Jan 13, 2010

If at First You Don't Succeed... Make Brownies

Before I say anything else I need to get something off my chest. I [insert favorite expletive here] hate my oven! A few days ago, I uncovered what looked to be like a fantastic scone recipe. Well, it looked like a good scone recipe, but I wanted to make it fantastic. So to make a long story short, the world will never know if they were fantastic because of my [use the same or second favorite expletive here] oven hates me. It burns up the flesh of everything I stick in there,  leaving the inside doughy enough to throw at the second story window of any building and have it stick. Trust me on that.

So in a nutshell, the scones didn’t pass the taste test. But if at first a practicing foodie doesn’t succeed… she makes brownies.

There is something so nostalgic about brownies. Maybe it's an evolutionary thing since I would argue most humans come out of the womb loving brownies. While that may be a stretch, I really don’t understand why brownies get me so weak in the knees!

Although I am a practicing foodie, cooking hasn’t always been my biggest obsession. My obsessive personaility trait all started off with stickers I believe. I was a 10 year old sticker junkie. I had an encyclopedias worth of sticker books. Why? I don’t know. What did I do with them all? nothing. Then there was my Spongebob phase. Besides day dreaming of being a little old lady with a ‘bikini bottoms’ mural painted on my bedroom wall, I had a shrine dedicated to him in my closet. Then came an obsession with Clay (no. not the sculpting kind. More like the American Idol kind). MOVING ON! Then I went away to college and a funny thing happened. I was in a shoebox of a room with a microwave, mini fridge, a can opener, and all I wanted to do was BAKE. So I worked with what I had. I made pudding pie (store bought graham cracker crust and Jell-O pudding packs) and created my own innovations. I took marshmallows, rolled them in melted chocolate, and then rolled them in graham cracker crumbs. I always left them along with chocolate covered strawberries in the dorm lounge, greeting whoever walked in. Then I tried scones (from a mix). I found a working oven, conveniently placed right next to the washer and dryer. Besides a slight hint of laundry detergent, they were GOOD scones. Now that those dorm days are long gone I can smile because life is way better in the world of apartments with kitchens.

Okay back to the brownies!!! These brownies remind me of my first college years because they are so simple and would have been perfect to make in my little shoebox . This requires ONE microwavable bowl.  ONE 8 x 8 inch baking pan. And ONE oven, preferably not a [first expletive here] oven.

I took these out of the oven two hours ago, and the aroma is still clinging to the walls. One day ill invent brownie room spray ( hmm… I see a new obsession in my future).

While these bake I suggest closing all windows and doors in order to marinate your self in the delicious air. Close your eyes and I bet you will be able to smell each individual ingredient: the butter, the cocoa, the sugar, the NUTELLA as they bake together into a beautiful 8 x 8 brownie.

The Practicing Foodie Brownie

•    10 Tbs. Butter (always unsalted)
•    1 Cup + 3 Tbs. Sugar
•    ¾ Cup + 2 Tbs. Cocoa Powder
•    ¼ tsp. Salt
•    1 ½  tsp. vanilla
•    2 eggs (I used Large)- room temp!!
•    ½ Cup Flour
•    Nuts (OPTIONAL)
•    A nice big spoonful of Nutella                               

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan

In a large glass bowl (I used a 4-cup glass measuring cup) stir together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Then cut the butter into chunks and add it to the sugar mixture.

Place this  in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again. Do this until the butter is melted and incorporated.

Now stir in the vanilla and Nutella while it is still warm so the Nutella melts nicely. Wait for it to cool down for a couple of minutes so the heat doesn't cook the eggs when you add them. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat vigorously until well mixed. Add the second egg and stir vigorously again, until the batter is thick and shiny and everything is incorporated well.

Now add the flour and mix, stirring really well for about 30 seconds.  This can be a bit of a work out.

Now add the nuts, if you want too. I usually add walnuts, but since I was out of walnuts I used some pistachios I had. This was an experiment so I only sprinkled the pistachios on 1/3 of the pan once the brownie mix was poured in. I must say, I thought the chocolate pistachio flavor was great! Next time I may add the pistachios into the batter!! If you are skeptical, pour half the batter into one side of the pan, add pistachios to the remaining batter and pour it to the other half of the pan. One of my mottos is to do one thing that scares you everyday. This could be your one thing!

Pop this into the oven… I hesitate to give you a time since your oven is probably going to cook much different than mine (I envy you). I bake mine exactly 20 minutes and they are perfect. You should bake them until a toothpick comes out nearly clean, except for a little rawness at the bottom.

Sit down, relax and enjoy the foodie aromatherapy.

I suggest waiting until they are completely cool before cutting them. But if you cant wait that long… I understand.

Happy baking.

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