03 August 2014

Recycling kitchen disasters

It started off as a good day. Breakfast and lunch got done in record time. All of the  weekend's critical chores were accomplished before 10am. I decided that was a good time to bake my patented triple chocolate brownies. In bulk. 

As things go, it wasn't a bad idea. I had everything I wanted, in the quantities I wanted. I started and made up a really huge quantity, almost a bucketful, of batter. The first batch went into the oven.

That's when things started to go wrong. My no fail brownies, that usually took 35 to 40 minutes, were nowhere near done. I kept them in the oven, checking at regular intervals, and after nearly an hour, my tester showed that they were done.

But, no... Instead of a papery crust, I had a really thick biscuit like crust. And the inside, while done, had a really peculiar texture. The thingummy (I refuse to call it a brownie) tastes exactly the way it should, but the finish was beyond weird.

The next 4 trays went that way too. I got about 40 decent sized brownies, and 2 kilograms of something that looked like it came from Mars.

Now, after all that hard work, I couldn't really bring myself to discard all that, for want of a better term, scrap....

I put out an SOS to a friend who runs a baking business. Her first question was, "Are they merely chewy or outright gooey?"  

Huh?!? What'd that have to do with anything? Turns out, since the brownies were gooey, they were perfect for 'Brownie pops'... But that's something I've never tried before. But there was this huge pan full of 'gooey stuff' sitting on my kitchen counter, who's future hung in the balance. Because the brownies were really 'gooey' I didn't even need any frosting to bind them. 

I tossed the crispier, chunkier, and crusty bits into a food processor and pulsed it for about a minute. After adding it back to the rest of the crumbs, I mixed the well, and rolled them into balls, about roughly the size of a ping pong ball (diameter of between 4 and 5 cms), and refrigerated them for about 2 hours. 

Here's where I made a few huge mistakes. The cakepops need to be smaller, about 2-3 cms in diameter. These were so heavy that the lolipop skewers couldn't hold the weight, and were arched at an alarming angle while the pops were cooling. Sprinkling sprinkles over the chocolate coated pops is an insanely messy job. Rolling chocolate coated pops in a plate of sprinkles is even messier. You get chocolate coated sprinkle clumps (blech). 

After about ten pops that were top heavy, I totally gave up.

I had some 30 chilled pops, and it was way too much work to resize the whole bunch. I picked up a few cupcake liners and put one chocolate dipped pop in each, and topped it with some sprinkles.

To make pops

Chocolate ( white, dark, milk chocolate)
Toothpicks or lollipop skewers
Thermacol for holding lollipop skewers upright.

Bring water to boil in a pan.
Place another pan or bowl over it, so that the bottom doesn't touch the water.
Reduce heat to a simmer, and start to melt chocolate of your choice over double boiler.
When, chocolate complete melted, insert toothpick or lollipop skewer into the cakepops and slowly dip in the melted chocolate, covering completely.
If you're making pops, skewer into the thermacol and allow to cool.
While chocolate is still wet, coat pops with choice of sprinkles, and allow to cool completely till chocolate is set.

31 July 2014

Carrot cupcakes

I get to listen to a lot of lectures in life. Lectures about how I need to lose weight, how I need to stop eating fatty foods, and how I need to stop eating cakes and cookies. I've also heard one about how I need to stop baking and start to learn to make the traditional snacks, all of which are deep fried. Go figure.

To me baking is a thing of joy. To me it's a total stressbuster. It takes a lot of concentration and precision, and forces one to switch off all external thoughts and focus on the recipe.

Today's baking binge was a little elaborte. I picked something that needed a lot of prepping. I decided against using any appliances, and went the old fashioned hands only route, took a little longer, but ended up a lot happier in the bargain.

I've always wanted to make a 'good' carrot cake, but the few attempts ended in products that shall not be spoken about. I got my hands on a recipe for carrot cupcakes today, and this was a winner.
A carrot cake requires sligtly longer prep time. Carrots need to be grated fine, walnuts need to be chopped, and if you're not using store bought applesauce, you need to finely grate some apples too.
Despite the long prep time, the end result was absolutely worth it. A beautifully moist cupcake that, in my humble opinion, tasted great without the frosting.

Carrot Cupcakes

200 g Flour/Maida
75 g Walnuts (chopped fine)
1 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder
2 large eggs
120 g Sugar
1/2 cup Oil
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Carrots, finely grated
1 cup Apples, finely grated

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, walnuts, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg powders and keep aside.
Beat eggs till fluffy. Add oil, vanilla extract and sugar, and beat till the mixture thickens. Add the grated carrots and apples.
Fold in the flour mixture.
Pour into the prepared moulds and bake for 25-30 minutes, or till a tester inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.