Sunday, January 16, 2011

Early Morning Brownies

Well, folks, it’s 2011 and the times they are a-changin.’ I’ve always had this feeling that some major changes would come when I turned 28. Now that I’m here, I have this strong feeling that that prediction was not far off mark. According to astrology, major life changes occur every 27-30 years- it’s something to do with Saturn shifting houses (I think- please don’t quote me). And changes are happening indeed.

Specifically, I have moved into my own apartment and am living alone for the first time in my life. I admit, it’s a little scary at the moment. I’m not used to all this time to myself and I fear my dog, Lucy, thinks I’m going out of my mind, what with all the talking to myself and referring to myself as a “we.” I even adopted a kitten from the humane society yesterday as a companion for both my dog and me. Because, as introverted and secluded as I can be, I am simply used to being around people.

But it’s not all bad. I can sing or dance whenever I feel like it, without judgment (other than from Lucy). I can eat dinner as early or late as I like (okay, so I usually do that anyway), and I can stay up as late or go to bed as early as I desire.

All this change, however, has left me feeling a bit uneasy as I make the transition. I’ve never been good with transitions; in fact, I hate them. My ideal world is a place where there is never that feeling of being in the middle- you are always at your destination. My ideal world has a teleportation device that takes you from here to Australia in nanoseconds. But alas, this is not my ideal world. So my poor tummy has been angrily grumbling at me, alternately growling for more food and lambasting me for filling it. This, in turn, has led to a reduced ability to get a full night’s sleep. Which leads me to the early morning brownies.

It all began just prior to 4am on Thursday morning when Lucy awoke me with little whines and urgent kisses on my nose. She had to go potty. So I got out of bed, pulled on my boots and a coat and took Lucy out to the grass. She was quick to do her business and we promptly returned to our little abode. I took off my coat and boots and got back into bed. But I could not fall asleep. So just before 5am, I got back out of bed with the inspiration to rearrange my closet. Then I realized I was starving and fixed myself some toast with Nutella. Then I saw my Ready for Dessert cookbook by David Liebovitz that I had gotten for Christmas. I decided to have a look-through and came across a brownie recipe. When I realized I had everything on hand to make these brownies, and that I also had the time to bake them before I had to get ready for work, I decided to go ahead and bake some brownies at 5am. What the hell, right?

Baking brownies early in the morning is kind of nice. Probably more peaceful for me than baking in the afternoon. I put on some Queen and chopped some chocolate. Too little chocolate. But it was all good, because I just chopped more when I realized my mistake! The recipe called for 8 ounces of either bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, so my non-committal self chose both! Why not?! The recipe also called for preparing the batter entirely in the saucepan, which I have never done before. When the batter was finished, I slid them into the oven and proceeded to clean my kitchen. I even ran a load of laundry and dishes. I was on a roll! Once the brownies were out of the oven, I got ready for work and had a second breakfast. And then I left, without the brownies.

Let me just say that it is really difficult for me to last an entire work day knowing that I have brownies waiting for me at home. Brownies which I have never tasted before. You see, brownies are my favorite. I can’t say exactly what favorite they are, I just simply love them. I believe brownies are in a class all their own. They’re not cake, they’re not cookie, and cannot even be compared to custardy desserts (Tiramisu being my favorite there). So anyway, by the time I got home I was tempted to skip dinner and go straight for the brownies (which may or may not have been what I actually did- I honestly cannot remember, as I was in such a brownie-daze). All I can say is that with the first bite, I experienced extreme pleasure, and then minor disappointment. You see, these were not the best brownies I have ever had. That title remains with my New Best Recipe version of the brownie. I can’t quite put my finger on it- maybe these are too sweet, not buttery enough, and not quite substantive enough… But they’re good and they’re satisfying. And they’ve made up about half of my meals since making them…

Brownies in the pan
Well, I suppose I’ll quit torturing you with my blathering and give you the recipe.

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies
from Ready for Dessert by David Liebovitz

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 lg eggs, at room temp
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the inside of a 9-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Lightly grease the foil with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
     In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute, until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan.
     Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Don’t overbake.
     Let cool completely before lifting out the foil to remove the brownies.

Sweet goodness

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