Friday, February 17, 2006

go postal

I was thinking the other day about what cakes are best for mailing. Because it's my favourite thing to bake for people and i'm not gonna stop just because of a little thing like distance. I remember a couple of years ago I was really impressed when S's mum sent her an orange and poppyseed cake for her birthday. I think the trick is to fit them real snuggly into whatever container you're posting so they can't move around. Anyway, I decided on Brownies this time because they age quite well, are solid and can be carved into cutesy little shapes if you're feeling so inclined.

Brownies of course are a bit of a holy grail type of baking - so often they disappoint, being too dry, not chewy enough or just not chocolatey. Extensive web research took me to this recipe from Orangette for "best-ever brownies". Too cocky? Maybe not because they were damn damn good. Don't think I didn't use 2 blocks of Lindt 70% proof chocolate though.

The best thing about these brownies, after posting them off to adulation, was freezing them into icecream sandwiches to put in my sister Marion's freezer. And now that she's popped my little nephew out she's allowed to eat them. They are so so so good frozen.

Chocolate Brownies
Adapted by Orangette from Baking with Julia and meddled with by me just a tad.
There's a tempting picture of these at Chef Kristy

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
240gms unsalted butter
180gms best darkest chocolate you can find
2 cups raw sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 handful of chopped nuts - I used walnuts and pecans

Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir frequently. When the chocolate and butter are both melted and smooth, add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture, and stir it for 30 seconds; then remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.

Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a medium bowl, and whisk by hand to combine. Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don’t scramble from the heat. Beat the remaining sugar and eggs on medium speed until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped eggs and sugar into the chocolate mixture. When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the flour and half the nuts.

Pour and scrape the batter into an unbuttered 8-inch square pan, a heavy non-stick one is good. Scatter the rest of the nuts on top. Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes, during which time they will rise a bit and the top will turn dry and a bit crackly. After 23 minutes, stick a knife or toothpick into the center to see how they are progressing. They should be just barely set—not too raw, but still fairly gooey (mine took about 28 and were possibly a little mushy in the middle). Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack. When they’re completely cool, cut them into rectangular bars to serve. Or carve into love hearts etc.

For ice cream sandwiches cut them in half into thin slices and put a good couple of inches of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Re-freeze. Gobble. Collapse in ecstatic goodness.


Chai said...

2 cups of sugar!

Vanessa said...

Posting cakes? I have never done so, but have observed the packing of a fruit cake in preparation for posting. Leave it in the tin. Make sure everything is nice and tight.

Tania said...

Have made them three times and each time they dissapear within a day! So good. In fact, I hear mumbled sounds of appreciation from the kitchen as I write