So, apparently brownie recipe #2 was not awful. People...actually enjoyed them. One of my friends called the "amazing", but to be fair that is her favorite adjective so it means a little less coming from her.
The also remained surprisingly moist and delicious despite not really having that much liquid in them to begin with. I think with non-whole-wheat flour they could actually be pretty good.
So, with the clearer head that comes from a good night's sleep, I'm ready to talk about the brownies.
They are, to be fair, worlds better than my first batch. The use of actual sugar/flour helps that.
Worth noting: these brownies? Sort of expensive. It's a lot of cocoa, and 2 and 1/4 cups turns out to be like, half of a box of raw sugar. Which I guess wasn't that expensive, but still.
The good: super easy to make. Pretty fast.
So fast. You just mix the dry ingredients (there are a lot!)...
Puree the black beans...
So you just mix the beans and dry ingredients and some water (I was pretty indiscriminate with how much I added, I just kept going til the stuff could actually be mixed), and done. Except I went a little off the deep end, threw in a quarter cup of Kahlua, 2 T of vegetable oil (no added fat brownies just seem wrong) and 2 cups of not quite vegan chocolate chips. Then into a pan, and bake.
So then they came out. And they were better, but not great. I think the problem is the whole wheat flour. You can really taste it, and it's weird. Like the moistness and texture are what I'd expect from a normal brownie, but the flour thing is just off. Despite this, I went on a small brownie bender last night (I have my period and therefore a biological need for chocolate. It's just a fact), eating a giant one on my own and another decent sized one at my boyfriend's place, where the addition of chocolate avocado mousse was an excellent one. I have come back this morning and had a little more (it's my uterus's fault, not mine), and I still hate the whole wheat. They have held up surprisingly well otherwise, as they no longer have the allure of "warm gooey brownie" but as cold brownie, they are still decent. I might try this again with regular flour. Then again, I might give up on this black bean nonsense and move on to vegan baking that does not attempt to be healthy.
Regardless, I'm done with brownies for awhile. Chocolate chip cookies are next up for sure. I have everything I need except for margarine, which I am really tempted to just steal from my roommate. But I won't. Probably.
So I still had those brownies. I thought I could improve them by adding chocolate avocado mousse icing. Wrong-o. The stupid banana still overwhelms everything. I could have eaten the whole pan in a sad attempt to hope the next bite would taste like actual brownie, but I knew this to be futile. So off to work they went. Where they are still sitting, two days later. Because these brownies suck.
So after subjecting myself to watching others eat brownies while I could not, I went in search of a vegan brownie recipe. I found this recipe, and it used ingredients I already had on hand, so I figured, why not?
Looks good, no?
In actuality? Meh. I give these points for texture as they do in that way resemble a decent brownie. They do not, however, taste like a decent brownie. I can barely taste the chocolate. I should have been scared as they use banana, which I always find to be an overwhelming ingredient, flavor-wise, in brownies, and these are no exception. Anytime I've tried to substitute banana for egg in brownie recipes, the result has been disaster.
Given the easy/cheapness of this recipe, and the fact that it's actually pretty freaking good for you (bananas? black beans? practically no fat, which is probably why these tasted kind of terrible?) I will give these another shot. I'd definitely add more cocoa powder, maybe some chocolate chips/melted chocolate. And in the meantime, my brownie craving will remain unsated.
I'm a vegan now, and last week I had two eggs left to use up. I wanted something quick and easy (brownies) that I didn't have to use nice ingredients on since I wouldn't be eating them myself. So I did a quick search and found these, for which I could use my "crappy" Toll House chips and not my crazy ones from Whole Foods.
The recipe is super fast and easy. And the brownies? I went on vacation so they never reached their initial intended target, and I brought them into work today, a week after they were made. I think they were gone less than two hours after I left them for the vultures in the office kitchen, so I think that's an endorsement.
Gratuitous picture of snuggling otters from my vacation.
So for Lent, I'm subjecting myself to torture going vegan. This presents a challenge to baking, what with the lack of butter and eggs, and the fact that I've decided to give up refined sugar, too. Going vegan has not stopped my craving for sweets, so I decided to whip up a quick chocolate "mousse". There's many a variation of this recipe floating around on the internet, but I did
1/4 of an avocado
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. agave nectar
splash of kahlua and amaretto (because if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a lush)
Just throw these in the blender and mix. My blender didn't quite enjoy this so much so I ended up having to smush in a few pieces of the avocado with a fork. Then it goes in the fridge for a bit and...yum!
It looks a lot like pudding. I usually hate pudding. But this is so much better than pudding. Thicker, richer, more delicious, and totally vegan.
Fact: your baked goods are only as good as other people tell you they are.
Pretzel crack was deemed by the office better than regular crack.
Crazy bitch pie (wow that sounds dirty) was enjoyed by all who consumed. I personally felt it slightly lacking, maybe in spice, maybe the chocolate combo I used was weird...I'll be working on that one.
As you may have gathered, I've been having some problems at home of late. These center largely around a crazy person being brought into my home against my will. As therapy for this, a good friend had suggested I bake something for the occasion, a la Waitress, and behold, Crazy Bitch Get Out Of My House Pie was born. It is apt for getting crazy bitches out of one's house, as it is loud and annoying (uses the blender), includes things this particular crazy bitch hates (calories, also fun) and includes alcohol in case the crazy bitch won't leave and you need to feel better.
-1 sleeve saltines, crushed (you can do this by hand in the wrapper, because you have to take your rage out on something, and I recommend poor, defenseless crackers as opposed to, you know, people)
-Approx. 6T butter, melted
Mix these things in your pie plate. Press into crust shape. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.
Make the crust ahead of time and let it cool before you do the filling. Or don't, if you're impatient, like I am.
Spicy Chocolate Filling of Rage
2 1/4 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk, hot
2 T Kahlua
2 T chocolate liquor
1/3 c. Jacque Torres Wicked hot chocolate mix (because I had it on hand; you could use any spicy chocolate bar, or just throw in extra chips)
dash cinnamon, cayenne, chipotle chili powder (or whatever spices you like and have available)
Put chips, sugar, and eggs in blender and mix.
Add the hot milk, booze, hot chocolate mix, and spices. Mix more.
Pour into pie crust. Chill until firm.
Hope and pray that by the time the pie is ready the crazy bitch has left your home.
There is a land called Passive Aggressiva, and I am their queen. Actually, based on some other people I know, I am at best the princess of Passive Aggressiva, but I digress. I've been having some issues at home lately, so rather than trying to work them out like an adult, I instead chose to make the loudest recipe possible. I decided to make crack again. And you're thinking, how is laying out Saltines and caramel loud? It's not. This is true. You know what is loud? Grinding pretzels in the food processor because you've decided to do a pretzel crust instead of saltines as the base. And then when that doesn't work, crushing them using a tin can, because you don't have a rolling pin, because after a year and a half of being broken up your ex suddenly decided he wanted his rolling pin back, and you didn't call him out on that being BS, and instead just bitched about it in your blog. (See? I will rule Passive Aggressiva some day.)
And so now you're like, okay, they sound annoying, but how did it all taste? Jury's still out on that - the crust didn't come out like I wanted due to my inability to properly crush pretzels; I accidentally forgot half the butter in the caramel so it still tasted great but didn't quite cover the entire crust, resulting in me having to mix the caramel and pretzels into one layer, and then I threw more chocolate chips on top than I probably should have because they were needed to hold the whole thing together. I still have high hopes for the pretzels as a saltine substitute, I just need to work out the details.
My inadequately crushed pretzels. I need to buy a new rolling pin.
My inadequate food processor.
The "crust". In theory I like the idea of the pretzel chunks, but it makes the whole thing not stay together very well.
Baking the crust/caramel mixture.
I did half just chocolate chips, half chocolate and peanut butter chips.
The chips don't spread as easily on the uneven crust.
I have what might be called an unreasonable addiction to Food Network. Apparently there are people out there who think it's silly to watch TV about food rather than just eating food; I disagree. Whatever.
My current favorites are The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Cupcake Wars (more on that one later). I watch both while I'm on the treadmill because apparently I'm a masochist. While watching on Valentine's day, they were doing a Best Thing I Ever Ate episode about chocolate, which featured the dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies from the Levain Bakery in NYC. The good news is I've had these cookies, so I didn't get as envious as usual. The bad news is I've only had them once and was sick at the time, so I didn't really get to fully appreciate them.
So, when I stumbled across this recipe and had a party I needed to bring something to, Levain copycat cookies it was. They went over great with pretty much everyone I fed them to - I got asked at the party if the cookies were professionally made.
These are actually crazy easy and fast to make, particularly because they don't call for softened butter. Just cut it up and throw it in the mixer.
I'm usually not a stickler for ingredient quality, but I used Ghiradelli cocoa in this, and I really liked the way it came out. Using a really good, dark cocoa makes the batter a really rich, dark chocolate, which you want for these cookies.
The recipe called for making 9 cookies; I ended up with 14 and they were still huge.
I think these speak for themselves.
I was asked at one point what they were, and responded "double chocolate cookies."
"Really? Only one kind of chocolate?"
"Well, I guess technically there are five kinds of chocolate in there..."*
"So they're quintuple chocolate cookies."
Indeed they were.
*I used four different kinds of chocolate chips/chunks. This is definitely not necessary, but I'd just bought a bunch of new things to try (see previous post) and also had half a bag of regular semisweet chocolate chips that needed to be used up.
Ingredient quality is something I've never quite figured out about baking. Back in the day, we were a strictly Hershey's Cocoa/Toll House chips family. Then again, back in the day, I'm pretty sure there weren't all these crazy baking options, Martha Stewart wasn't a thing yet, etc.
Right when I graduated college I went through a generics phase. My sister practically had a heart attack when she saw my kitchen and its Kroger brand cocoa. Whatever, I was cheap, it still tasted good.
I converted to Ghiradelli for my chocolate chip needs about a year ago. I used to love eating regular old semisweet chocolate chips out of the bag, and now they just don't taste that good to me anymore. For generic chocolate chip cookies, my go to is the Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chip. SO much better.
Sometimes, though, a girl wants to branch out. I've been wanting to make those Levain bakery style cookies for awhile, and I felt these required a more quality chip. The regular grocery store doesn't have anything, so I ventured to Whole Foods. I knew this would be expensive, but holy crap.
The recipe I'd been looking at recommended Scharffen Berger chunks, so of course they didn't have these. After spending five minutes panicking over horrifying prices, I remembered that you only live once, and thus decided to suck it up. I purchased the following:
Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate disks
Dagoba choolate drops
a Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate bar
In total this cost me something absurd like $20. All, of course, were excellent. I think my favorite was the Guittard. It's a pretty big disk if you're doing chocolate chip cookies, but I'm personally a fan of that, and the taste was fantastic.
Overall this was absurd and I need to find somewhere to start buying nice chocolate in bulk. Costco only ever has Toll House which I did buy last weekend, but I can only use that for 'less nice' stuff. I'm starting to understand how bakeries charge absurd amounts for a brownie.
Everyone knows Cheez Its have crack in them. It's why they're so delicious. So I figured if crack was delicious in cheezits, it must be delicious in other food. So when I stumbled across a recipe for crack, I felt compelled to make it. Plus I had a huge box of Saltines laying around and this seemed a good way to use them.
It was not a good way to use them. It was a GREAT way to use them. One of the guys in the office is still stopping by hoping to find more, even though the stuff was gone by lunchtime the on Monday.
The other great thing about this recipe? SO EASY. Put saltines on a baking sheet, dump caramel on top, bake, throw chocolate chips on, done. Also caramel scares me because I have an extreme tendency to burn it (the scorched pans in my kitchen will testify to this), but this particular caramel is super easy and so far impossible to screw up.
Caramel. Not being burnt. Goes much better when it's butter + brown sugar, not this whole sugar and water business. Also more delicious. Somewhat less good for you.
I'm not entirely sure why the caramel has to be baked onto the crackers but I won't question it.
So I made these on Tuesday to bring to work and win the loyalty of my technicians. Alas, there are no pictures of them being made because I was
a) exhausted from getting up at 4:30am
b) in an intense rage at my roommate and trying to get out of my apartment as quickly as possible.
Anyway, these were pretty easy to make and very delicious. I threw in a cup of chocolate chips, because why not. Also because thirteen hour days mean I need as much sugar as possible. They came out slightly underbaked because I was worried about overbaking, but once they sat overnight they firmed up enough to be slicable. They went over extremely well with the guys at work, leaving me with only this sad brownie to take a picture of.