Friday, July 21, 2006

Bittersweet Epiphany

Honestly, Odd Toddler is getting too skinny. I poke at his rib bones to see if there is any body fat left on my formerly Fat Baby, and all I get is giggles because apparently those pokes are in tickle spots. I will use him as my excuse for this ridiculous need of mine to ALWAYS have dessert on hand. I don't mind making weekly brownies anyhow, since they tend to last six or seven days at our house, and mostly since it allows me to try new brownie recipes every time I get an itch.

Seriously, We Love Brownies.

I wised up on Sunday last weekend and made a huge lunch so that we could get our big meal of the day over with, allowing me to relax for a few hours instead of spending all afternoon on supper. But things didn't work out exactly as planned. As usual.

I cleaned up the lunch dishes, put the leftovers away, and plopped down on the sofa next to Odd Toddler. He was occupied with some new wildlife books that his Nana brought to him, The Carnivore had his nose in the newspaper, and I had a long list of relaxing activities to tend to (most of which included reading cookbooks). I was pretty sure I had exhausted every brownie recipe that existed when I came across a short section on them in my favorite new reference book How to Cook Everything. There were only a small handful of brownie recipes, each of which was inordinately similar to the other ones I have tried, but (oh joy of all joys) there was also a little inset of variations to normal brownie recipes. And, be still my beating heart, one of the suggestions involved adding ESPRESSO POWDER to the batter.

Maybe I haven't stressed it often enough before, but The Carnivore and I are Coffee Freaks. Neither of us can get more than five minutes into our day without coffee, and I usually drink four of five cups. Just to start the day, that is. I have been known to French Press another cup or two in order to make it through the afternoon. And there was that time in a beautiful mountainous city in Venezuela when I stood my ground outside my hotel room and steadfastly refused to Do Anything, Take Another Step, or Say Another Word to Anybody unless my two doting travel companions went IMMEDIATELY in search of some coffee for me. In many Hispanic countries (and neighborhoods, if you find yourself in the small annexed "country" of Miami), you cannot get coffee in anything smaller than a thimble. I have long found this inordinately frustrating, because it meant I had to juggle 15 or so thimbles full of scalding Cuban coffee when I would stop at the market in the mornings in South Beach. But I digress.

Coffee is such a fixation that I cannot resist, under any circumstances, coffee desserts. There was a cappucino cheesecake in San Francisco that made me swoon a few years ago, and I love the coffee-flavored Italian dessert tiramisu so much that I took Odd Toddler into a (gasp) liquor store in order to get the coffee liqueur I needed to complete the recipe. And, oh my gosh, have you ever had dark chocolate covered espresso beans? Wow.

Even Odd Toddler has developed a taste for anything coffee. He has grown so accustomed to tasting everything I make that I have had to begin allowing him a tiny amount of Cheapaccino (diluted by large quanties of milk while he has his back turned, of course) when I whip up a batch for myself and The Carnivore on weekends. Odd Toddler will even stick his nose over my coffee cup in the mornings and breathe in the vapors, cooing "Yummy, mama's coffee."

So I felt safe in attempting an espresso-flavored brownie recipe. Actually, the variations also included adding 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to any brownie recipe, and since I have an equal fixation on dark chocolate...

With recipe in hand, in the time I had set aside to relax and NOT cook, I sprinted to the kitchen, chuckling gleefully. The Carnivore smiled at Odd Toddler, and said "Mama's up to something. This sounds like its gonna be good."

BITTERSWEET ESPRESSO BROWNIES (adapted from How to Cook Everything)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 Tbs (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs instant espresso powder (Cafe Bustelo makes one that can be purchased in little jars at Publix)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Hershey's Special Dark)
  1. Combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl and microwave for a minute or so, stirring every 15 seconds. When the chocolate is nearly melted, stir until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Gently stir in the flour, salt, vanilla and espresso powder.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until just barely set in the middle (the longer you cook them, the drier they will be - I prefer mine to be so moist that you nearly need a fork to eat them).

This is, without a doubt, my new favorite brownie recipe. And Odd Toddler ate his weight in them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds YUM! Your story reminds me of when I was a child and stayed with my grandmother each day while my mom worked. We had our morning coffee together- she in her mug and me in my tupperware sippy cup. Mine with a genrous serving of milk and sugar included. Years later when she died at 89, I found my sippy cup, complete with coffee stains. Happy memories...