Sunday, 20 September 2009

Fudgey, chewy brownies...

As a food blog addict devotee, I have been reading about various people's quest for The Perfect Choc Chip Cookie. This is a worthy search, and I feel a bit like a cheat for reading all this and then only using the recipe that was deemed to be the best (courtesy of New York Times and Jacques Torres). I know it is getting a bit repetitive, but these really are great cookies. I tend to bake them a bit smaller, as 1/3cup per cookie seems excessive, even to me! Having given them to girlfriends, workmates and neighbours, I can attest to the universal appeal of these beauties. Many have asked for the recipe, and some have recommended these be sold at the markets. As a side note, the dough balls freeze really well. What could be better than fresh, warm, home-cooked choc chip biscuits on demand?! I will admit though, it's a little dangerous to have them in the house.

So, having found a reliable go-to choc-chip recipe (without having to do the work), I decided it was time to find a standy-by brownie recipe. For years I have been using Chocolate & Zucchini's Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake as a psuedo-brownie stand-in. It has worked remarkably well with all the variations I've tried (orange, raspberry, walnut, macadamia, caramel peanut), and has become a favourite of my family.

Despite this, I decided to carry on with the search. Having purchased Baked earlier this year, and reading that even Oprah loves their brownies, it seemed a good place to start.

And this is where the wheels fell off.... I made a batch the night before heading to Ireland to visit friends, as a thankyou gift for having us to stay. When I went to package them up I discovered that I had undercooked the middle. Undercooked it so dramatically that it was completely gooey and unusable. No matter, all but the middle third was boxed up and taken away. I froze the rest, figuring inspiration would strike at some stage.

The brownies were delicious and oh-so-rich, especially with the toffee drizzle I added. All were devoured by our lovely Irish friends.

Fast forward to take 2.. I've been reading some positive reviews of the King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownie Recipe. After seeing various comments suggesting that the best way to melt the butter/sugar combo was in a saucepan, this is what I did. Being careful to cook this batch thoroughly (duh), I was really happy with the results. A very rich, fudgey and chewy brownie. This made a full pan plus 12 mini brownie bites, which I iced with chocolate ganache. Yum!

In short, I think the KAF brownie is definitely a winner. I'll make them again, however I'll be sure to make the Baked version again too - as it was entirely my error that caused the earlier disappointment. It all worked out anyway, as the gooey bits are now the star of some vanilla-brownie icecream.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

MSC: Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

I was so excited to start baking along with Betty and the rest of the MSC group that I whipped these up a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, once I got started I realised that I didn't have enough zucchinis in the house.. so I improvised and threw a carrot in instead. The mix really reminded me of the Dorie Carrot Cake recipe (except with zucchini). I possibly overcooked them a little, as they were a little muffin-like. I'll be interested to see if any other bakers had this trouble!

The end result was really tasty. The icing really set the cupcakes off well, I put heaps of extra orange zest in and it was deeee-lish! Hubby and I enjoyed one each, and our colleagues appreciated the rest!!
(obviously the photography needs work!!)

**Edited to add that the fabulous Tracey chose this month's recipe, and you'll find it on page 44 of the book!