, you can reduce about 1.5 tablespoons for slightly less sweet brownies, I will do this next time)
Salt - Scant ( slightly less than) 1/4 teaspoon
Pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
All purpose flour - 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 1.75 oz/ 49 grams approx
Procedure: Grease and line an 8'' square tin with baking parchment or aluminum foil. You need to line all the four sides, this will help lift the brownies out easily and cut them.
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Mise en place.
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a bowl set over barely simmering water. (I use the microwave for this). When the chocolate is melted, set aside. Take the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on high speed till the eggs are thick and light colored, about 2 minutes. Whisk the warm chocolate into the egg mixture. Fold in the flour. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of gooey batter. A few moist crumbs is fine. Do not over bake or your brownies will not be as moist. Mine took about 32 minutes.
Cool the brownies in the pan over a cooling rack. Lift the brownies out using the edges of the foil or parchment. Cut into squares.
I cut the brownies soon as they cooled. It did not give me very neat squares, but very very nice ones, with a lovely texture. I would suggest you do not put them in the refrigerator for better squares (as I did!) as it will not be as gooey. Cut them as is once they cool, eat at least some them right away! I put a part of the brownies in the fridge as I wanted better cuts for the pictures! Though these looked neater when cut, they lost the gooey appearance (as my pictures show, please don't go by the pictures to decide the texture). The ones which remained outside the fridge taste better than the ones refrigerated.
My brownies rose and then deflated a bit in the oven. The last moment post sent me into a frenzy, making me forget to reduce the sugar, probably over whip a bit, I did not line the tin neatly so the batter oozed out from the gaps, parchment stuck to the pan - Jeez! The works! In spite of all these, the brownies are really yumm, very certainly a keeper of a recipe! You bet I will be making these again!
Before I end the post, I would like to say, all the effort, the time, the joys and the frustration is all worth the while as there isn't a chance I would swap baking and blogging for any hobby in the world. Its isn't easy, but its infinitely rewarding . And with readers like you, inspiring comments like yours make it even more so.
Thanks again, hope to see you around and hear from you soon...
These brownies are my last entry to my event Cakes And More Cookie Fest . One lucky person will get a copy of Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-The-Mouth Cookies. Hope you have sent all your cookies to me! If you haven't yet, am still waiting!