To thank a friend for chauffeuring us from IKEA last weekend, I decided to bake him a batch of brownies. The chocolate-centric French food magazine I picked up a few weeks ago had a brownie recipe, and I thought it was worth giving it a whorl.
Now, I must admit, I rarely follow recipes exactly (unless I’m at work). The way I use them is to get an idea of the proportions, baking times, etc. and go off from there. I mean, I know how to make brownies. I have made hundreds of brownies in my life, so when the recipe tells me to melt the chocolate, add the sugar, then flour, then beat in the eggs, I don’t listen. In this particular case, because I think it will result in gluey, tough brownies. When it says to use pecans (which are ludicrously expensive here, for obvious reasons), I substitute another nut – in this case, cashews. And when it wants me to preheat the oven to 190C, I ignore it and set the oven to a more moderate 165. 190 is fine for their chocolate doorstops, but I’m making brownies here.
So here I have roughly chopped some roasted, salted cashews and am in the process of melting equal parts chocolate and butter. For the chocolate I used a combination of 86% and 70% – I wanted some serious chocolate flavor. Meanwhile, I beat some eggs, sugar, and a pinch of salt in another bowl.
When the chocolate was completely melted, I whisked it into the eggs, then added the flour. At this point I realized that this brwnie recipe had no leavening agent! So I threw in a couple pinches of baking powder. Then I folded in the cashews and spread the batter into my buttered and papered baking dish.
I placed it into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. (As I was using a completely different baking temperature, the timing was a total guess, but I figured I’d need to rotate the pan at least.) I went about some other business while I waited, cleaning up a little, reading French ELLE, and so on. Ater a while I noticed that I couldn’t hear the timer ticking anymore. Turns out this stupid oven’s timer doesn’t ding or buzz or anything when it’s done! It just shuts off the oven! What’s the point? Needless to say, the brownies were not baked yet. Angry, I turned the oven back on, rotated the dish, and vowed to be more vigilant. Eventually the brownies bagan to look done. Not wanting to overbake them, I pulled them out when my paring knife came out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
The top was not as shiny as I would have liked, but the interior was just what I was looking for. Moist and fugdy, with salty, crunchy, cashew bits. Yum. (Hey, I had to try it to make sure it was good enough to give away!) They may have been a tad underbaked, but I haven’t heard any complaints.
Note: I have since learned to use the timer on my cell phone, which makes the sound of a phone ringing. It is very odd to hear the phone ring and then go, “oven’s ready!”