Monday, November 29, 2010

The day after

The choco chip cookie bars from last night have actually held up well. A bit dry, but still chewy in the middle. (It would have helped if I'd properly stored them of course - sitting overnight in the pan uncovered is NOT proper storage.) Next time, I need to watch them a bit better to avoid overcooking.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not a brownie, but....

Today I tried out another recipe in the new brownie pan. Instead of brownies, though, I went with cookie bars - chocolate chip cookie bars. I'm putting this one in the success column. (Though I think I need to buy new brown sugar as the stuff I used was all dried out.)

The recipe: For the chocolate chip cookie bars, I used the recipe that I found on the back of the Ghiradelli bittersweet chips that I bought for last week's brownie recipe. It's a pretty standard cookie recipe - butter, sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, vanilla, choco chips. The yield on the recipe was four dozen, though, so I cut it in half. (Luckily I have a conversion chart, so I could easily half 3/4 of a cup.)

The results: The bars tuned out thick, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. I'm glad I halved the recipe. Overall, they turned out yummy, if you like a crispy & chewy cookie, which I do.

Bottom line: Good. I would make these again. I just hope they age well. My concern is that they may be rocks tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christening the pan

So last night I made my first batch with the new pan. It's a Martha Stewart branded pan (the boy's got taste!), so in honor of the queen of all things homemaker, I decided to christen the pan with one of her recipes. 

The recipe: I chose Martha's recipe for ginger brownies. I chose this recipe for a few reasons. First, I like the combo of dark chocolate & ginger - I'm a big fan of spice in chocolate. Also, it's late fall & gingerbread is coming into season. This recipe is the first true scratch brownie that I've made in a while. I know it's generally frowned upon by bakers of the world, but I usually make my brownies from a mix - Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, to be precise. I doctor it up quiet a bit (extra vanilla, some sea salt), but it's still a mix. Scratch brownies just involve a lot more planning. But since this was the first batch with the new pan, I wanted to go all out. 

The results: This recipe calls for both bittersweet chocolate & cocoa. They're definitely chocolately. But because of all that bitter chocolate, they're really not all that sweet. The spice in them (ginger, nutmeg, and clove) actually makes them almost savory. The recipe calls for fresh grated ginger. I opted to take candied ginger & add chopped bits instead, 'cause I like bits in my brownies. After eating a few over the course of the day, I think I've decided that I'm not loving this recipe. It's a great sundae brownie - with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, they'd be great. They're so bittersweet that they need a creamy element, just like putting milk in coffee. 

Bottom line: I might make these again, though I'd probably go with a semisweet chocolate base & maybe a bit more sugar. And I'd make them when I knew brownie sundaes were anticipated. (If you like a more savory, less sweet dessert, then you'd probably really like these. I'd recommend having some vanilla bean ice cream on hand, though, just in case...)

Let the blogging begin!

Over the past year or so I've become the "brownie girl" amongst my friends. BBQ? I'm bringing the brownies. Dinner party? I'm bringing the brownies. Family party, pot luck, you name it - I'm bringing the brownies. It's become my trademark. I've been trying out different combinations of mix-ins over the year too - some more successful than others. I'm always on the lookout for new & unusual combos.

Some of the more successful combos:

  • Dark chocolate with peanut butter chips (classic)
  • "Elvis" - banana peanut butter mixed into the brownie batter plus peanut butter chips
  • Cinnamon with white chocolate chips
  • Mint chips (another classic)
  • Heath Bar toffee chips (with cinnamon or without)
  • Yogurt cheesecake swirl - not everyone's favorite, but I like the zing the yogurt cheese lends to a cheesecake batter
Combos that didn't work out as well:
  • Red velvet cream cheese swirl - sorry, Sunny Anderson, but I wasn't as happy with your recipe as I hoped to be
  • Rocky road - too many marshmallows in the mix, so they floated to the top & basically formed a chewy crust instead of the gooey bits I was anticipating
  • Cinnamon chips - cinnamon in the batter = good; cinnamon chips, not so much
The inspiration for this blog was driven by this year's birthday present from my friend Brian. He knows me well, and he's a regular taste tester for my wacky mix-in combos. (I must pause to tell you that Brian's inspiration for this gift was partially from his roommate & our mutual friend, Sean, who in turn was inspired by Oprah and her "favorite things".) Anyway, Brian's perfect gift to me this year was a brownie pan - specifically for brownies. One of those ones with the grid that you press into the batter before baking - not only does it pre-slice the brownies (so they're all perfect rectangles), but it also gives every brownie edges & middles. Since this pan has inspired me to bake more brownies, I decided that I needed to start logging my endeavors, and starting a blog seemed like the perfect way to track my successes & failures, as well as share ideas with my reader(s). (Sue, I know you're out there!)