Making Brownies

As for baking, I thought I’d start with something I’ve done a million times:

Brownies.

Okay, exaggeration, not a million, but I’ve done them before quite a lot.
Best thing about baking is that you have your recipe and as long as you stick to that, it’s pretty much guaranteed to turn out correct.

But a fair warning, if you are one of those people who are a stickler for rules and everything must. Be. Done. By. The. Book. Then you’re probably not going to enjoy my company very much.

Because I experiment, let’s just get that out in the open. If I don’t have one kind of ingredient, I can use something else and see how that turns out. Or add something just for fun.

Also, world, why do you not use metrics? WHY?
But because I’m nice, I’m going to be doing all the conversing of cups and stuff myself so you don’t have to worry your pretty heads about any of that.

As for preparations, make sure you have two pots, a pan, a baking sheet, something to stir with, ingredients, a clean kitchen towel and music is essential, guys.
I listen to practically anything with everything else sprinkled in between. Here, I’ll give you the playlist I listened to if you don’t feel like making one yourself: Here!

So here’s what the recipe list says:

1 cup (150 g/2,5 dl) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 oz (150 g) bittersweet (dark) chocolate
¾ cup (180 g/1,85 dl) butter
1½ cups (300 g/3,75 dl) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
3 large eggs
1 cup (100 g/2,5 dl) walnuts, coarsely chopped

Makes about 16 brownies.

Oven temperature: 350° Fahrenheit/180° Celsius/gas 4. If you have a wooden stove, I don’t know how to help you, just fire it up and make it up as you go or something, I never could get a handle on those things.

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Yeah, and let’s just say that vanilla essence? I’ve never used that stuff in my life. As a rule, when I see “vanilla essence”, I basically just translate that to vanilla sugar. Hey, it works just fine, so I’m not complaining.

And then there’s the ¼ teaspoon salt. Do you have any idea how little ¼ teaspoon is? It’s like three grains or something, so I use ½ teaspoon salt instead.

Also, walnuts in brownies? I don’t like walnuts, but maybe you do, so feel free to keep that if you want. I’ll be using roasted hazelnuts instead. Of course, if you don’t like (or are allergic to) nuts, you can always skip them. The brownies will taste fine without them too.

I’ve hit my first problem (wow, that didn’t take long….)! I only have two eggs at home instead of the three the recipe calls for, so I’ll just be using two then this time (they get a bit extra crumbly, and not as fluffy as usual, other than that, they are just fine).

So here’s what it looks like when I’m done with it:

1 cup (150 g/2,5 dl) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 oz (150 g) dark-ish baking chocolate
¾ cup (180 g/1,85 dl) butter
1½ cups (300 g/3,75 dl) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 (usually 3) large eggs
1 cup (100 g/2,5 dl) roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

By the way, my book says preparation time: 15 min + 1 hour to cool and they are complete liars. Filthy little liars who lie is what they are. At least if you have to chop nuts and chocolate, because that stuff takes time.

So, see, here in Sweden (where I live), we don’t always have exactly what it says in the recipe, alternatively  it’s just too damn expensive. For example; roasted hazelnuts. Now why would I buy roasted ones when I can do that at home for at least half the price?

So let’s roast them nuts!

2

Just get the oven started and then we can wait forever for my oven to actually get warm, so I’ll start mixing up the dry ingredients.
150 g flour (that’s 1 cup or 2,5 dl for anyone who’s interested), 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.

3

Mix all those in a bowl, a whisk is perhaps not recommended because this will get heavy later. A spatula works, but if you have a wooden/plastic spoon or something, that’s even better.

The oven is still not warm, so let’s chop up some chocolate. Go nuts. Pretend you’re the chocolate murderer terrorizing chocoville. I use baking chocolate, I’m aware there exists some sort of chocolate chip thingies elsewhere that you don’t actually have to chop up, but since I don’t have that, I get to play insanity with a knife.

4

Better than anger management. And fun.

I always manage to get chocolate everywhere, on my hands, some of it gets on the floor, some end up in my mouth (can’t imagine how), but it really doesn’t matter. The brownies won’t care if they get 145 grams of chocolate instead of 150, so it’s okay.

The oven is warm! Get those nuts on your baking tin and pop that into the oven for… Say 10 minutes? Just keep an eye on them. We want the “skin” to start cracking for easy removal. We do not want the nuts as black as my soul, that doesn’t taste very good.
Mostly ashy, if you have to know and don’t feel like trying.
Trial and error, my friends!

Since waiting is boring, let’s do something else. Dance crazy to music, do a slow waltz with yourself, have a fruit break with the younger minion of the household.

Litchi

Pomegranate

When you’re done with that and the nuts are done, spread that kitchen towel out on a flat surface. I would recommend a table, but the floor also works if your space is very limited. Or, you know, a flat rock. Flat is the operative word of the day!

Take the tin out of the oven and pour the nuts on the towel.

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Unsurprisingly, they’re hot, so no touching if you don’t like getting burned. Wrap the towel up like a burrito or something, however you feel comfortable with that makes sure no nuts escape. Then we rub them together through the towel, let them scrape what loose skin there is off themselves.
When you think you’re done, continue a little while longer before opening the towel up again  There will be skin pieces galore all over, so careful unless you want that everywhere.

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Now you can sort out the clean ones and plunk them into a bowl, others you can get pieces off with just your fingers. Some parts will stubbornly stay on and you can put those back in the oven if you want to, but chances are they’re stuck pretty good and won’t come off.
That doesn’t actually matter, so don’t mind if some are stuck.

Then we lay some of the nuts on the chopping board, pick up the knife and start chopping.
Thing is here that you don’t want to put too many nuts on the chopping board at once and we only want them coarsely chopped, so some caution is unfortunately needed so we don’t end up with a fine powder.
Some will turn to powder no matter how much caution you use, so don’t worry.
When all the nuts are chopped up, just put them into a bowl for waiting.

13

Now the recipe wants us to melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water. I’m lazy, so I crank up the heat to maximum and start the water boiling before turning it down to that simmer they want. (You guys know what a double boiler is, yeah? If not, google is your friend.)
Water goes in the lower pot, the water should not touch the upper pot if possible. You probably want a medium large pot for this by the way.

6

I usually cut my butter into small-ish pieces to make it melt faster.

Since I have nothing better to do, I usually just stand there, stirring the mixture until it’s all melted and mixed.

8
Then you remove it from the heat, because this needs to cool down a bit so we don’t accidentally boil the eggs in it.
Add the sugar gradually and then stir in the vanilla sugar as well.

9
I hope it’s cooler now, because now we stir in the eggs. I have a bad habit of letting some pieces of eggshells in with the egg, so I’ve finally learned my lesson and crack them in a glass first so I can check there’s not shell in it. Eating eggshells is pretty crunchy in all the wrong ways.
Two (though it should be three) eggs, stir the in one at a time.
Since the mixture is pretty thick by now, it takes some force to get that stuff blended, just keep on stirring like a madman.

10

After that my recipe tells me to fold the mixed dry ingredients into the chocolate-butter-sugar-eggs mix until just lightly blended while I look at the way too small pot in confusion.
So I do it the other way around, I just dump the whole chocolate mix into the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Lightly or otherwise.
Total anarchy in this kitchen, I tell you.

15

The nuts should be gently folded in, but as I said… Anarchy. Don’t tell me what to do. Mix that in there, folding is for towels.

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By the way, the pan you used for the nuts is probably the perfect size for the brownies. They tell me to butter and flour an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, but, uh, no.
It’s probably about that size, but I throw some cooking oil in there, spreading it over the inside of the pan and then the baking sheet sticks pretty well to that. Try to not get too much oil in there though, we want these brownies baked, not boiled.

“Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.”
Who even does that? I just dump the whole thing into the pan, scraping it out from the bowl and then pushing it around the pan until it has a flat-ish surface.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Or whatever thin stick you can find. Personally, I use a metal skewer, because we don’t use toothpicks and that’s the closest stick at hand for me, but hey, it works.

When your stick of choice comes out clean (that sounded really dirty), pull it out from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack in the pan for about an hour. After that you can try to either
A.) lift the whole thing out and cut it after, or
B.) you cut it in the pan and lift them out one by one.

But that sounds like too much work for me, so I go with option A.

Enjoy delicious brownies.

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~ by eldestminion on January 6, 2013.

9 Responses to “Making Brownies”

  1. They look delicious (and very good photos btw!)

  2. For years, my mom only made brownies from a boxed mix. She tried making homemade brownies when she was 7, but she added the hot chocolate to the eggs too soon and ended up with scrambled egg brownies! Yours sound really rich and decadent, just the way I like desserts!

    • Haha, scrambled eggs brownies doesn’t sound all that tasty, but who knows ;)
      Truth to be told, I’m not all that good at cooking (I swear, I’m hopeless in that department), but I’m somewhat good at this whole baking business.
      Desserts should always be decadent (according to me anyway) and these really are. You should try them out sometime :)

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