Thursday, October 1, 2009

Molten brownie cake

The food-related things I miss are many. This makes sense, of course, as food serves as a bond between past and present, the intangible and the tangible, the cerebral and the stomach. Food is, at its most essential, life-giving, and from there stems the many ways we connect our surroundings with what helps us survive. But this is not going to be an essay on Food: Metaphysics and Mega-Anthropology. This is going to be a list concerning What Jolan Misses From The Boxes At Her Parents' House Labeled "Kitchen Stuff".

1) Cookbooks. I have many, many cookbooks. Back in DC, my cookbooks filled up and spilled out of this bookcase. I love reading cookbooks, curling up with a cup of coffee or a slice of cake and reading recipes, histories, detailed ingredient descriptions. I think that's why I've only recently turned into a food blog reader -- I have just two cookbooks down here, and I miss food writing.

Specifically, I miss the words of Julia Child, of Nigella Lawson, of David Rosengarten. Of Susanna Foo. Of Paul Bertoli. Of Louis Diat. Of Alexander Dumas. (I was never a big The Count of Monte Cristo fan, but his Dictionary of Cuisine is very interesting, and very funny.)

2) Kitchen tools. I haven't the most extensive collection of kitchen utensils, but it is certainly respectable. I miss my potato ricer, my espresso maker, my non-stick muffin tins, my ramekins, my (I am almost too sad to type it) seven-piece All-Clad pots and pans set.

This feeling is augmented by the fact that I have very, very little to work with down here. Our apartment, which came furnished, also came with basic kitchen supplies. We have, luckily, a complete set of plates and bowls and forks and spoons and knives. From there on, it's kind of tricky. We have a large soup pot, a saucepan, and a small saute pan (perfect for crepes). We have a giant, flat wok-like thing, a loaf pan, and two metal pans I can put in the oven. We have a salad spinner, which doubles as a pasta strainer. We have one wooden spoon, and a rubber spatula. We used to have a Pyrex pan, and two champagne classes, but I broke them.

The whole point of this being, is that I have a recipe I want to share with you. But I am scared to do so -- you see, it's a baking recipe, for a delicious molten brownie cake: a dessert that has the proud rise of a cake, but the thick moistness of a brownie, with a soft, slightly undercooked gooey center. As I have no measuring cups or spoons, though, I worry that my proportions are not exact. For god's sake, I don't even know what temperature my oven is.*

But! This blog is about sharing, and learning, and writing about it all. And so I forge on. If you do make this recipe, and have any comments or input or recommendations, please let me know. This is certainly worth trying, and really, given its list of ingredients, a concoction of butter, sugar, egg, and chocolate can't go very wrong, no matter how you cut the (brownie) cake.

Molten Brownie Cake
Adapted from this recipe

1 1/4 cup sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter, melted
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
generous 1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups Nestle Nesquik powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small-ish baking pan, one with deep sides. (Mine is oval, approximately 6 x 12 inches.)

In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, water, and vegetable oil. Let cool for a few minutes, before adding in the eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flours, Nesquik, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients, a few cupfuls at a time.

Pour the batter into the greased pan, and put in the oven. The batter will need about thirty minutes, but start checking after twenty-five minutes or so. The center should rise, but barely so, and a knife will not come out clean. Let rest at least ten minutes. Serve with cold milk, and second helpings.


*So, about my oven. It's really a disclaimer: I have no exact idea what temperatures I bake things at in my Argentine oven. Lots of ovens here, instead of having degrees on their knobs, have settings 1-2-3-4-5(-6-7-8-9). Mine doesn't even have that -- it's just a gas oven with a blank knob. Moreover, I've been told that there's not a standard temperature at which they begin -- some at 110°C, some at 130°C, some even at 150°F (225, 250, and 300°F, respectively). I give the oven temperature here as 350°F, as that is easier for me to understand and reference, baking-wise, and what was stipulated in the original brownie recipe.

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