New Kitchen Gadget – The Ninja Creami

Summertime brings with it many of the simple joys in life – getting together with friends, family vacations, barbecues and swimming on a hot day all come to mind.  Also included on my list of favorite things to enjoy during the summer months is eating ice cream, as well as other frozen treats. 

Shortly before summer began, my wife and I were flipping through the channels one weekend morning when she paused on QVC.  They were featuring a machine called the Ninja Creami that made ice cream as well as other sweet treats.  Having owned (and usually returned) other ice cream making machines in the past that didn’t really do what they promised, we are always a little leery of such devices.  After watching the presentation, something about this machine and the method used to make the ice cream made sense to me and seemed like it might actually work, so we decided to give it a shot.

The Ninja Creami comes in several colors – we chose the mint green.

Unlike other machines or makers that often rely on adding the ingredients to a large and bulky pre-frozen bowl, the process for this machine is different.  It comes with several pint sized containers (the bundle we bought that day included 5) and extras are available to purchase separately.  Instead of using a big frozen bowl to start the freezing process, you simply fill the containers with your ingredients, and freeze them until they are solid. 

When you are ready to enjoy one, you pull it out of the freezer, load it onto the machine and choose what type of treat you are blending.  The blending process uses a spinning blade that cuts through the bowl, turning the frozen block of ingredients into a smooth and creamy treat.

Blending modes include ice cream, lite ice cream, gelato, sorbet, smoothie bowl and milkshake.  The machine also has two additional modes – re-spin, which gives your treat a second quick blend if it still appears to be too frozen and not creamy enough, and mix-in mode which is used for adding extra items to your treat, such as chocolate chips.  

We wanted to give it a good test run before I wrote this entry, so we tried out a few of the recipes in the book, as well as some variations on those recipes and a couple of other simple ideas that we came up with ourselves.

Lite vanilla ice cream – this recipe was included in the recipe book.  We used the mix-in mode to blend in some mini chocolate chips.

Mint chocolate chip – This was a variation that we made to the lite vanilla ice cream recipe that was included in the book.

Chocolate – another variation to the lite vanilla ice cream recipe.

Mango passion fruit sorbet – a quick and easy recipe we made up.  A simple blend of mashed mango and passion fruit juice.

Banana – we made this one with very ripe bananas, milk,  vanilla, and some stevia.  It’s nice to have a new use for them other than banana bread!

Lite strawberry chia seed ice cream – this was a recipe from the book.  The original recipe called for blueberries, but we didn’t have any on hand, so we used strawberries instead.

Banana chocolate chip – same mix as the banana recipe above, with chocolate chips mixed in.

Chocolate milk – The name says it all… nothing but frozen chocolate milk put through the blending process.  As simple as it was, it turned out to be one of our favorites!  It reminded us of chocolate soft serve ice cream.

I’ve shared lots of nice pictures, but how did it all turn out?  Delicious!  The process was easy, and the end result made for a great treat we could all enjoy whenever the mood hit.  We were amazed that the light recipes we tried, which often used milk instead of cream, could end up being so smooth and creamy.  We were also big fans of the sorbet – with nothing more than frozen fruit and juice, it produced a very smooth and creamy treat. 

We love the fact that not only can we produce a lower fat ice cream option to enjoy, but also one that can be low in sugar by replacing some or all of the sugar with alternative sweeteners, such as stevia.  Another plus to this machine was that with many of the recipes we tried needing little more than some milk, flavoring and sweetener, a pint could be quite economical as well. 

I also appreciated that our package included 5 of the containers.  It was so easy to mix them all up in about 20 minutes to have several on hand in the freezer, ready to be blended up on demand. 

Does this mean we will never buy our favorite store bought ice cream or go to our favorite ice cream parlor again? Of course not! Those things are both enjoyable as well, but perhaps it does mean we would do so less often. There are so many recipes left to explore, and we haven’t even tried making milkshakes, gelato, or smoothie bowls yet.

On that note, it sounds like it may be time to mix up some new creations! Have a great weekend.

Pressure Cooker Rice Pudding

With all the rice pudding recipes out there, it seems like almost every country has their own take on it. Actually, it seems like every town has their own version of the recipe. What the heck, I’ll go one step further – it seems like every household has their own version!

I have copies of two different versions that my grandma used to make. They were baked in the oven, and they were enjoyable, but I’ve made both recipes a few times myself and it felt like they took about 35 hours to finish cooking! I’ve found stovetop versions of rice pudding recipes as well and there are no doubt other pressure cooker versions out there – I’m sure my idea to make one is nowhere near the first time it has been done.

Pressure cookers are awesome inventions for speeding things along. Sometimes they shave off a lot of time and sometimes just a little. It’s important to keep that fact in mind. I’ve seen so many bloggers work hard at creating a delicious recipe to share, only to find comments written in the comment section saying that it didn’t really save all that much time. The author usually doesn’t promise it will, but I think the expectation when we see the words “pressure cooker” is instant food. When it doesn’t produce a meal in 5 minutes, it gives us the perception that using the device is not worth the effort.

While the idea of “instant food” would be great with every recipe we make, isn’t it still nice to be able to work on other things while the machine does a bit of the work for you? That is the case with my recipe today. While it does require a bit of manual cooking time at the end of the pressure cooking period to help thicken it, about 10 to 15 minutes, I was more than happy to save the extra 35 to 45 minutes it would have taken to complete the recipe on the stovetop alone.

When trying to make your own recipe with a pressure cooker, there can be a bit of a learning curve. The story of this simple rice pudding recipe was no exception – it was very much like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. My first attempt was too wet, my second attempt was too dry, and my third attempt was just right!

Easy pressure cooker rice pudding

  • 2/3 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Pour the milk, sugar, and vanilla into the pressure cooker pot. Stir well for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rice and mix well for about 30 seconds until the rice is well incorporated and evenly distributed throughout the liquid mixture.

Set the pressure cooker to medium pressure – that equates to 6 pounds of pressure on my Breville cooker. Set the time to 8 minutes and choose quick pressure release.

When the cooking cycle is done and it is safe to open the lid, immediately set the cooker to sauté mode (or whatever the heating or browning mode is called on your machine). Simmer the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken – about 10 to 15 minutes. You want it to be thick enough that the space made by sliding a spoon through the mixture fills in slowly – similar to any cooked pudding you would make on the stovetop. See picture below:

Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pot for about 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer to a bowl. Refrigerate until very cold – at least 6 hours. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Rice pudding served 3 ways – with whipped cream, berries and a simple dusting of cinnamon

Finally, after three attempts, the end result was creamy and delicious with a simple splash of vanilla flavor.

On occasion, my grandma would make it with raisins mixed in – not my first choice, but I’d eat it. Sometimes she’d mix in crushed, canned pineapple – not my second, third or fourth choice, but I’d still have some. Since the simple and pure vanilla flavor pairs so nicely with so many options, as shown in the picture above, I prefer to leave the choice up to the individual eater. What could be better than enjoying it the way you like?

If you decide to give this recipe a try, I’d love to hear how it went for you and what you enjoy adding to yours. Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Book Recommendation – Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking

It’s been a couple of months since I have written about a cookbook, and I must say, this book is worth the wait. The book came to my attention as part of the #rainydaybitescookbookclub on Instagram. I know I have written about the club before, but Deborah Balint, the creator and host of the club has impeccable taste, so we all benefit from her ability to curate amazing books! Cheryl Days’ Treasury of Southern Baking is the type of book that I know I will be reaching for over and over again.

Cheryl Day is a self-taught baker and co-owner of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia. She comes from a long line of bakers including her great-great-grandmother Hannah Queen Grubs, who was born enslaved, and her great-grandmother Queen. Both women were gifted bakers who created successful businesses. Clearly, these gifts have been passed on to Cheryl as this is her 3rd bestselling book. The book was recently named as a James Beard Award nominee, which is the second nomination for Cheryl.

So, what have I baked so far? Several things, and every single one has been delicious. The first thing I made was Cheryl’s version of Bill Smith’s Famous Atlantic Beach Pie. After some research, I discovered that in North Carolina and much of the south, this pie is very well known, but this was the first I’d heard of it. I was intrigued by the mere notion of a saltine cracker pie crust. I’d never heard of such a thing, but as someone who delights in sweet treats with a sprinkle of salt included, I knew I was in. The pie has a lemon custard filling and what I believe is Cheryl’s master stroke, buttermilk whipped cream. It fires up the taste buds on several fronts – it is buttery, salty, sweet and tangy all at once.

Bill Smith’s Famous Atlantic Beach Pie

Next up was something savory. I decided to make Bacon Cheddar Scones. This would be my first attempt at baking scones, and I was enthusiastic about trying something new. It actually could not have been easier and the results were delicious. There are 3 other scone recipes in the book, but who are we kidding? The recipe that includes bacon was a must bake, and baking one of the others would mean giving up the bacon!

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Leftover bananas? Cheryl includes 4 banana recipes in the book. The recipe I chose to make was Banana Chocolate Cake. I can honestly say that this was the best banana anything I have baked. It was perfectly moist with a light and tender crumb.

On to snacks! Included in the book are quite a number of crackers and other snacking items. I made the Parmesan-Rosemary-Pecan Shortbread recipe. These are the perfect little nibble to add to a charcuterie. Along with the self-explanatory ingredients there was a pinch of cayenne, which was the perfect backdrop for the shortbread.

Parmesan-Rosemary-Pecan Shortbread

Most recently, I had the pleasure of making Butterscotch Pudding. As mentioned in a previous post, this family loves butterscotch. The recipe starts by making a caramel on the stove top and is finished by baking in the oven using a water bath, which was another method I had not used before. The result was a rich and decadent dessert that fires up those taste buds again. Caramel, salt, and fresh vanilla bean are all evident in the final product.

Butterscotch Pudding

The only recipe I’ve baked so far that has not been perfect was a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’m not sure if it was the temperature of my butter, or the half an egg that flew out of the mixer right as I was adding it to the dough (I see people on TV add eggs while the mixer is on, but clearly, that is not for me), but my cookies did spread a lot. However, the end result was a flat, somewhat square shaped, yet absolutely scrumptious cookie, so it doesn’t actually qualify as a fail, does it?

The book contains over 200 recipes. There is everything from Flaky Butter Biscuits to Green Tomato Preserves. I have only scratched the surface, but I have baked enough from the book to know that this will now be a staple for me. The recipes are not overly complicated, the instructions are clear and well written, and flavor rules the day.

From Angie’s Kitchen – Easter Cake Revisited

Welcome to round 2 of Easter cake! In this round we each take a shot at trying to change and/or modernize the original recipe in some way. As I said at the end of round 1, we are free to research again and when creating a round 2 recipe, the sky is the limit. So, did my plane of cake soar high into those unlimited skies? No, it did not. It definitely made it past takeoff, but it remained more of a low flying sight seeing tour at best.

My goals for this round were to increase the amount of batter to better fill a 13×9 pan, to increase the moisture in the cake a bit and to add in some sort of pecan and brown sugar filling into the mix. I thought the original recipe was actually pretty nice overall and that it would make a nice base for a breakfast or coffee cake – I had the idea of Easter brunch in mind. In making the shift to a coffee cake, I also went from lemon flavoring to vanilla.

Producing more batter was simple enough – I just increased most of the ingredients by 25%. My one exception was the sugar, which I actually reduced from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I felt that the reduction of sugar in the batter would help accommodate the additional sweetness from the filling.

To increase the moisture, I went with one of my favorite tricks for doing so without adding a lot of extra fat. Instead of using oil or butter, I added 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt. I have read that if you are using or replacing 1/2 cup or less of butter or oil, you can do a 1 to 1 substitution without making what you are baking too dense and wet. I have used the trick before and it generally works pretty well and it did a decent job again, although for this recipe it did become a little more dense than the original cake.

Finally, for the filling I mixed brown sugar, flour, pecans and melted butter together. I froze the mixture for about 20 minutes and then crumbled it into frozen pieces before incorporating it into the batter. I chose to freeze it first so that when it was mixed into the batter it wouldn’t blend into it and change it into a butter brown sugar cake. I also wanted them to turn into little bursts of buttery brown sugar and pecan bites throughout the cake and it worked nicely as they melted while the batter baked around them, locking them in place.

When the cake finished cooling, I spread on the glaze topping. I kept the recipe the same as the original cake, but instead of lemon, for the thicker first layer I added some cinnamon and for the thinner portion of the glaze meant for decorating, I went with more vanilla. I also made four colors for the decorative glaze instead of just green – we don’t just make green Easter eggs, so I didn’t want just green frosting either!

First bite…. eww. The glaze was chalky and had a harsh bite to it. The thicker cinnamon portion had real cinnamon instead of flavoring, and it just didn’t work well. The thinner vanilla portion also wasn’t good – what went wrong when it was fine in round 1? Almost immediately, I realized it was human error – this human in his haste to get the cake glazed on a Sunday evening forgot to add in the melted butter.

As for the cake itself… As I described above, each individual change seemed to work well as I was putting the cake together. The sum of the parts however did not add up to the best end product. The little bursts of pecan, butter and brown sugar tasted pretty good and the cake alone wasn’t too bad either, although perhaps a bit too moist in the end.

All of the parts eaten together did not work well because of the mistake I had made with the glaze. I understood that of course, but why was it that the two decent parts, the filling and the cake, did not seem to go together well either when the glaze was taken out of the mix? Did the addition of the yogurt along with the frozen bits of butter melting while baking cause the extra moisture and denseness? Was the reduction in sugar in the batter to blame? Should I not have tried the yogurt idea at all and simply added oil?

I still haven’t come to any conclusions, and I’m not sure if I ever will. Some baking mysteries just can’t be solved, and perhaps we shouldn’t even try. Maybe the best thing to do is just cut your losses and try again. The one thing I do know is that I will not be sharing a new recipe for an Easter brunch cake with you today! Sadly, the best thing about the cake was the way it looked!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the kitchen to give my round 2 cake a proper send off – garbage pick up day is tomorrow. On that note, I’ll turn this over to Karen with fingers crossed that her round 2 went way better than mine did! Have a great weekend!

Ray and I took very different approaches to round 2! While Ray took large swings at the cake, my approach was to make smaller “tweaks”. I took that approach because the original cake was not too bad, perhaps a few small changes would bring it up to par. That, and remembering not to turn the oven off 10 minutes into the process.

I decided to use cake flour because I was looking for a lighter texture. I’m not sure just how much difference that made, but that’s what was in my head. I also decided to add a small amount of vegetable oil. This was again for the purpose of making the texture of the cake lighter. In keeping with the original, I used the hot water again, but not quite as much.

The next thing I thought about was flavor. I opted to add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract along with the lemon. I’ve read that vanilla enhances everything, including lemon cakes and a quick perusal of my cookbooks confirmed that to be the case.

Next, I considered the baking vessel. I have a spring form pan that has a bundt insert. This pan is smaller than my other bundt pan so I thought it would do the trick. This also meant that I needed to make an educated guess about the baking time again. I went for 350F and thought 40-45 minutes would be in the ballpark.

Lastly, I considered the decoration. I liked the way the first frosting turned out, so I kept that and rather than mix another frosting color, introduced the green through sprinkles.

How did it go? not quite as well as I thought it would. I kept an eye on the cake, and pulled it out at about 44 minutes. A skewer test came out clean, but I wasn’t sure about the spring and the texture, so I put it back in for 3 minutes. I burned the fool out of my thumb when doing so, and when I pulled the cake back out of the oven, I suspected I may have gone too far as it was no longer making any sounds. I decorated the cake, then took some pictures of it. The moment of truth would be the taste test. First thoughts? It was dry. Damn! Those 3 extra minutes had taken a toll on the cake. Then flavor was assessed. It doesn’t taste bad, but it does taste bland. I suspect that the hot water isn’t doing this cake any favors. If you think about it, water will add nothing, but will dilute flavor, so a rethink is in order.

Easter Cake – Round 2

As Paul Hollywood would say, this is all style, no substance. So for now, I will still hold out hope that we can make a success of this cake. Perhaps a year from now, we can revisit this exercise, but for now, Happy Easter everyone!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Easter Cake

As many of you may know, From Angie’s Kitchen is a recurring segment on the blog where Ray and I attempt to decipher a book of recipes handwritten by his grandmother in her youth. As with many things from a hundred years ago, it is not always easy to figure out what terms may have changed in meaning over such a long period of time, and it is often devoid of many of the key instructions modern cooks look for today such as oven temperature, pan size, cooking or baking time. This is also what makes this exercise fun, challenging and frustrating. About a year ago, when we were deciding which recipe in the book we would like to try, Ray mentioned that he would really like to try baking the Easter cake recipe. If I recall correctly, we had a reason not to try to make that happen before Easter, but made a promise that we would revisit the Easter cake in one year, which was quite optimistic on our part. We were planning to still be blogging in a year’s time, and here we are, a year later!

On the initial perusal of this recipe, it wasn’t looking too bad. Wait. What? Boiling water? Does it really say boiling water? Indeed it does. Okay, that is something I’ve never heard of, but as with all these recipes, a blind leap of faith would be required. Everything else looked “normal”. Instructions appeared to be fairly straight forward. Instructions on how to mix the cake batter, that is. As for all other baking instructions? Those instructions were glaringly absent. I see. Another episode of the technical challenge from Bake Off -Food In-Laws style would be afoot.

For my attempt at this recipe, I noticed that besides the eggs, there wasn’t another fat in the cake. I do know that the addition of vegetable oil is the secret to a light and fluffy cake, so I concentrated a bit on how to make it light. I decided that I would make an effort to make sure the eggs were beaten to have plenty of air in them and folded the flour in gently. The next step was to add the boiling water, which I did slowly and gently. I felt pretty good about my batter. I decided to go with two 9 inch round pans at an oven temperature of 350F. I would shoot for a 20-25 minute bake time. Into the oven they went! I wanted to check in on them after about 10 minutes, so I turned the oven light on and peeked through the window. Things were looking pretty good! I thought I could see a rise happening. I was very encouraged!

So what happened next? Well, I took another peek at about 15 minutes. Not much difference. At 20 minutes I decided to open the door to check. I used the spring test and left an indentation on the cake. Not ready. I decided to go another few minutes, then do another spring test. Another indentation was left behind. What was going on? My confidence started to wane. Right around the 30 minute mark, my husband Tom walked into the kitchen. I shared with him my frustrations about the cake and he pointed out to me that the oven wasn’t even on. What??? How did that happen? Well, I certainly didn’t turn the oven off! Or did I? I quickly turned the oven back on. At this point the temperature read 223F. I was sunk. How could I have put so much effort and thought into this and still manage to screw it up? After an undetermined amount of time, I removed the cakes from the oven. This was probably as good as it would get. A little while later, I noticed the oven light was still on. I walked over and pushed the off button on the oven. The light was still on. Aha! It was me. I knew instantly that I had inadvertently turned off the oven while intending to turn off the light.

Once the cakes were out of the oven and cooling, I debated what to do. I decided that I wanted to taste the cakes before going to the trouble of making a frosting and decorating. How would I do that? I would let them cool and then cut out circles with a biscuit/cookie cutter and taste the scraps before deciding what to do. They weren’t all that bad. The mini cakes were slightly under baked and dense, but considering what I’d done, not bad. I went on to make the frosting and decorate.

Easter Cake

As I write this, I’m torn. What might this cake have been if I hadn’t botched things with the oven? Is it worth revisiting to see, or am I ready to move on? I’m not sure, but I am interested in hearing how things went for Ray….

Angie’s Recipe

As you may know, we don’t talk about how to interpret and make Angie’s kitchen recipes before we each try them for the first time. It is always fun for me to see how many of the same things about the recipe stood out for each of us when we write our post. Sometimes totally different things catch our eyes, and other times, like this round, we tend to fixate on the same things.

I had the same reaction regarding the fact that other than eggs, there was nothing in the category of fat, like butter or oil. I thought back to the time when we made grandma’s white cake, which was a bit dense and dry. That recipe only had a little bit of butter and one egg. This recipe had no butter, but it called for 4 eggs and I was hopeful that using that many eggs would help compensate for the lack of an additional fat.

Like Karen, I was also focused on the the fact that the recipe called for boiling water. I have never seen boiling water used in a cake recipe before either, but my best guess as to why it called for it was because of the 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the recipe. Perhaps the purpose was to help dissolve the sugar rapidly so you wouldn’t end up with a cake that was crunchy from the granules.

Lack of fat and boiling water aside, I went ahead with mixing up the ingredients. The procedure for mixing the cake was pretty clear and in no time, my batter was ready to go into the pan and the oven. As you already know from what Karen wrote above, pan size, time and temperature were a total mystery! For some reason I was not seeing a layer cake for this recipe and based on the amount of batter I had in the bowl after mixing it up, I decided it was enough for a 13×9 pan. I also chose to go with 350 degrees and I started with 20 minutes on the timer.

I’m usually pretty cautious about choosing time when I don’t have clear directions, and I thought 20 minutes for a pan that size was a good starting point. I’m glad I only chose 20 minutes because much to my surprise, 20 minutes was not only a good starting point, it was also a good ending point! I guess luck was on my side that day.

When it first came out of the oven, based on looks alone, I thought for a second that I had gone back in time to last year when we made Angie’s white cake. This cake looked exactly the same! My hope was that despite the outward appearance, it would be less dense and more moist than the white cake was.

I moved on to the frosting which was basically a thick glaze, something similar to royal icing in texture. The directions said to mix the powdered sugar, milk and lemon flavoring together and then spread “some” on the cake and save “some” to add the melted butter and green coloring to to use for decorating. Gee, thanks grandma – how could you have known more than 50 years before I was born that “some” would be my favorite unit of measurement?!?

Cleary the portion reserved for decorating would need to be thinner. Based on the thickness of the initial mix, I guessed that the “some” that I should reserve would need to be less than half of what I started with. I felt pretty safe with that guess because I was sure that 2 teaspoons of melted butter wouldn’t be enough to thin out half of the mix. I decided to spread two thirds on the cake and save one third for decorating. It was a good try, but it still wasn’t thin enough to drizzle on top in the decorative way that I had imagined. Instead, it fell off the spoon in fairly thick globs which didn’t look particularly nice, so I just spread it evenly over the first layer.

After dinner that evening, we were ready to give the cake a test drive. It rose well, although not as tall as I had hoped. Perhaps the 13×9 pan was just a bit too big. That aside, we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have another white cake on our hands. The 4 eggs and cup of water seemed to do the trick in adding a decent amount of moisture to the cake.

It wasn’t the most moist cake I’ve ever had, but it was moist enough that it was enjoyable to eat. We found the texture to be interesting as well – my wife thought it was a bit similar to sponge cake, and I thought it was a bit like pound cake. We agreed that in terms of texture, it fell somewhere between the two.

It aged well too – we had another slice the next day and found that it was even more moist than the first day. I have often found that cakes that are glazed or have a glaze like frosting on them will draw in some moisture from the glaze. All in all, I’d have to say this was a pretty successful first round and a very nice cake for a 100+ year old recipe.

Prediction time. Will Karen give it a second try? I say yes! I believe we think similarly in these situations. If the recipe were a complete disaster from start to finish, I’d probably walk away. But to come that close and only fall a bit short because of an unfortunate mishap like switching off the oven by mistake? That would bother me too much, and I’m pretty sure it would bother her too!

On that note, I will now turn my thoughts to round two and the changes that I might like to make to this recipe. The sky is the limit in round two regarding changes, and research regarding procedure and ingredients is back on the table!

Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Butterscotchies With Salty Pecans

It seems that lately I have fallen into doing a series of brownie like dessert recipe creations. I never planned for it to happen, it just sort of evolved on its own. The first brownie recipe was one that we did for one of our from Angie’s kitchen posts back in January.  While that one was planned, I didn’t expect to follow up with a version made from coconut flour the next month. Since then, brownie like desserts have been on my brain! I’ve had a few different ideas, including the one I’m doing today with butterscotch.

As I mulled the idea over for the recipe, I thought the name “Butterscotchies” would be the perfect thing to call them! Somewhere during my first test run I thought about the name again, and that’s when a Mark Twain quote came to mind: “There is no such thing as a new idea. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” With that quote in mind, I was temporarily sidetracked from my creation as I had to stop and look up if someone else had ever used the name Butterscotchies.

Sure enough, there were several recipes using that name, or some sort of variation of it. Most of them appeared to be cookies, quite often some form of an oatmeal cookie. One recipe was called “Butterscotch Scotchies” which looked more like my brownie kind of idea, but they were actually a bar cookie. Either way, I still liked the name and decided to go with it. So, I proceeded to pour my ingredient choices into that mental kaleidoscope that Twain talked about.

With the batter all mixed up and still in the oven baking, I immediately thought to myself “these are going to be too sweet!” As a starting point, I had followed the brownie recipe that I had created for my round two of Angie’s kitchen. The amount of sugar in that recipe worked fine with the 72% dark chocolate chips that I had used, but knowing that butterscotch chips are much sweeter, I should have reduced the amount of sugar right from the start.

In the end, my too late thinking was correct! There was definite potential there, but the sweetness had to be reduced. I further went on to think that despite lowering the amount of sugar, they would still be fairly sweet because of the butterscotch and that’s when the idea to add salty pecans to the mix came to mind.  My hope was that having little salty bits mixed into the sweetness would balance it out nicely. 

So now not only did I need to refine the original recipe, I also had to come up with a way to create salty pecans to add to it!  In the end, I tossed the pecans in a bit of melted butter, brown sugar and salt and toasted them in the oven before adding them to the butterscotchie batter.  While it seems counter intuitive to add brown sugar to something you are trying to make salty, the main purpose for it was to caramelize with the butter so the flavor would stick to the pecans and not get lost in the batter.  With the right amount of salt, only the salty flavor came through. 

Notice how I said “the right amount” in the last sentence?  On my first attempt, I didn’t get it right – I way overstated it.  I wanted a pleasant burst of saltiness to come through, but for my first round I ended up with something that tasted like the ocean!  I love the beach and swimming in the ocean, but it’s always unpleasant when a big wave deposits a huge gulp of salty water into your mouth, and it sure wasn’t the flavor I was going for! 

For me though, that’s part of the fun of creating new recipes.  Sometimes we hit the nail right on the head, but often we don’t.  Not every new creation is going to be instant perfection, and that’s okay because those moments give us the opportunity to learn and grow.

Butterscotchies With Salty Pecans

For the salty pecans:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar – packed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter slowly in the microwave – I like to use the defrost cycle to do this. Once melted, mix in the brown sugar and salt until dissolved. Microwave the mixture in 20 to 30 second increments – again on defrost – until it just begins to get bubbly. Add the pecans and mix well until they are evenly coated.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing them every 5 minutes. When done, they should be golden brown and a bit sticky. Allow them to cool and dry – about 30 minutes – before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Salty Pecans

For the batter:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter – softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces butterscotch chips – melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup prepared salty pecans

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla with a mixer on slow speed until they are well blended and then continue on medium speed until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix on slow speed until mixed in, about 1 minute. Add the melted butterscotch chips and blend in with a mixer on slow speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, then mix in the flour by hand until just combined, followed by the salty pecans.

Pour the mixture into a greased 7 inch square pan and bake in a preheated oven set to 325 degrees for 25 to 28 minutes. Allow to cool for about an hour and then cut into 16 squares and serve.

My second attempt worked out well once I corrected the issues with them being overly sweet and the pecans being too salty. The butterscotch flavor came through nicely without being overpowering and the little bursts of saltiness in each bite balanced out the sweetness nicely, as I hoped it would.

The texture was soft, moist and a bit on the chewy side – my son said the texture was similar to the cake pops you’d get at Starbucks. I thought it was a pretty astute comparison for a seven year old (no bias there of course just because I’m his father…) and he was really spot on.

I do have one more idea in mind for my unplanned brownie like dessert series – although I guess now I can no longer call it unplanned! I’m still working on the idea, but maybe I’ll be ready to write that final chapter in the series in May. Until next time, have a great weekend!

Apple Biscuit Crisp

Last weekend I had some fun participating in one of the cookbook club challenges we enjoy doing from time to time on Instagram. You can check out some of the fun and amazing recipes we have made on our Instagram feed right from the the home page of our blog (click the 3 dots at the top of the page to view the latest posts), by looking up Thefoodinlaws directly on Instagram or by clicking view profile on the embedded post below.

As you can see from the post above, I made biscuits and sausage gravy for the challenge. They were delicious and we enjoyed them on Saturday morning and again on Sunday morning. The recipe made over a dozen biscuits and while they were very good, there are only so many biscuits a family of three can eat!

I don’t like to waste things if I can help it and I have a habit of constantly looking at leftovers and pondering how I can turn them into something else. I’ve said it before in other posts, and I’ll say it again – play with your food! I love to play with different ingredients and leftovers and turn them into new things and I encourage you to do the same.

For the rest of that Sunday, each time I walked through the kitchen I paused and looked at the leftover biscuits and imagined new ways to use them. This continued during breakfast on Monday as we all got ready to start a new week and by the time breakfast was done, I had decided that they could be easily turned into a crumbly topping for an apple crisp type of dessert. As we all headed off on our individual weekday paths, I got to work on my new project. I thought it would make a nice dessert for a Monday evening as we sat at the table talking about the events of the day.

Apple Biscuit Crisp

For the filling:

  • 4 cups cubed apple – approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size.
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumb topping:

  • 2 buttermilk biscuits (about 3 inches in size) coarsely crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, add the apples, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon and corn starch and toss together until thoroughly combined. Pour the apple filling mixture evenly into a 9 inch square pan.

In a separate bowl, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and stir together until well combined. Add the biscuit crumbs to the bowl and toss them until they are all evenly coated. Spread the crumbs evenly over the apples and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Depending on your taste, it can be served either warm or cool.

Apple biscuit crisp server with whipped cream

That evening we all enjoyed the apple crisp after dinner. It’s a very simple dessert to make, but sometimes the simple things are the most enjoyable. Apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and biscuits all baked together – how can you go wrong? Add to that, some nice conversation with your family as you eat it and you have a real winning combination!

Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!

Adventures In Coconut Flour

There are many things that I love about writing this blog. The sense of excitement that came from starting a new adventure after saying goodbye to my former longtime career, the satisfaction that came from finally doing something I had long dreamed about and recently, a new one that I had never even thought about before.

I began to realize just how much writing a food blog opens your mind to trying new ingredients. I think in general I do have a fairly good sense of adventure when it comes to trying new things, but there are many ingredients that have truly never crossed my mind before. When one of your main focuses becomes your blog and the topic is food, it happens organically quite often. Sometimes it happens because I seek out new things to try and on occasion, thanks to my wife Lori, a new ingredient just falls into my lap!

Ever since Karen and I started this blog, Lori has enjoyed shopping for random ingredients to stock in the house. She has told me that she likes seeing what they will magically turn into. It started last winter and continued this one with various vegetables that I found myself roasting and turning into soups to share on our lunch breaks – perfect for the cold winter days.

She doesn’t always just present me with veggies though, sometimes an ingredient I have never even thought about will appear. Last weekend after our grocery order was delivered and we finished unpacking and putting everything away, I sat back down to finish my morning coffee. As I grabbed my cup to take a sip, she placed a bag of coconut flour on the counter in front of me and smiled and walked away. I think she enjoys sitting back and watching me in the moments that follow because she knows more often than not the item she placed before me will get stuck in my head, much like a song can get stuck in there!

I took a few more sips of my coffee as I stared at that bag and I didn’t disappoint her as the show began! Two minutes later my phone was in my hand and I was reading about it. I learned about suggested amounts to use in place of regular flour, about how it absorbs a great deal of moisture so you need to add enough liquid to prevent what you’re making from getting dry and how depending on what you are making, some coconut flavor can come through in what you make.

With that bit of information in my head, I began to think about what I should make for my first time using coconut flour. It would need to be something that I didn’t think would end up being dry when done, while at the same time tasting okay if some coconut flavor did come through. Almost immediately I thought “brownies!”

Not too long ago in our most recent round of Angie’s Kitchen, we made brownies. I joked at the end of round 2 that I liked my changes to the original recipe, but there were other things I would also like to try and that perhaps it was time for brownies 3.0. I didn’t expect that I would be working on a 3.0 recipe idea so soon after that, nor did I even remotely think that using coconut flour would be one of the changes I made, but nevertheless, here we are!

I decided to work with my 2.0 recipe and tweak it just a bit. I lowered the amount of butter back to 4 tablespoons as it was in my grandmother’s original recipe, but I kept the extra egg for moisture. In our Angie’s kitchen post we also spoke about baking powder and how some brownie recipes use it and some don’t. Grandma’s recipe didn’t use it and I kept it that way in my 2.0 update. For this recipe, not knowing how coconut flour would act with no leavening agent, I opted to add a small amount. Finally, of course, the regular flour was swapped with coconut flour.

After I mixed up the batter, I found it to be a bit dense. That didn’t totally concern me as that is not unusual with brownie batter, but to err on the side of caution I went ahead and added a touch of extra moisture with a bit of oil. I decided at that point that it was time to bake them up and see what happened and off they went into the oven, less than 90 minutes after Lori put the bag of flour in front of me!

Brownies 3.0 – aka Coconut Flour Brownies

After cooling and cutting them, it was time to dive in and have a taste. You never know what you will end up with when you try something new, but this one was a pleasant surprise. Everyone in the family loved them – they were moist and chewy and the brownie flavor came through perfectly.

My wife and son both said they tasted just like a regular brownie and they didn’t really taste the coconut. I agreed that the taste was very much like a brownie, but for me, there was a bit of coconut flavor that came through. I like coconut, so I didn’t mind it and chocolate pairs well with coconut which was in part what influenced my decision to try brownies first.

Later that night, I still had coconut flour on my mind and I started to think about how that flavor also pairs nicely with almond. I remembered a delicious coconut almond macaroon that we used to get a long time ago in college when we used to go to Atlantic City. I wondered if I could create a cookie that was similar in flavor to those macaroons by using the coconut flour, pulverized almonds and some almond extract. The next morning I was back in the kitchen writing out a recipe to test and mixing up the dough. It smelled very much like it would have the flavor I was hoping for, but you never really know until the taste test. I rolled up the cookies and into the oven they went.

Coconut Almond Cookies

For my brownies, I think a combination of wise ingredient choices contributed to their success along with perhaps a touch of beginners luck. For my second attempt, the coconut almond cookies, it appeared as if that beginners luck had run out! I wouldn’t necessarily say that my ingredient choices were bad, but rather that the amount of each ingredient used did not add up to a great success.

I was hoping they would flatten out more during baking, but they retained the ball shape. That certainly is not the worst thing though, many cookies remain that way after they are done baking. While I would still like to change that, the bigger issues with the cookie were with texture and flavor.

The almond flavor was there, but it felt a bit like it was hiding just under the surface waiting to fully come out. When I create a new recipe idea, I am generally of the mind that less is more. Why dump in a half a cup of sugar, when a third will do? Sometimes that gamble pays off, and other times it doesn’t. In this case, using less sugar resulted in a cookie that just plain wasn’t sweet enough, and I think that lack of sweetness is what also caused the full almond flavor to not come through.

The other big issue I had with the cookie was the lack of moisture. From my research I knew that this can be an issue when using coconut flour and while I successfully hit the nail on the head in that area with the brownies, I fell short with the cookies. They weren’t completely dry, but they were dry enough to make the eating experience somewhat unpleasant. I’ve mentioned in past entries that when I create a new recipe, I generally rate it in one of three ways:

  1. An instant keeper!
  2. Try, try again – it didn’t hit the mark, but there is good potential there.
  3. Throw away this recipe idea and never speak of it again!

I rate these cookies a 2 – there is definitely potential there. One day they will hopefully make a triumphant return to blog. In the meantime, I am happy to share the brownie recipe with you today. While a rating of 1 is often a little more elusive than a rating of 2, I am happy to say that I would rate them a 1.

Brownies 3.0 – Coconut Flour Brownies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces 72% dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Slowly melt together the butter and chocolate in the microwave until smooth and just melted. I like to use the defrost setting in 30 to 60 second increments for melting butter and chocolate. I feel like it gives you more control in getting there slowly without making the mixture too hot for adding the eggs.

Stir the sugar, vanilla, eggs and oil into the melted butter and chocolate mixture until well combined, then add in the coconut flour and baking powder and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened well.

While the mixture sits for a few minutes to allow the coconut flour to begin to absorb some of the moisture, grease a 7 inch square pan. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 to 27 minutes, allow to cool and then cut into 16 squares and serve.

If you have worked with coconut flour before, I would love to hear about some of your experiences or tips you have found helpful when using it. Also, if you try the brownie recipe, please let me know what you think. Until next time, I hope you have a great weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Brownies Revisited

Welcome to round two of brownies from Angie’s kitchen. Last week we followed my grandma’s recipe to the letter as we do in round one – or as close to the letter as we possibly can given the occasional set of esoteric directions! For round two, we get to research ideas and we can alter the recipe in any way we choose.

You may recall that I ended round one by saying that the original recipe was pretty good and the flavor was nice, but they were a bit sweet and extremely chewy. I enjoy a good chewy brownie, but my hope for round two was that I could make them a little less taffy like and more like the chewy type of brownie I am used to eating. Also on my agenda was to lower the level of sweetness a bit.

I did a bit of research this time and found dozens of variations on recipes for brownies. Some used twice the butter of our original recipe, some had more flour, some had less, some used more eggs, some used cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate and some used just a touch of baking powder. At one point I even stumbled across a story about Katharine Hepburn and her brownie recipe! She is one of my wife Lori’s favorite actresses, so I had to pause a moment and share the story with her. It’s a pretty amusing tale and if you are interested in reading it, click here.

A funny coincidence happened right when I was going to share the Katharine Hepburn story with Lori – she was coming to tell me that she was watching Giada and she was making brownies. She told me how she made hers and suddenly I had one more piece of research in my brownie making arsenal. All of this information was great, but in the end it was up to me to decide how I wanted to change grandma’s recipe and what those changes would be.

My ultimate choice of changes were fairly simple. First, I decided that the sugar needed to be decreased since I wasn’t using an unsweetened chocolate which made my original attempt a bit too sweet. I thought that lowering the sugar would also help in reducing the extreme chewy quality, but I felt I needed to go a step further in trying to deal with that as well. So, I decided to add a bit more moisture to the mix in order to help better dissolve the sugar by adding an extra tablespoon of butter and an additional egg.

I briefly debated the use of baking powder, but decided that I would keep true to the original recipe in that area and skipped it. I figured that if no baking powder was good enough for my grandma Angie and Katharine Hepburn, then it was good enough for me!

One other small note I didn’t discuss last week. The original recipe included chopped nuts. I generally don’t care for them in my brownies, so I left them out when I made them. The same holds true for my round two recipe. I didn’t use them, but have included them as an optional add in if you enjoy them.

Brownies 2.0

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces 72% dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice (if desired)

Cream together the sugar, butter and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs at a slow speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Next, do the same with the melted chocolate – make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot, you don’t want the eggs to cook.

Mix in the flour by hand until just combined and then mix in the nuts if you are using them.

Spread the mixture evenly in a greased 7 inch square pan and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 27 minutes. Cool thoroughly and then cut into 16 squares.

Brownies 2.0

In the end, I was really happy with the results and the taste test went over well with my family. They still had that delicious brownie flavor and the reduction in sugar made them more enjoyable and didn’t leave you feeling like you were trapped in a major sugar rush!

The only thing I am still debating is did I overstate the reduction in the chewy quality? They were no longer taffy like which was good and they were still pretty fudgy, but maybe I leaned a bit too much toward a cake like brownie in the end. Perhaps going back to one egg and sticking with the extra butter and reduced sugar would have brought me right where I wanted to be.

Time to try brownies 3.0? Possibly, but for now I’ll put that on the back burner. On that note, I’ll hand this off to Karen to share her round two experience.

It’s always fun to see how Ray and I approach the 2nd rounds of our From Angie’s Kitchen challenges. Often we come to the same conclusions, but we also diverge quite frequently in our solutions. I think this round we did a little of both.

First though, I’ll share a little of my research with you. The very first brownie is credited to Bertha Palmer and her pastry chef made as part of a boxed lunch for society ladies attending the 1893 World’s Columbian Expedition in Chicago. This brownie is still being made today and may be purchased at the Palmer House Hotel. So, if you happen to be in Chicago, and you love brownies, that’s where to sample the original.

The first known mention of a brownie in a cookbook is in the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer published in 1896, but this confection did not contain chocolate. It utilized molasses. I’m curious as to what this would taste like, but perhaps not curious enough to try baking it myself. However, by the time the 1906 edition was published, chocolate was included and the recipe is nearly identical to the one we made last week.

Before beginning my revisions for round 2, I had to break down what I thought of round 1 and what needed to change. The thing I liked most about the first brownie was the fact that it tasted like a Tootsie Roll. Was that worth pursuing? I decided that as amusing as it was, that would not be the direction I would go in. What was wrong with the first brownie? A lot. It was too sweet, too chewy and too flat. That was what I would work on.

To achieve these objectives, I did not reduce the sugar. Instead, I upped my chocolate game. This round I used a bittersweet chocolate, doubled the amount and added cocoa powder. I felt like this would bring balance to the brownies. I remembered what a minuscule amount of batter there was last week, so I increased the amount of flour and skipped the sifting. I added a second egg and bumped up the amount of butter just as Ray did, but unlike Ray, I did add a small amount of baking powder and salt. One of the observations Tom had made last week was that he felt the original brownies weren’t mixed well enough, so I incorporated the ingredients differently this time.

2nd Time Around Brownies

  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate 70%
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×9 square baking pan.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or microwave and set aside to cool.

In a large separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add chocolate and butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the batter and once well incorporated, add remaining flour and mix well.

Spread into prepared 9×9 pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

2nd Time Around Brownies

This brownie was much more successful than the first batch. It was certainly less chewy than the first, but I let this batch go for the full 25 minutes. I think had I taken them out a minute or two sooner, they would have had a slightly better texture. I would also consider folding the flour mixture in the next time around instead of continuing with the mixer. The taste was quite good as well. Tom pronounced it to be a good brownie, so I’ll take that considering it is one of the few sweets he likes.

Brownies 3.0 you say, Ray? Why yes, I have an idea already. I’m not sure when I’ll have it perfected, but another brownie will be coming…

From Angie’s Kitchen – Brownies

It’s been a while since we visited Angie’s Kitchen, so we thought starting the New Year with another attempt of deciphering Angie’s book of recipes would be fun. If you’ve never seen one of these posts, they are our attempts to interpret a hand written book of recipes that belonged to Ray’s grandmother that bears her maiden name. This would date the book to likely have been written sometime in the 1920’s. It comes complete with terminology that is not always clear by today’s language and is often short on the details. Sort of like the technical challenge on The Great British Baking Show, but our own family version. This round it was my turn to choose, so I thought why not brownies!

This recipe seems relatively straight forward, well, except for the lack of instruction for baking time and the ever nebulous instruction to bake in a slow oven. I also took note of the lack of a leavening agent and the absence of salt, but round 1 of Angie’s kitchen is about following the instructions in the book as written, and doing research afterwards. In other words, we are not allowed to cheat until round 2.

I gathered my ingredients, which in hind sight I should have put a little more thought into, then began to make the recipe. As I began beating the mixture, it dawned on me that the chocolate I had selected was a poor choice. I’d used my Callebaut 54.5%, which is a semisweet chocolate. This recipe includes an entire cup of sugar. I should have used a bittersweet chocolate, but at that point, it was too late to change so I soldiered on. The instructions said to beat well. I felt like I had incorporated the ingredients well, but didn’t really attempt to whip any air into it. Was that a mistake? I’m not entirely sure if that was even possible as the mixture was quite thick. The consistency to me was closer to fudge than what I think of as a brownie batter.

Next, I spread the mixture into the closest thing I had to a 7 inch square pan, which was an 8 inch Pyrex dish. It was evident that this recipe was quite different from those I’ve made in the past, as the amount in the dish was quite a bit smaller than what I would usually make. The other decision I needed to make was temperature. Instinctively, I wanted to set my bake temperature at 350 F, and I did, but the niggling little voice in my head kept whispering “she said slow oven, slow oven…”. Plus I felt the quiet, unspoken judgement from Tom sitting in the next room. From previous experience in the kitchen of Angie, I knew that slow oven tops out at 325F, so I was forced to stop, open the oven door for a minute, then reset the temperature to 325F. A bit neurotic you say? Yeah, well probably.

So, the last decision to be made was timing. I usually bake brownies for about 25 minutes, but these seemed quite thin to me so I kept a close eye on them. After 20 minutes I checked them, and felt they definitely needed more time so I settled for my usual 25 minutes. They looked baked enough and I no longer heard the same level of bubbling that I did at twenty minutes, so out they came.

So, how did they turn out? They had a nice glossy top, which was good. They were lighter in color than my usual brownies, but that is probably reflective of my chocolate choice. And they were thin, which is likely because my pan size was significantly bigger that called for and there was lack of leavening agents. They were quite chewy. So chewy that they stuck to my teeth. They were also quite sweet, almost candy like. Upon tasting them, Tom immediately pronounced what it is that they tasted like – Tootsie Rolls! He really hit the nail on the head with his description.

This was certainly different from what we usually expect from a brownie these days and will prompt me to do a little more research into the history of the brownie before the next round. I would classify this as a mixed result. Not bad, but room for improvement. Now let’s see how Ray fared….

Angie’s Original Recipe

I was happy when Karen chose this recipe. Given the choice for a snack, more often than not I will reach for something salty, but brownies are the exception to that rule – I love them! They remind me of my father’s sister, my Aunt Teresa, who was also my godmother.

She made some of the most delicious brownies on the planet and she kept several batches at the ready in her freezer. Whenever you would go to visit her, if you were a brownie fan she would never let you leave without taking a batch home. She was an excellent cook and baker and she made everything from scratch, so one day I asked her what recipe she used for her brownies. She laughed and gave me the most unexpected reply! She said “Everyone asks me that and they don’t believe me when I tell them this is one thing I don’t make from scratch – they come from a box!” Box or not, I don’t know what she did when she made them, but to this day I have never had brownies quite like hers!

Now to the matter at hand – how did my grandma’s recipe work out for me? Compared to other recipes from Angie’s kitchen, this one was like a walk in the park for me. I guess I was in some sort of zone, because the usual lack of exact directions didn’t slow me down one bit this time.

The slow oven notation was something that I had researched long ago, many years before we started this blog when I first discovered grandma’s recipe book. For some reason, without giving it much thought it immediately popped into my head that a slow oven meant the 300 to 325 degree range.

The lack of leavening agent that gave Karen a moment of pause wasn’t even a thought in my head. I had tried other brownie recipes in the past and recalled that many of them, particularly the ones labeled chewy or fudgy, didn’t use one. I went to work and when everything was mixed together, I looked at the batter and thought that it looked a bit grainy still.

Perhaps I hadn’t mixed it together enough, but I didn’t really question it either because the recipe called for quite a bit of sugar so it didn’t seem that odd to me. My best guess regarding the chocolate was that grandma probably used unsweetened because of all of the sugar in the recipe, but I didn’t have any on hand. Luckily I did have some 72% dark, so I went with that.

I put the mixture into the pan – to my surprise we actually had a 7 inch square pan in the cabinet! I chose to go with the upper end of the slow oven range and set it to 325 degrees, and in doing so I felt no judgement from Lori, silent or otherwise! 😃 My only real debate was how long to bake them. I figured better safe than sorry and checked them after just 15 minutes – they were still way too wet in the middle, so I added 5 more minutes. Closer, but still not close enough, so I added another 5 minutes. At that point, they were very close and I removed them after an additional 2 minutes which brought my total time to 27 minutes.

They looked pretty good when they came out of the oven and they smelled just like a brownie should, but I waited until they cooled to taste them. I am often guilty of cutting brownies too soon because I can’t wait to eat one and that of course makes a bit of a crumbly mess!

After patiently waiting, I found it a bit ironic that cooling this recipe all the way made them a little tough to cut! As Karen mentioned above, they were quite chewy and that quality made for a tougher time when cutting them. They were very sweet, but overall the flavor was spot on and we liked them. Even though I prefer my brownies on the chewy side, these were almost like a brownie taffy. We all agreed that that was something I should try and address in round 2.

One interesting thing we noticed when we ate some the next day was that the excessive chewiness had mellowed a bit and they were much more like the brownies we are used to eating. All things considered, I would say this was a pretty decent recipe and must have been quite a treat back in the 1920’s when my grandma was growing up.

I’m looking forward to making some of the changes I have in mind for round 2 – I’m also looking forward to eating more brownies! Until next time, have a good weekend!