Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brownies, Without Corn

"I didn't get one of Mariam's brownies." "They're in here." "Oh, yeah. They're your birthday brownies."

I just overheard that coming from my the hallway. I found it amusing, if only because I was just starting to type my blog post. I guess I really do have that reputation I thought I was cultivating. And these brownies don't have corn in them (though I do have a can of corn just waiting to be baked into brownies again). No, today's brownies are more conventional, though they still aren't PLAIN brownies. If I wanted "normal" brownies, I would have spent $1.50 on a box of mix and just followed the instructions. There's nothing wrong with that, it just would have been too easy, and taken all the fun out of it. Not to mention, save me thirty minutes. I mean, I find Islamic marriage laws fascinating (no really, did you know that marriage "prevents sexual frustration and the temptation to sin?"), but they can wait forty-five minutes. That's what the bake time is for. Well, that and dishes.

So what's the verdict on these brownies? According to the birthday girl, "They taste like chocolate banana bread. Or, at least what I'd imagine chocolate banana bread to taste like." If chocolate banana bread was that rich, it'd be dangerous, because "bread" doesn't sound as sinful as "brownie."

Banana Brownies
Makes a 9x13 pan of brownies, you can decide how many that is (usually it's 24)
adapted from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour (or line with aluminum foil if you have a temperamental pan) a 9x13 pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Place 3 tablespoons of butter, the bittersweet chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and melt over a small pot of simmering butter. Or, alternatively, microwave in a microwave-safe bowl on medium in twenty-second intervals, stirring, until melted. Allow to cool for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, cream the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated.
After the eggs have been incorporated, add the vanilla, bananas, and chocolate mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour mixture and chocolate chips, if using, until just combined. DO NOT BEAT UP THE BATTER! Treat it nicely, with care. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the top is dry. Set pan on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes or so.

Cut the brownies while they are still in the pan. Carefully remove them, and serve immediately, or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container, either in a single layer or with wax paper in between.

For fudgier brownier, rap the pan halfway through baking.

Want another banana brownie recipe? Click here
Personally, I like the ones with actual banana slices better.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Quick! Hide the corn!"


One thing that doesn't take long to develop, and that you want control of, is a reputation. If someone's reputation may at some point proceed them, then it should be an accurate reflection of him or her. Otherwise they may not live up to it, or not be given a chance to prove themselves different.

I think I may be starting to develop a reputation. Those peanut butter cookies scared me, because they didn't live up to what people at home knew I was capable of. But here, they were scratch-made peanut butter cookies, which made them good regardless of their major flaws. They didn't have standards by which to be judged, they just had to be edible.

I feel like I redeemed myself (not that anybody else thought I needed redeeming) with the chocolate crinkles. And then the hideous, but tasty, banana-oatmeal cookies made an appearance.

So now, two weeks later, I'm not so sure that it's the same. Our whiteboard to our room bears messages of "Greatest floormate and baker" and "Next time no corn please!" I think there might be some expectations held of my baking now. Oops?

Sweet Corn Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book
I couldn't find a 14 3/4 oz can of cream-style corn, so I kind of had to guess at the amount, which is what is listed here, because it worked. And the cream cheese frosting, while a suggestion in the original recipe, along with buttercream, really is quite nice with the brownies.

For Brownies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup canned cream style corn

For frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces butter, softened
1 to 2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a pan with parchment or foil (if you want to) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla.

Beat in half of the cream-style corn, followed by half of the flour mixture. Beat in the other half of the corn, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Beat until well combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently to the corners.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is dry, and a toothpick comes out of the center damp with some moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour or two.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency and flavor is reached. It shouldn't be too loose or too stiff. Let sit a few minutes before spreading over brownies.

Frost the brownies while still in the pan. Cut into desired number of squares (normal would be 24, I tend to make more smaller ones in case people don't like them, and so more people can try them). If the frosting is too soft, chill for 20 minutes, or until set. Lift brownies out with an offset spatula or, carefully, with a fork.

If frosted, store in the refrigerator. If unfrosted, they should stay fresh at room temperature for about three days.