Ever since I stopped the journal-style blogging, I’ve been cooking and taking pictures (not of all meals but of quite a few) but many of them just end up forgotten in iPhoto. As I’m writing this I’m on the plane on the way to the Foodbuzz festival in San Francisco, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to go through at least some of these pictures and find a few I want to share. As I dig through the folders, I remember the delicious autumn chowder from last week (with acorn squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, milk and cheese), the roasted squash risotto with candied walnuts and thyme, the numerous salad combination – many of them delicious, but I don’t know… I kind of feel like sharing pictures of my little baking experiment. Despite a somehow disappointing end result. Hey, sometimes mistakes teach us lessons and I’m ready for my next adventure – maybe you’ll even help me get it right this time?
Adam had a Halloween party at his work last Friday (as did I… man, I am tempted to share the pictures here. I’ve never seen an office so decked out). He signed me up to bake something for the party and of course, the little overachiever than I am, I searched through dozen of recipes… trying to find the perfect one. Should it be indulgent or healthy? Pumpkin or chocolate? How can I make it spooky… ooh, would mini “ghost” cupcakes transport well? No? Damn, but they’d be so cute! Finally I decided to go with Cooking Light’s brownie base but make it into little rounds so that I could make a spiderweb on each one out of icing. It looked easy enough to do! And then I was inspired by the mini pretzels I picked up to add to the office trick-or-treat bowl (hey, maybe the kids will get sick of sweets? No?) and so the idea of brownie bites stuffed with mini pretzels and “m&m’s” was born (*I used the all natural m&m look-a-likes).
I even decided to take step-by-step photos. I mean this was going to be brilliant! Sweet + salty? My mouth was watering just anticipating the deliciousness.
The yellow stuff above is melted butter. This is where things began to go wrong, I think. I couldn’t quite understand why they didn’t come out right but I’m pretty sure I doubled the amount of butter the recipe called for, by mistake. 1/2 cup = 1/4lbs. Oops. I think I used 1/2 lb… also known as 2 sticks. I thought this looked like a lot of butter for a “light” recipe! Completely unaware of my rookie mistake, I proceeded as planned.
2 scoops of brownie batter, 5-6 “m&ms”…
… top with 1.5 mini pretzels, each…
And cover with a bit more brownie batter. I realized the cups were getting a bit too full at this point but I wanted a smooth top so that I could make the spiderweb design on top. All right, I guess they’ll be twice as big as I intended. Oops.
In the oven they go!
Hmm, these look like brownie muffins. So ugly and uneven.
I’ll let them cool through. We’ll deal with their looks in a bit.
These didn’t look like what I was hoping for. The spiderweb icing design was a complete disaster – i gave up after exactly 1. And then I tasted them. They were dry yet oily. And the pretzels just kind of disintegrated into a slightly mushy nothingness. And the “m&m’s”? Well they definitely tasted like the hippie version of everyone’s favorite (although I didn’t miss the junk ingredients!). It was nearly 11pm and it was time to start all over.
The pumpkin cheesecake brownies were definitely worth staying up until well past my bedtime for. We’ll keep the brownie disaster between us. Okay? 😉
PS – I totally still brought the brownies to my work and people ate them. I think they were an embarrassment but apparently my co-workers have low standards (which I kind of knew… and that’s why I brought them in). Oh and I froze the rest. I can’t bring myself to waste food!
PPS – I still think this concept has legs. Have you ever made brownies in muffin pans? What’s the secret to them not puffing up like muffins? I want a smooth top? What about baking with pretzels? I feel like they should add a nice salty/crunchy contrast but I don’t really know how to arrive at that. after my little experiment Any tips?
Last thing – If you haven’t already, don’t forget to join the fair-trade coffee discussion enter to win a free Keurig coffee maker (enter here).