Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How can something this simple be this hard!

Brownies by Bombay Foodie

Brownies are one of those recipes bakers are supposed to whip up in a jiffy. Grandmas make brownies. Why, even 5 year olds bake brownies. And yet, I've been disappointed with recipe after recipe.

Finally, I turned to the most trusted baking gurus of all. And finally, in Dorie Greenspan's classic brownies, I have a winner.

I halved the recipe and got six of these gorgeous creations. And let me tell you that this is the stuff brownie legends are made of. Fudgy but not overly so, gooey but not excessively, and not even too sweet. There's also a hint of coffee in there that somehow makes it more chocolate-y. I've finally found a keeper!

Update: Since so many of you asked, here's the recipe. Line a 7 X 4 inch dish with foil or parchment paper. Or use an 8 inch square dish and double the recipe to give you Dorie's original measures. Preheat the oven to 160 C or 325 F.

Measure out 35 grams butter and 85 grams chocolate (I used 70% dark, but even something lighter is fine). Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, stir and continue to heat in 10-20 second increments until chocolate is fully melted. Add 3/8 cup powdered sugar. Wait until the mixture cools a bit, then whisk in one egg. Once its mixed in, add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and 1/4 tsp instant coffee granules. Mix well, then fold in 1/6 cup flour. Don't be heavy handed here, only stir until the flour in just mixed in. Finally, mix in 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.

Pour into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is dry and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the dish comes out with only a few crumbs. If you get a clean toothpick, you overcooked your brownies so don't go too far. Wait for the brownies to cool before you unmold them. I cut mine into 6 brownies and Dorie says her original recipe will give you 16 pieces so I guess it depends on how big you make each piece.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Like Water for Chocolate

Laura Esquivels' first novel could have been a simple love story of two star crossed lovers. Instead, Tita and Pedro become characters in something that's part fable and part fantasy. Set in Mexico, and published in monthly instalments, the novel has a chapter for each month of the year.

Because so much in Tita's life in linked to the kitchen and the food she cooks, every chapter starts with a recipe. The dishes may look ordinary at first glance but their effect on the book's cast is nothing short of magical. With every passing month, the book's magic draws you to Mexico and its strange ancient traditions.

So much in the book is linked to weddings that I decided to bake Mexican wedding cookies in honor of the book.



Also called snowballs, these are really gorgeous cookies. The recipe comes straight from Lottie & Doof, although I replaced pecans with walnuts. As a quick recap, toast 1/2 cup walnuts and chill them. Measure out 1/3 cup icing sugar and use 2 tbsp of that to mix with walnuts. Grind the walnuts+sugar finely in a processor.

Beat 100 grams softened butter with the remaining sugar. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and mix it in. Add the ground walnuts, mix well and then add a cup of plain flour. Mix everything until thoroughly combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake in an oven preheated to 170C for 15-20 minutes (or until the cookies get to light golden).

Let cool completely, then sift icing sugar all over the cookies.

If you'd like to see more Mexican treats, head over to the book club for other members' take on the book.