So I’ve made some mention of planning to start a baking business in the future. Michael has been insistent that I do not want that linked to my blog in any way at risk of scaring off my customers. My opinion is that if someone finds my blog through my bakery, then they already know how awesome my baking is.
Now I do play up my cooking mishaps because it makes for better stories. However when I’m working professionally, in a professional kitchen, I promise I won’t do thinks like grease the pans with olive oil because it’s what we have laying around. I promise I won’t leave food sitting in the car for hours and feed it to anyone but myself – I wouldn’t even risk that on my family. And if something like this cookie failure happens… well I’ll have a good blog post, but no one will be eating it.
Really I’ve been looking for an excuse to use this picture for something for years.
I’m even wondering how professional chefs keep their kitchens from being contaminated with cat hair. (My cats’ hair has even made it to other people’s offices.) I’m guessing that a separate set of uncontaminated clothes must be the answer.
A bit of blatant self-promotion, my Neiko’s Bakery Facebook page. If I collect 25 ‘likes’ I win a prize.
I had planned to lay off the baking for a while because i’m running out of people to help deal with leftovers without killing all of our diets. Andrew is such an enabler though – when I ran across an amaretto brownie recipe, he said he would have no issue with them appearing in our kitchen.
Within the hour a pan of brownies appeared in our kitchen.
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 cup Amaretto
- 1 cup almonds, chopped
I have a ‘no walnut’ policy in my baking. I have nothing against walnuts on their own, although they’re not my favorite nut, but they seem to just arbitrarily ruin the texture of a nice squishy treat – brownies, cookies, banana bread, etc. Almonds in amaretto brownies however made perfect sense so I allowed them.
This was a totally straight forward recipe – mix, pour, bake. (360 degrees, 25 minutes.) I was trying to guess from my current baking science knowledge what kind of brownies these would be. Fudgey? Cakey? The answer was… dry. I didn’t make the frosting that goes with them because as a spontaneous act of baking I didn’t have buttermilk, but these would have needed frosting to be passable.
It turns out though that it may have been my fault. I also didn’t have vegetable oil (and I do know better than to try to use olive oil in its place here) but using oil didn’t feel right to begin with. Instant mixes use vegetable oil but every homemade brownie recipe I have uses butter (lots of butter).
I made an estimated guess and substituted 1/2 cup of melted butter. I also learned, another example Michael gave for keeping the blog secret, that butter explodes in the microwave.
How did I not know this before? I’ve never melted more than a tablespoon or so in the microwave in the past, but I didn’t want to dirty a pan when I wasn’t also melting chocolate.
I would have guessed not enough butter was the problem, but recently I was listening to an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they were trying to make better-than-a-box brownies. I wasn’t able to pay attention at the time so I’m going to go back to the DVR to take notes, but they were explaining the difference between saturated fats (butter) and unsaturated fats (oil) and how the proportions of each affect the texture of brownies.
So this recipe deserves a second try, without me getting cocky and trying to change things.
While the brownies themselves didn’t work out, my little experiment that went along with them did.
I’ve had the idea of “rainbow brownies” stuck in my head and have been trying to figure out a way to pull it off. I imagined melting, originally something like rainbow sprinkles, on top of the brownies and carefully swirling the colors together.
I actually had the ends of a bottle of rainbow sprinkles in the cupboard that I played with just to see if and how they would melt. While they did eventually melt, the oil that ran off and the brown goo I eventually ended up with, along with actually reading the ingredients label, has ruined my childhood favorite ice cream topping for me.
After some research I bought these “Premium Rainbow Baking Chips” off of Amazon.com, ultimately spending more on shipping than the chips themselves cost, but when I get an idea stuck in my head…
I just “borrowed” a corner of the brownies, hot out of the oven, to test my chips on.
After a few minutes to start melting I carefully ran a butter knife through them to swirl.