Archive for February, 2009

Rock Slide Brownie from The Pickle Barrel restaurantbar

On my way home from giving a talk on eggs to Family Studies classes at a high school in Scarborough yesterday, I stopped in again at the Williams-Sonoma store in Yorkdale Mall to see if the chocolate bar brownie pans were in stock yet.

Still no pans, but this time I decided to leave my name so I could be notified when they did come in.

As I hurried out of the mall, focused on getting back on the road to try to beat Toronto’s rush hour traffic, I passed The Pickle Barrel‘s take-out kiosk. My subconscious brownie radar honed in on a plate of decadent brownies in the display case of take-out foods, and I automatically veered over to take a quick peek. The Rock Slide Brownies – aptly named for the rocky topping of brownie chunks, pecans and caramel – looked way too good to pass up, so I shelled out $2.49 plus tax for a piece.

RockSlide Brownie from the Pickle Barrel Restaurant

Rock Slide Brownie from the Pickle Barrel Restaurant

I headed back to my car, with my brownie treasure in a plastic see-through take-out container, and a napkin and fork. I was hungry, having only lunched on a little wedge of Pizza Omelette that I’d had a couple students make for their classmates during my earlier presentations. I knew I’d have trouble getting that brownie home so Murray could share it with me, but I wanted at least some of it to make it so I could take a picture.

As I sat in my car contemplating the situation, knowing I needed to get back on the road soon or I’d be in for at least a 2 hour-drive home, I suddenly remembered I HAD MY CAMERA WITH ME!!! I’d brought it along to a work event on the weekend, and hadn’t taken it out of my purse yet although I’d meant to numerous times during the week. While it wasn’t a heavy camera, it did add a little weight to my purse, and heaven knows, my purse had enough junk in it already.

That settled things! I knew I was meant to eat the brownie right there and then. I could snap a quick picture, and nibble on it while I drove home. Murray probably didn’t want any of it any way.

The brownie was eaten before I exited the parking lot. To be fair, the parking lot at Yorkdale Mall is huge. I reasoned it was safer to eat the brownie while driving through the parking lot than while going 120 km down Hwy 410. (I know. Neither is a very good idea.)

As for the Rock Slide Brownie, it was good, but it looked better than it tasted. There was a molasses flavour to it which was a little unexpected. And with the caramel in the topping, I thought it would be sweeter than it was. Murray really didn’t miss too much…..

Rating (out of 5): 3.25

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How to line a baking pan

One of the secrets to turning out great brownies is lining the baking pan. This will prevent the brownies from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Here’s one method for using parchment paper as the liner:

  • Place the baking pan on a piece of parchment paper that is about 3 inches (8 cm) larger all around than the pan.
  • Cut the corners diagonally to the corners of the pan.
  • Sprinkle a little water in the pan. (This will help hold the paper in place.)
  • Place the paper in the pan, creasing it along the bottom edges of the pan and tucking the cut corners in place so they are overlapping.
  • Once the brownies are baked and have cooled, remove them easily from the pan by lifting the paper at opposite corners.

Watch Canadian Living magazine’s Lining a Baking Pan video for a demonstration of this technique.

Easy Minted Fudge-Iced Brownies

You can turn the Fudge-Iced Brownies from the last post into minted brownies really easily.

Spread half the brownie batter in the pan, then cover with a single layer of After Eight mints. Top with the remaining batter. Bake the brownies as usual.

The result?

Decadent, minted fudgey brownies!


Fudge-Iced Brownies

This Fudge-Iced Brownie recipe is courtesy of Heather Albrecht who works for the Kitchener Rangers hockey club. The recipe originated with Mary Moore, former food columnist for the Kitchener Record (now known as the Waterloo Region Record).

Heather says (and I’d concur) that this recipe is a winner – delicious and very easy to make. The brownies mix up in one bowl with no melting of chocolate required, and they taste very rich and fudgey. One bite and you’ll know why they’re called Fudge-Iced Brownies. Consider them a special treat!

Fudge-iced Brownies

Fudge-Iced Brownies

Heather starts checking the brownies for doneness after about 20 minutes of baking because she doesn’t want them to dry out. She finds that the baking time varies with the outdoor temperature and humidity.

I baked these brownies in a Pyrex baking pan so I found the brownies took 40 minutes to bake to my liking. (Brownies will cook faster in a metal baking pan than in a glass pan.) They turned out very fudgey and moist.

Determining when brownies are done can be a challenge. Of course if they are overbaked, you run the risk of drying them out. But if really underbaked, they will be soft, sticky (almost gooey), and they won’t hold their shape well.

Often you can tell visually how close to done brownies are because the centre section of brownies in the pan may look wet and glossy. Start testing for doneness early as oven temperatures vary, and brownies can go from perfectly baked to overbaked in mere minutes. It’s best to underbake brownies rather than the opposite.

The easiest ways to test if brownies are done are the touch and toothpick tests. Gently touching the surface of the brownies with your fingertip will give you an indication of how set the brownies are. If the brownies feel set, insert a toothpick or cake tester into the centre. If the toothpick comes out wet, with batter clinging to it, the brownies are not ready. If the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it, the brownies are done. For optimal flavour and texture, let them cool completely before icing and indulging!

Fudge-Iced Brownies
(Makes a 9 x 13-inch/3 L pan of brownies)

Brownies:
2 cups (500 mL) brown sugar
1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
4 eggs
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla

Icing:
½ cup (125 mL) butter
5 tablespoons (75 mL) cocoa
1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) salt
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
Hot water

To make Brownies: Combine brown sugar, butter, flour, walnuts (if using), cocoa, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. With electric mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly into a buttered 9 x 13 (3 L) baking pan. Bake at 300F (150C) until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

To make Icing: Melt butter in a saucepan; stir in cocoa, salt and vanilla. Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar. (Mixture will be thick.) Add small amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons/5 to 10 mL) of hot water at a time and beat with a whisk until mixture is just thin enough to spread over brownies.

The Ultimate Brownie??

I’ve never really understood the idea of an “ultimate” anything. Take the “ultimate brownie”, for example. What one person might consider the best brownie ever might just be an okay brownie for someone else.

If you claim something – anything – is the “ultimate” or “world’s best” or “greatest ever”, you’ve set up some pretty high expectations as to what that something will look like, taste like, feel like, act like, and so on, depending on exactly what that something is. So many things in life are subject to an individual’s taste preferences, perceptions, biases, and experiences that I’m always hesitant to label anything (a recipe, in the context of this blog!) with the moniker of “ultimate” unless it’s been highly rated by way more people than just me.

That said, Carroll Pellegrinelli’s Ultimate Brownie recipe on About.com’s Baking/Desserts website yields some lip-smacking results! Thick and fudgey (my preference as opposed to cakey), these brownies rank high on my best-brownies-ever-tasted meter.

Here’s the photo…..

Brownies

And here’s the recipe…..

The Ultimate Brownie
(Makes a 13 x 9-inch/3 L pan of brownies)

8 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup (250 mL) butter, cut in chunks
5 large eggs
3 cups (750 mL) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed for 10 minutes. (Mixture will be thick and pale yellow in colour.)

Stir in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in nuts. Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The brownies should be moist in the centre.


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