Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Next Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.

Brownies. Not the toughest thing in the world to find or make. All you do is walk down the Fancy Foods aisle (randomly made that up) at Nilgris and pick up Betty Crocker's Fudge Brownie mix. Or buy a dry rock-like concoction any where. From Barista to Hot Breads. The worst I've had are the ones Cake Walk makes. Ragi puttu mixed with ghee and shaped into a square lump, it tastes like. The Muffin Tree at Courtyard at Marriott makes a delicious brownie; your best bet, at Madras.

If you're baking, Brownies-from-a-box are something you'd make someone as an obligation. Not for the people you love. Won't do.

That, to me, is sacrilege. Unless I melt that luscious bar of butter and chocolate, bain-marie style (double-boiler), they aren't The Brownies.  This snobbery melts away just like the aforementioned bar of butter when I'm broke, and I pull out my alternate recipe.
The brownies have that perfect crust-on-top-chocolate-explosion-below.. beyond Bodacious. I’ll post that recipe sometime soon.

The recipe I'm posting here does not call for a quarter of a kilo of bittersweet chocolate. They deliver on the Chocolate OD-factor, though. So important. Ask any girl with PMS. These simpler ones can be made at midnight, with most of the ingredients hiding in various corners of the kitchen.

If you know me moderately well, I've probably made you a batch of these brownies. I feel almost sad giving up this recipe, but I know it's my way of spreading good karma around. A fitting first post, because brownies are practically my signature dish.

 Nobody has complained about these brownies, except to say that the quantity was borderline meagre. Bake these when you're depressed and plop in front of a miscellaneous episode of Friends. Bake these when you want to impress people but aren't gifted with talents of the artisan patisserie-variety. Bake these when a good friend moves out of Madras or for a new neighbour. Bake these when you want to say Sorry. I do.

The recipe has been modified from Nigella, Hershey's and Allrecipes.

Quick-Fix Brownies.


1 cup unsalted butter (115 g)

1-1/2 cups sugar (300 g)

 2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup maida (no need to sift) (190 g)

3/4 cup cocoa (I use Cadbury) (170g)

1 teaspoon baking powder (use a 5 ml teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon salt (do not skip!)

Miscellaneous items of your liking and/or out of foreign relatives' goodie bags (think M and Ms, walnuts/almonds/pecans/macadamia, Reese's pieces, white/dark chocolate chips)


1) Powder the sugar. It does not have to be super fine, so do not use caster or icing sugar. Keep aside. I find Parry's sugar perfect for baking.

2) Melt the butter; not so much that it becomes ghee. I do it over the stovetop, because you don't have as much control using a microwave. Stir in the sugar and vanilla whilst lukewarm. Do not waste a vanilla pod (if you're lucky enough to lay your mitts on one) on this. Not worth the expense, where they'd be playing second fiddle to chocolate. Beat in eggs only after the mixture has cooled, because you do not want cooked eggs in your batter.

3)Now would be the time to preheat your oven to 175-degrees-celcius (350 degrees farenheit).

4) Combine all the dry ingredients in a pan - maida, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Salt is something I use fanatically in my baking. It adds another dimension, and cuts through the sweetness. Think salty caramel. If you have sea salt/kosher salt, I hate you. Beat in the dry ingredients into the batter, with a wooden spoon. Yes, I use a hand-mixer, but I only stir with it; it's switched OFF. Do NOT overbeat. Unless you want it to be a cake/brownie lovechild. It should look like this:

4) Throw all worries about raw eggs and Salmonella out the window and have a tiny taste of the batter. Yum. Stir in a cup of random goodies. I use walnuts and chips I make out of whatever chocolate is stashed in the freezer (Kinder, Kisses, Dairy Milk). Get creative.

5) Line a 13 x 9 or 8 x 8" pan (for fat, greedy brownies) with aluminium foil. Grease it with butter, slightly dust it with cocoa powder. You can pour it straight into the greased pan, but washing up? Pass.

 6) Make sure you even out the top and slid it into the middle rack of a preheated oven. Within 20 minutes, check on your brownies. You do not want sad, dehydrated rocks. You want moist, fudgy bars.

7)Set them out to cool. Do not cut them right away, like I do EVERY time. I've the mess to prove it.

8)Do not let them cool too much and stick to the foil though. Making a mess is second nature to me. Cut them up, as pretty as you can, and pack!

These, I made for Diwali. Hence, the cheesiness.

And do not worry about the little bits and pieces that do not look pretty. Here's what I do with them (the ones I salvage from people I cook around, at any rate). Make a sundae! Best had at midnight. That way, you don't have to share. Nigella says so. It must be true. 

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