22 March 2011

TWD: Honey Nut Brownies

Hi there!

I'm here to report on this week's TWD selection, the Honey Nut Brownies chosen by Suzy!  I didn't really know what to expect from this recipe.

First there was the melting of chocolate.  I used a Lindt bar (my standby), but then added some bittersweet chips to get the full four ounces.  This melted up quickly.

Then there was making the batter.  I used a mixed-flower honey in my batter.

After folding in dry stuff and chocolate, I added walnuts, which are my fave nuts for brownies.  Then batter to pan.  I thought the batter was kinda thin for brownies.  There was a lot of it too. 

Into the oven, and this is where complications arose:  it took a full HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES for my brownies to bake in a 9" metal pan.  They came out perfect without tenting--no hard edges or squidgy center--but really, 75 minutes is just unacceptable for a small pan of brownies.

The brownies' thin batter resulted in a very cakey texture.  The chocolate...well, there's a reason Dorie suggests adding chocolate frosting.  There's not much chocolate flavor in there.  What there is is a lot of sugar flavor.  A LOT OF SUGAR FLAVOR.  I nearly went into shock at my desk. 

Verdict:  I tried eating these for days before finally decided 1/2 way through the pan that I just didn't really like them.  I need my brownies less wishy washy about their identity, I guess. And I ABOMINATES icing on brownies, so I don't like covering them with it to give them an identity. Oh well, can't love 'em all, and I am glad I tried them. 

07 March 2011


I haven't forgotten about this space.  I'm just at a point where I'm not sure what to say on it.

I'm still keeping up with Tuesdays with Dorie, more or less, but I have become one of those annoying people who only gets around to two of the recipes each month.  And then I often don't get around to posting about them.  Last year, I had time to go hunt for ingredients and spend all day baking and try a recipe over the course of a few days and take decent photos and alla that.  Now...well...not so much.  Sometimes I have everything but never get around to the recipe (like this week's Pots de Creme, or the madeleines of a few weeks ago, for which I bought a brand new pan!)  I kinda hate when I visit other TWD blogs and all there is is a picture and a line or two to say "oh, it was good,"--to me, if we are gonna bake together, I want to see the process and hear about how it worked out for you.  But anyhow, I'm trying to decide whether to continue with that.  We're well along in the book, and I really enjoy being forced challenged to try stuff I wouldn't otherwise, either because I think it seems unappealing or difficult or the directions require that I have 36 people in my kitchen ready to consume the week's delicacy minutes from the oven.

But if I'm not posting about that, then what?

TWD: Toasted Almond Scones

I really was quite surprised not to have photos of the almond scones (chosen by Mike at Living Out West) already.  I make these, along with the Honey Nut Scones, all the time.  For the past couple of years, you could usually find a bag of them in my freezer, all ready for an impromptu teatime. 

They are relatively quick to throw together, but what I really love about them is how freezable they are.  I usually take a morning and make a few batches, cut and freeze on cookie sheets, wrap them up and stuff them in freezer bags to be baked and eaten one or two at a time.  They really do freeze beautifully, and I personally think they bake much better from frozen. 

The bits about toasting, grinding, and chopping the almonds are kind of fussy, but not difficult.  One must plan ahead a little.  I just pile them on a sheet and slide them in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally til they look about right.

The rest, however, goes quickly, even the cutting of butter.

The dough is a little wet, but nothing a very light dusting of flour and some quick handiwork can't handle.

Once I form the triangles, I always bang them in the freezer for a while to firm up.  Then I take them out and wrap them well, and put them back.  They bake at about the same time specified directly from frozen, and I think they hold their shape and lovely melty texture better, too.


TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

Boy, talk about a sleeper.

These cookies did not look or sound very interesting.  Actually, they looked like something had gone horribly wrong--a great heap of cookie with a thin, lacy band around it.  hmm.

In a fit of TWD Remorse, I made these the same night I made the scones.  The scones were old hat for me;  I've been making that recipe for years.  These were new.  We got no pictures, so I couldn't tell much about them other than I had everything necessary on hand, and they sounded brownie-like in preparation.

First, there was melting of butter and sugar and chocolate.

That went fast.

Whisk, whisk in dry stuff and stir in oatmeal.  I added some walnuts, too, just because.

Then I scooped onto pans by tablespoons as directed, and here is where things got weird:

For some unknown reason, my dough got all slimy. Eww.  I baked them anyway, to see what would happen.

They didn't seem to spread much.

I was afraid they would be raw in the middle, but they were not!  They were actually chewy brownielicious goodness that I will most definitely make again.  I wasn't expecting much but they very much exceeded expectations.  Go 'head, then, Caroline and Claire!  (They have the recipe up, if you are interested.)

TWD: Bourbon Bread Pudding

So I gave it one more go.  I think I have mentioned before that I LOVE bread pudding.  I understand it is a dish one either loves or hates;  but really, how can you hate spiced cream-soaked vanilla-laden baked BREAD?  I really think people who hate bread pudding just haven't had decent bread pudding before.  There are a lot of bad recipes, and a lot of ways it can go wrong. 

The last time I made a bread pudding for TWD, it went wrong.  I was really peeved;  I spent I don't know how much time and money on it and it failed, miserably.  I was hesitant to try this time, but I had all I needed on hand, including some loaves of bread tucked in the freezer so I decided to give it a whirl.

First, I cut up the bread.  The usual suggestion is to go for something eggy and maybe sweet;  but, um, I think this is a sourdough, or at least a plain white loaf.  I weighed the chunks to be sure I had 8 ounces before putting them in my new ceramic loaf pan, purchased just for this recipe. 

Then I made the custard.  I warmed the eggs in a warm water bath before making the custard as I was petrified of them curdling on me.  I mixed them with the sugar and spices
and then alla the other wet stuff

And now the fussy bits.  I'm pretty sure when I was growing up, one just dumped the wet stuff in with the bread and slapped the whole thing in the oven.  Dorie prefers that you soak the bread in the custard for at least an hour and bake it in a water bath.  I'm skeptical, but she has a book, not me, so, a-soakin we will go.

I didn't have a pan big enough or enough water to come halfway up the pan, so I did what I could.

It took a good long while after removing the foil for my pudding to start to brown.  I still felt it was awfully pale, but was afraid of overbaking it, so I took it out after about 30 minutes sans foil.  I let it cool for a bit and then cut and scooped.  Result?

Sigh.  Once again, I get scrambled eggs and toast.

Fortunately, it is edible this time, so I am toughing it out.  It was inoffensive the night of but actually better the next day;  I could taste the bourbon more.  I am still very disappointed in the texture.  I don't think bread pudding should have visible custard.  There was less of it than last time.  But I really don't know what I am doing wrong.  Not enough bread?  Not enough soaking time?  Not enough of a water bath?  Too much of one?  Sigh.

Thanks for this recipe go to Sharon at Simply Southern.

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