Baking - Desserts

Brownie Purism

I have decided to declare myself a brownie purist. No more of these ‘healthy’ substitutions, no more ingredient experiments. Chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, all purpose flour, vanilla. It just doesn’t get better than that.

Avocado brownies: don't let their delicious appearance fool you!
Avocado brownies: don’t let their delicious appearance fool you!

This declaration was sparked by a brownie recipe that used avocados, which in my opinion failed miserably. It used avocado and whole wheat flour to make them ‘healthy.’ I ended up with a pan of gritty, mediocre chocolate pudding (and it didn’t even taste that chocolatey). I felt like I wasted perfectly good avocados and free range eggs, amongst other ingredients. Such a disappointment, especially when the website raved about how good these brownies were.

This is not the first time I’ve been disappointed with an alternative brownie recipe. Now, I am extra jaded because this most recent was by far the worst one I’ve tried, so my memories of the others may be influenced, but I do remember that none of them were as good as the real thing. I’ve tried black bean brownies, which actually were quite good, but a bit pasty in texture (I was going to write a post about them back in May, but changed my mind, which you can read for yourself here); I’ve tried chunky monkey brownies that use banana and peanut butter, a fun combination, but again, the texture was off; and of course I have tried pumpkin brownies of my own design (find them here), which were good in texture, but just not chocolate.

This avocado flop has made me realize that life is too short to waste energy and ingredients on mediocre attempts to be ‘healthy.’ If I’m craving a brownie I want it to be a good one, tried and true. Everything in moderation, my friends, and you can enjoy that delicious chewy, chocolate indulgence guilt-free. As long as your diet is balanced you can say ‘I’m already healthy, so I’m going to enjoy this brownie that isn’t.’

For those of you who still want to find ‘healthy’ recipes, more power to you, I wish you all the best. If you have found a good recipe, you can let me know; I probably won’t make it, but if you make it for me, I’ll try it. As for me and my kitchen, we shall be brownie purists.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a craving to satisfy.

Baking - Desserts

S’mores Tart

Summer has officially arrived, and I don’t know about where you are, but this spring has been pretty dismal weatherwise. I’m hoping the summer will prove better.

A couple weeks ago I had wanted to take my co-workers to the beach for a bonfire and make s’mores. But given that it was only 12 degrees celcius and rainy outside, that wasn’t going to work. So I improvised. Everyone came over to my house and we lit a fire in the fireplace. Unfortunately it’s not the kind of fireplace that we could roast marshmallows on, so I had to improvise that too.

I found and made a recipe for a chocolate tart. Once the tart was finished baking, I covered it with mini-marshmallows and put it back in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes, watching very closely because I knew that it could become disastrous pretty quick if I wasn’t paying attention. I broiled them until they were golden, and I thought it looked fantastic. Basically a giant s’more pie!

The only thing that didn’t work very well was that I made the whole thing the night before. The marshmallows had a lot of time to set, and they became quite tough by the time it came to slice and eat. If I were to do it again, I would probably broil the marshmallows just before serving, and maybe not broil them for quite as long. ┬áBut it was still a pretty delicious way to enjoy a s’more on a cold, rainy day!

Baking - Desserts, Recipe

Chocolate Buttermints

One of my favourite flavour combinations is chocolate mint. Having made the buttermints a few weeks ago, I decided to experiment with a variation. I had a couple sections of a dark chocolate bar in the cupboard that I thought I could just melt and blend into the mix.

I thought the melted chocolate would have enough moisture to add to the mix that the cream wouldn’t need to be included. But as the icing sugar was added, it was clear that it did need some extra moisture to pull it together. I added some whole milk (because I didn’t have cream) a half teaspoonful at a time and ended up adding about two teaspoons to make it come together enough to mold the mints.

So I ended up using 40g of softened butter, 1/2 tsp peppermint extract, about 25g melted dark chocolate, 2 tsp whole milk, and 220g icing sugar. I think if I were to make them again I would decrease the amount of peppermint extract, as I found the mint overpowered the flavour of the chocolate. The amount is fine if they are simply mints, but I think the chocolate mints need a finer balance of the flavours. Oh, I’ll still eat them, and I’ll also enjoy them. I just might enjoy them a little more the next time I make them!