Updated on Wednesday:
Chocolate experiments were taking place on Russett Road
during the recent snow days.
Neighbor and chocolate lover Andy Mlynek was celebrating
a birthday on Thursday. Sally and I decided we would bake a brownie
birthday cake for him, but it had to be the most chocolaty one we could
Moist, chocolate deliciousness . . . who doesn’t love a
brownie? One of the accounts of the brownie’s origin was in Chicago at
the Palmer House Hotel. When Chicago hosted the World’s Fair in 1893,
Bertha Palmer assigned her chef to create a confection that would be
smaller than a piece of cake, would not get her guests’ hands dirty, and
could be easily eaten from box lunches. As the saying goes, “Necessity
is the mother of invention,” and so, the brownie was born.
A chocolate brownie is a flat, baked square or bar,
sliced from a type of dense, rich chocolate cake. The Palmer House still
serves up that original recipe. The brownies feature an apricot glaze
and walnuts, and are still being made at the hotel according to the
Chocolate brownies should be removed promptly from the
oven to retain the best chocolate taste. This is because many of the
compounds that give chocolate its flavor are highly volatile and easily
lost. The smell of brownies cooking is an indication that flavor and
aroma are being released into the air. Because they will continue to
cook for a few minutes from residual heat, it is best to remove brownies
from the oven as early as possible; generally, when a toothpick test
still shows a few moist crumbs.
We started out with a recipe that combined baking
chocolate and two cups of brown sugar. This turned out to be a good
combination, but was not the right texture. The second try used cocoa,
but looked like a chocolate swimming pool, with high sides and low in
the middle. The third try was Hershey Chocolate Favorite Brownies. It
was good, but I tried out a new soft, silicone pan and the cookies came
out as crumbs. I was ready to bag up the crumbs from each try and give
them to Andy to eat on ice cream, when my son Bob suggested that we make
brownie pudding. Considering that I was almost out of eggs and cocoa,
this would be the final try.
We had not heard a final report from Andy, but I did
take the three bags of crumbs and pieces to the office for a taste test.
Three out of four of the staff liked the first attempt, even though the
pieces were hard. They also suggested that we have food articles more
often, so there could be more taste tests.
This experiment kept us busy through Friday, so even
though it was cold outside, the house smelled great.
Maricia was conducting her own research across the road,
unbeknown to me. She still tends to cook like a science teacher.
Everything is an experiment. Though she always begins with a recipe,
time and ingredients are factors. Her cake was an inside out Bundt cake.
Though the recipe called for chocolate chips and nuts, she decided on
peanut butter candy, and substituted a few other ingredients. Needless
to say, the cake didn’t turn out as Betty Crocker would hope, and, in
the end, icing had to be used on the outside just to hold the experiment
The good news is that Andy loved both birthday
delicacies. The bad news is that Maricia will never be able to recreate
the recipe again. For some reason, the thoughts of chocolate do not
interest me--at least for the next month. In the end, we will remember
the snow week of January 2010 as the Great Chocolate Experience.
This Week's Editorial:By Helen Morris:
Calhoun County Map