Category Archives: Food

Dice Brownies

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A few years back I had the rather ambitious idea of making double-decker brownies that looked like dice for my husband’s birthday. I was kind of on an obsessive brownie baking kick at the time after getting a “Perfect Brownie” brownie pan for Christmas. (As seen on TV!) So I was pretty excited and suspected not even a little how much work was going to be involved. It was a nightmare. The “Perfect Brownie Pan, TM!” cuts rectangles and I needed squares. So the first hurdle was trying to make all my rectangles into equal squares. I have never excelled at uniformity. That part went badly. After that was the frosting, another thing I’m terrible at, and so that part went even worse.

And yet, this year, I decided to take a stab at dice brownies again. Perhaps time dulled the agony that I experienced. Or maybe it’s just love. All that love I have for my wonderful husband who is sometimes a pain in that ass, sometimes a wonderful guy and always the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Awwww.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I set to work. Finding the perfect brownie recipe was the first hurdle I had to jump. It wasn’t easy, but it did involve eating all the “failures”. Phase one was a delight, is what I’m saying. I finally found a passable recipe but I’m not going to link it. I changed it far too much to really credit it. I hate recipes and trying to make the best brownie possible from a recipe cemented that fact. I made my changes and then I quadrupled the recipe. The results were good enough for a brownie beauty pageant. Look at those gorgeous pans.

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Baking was the easy part, however. In order to have squares, I couldn’t use the edges. That meant cutting each of the pans of brownies into a workable rectangle. It ended up looking something like this:

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At this point, I was ready to stop. I am a firm believer that baking should be a sprint, not a marathon. Cooking is the thing that’s supposed to take ages and wear you out. Baking is something I do for fun and generally in quick bursts. Not to mention, the endurance run was leading to a lot of brownie pieces going into my mouth. And that is not good for my hips. In case you’re curious, this is how much extra brownie I had left over:

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And I still had to cut the giant rectangles into small squares. Somehow, I managed to get that done without everything falling apart into nothing. That was a lot harder than it might seem, these brownies were quite crumbly.

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Frosting was up next. I used a basic buttercream recipe to make the frosting, adding in some orange extract and lemon juice for flavor. I wanted the effect of the finished product to taste like a chocolate orange.

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The first try was too thick, I couldn’t get it to spread and had to apply it to the brownies like modeling clay. Not something I wanted to do. I thinned it out with a little milk but then of course it was too thin. I used it just fine to frost the brownies but they didn’t dry right, which meant I couldn’t shape them very easily before I applied the chocolate chips. The thing with dice brownies is they’re frosted on all sides, so I don’t have an easy way to handle them if they aren’t dry. When they’re first frosted, they look a little like the sort of cubes a child might draw. Kind of on point, but a bit…off.

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Not winning any beauty contests anymore. Someday, I’d like to be able to afford to buy fondant. Or, at least, to be competent enough to make it. I think it would work better for the recipe. In the meantime, however, I have to wait til the frosting dries and then mold it as best I can into what vaguely resembles a D6.

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Those two were the best specimens I managed to create. I think that this is why I often chose function over form. It’s so much easier to make something that tastes nice than to make something that looks nice. As a side note, mini-chocolate chips are the cutest little bits of deliciousness known to humankind.

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Key Lime Pie

There’s something you should know about me: I don’t like pie. Weird, I know, but I’ve never been a fan of crust. (Except graham cracker crust. That’s a whole different thing.) Since becoming an adult I feel a bit silly just eating the filling and leaving the crust. As a result, I don’t make very many pies. Recently, however, I decided to make a pumpkin pie with some leftover canned pumpkin. It was a thrilling success. Suddenly, I’m on a pie kick.

Now, I just told you I don’t like pie. This isn’t entirely true. I love (lovelovelovelovelovelove) key lime pie. It’s been my favorite thing since I was little. My mom used to buy one for me on my birthdays back when you could still find key lime pie in a bakery ever. I tell you all that so you won’t be surprised when I tell you I decided I had to make a key lime pie.

Something else happened today, besides my desperate desire to make a pie: I started working out with my friend, Amber. You remember Amber.

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I’m not the only person to start working out and immediately want pie, but I might be the only who wants and then subsequently bakes a pie immediately after starting to work out. I bought the ingredients, including a pre-made graham cracker crust and brought them home. I suppose the gods of baking looked upon my laziness with disdain and while brushing crumbs off my crust into the sink, half of the crust fell into the sink.

Even swears don’t cover the agony. I was beyond crestfallen.

I didn’t immediately send John out for another crust, however. I was determined to make this pie work with the ingredients at my disposal. There are no graham crackers in this house, not a one. There are shortbread cookies, saltines and honey nut cheerios. Goes without saying.

I did a quick Google search and found that people besides me have made a crust with crushed honey nut cheerios. I picked the first link I saw, a recipe for cheerios mini cheesecakes on a food blog.

The recipe, for the lazy, is simple so I’ll write it out: 3 cups crushed honey nut cheerios, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a stick of melted butter. Mix it all up and you’ve got your crust.

I do need to stress that the cheerios need to be very finely ground. I kind of skimped on that part and it turned a bit chewy. The key lime portion of my pie came from All Recipes, a website I find myself on regularly. I found the result a bit tart so I can’t fully recommend it, but it was great in the essentials. And all the same, it can be found here.

The pie turned out absolutely beautiful, proving for the thousandth time that I worry too much.

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I didn’t think this picture captured the majesty, so I took another. Behold!

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The moral of the story probably has something to do with pie. Something like “Pie is awesome, even when you have to Macgyver it”. That’s good, let’s go with that.

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