I am tired, but I am going to blog tonight anyway. This blog started out to be primarily about baking, but somewhere down the line, and I don’t know when, I also started cooking. Unlike with baking, where I can pinpoint the gateway, I don’t know what it was exactly that got me cooking. But here I am, cooking meals for friends and sending them away with smiles (apparently). And with each time I entertain at my apartment, the longing for my own place, a place I buy as opposed to rent, grows and grows. Most women around my age have a biological clock ticking for babies, I have a (biological?) clock ticking for…a condo. And the best part about this apparent ticking is it depends entirely on me. The more I cook for myself and entertain at home, the more I save money, the closer I am to that condo with the two bedrooms, hardwood floors, spacious kitchen and balcony overlooking…well, I haven’t gotten quite that detailed in my imaginings, but as long as it doesn’t overlook the subway tracks, I’ll be ok.
Today I made a meal for my friend who came over as planned, despite losing her wallet, a traumatic event for anyone attached to…well, their ID, credit cards and money. My mother taught me never to go anywhere without money (“In case of emergency…because you never know!”), and so I never go anywhere without money. If I lost my wallet I would probably be feeling the same way my friend was feeling. But she was originally supposed to come over so I could show her how to use her new digital camera — to introduce her to the wonders of importing into and uploading pictures to her laptop and Facebook, respectively. Nearly cancelling on me because she was upset about losing her wallet, she was a trouper and stuck to our plans — not that I would’ve been upset anyway if she didn’t come. Losing your wallet is one of those events I would accept as last-minute excuse for cancellation. But as soon as she gave me the green light that she was coming, I got to work on today’s meal…starting with dessert. Since I’ve gone on long enough with my words, here are pictures…
I call this the brownie trifle-misu. Not quite a trifle, not quite a tiramisu. This was actually the result of a good plan not coming together very well. I had planned to make a Kahlua cheesecake with brownie chunks by combining ideas from two recipes — Recipe A
for the Kahlua cheesecake part and Recipe B
for the brownie crust/brownie chunks part. I had intended to use my mother’s recipe for brownies, but decided to use Recipe B’s brownie recipe just out of curiosity. I may have overbeat the egg, I may have baked it too long, but whatever I did, the brownies tasted good but were too dry. Too dry for me to want to continue to use the squares I cut them into for a cheesecake. Right taste, wrong texture. Anyway, I remembered that trifles are often a good way to “recycle” cake that’s too dry, so I figured why not brownies that are too dry? Simply put, the trifle is a dessert that has layers of cake alternating with layers of cream usually presented in a tall glass container to show off the layers. I had no tall glass containers so I went with the original spring form pan into which I already baked my brownie crust (at least that part was successful) and used the cream from a chocolate tiramisu recipe previously posted. Recipes below:
Brownie Recipe (from Junior’s Cheesecake Brownie Swirl Cheesecake recipe):
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 extra-large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
First, I greased an 8″ springform pan completely, bottom and sides (the recipe originally instructed me to wrap the springform pan in foil but since this isn’t for a cheesecake and there will be no water bath used, you can leave this step out). I then greased an 8″ square baking pan and lined it with parchment paper with the paper sticking out of the sides to be used as a handle later (now that I look back on it, I don’t think the parchment paper is really necessary, but who knows? It was in the instructions for a reason!).
I preheated the oven to 350F and melted the semisweet chocolate with the butter and set aside to cool. Then I combined the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside. I then beat the 6 eggs on high until they were “yellow and thick” (and here is probably where I overbeat them — Matilda my KitchenAid mixer just doesn’t know her strength sometimes…or rather, I don’t know her strength) and gradually added the sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla while beating. Reducing the speed to low, I added the flour mixture gradually until it was just blended in.
I poured just enough batter to cover the bottom of the springform pan and spread it around the bottom with a spatula — the batter was just a little over 1/4″ thick by the time I finished spreading. The rest of the batter was poured into the prepared baking pan.
The baking is where it gets messy. I first put the springform pan into the oven and ended up baking it for 20 minutes — the original 10 minutes was too short since it was still pretty wet when I pulled it out after 10 minutes. You really have to just keep checking on it. Same thing with the batter in the baking pan. The original recipe said to bake the batter in the square pan for 25 minutes but I just kept increasing the time until the brownie batter was no longer wet. Somehow I ended up with dry brownie, at which point I had to call it as far as the cheesecake idea was concerned. I was afraid the cheesecake batter would not moisten the brownies enough. So I refrigerated the crust after cooling it on the counter, cut up the dry brownie into squares and stored in a plastic container overnight while I contemplated my contingency plan.
As I said, I turned to the idea of using tiramisu cream and making my trifle-misu. Recipe to be found in this post
for the cream. I simplified and combined all the ingredients for the cream into a bowl, beat it until blended and folded in the whipped cream. No messy dividing of the batter, as in the original recipe.
Spreading enough cream to cover the brownie crust (about 1/2″ thick), I arranged squares of brownie on top of it and covered that layer with cream just until it almost reached the top of the spring form pan. I dusted it with cocoa, covered with plastic, and refrigerated overnight.
This was the first time I’d had to improvise after my original plan did not execute properly. I’m happy to say it was a success, as my friend loved it so much she had seconds. There’s more to write about, but I will be saving the savory part of the meal for the next post because it is 1:36AM, and I need sleep…