I re-made: Brownies

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This is the same recipe that I tried previously.  I did a few things differently:

  • I added 1 tsp of espresso powder.  Results: not a noticeable coffee flavor, but it’s possible it enriched the chocolate flavor.  Would try again, but increase amount.
  • Baked in a smaller pan with the goal of creating taller brownies.  Results: the edge pieces were tall, but the center pieces rose and then collapsed like a cake does.
  • Used an electric hand mixer instead of just manually stirring it on the stove.  Results: much less sore arm.

Overall: these are still really amazing brownies and I would again recommend this as a great recipe.

I made: Banana buttermilk muffins

You know the drill.  Buy bananas, fail to eat all bananas before they turn black, put bananas in freezer in hopes that someday you’ll be a person who makes banana muffins.  Well, I’m really happy to report that for the first time in my life, I am finally that person.

I used (more or less) this recipe but seriously guys, it’s banana muffins, there are approximately one million recipes and all of them are basically fine.

Steps:

  • Prep: preheat oven to 375 and spray/line muffin tins as you prefer.
  • Mix dry ingredients: 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda.  (The recipe called for whole wheat flour, which I don’t typically have, so I used regular AP flour and it was fine.)  I also added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts at this time.
  • Mix wet ingredients: 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas’ worth, depending on the size of your bananas), 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla.  (This recipe called for low-fat buttermilk, which is stupid.  I use normal buttermilk like a normal person.)
  • Add wet to dry and mix until just blended, don’t overmix.
  • Add 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips and fold, don’t overmix.
  • Fill muffin cups.  Press more mini chocolate chips on top of the muffins if you want.
  • Bake 15-18 minutes.  Now I took mine out at 18 minutes and they were still not done (more below), but use your judgment.
  • Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • I am noticing a pattern in general that my oven does not tend to cook things within the times recommended.  If it does, it’s always the highest possible time.  I’m mystified because I really have checked various sections of my oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer.  It is possible that maybe one section of my oven doesn’t heat evenly and maybe I missed that section when I was checking.  It does seem like the back half of the muffins cooked okay, and it was mostly the front half that remained slightly underbaked.  Or maybe my oven thermometer is also wonky idk.
  • Another issue I’ve had AGAIN with muffins is that even though I followed the recipe almost exactly, I still had WAY too much muffin batter.  I don’t think this is explainable by the extra 1/2 cup walnuts.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but when I first took them out of the oven, it was basically a solid mass of muffin that had almost spilled over the sides of the pan entirely.  Is it possible that my muffin tin itself is weirdly non-standard?  Like, the cups are just a tiny bit too small?

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  • Regardless, these tasted pretty good anyway so I’m not complaining.  I LOVE the combination of chocolate + banana.  Add some peanut butter and I’m in heaven.

NEXT TIME:

  • I would still make banana muffins to use up frozen bananas but I might like to try another version of the recipe just to see if different combinations are even better.  This recipe seemed slightly inspired to be “healthy” which is not a quality I’m particularly looking for in baking.
  • If repeating exactly, I would bake longer.
  • I’m going to try rotating things in my oven to see if that helps the uneven baking issue.
  • Maybe some peanut butter?

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Gooey slightly underbaked muffins.  Still ate them

I made: Brownies

Just a general reminder: this is not a recipe blog, but rather a place for me to record my baking efforts and personal thoughts and notes as I make things.  For easier reference guides, please check the original links I post.

I have a vague hope of getting through all the recipes I’ve saved in my “want to bake” folders.  One of the earliest was this classic brownie, adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  I can’t remember the last time I made brownies from scratch, if I’ve ever even done so.  Brownie mixes are pretty straightforward, and usually yield good results.  So to go to the effort to make it in a fancy way, it better be worth it.

How to make:

  • Prep: preheat oven to 325.  Line 13×9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray.
  • Toast 1 cup chopped nuts on a baking sheet in oven.  (I used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup pecans.)
  • Combine dry ingredients: 1 1/4 cups cake flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking powder.
  • Potentially tricky part: melt 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter and 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped, in a pan on the stove.  Hot take (lol): I know you’re supposed to use a “double boiler” in a stove chocolate situation.  However, I’ve always found that if you melt the butter first, chop chocolate finely, and keep the heat very very low, you can avoid the fussiness of a double boiler and just deal with the whole thing directly in a saucepan.  (Also, I didn’t have 6 oz of unsweetened chocolate, so I used about 3 oz of unsweetened and 3 oz of semisweet chips).
  • Once chocolate is completely smooth, remove from heat and add 2 1/4 cups sugar. (In theory I could have reduced the sugar, since I had semisweet chocolate… but I didn’t haha).
  • Add 4 eggs and 1 tbsp vanilla extract, whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, folding until completely mixed.
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth.  Sprinkle nuts on top.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly clean.  (I ended up going for a full 40 minutes.)
  • Remove and cool for at least 2 hours before removing from pan.  (This seemed like a lot… I was able to remove with no observed ill effects after about an hour.)

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • These are some good brownies.  My husband, who is generally a snob about chocolate and pretends he doesn’t like it, ate three of these and pronounced them edible.
  • The most annoying part was that it took a little more elbow grease than I wanted to actually mix it all together.  My arm hurt.

NEXT TIME:

  • I would DEFINITELY make these again.  I am happily taking a box to my advisor as a thank-you present, and I’m pretty pumped about how much her kids are going to like them.
  • Probably would be just as good without the nuts, I might try that next time.
  • I need to bust out my hand mixer.  I’ve gotten very dependent on the stand mixer, which is generally preferable.  However, for this particular recipe, given the amount of mixing in a saucepan on the stove, the electric hand mixer would have been perfect.

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Jealous background doggy