I Figgin’ Love Chocolate

February 18th, 2008

You may have noticed, I LOVE CHOCOLATE. It is a small addiction and a very necessary part of my life. I used to give up chocolate for Lent every year. Although I would drop about five pounds, a small cloud would appear over my normal sunny demeanor, as I missed the taste and smell of chocolate. I just need a little bit everyday to satisfy my craving. Although sometimes, I stumble across a dessert that must be taken away from me before I eat it all, like these brownies.

This month, Foodie Pam sponsored Leftover Tuesdays #12: the Sweetheart Challenge. The theme of this challenge was to make a creation with the leftover chocolate that you have in your pantry from previous recipes. In my house, we have a ton of leftover chocolate. From both leftovers and the fact that my roommates and I often forget to check what we have before buying more. You know how it is…you are at the store, have a specific recipe in mind and are almost positive you have this one ingredient. So you hover over the ingredient, debating on whether to buy it because you don’t want to run back to the store once you get home. Maybe you call home to see if anyone is around but alas no one is there. So you buy it and come home to find out that you now have…two containers of cocoa.

This happens fairly often in my house, so when I looked at our chocolate selection I found out that we have a ton of chocolate…semi-sweet baking chocolate, milk chocolate chips, the cocoa, white chocolate chips, bars of milk chocolate…I could go on. I also have a bunch of dried figs that I have been trying to use with something. Then I remember this recipe, I saw on Pittsburg Needs Eated. for a Double Chocolate Fig Brownie. I changed it around a little bit to incorporate what I had on hand. The result was a delicious, scrumptious, rich, fudgey, and gooey brownie. It is best enjoyed with a huge glass of milk. The pictures are not my best because I was too impatient to let them cool before I took the photos and woofed them down.

Double Chocolate Fig Brownie
(adapted and converted from taste.com)

• 7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1 stick of butter, cubed
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs, whisked
• 1 cup dried figs, finely chopped
• ½ cup brandy
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder

1. Soak the chopped figs in the brandy for 30 minutes until softened.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8’ x 8’ pan.
3. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan on the stove at medium heat.
4. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
5. Stir egg and fig into chocolate mixture.
6. Mix in flour and cocoa until well combined.
7. Spread chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out slightly sticky. Brownies should be set and have a crust, but still be a little soft inside.

P.S. Do you like whip cream?

I actually do not, which is why I did not include it with this recipe but this is a quick and easy topping to accompany the brownies.

Brown sugar cream:
1 1/4 cup whip cream
2 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Important step: Place bowl and beaters into the freezer before making the whip cream. This makes it easier to whip.
2. Beat cream and brown sugar in bowl until thickened. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

And so I begin…

January 21st, 2008

Lately, a common refrain in my life (besides the “why do you want to go to law school?”) has been, “Could you teach me how to cook?” Most of my friends can feed themselves. Rarely, however, do they feel that they make something that is truly yummy and satisfying. The goal of this blog is to share some recipes, techniques and tips that I have slowly developed (and am still working on) over the years. It will not be perfect but I hope that it will help give you some ideas that you can use to develop your own style of cooking.

I have been cooking since I was very young. My mother raised us on the principal that “If you can read, you can cook!” (although I was cooking before that). I was always welcome in the kitchen. Learning to cook is about following the directions and then, as you become comfortable, learning to make substitutions and experiment. I tend to stray often and make up my own things so I am going to try to make my creations into actual readable recipes. I currently live with two scientists so they will make sure I follow the directions. It is important to remember that sometimes you will mess up but you need to have fun!

Ok, enough talking, you will never learn “if you don’t jump in and get floury” (Wow! That was corny! First and last time I will say that…).

I want to share with you, as my first post, the very first recipe I remember making and mastering: my brownie recipe. This has been adapted from the Betty Crocker Alpha-Bakery
, my very first cookbook.

Fudgy Brownies (as adapted from the Betty Crocker Alpha-Bakery Cookbook)

This recipe makes a 8x 8 pan of brownies. If you don’t have that (and I don’t), a round cake pan also works fairly well or double the recipe for a 9 x 13 pan.

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ stick of butter

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup of dark brown sugar

2 eggs

â…” cup flour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350Ëš and grease the pan with butter.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate together, over the stove in a saucepan on medium low heat.
  3. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in the rest of the ingredients. In the absence of a trivet, you can place a towel or pot holder on the counter to protect it from the heat. Add the vanilla last. Mix well to make sure there are no chunks of flour or sugar.
  4. Pour into pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes (if you use a cake pan, reduce the baking time to 25 minutes).
  5. After 30 minutes, insert a toothpick or knife in the center of the pan, if it comes out clean, the brownies are ready. If it is still gooey in the middle, put it in for 5 more minutes. Watch the edges of the brownies, they will be the first to burn.

Ginny’s Butter Rules:

RULE #1: USE REAL BUTTER (unsalted is normally better) IN BAKING!!! It will taste 100% better. If you are worried about being healthy, the trick is to have a small piece and bring the rest of it into work…your co-workers will love you and you will not eat the whole thing yourself.

RULE #2: NEVER CUT THROUGH THE PAPER WRAPPER TO MEASURE BUTTER—for example, you only need ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons). Count on the outside of the wrapper until you reach the appropriate line, take a knife and gently press on that line, making an indention, but do not pierce through the wrapper just make it so when you take off the wrapper you will see the line. Unwrap the butter and cut the butter on the small indention. If you cut through the wrapper you often get pieces of the wrapper stuck to the butter, which you need to pick off (A pain!) or it will end up in your food (Gross!).

P.S. This blog is a work in progress as I figure out how to write about the food I make, how to take nice photographs of the food and how to use all this blog technology. I welcome all suggestions, comments and questions. Please email me.