Friday, September 7, 2012

Double Chocolate Mint Brownies

I've been writing about food a lot lately haven't I?  I guess it's because I'm a bit of a domestic nerd - I mean, I make my own pickles and jam, bake things from scratch and get really excited about cheese samples.

It's also a lot easier than writing about other issues that have become important to me, but can easily result in an internet troll or flame war.  Seriously, some people treat parenting like some bizarre competition, and if you are not doing the same things they are, you are, apparently, cheating.  

There are a lot of bloggers who have been at it a lot longer than I have, and seem to have a good handle on the controversial stuff.  I think I'll leave it to them.

Instead, I'd like to talk to you about brownies.  Delicious double chocolate brownies.  With mint.  Delicious minty double chocolate brownies.  My house currently smells of them and it's all I can do to keep from devouring the whole pan.

They are also insanely easy.  Start with the base Baker's Choclate One-Bowl Brownies recipe:

You will need:
4 squares (ounces) of unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup of butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Instead of the optional nuts in the original recipe, you will need 1 entire bag of chocolate chips (350g bag if you are in a country that uses the metric system).

You will also need 1/4 tsp mint essence

Melt the butter & chocolate squares together.  I usually do this in the microwave - it takes 1-2 minutes.
Once melted, add the sugar and stir until well blended.
Add the vanilla, mint, and eggs.  I usually add the eggs one at a time.  I find it makes things a little airier.
Then, stir in the flour.  Once the flour has been incorporated, add the chocolate chips.
Pour into your greased cake pan,and bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350F oven.

I recommend under-baking them slightly, so that they'll remain more moist.  Theoretically, this makes 24 brownies.  In my house, it usually makes 6-12 depending on how many I eat right out of the pan and how generously I cut them.

Now that my house smells of minty chocolate goodness, this will hopefully be motivation for me to get some more of my preserving done this coming weekend.

If you're sick of food-related posts, maybe next time I'll tell you about the four-legged creatures that live in my house.

* If it's near the holiday season, when they are mostly cooked, but the top hasn't set yet, you can sprinkle them with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of crushed candy canes for extra minty goodness.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Canning Fool

If you were smarter/less busy than I this past spring and planted a garden, you should have been faced with abundance the past month or so.  Since the weather has been so mild here in Southern Ontario, you are probably still in the midst of abundance.

Abundance, to me, also equals preserving some of it for later enjoyment.

Since I was not really in any position to get a garden going this past spring, I'm mostly relying on farmer's market/local produce from the grocery store to get my preserves restocked.  Due to the munchkin, I'm doing it sort of piecemeal, since I need to have someone else on hand to watch her.  I also need to plan it around her feeding schedule since I'm nursing.

Yesterday I managed to get some Red Onion Jelly and some Garlic & Sweet Pepper Jelly made in one afternoon!  This is in addition to the Peach-Blueberry freezer jam, Zesty Dill Pickle Slices and Ginger Carrot & Daikon pickles I've already made.

I don't have any photos of the pickles, but here's some photographic evidence of the jellies!

The Red Onion Jelly comes out in a lovely pink hue. 

You can sort of see the flecks of red pepper of the garlic jelly in the above photo.

My two favourite sources for water-bath canning (the kind for which you don't need any special equipment) are the Bernardin cookbooks and a book I picked up called The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

Canning is one of those food-related things where I generally follow a recipe fairly closely, since there is a risk of food poisoning if it goes wrong.

Still on the preserving list for me:
  • Strawberry Jam (from berries I stashed in the freezer last summer during first trimester pregnancy nausea)
  • Salsa (I use a recipe from the Small Batch book for this, but replace parsley with cilantro in my version)
  • Plum sauce (I haven't actually made plum sauce before, so I'm still deciding on a base recipe.  If you have a favourite, please let me know!)
  • Ketchup (maybe.  If tomatoes are a good price, and I don't get distracted)
Have you done any preserving yet this season?  What will you be making?