Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make It Yourself

If you are a serious baker, known to be picky about your baked goods, many people will be loath to bake for you. They worry that you will be disappointed, that you would rather have something you made yourself or something made by a professional baker. They may or may not be right about this. The upshot of this is that if you want a cake on your birthday you have to make it yourself. I usually do buy myself a birthday present but I've never baked myself a cake. It doesn't seem right somehow.

My birthday is this Saturday. I am going out to dinner and I will eat some dessert made by a professional. If my friends manage to speak to the waitstaff on the side (they usually do and on one occasion got me involved in a questionable contest) there may even be a candle in this dessert. But I felt like some dessert today. In lieu of a whole cake I made some brownies using one of my favorite recipies. It's from the Califonia Culinary Academy book Cookies at the Academy.

3oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 Tbs butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

As I said, I really like this recipe but I didn't have everything I needed so I made some changes. I did not want to open a new box of brown sugar so I used all granulated and I didn't have any walnuts. I also used cake flour instead of all purpose. This made the brownies very tender with a fine crumb. I have also been known to use only one egg. This results in a chewier browny. But I felt like cakey today so I used two. The lack of brown sugar also makes for a less chewy brownie.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First, combine the butter and chocolate and melt them over hot water.

Once they have melted completely set the mixture aside to cool.
Grease and flour an 8x8 pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stir to mix.
Combine the sugar and eggs and beat at high speed until thick.

Add the vanilla and the chocolate mixture then the flour mixture and beat until well combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. On this occasion I used a pan I got at The Pit in the last Christmas grab bag. It has a pattern etched into it to make it stick resistant. I still needed to grease the pan but the first brownie (which sometimes gets mangled) came out just fine.
Be sure to get all the batter out of the mixing bowl. The bowl licking squad may try to prevent this. Try throwing the beater to distract them while you scrape out the bowl.

Bake for 2o-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Let the pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Cut the brownies and stand back. Since the cats were the only ones here I still have some brownies. I'm going to freeze some of them for future dessert need.


Kicking N. Screaming said...

Those are stunning. I just made another round of Rick Katz' Best Ever Brownies (possibly at the EXACT same time you were making these). I love them but sometimes they fail to set at all. It makes for yummy vanilla ice cream topping, but renders them completely untransportable. This is sad since I was making them for the daycare staff. Hope your birthday didn't fail to set :)

karen said...

Those brownies look SO delicious! As soon as we're done with Easter treats, I think I'll try a batch of my own!

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