Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comfort Zones - Chocolate Pecan Brownies and Peachy Socks

Brownies ready for the oven - Pecans and 70% Chocolate
Yesterday I was perusing blogs and came across this decadent-looking recipe over on Brownieville Girl's foodie blog and thought - I've got all the stuff in the kitchen - so I got stuck in straight away and made them. I have to confess I  hadn't made brownies since we lived in Africa over 15 years ago as I am not that mad about rich chocolate cakes - but then I have eaten some delicious brownies over the years and they are quite different from chocolate sponge cake.

Mixing the Brownie Batter with the pecans
Firstly they are so concentrated and dense that you only need a small one to feel satisfied and full (she tells herself!); secondly, they are totally different in texture and have a moist centre with a slightly crunchy outside; and finally what clinched it for  me was seeing a brownie in the coffee shop we went to for lunch yesterday that cost €1.50 - and that was not much more than a mouthful.

Cheapskate that I am it kills me to see such prices for what's basically a slice of a tray-bake, in the same way that my inner Scrooge baulks at paying €1.90 or €2 for a cup of hot water with a teabag. I do enjoy going for lunch with my colleagues and a couple of times a week we meet up - but mostly I bring lunch with me and have it in the tearoom at work with an endless supply of free tea from the Burco boiler!
Ready steady bake!

I decided to experiment with these lovely brownies to bring them into work to share with my colleagues in the tearoom. They could be my guinea pigs, as they have shown themselves adept at sampling my other experiments, be they Anzac cookies or plain old Apple Tarts. They were very happy to do so and the brownies vanished like the promises in a political manifesto after polling day.

Here's the recipe from the Brownieville Girl Blog with full credit to her for sharing it with us - you can also link to her recipe post here.
(I am not familiar with cups but I used a cone measure which has cups on it and that helped, along with our digital scales)

Brownies (Courtesy of Brownieville Girl) with Pecan Nuts
Brownies cooling down - cut into squares
(my variation)
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ready with the cuppa tea - or hot chocolate to go all out!
  1. 1/3  cup                cocoa
  2. 1 tsp                     instant espresso powder
  3. 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp   boiling water
  4. 2 oz (55g)            dark chocolate (at least 70%) finely chopped
  5. 2oz (55g)             butter - melted
  6. 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp  vegetable oil
  7. 2                          large eggs
  8. 2                          egg yolks
  9. 2 tsp                    vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups                 sugar
  11. 1/2 cup                brown sugar
  12. 1 3/4 cups           flour
  13. 1/2 tsp                 salt
  14. 6oz (165g)          dark chocolate (again at least 70%!) chopped into pieces
  15. 1 Cup                 roughly chopped Pecan or Walnuts (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
  • Line a 9" brownie tin with parchment paper, or just butter it.  
  • You can also use a roasting dish/tin with parchment paper lining as I did.
  • Whisk cocoa, coffee and boiling water in a large bowl. 
  • (I used a saucepan for everything instead as I melted the butter and chocolate on the stove top)
  • Add 2 oz chocolate  and whisk until melted.
  • Whisk in the melted butter and oil.
  • Add eggs and egg yolks, vanilla extract and whisk until totally blended.
  • Whisk in the sugars until well incorporated.
  • Add the flour and salt and combine carefully with a large spoon.
  • Mix Pecan nuts or Walnuts thoroughly in mixture
Scatter the chocolate pieces over the brownie mixture.
  • Bake 30 - 35 minutes - you know how to check it's right!
  • Allow to cool for 1 1/2 hours and then cut into nice big chunks. (I used a Pizza Cutter)
I hope you like the photos - the chocolate I used was Lidl's Ecuador 70%, while the Cocoa was Green & Black's Organic Cocoa - a perfect combo! The whole thing took no time to make - I used a hand whisk as the mix is like pancake batter till you fold in the flour when it thickens a bit. No need for much elbow grease at all!

Cosy Toes in Comfy Boots
Peachy Pastel Lacy Socks

As for the peachy pastel socks - these were just too pretty to pass by. I found the pattern via Ravelry like so many others - they are also from the Fantasy Cascade range and I used DK yarn - 100gm ball of a lovely pale peachy colour that I'd bought in Buncrana in September - I got it as a baby wool but as I got two balls I have plenty leftover. The socks use about 65gms. I found the pattern easy-peasy once I got used to the repeat, every 16 rows. The pattern can be downloaded as a free PDF from the Cascade Yarns Fixation site here  You can see the pattern on the link about half-way down - W124 Fancy Feet - it's the middle sock of the three shown. 
(If you want to follow me on Ravelry I'm there as LismoreLady!)

Hanging out in the garden

The beauty of these socks I've been making is that they are actually very wearable and I am as snug as a bug in a rug these days with my new ankle boots and home-made socks keeping me warm and cosy. I got my new Clarks ankle boots in Shaw's in Dungarvan a few weeks ago - and they are a tad big for popsox or normal tights, as I wanted to have enough room for woolly ribbed tights or my knitted socks - and they work a dream. So the moral is - go a half-size up if you want that bit of space in your boots - especially if you try them on wearing popsox.

I think I'll be making some of these as Christmas pressies - maybe even as a blog giveaway when I get around to it - watch this space!

Meanwhile, happy baking and knitting to all!

New Boots with my Coral Socks

Heel and pattern detail of Lacy Socks


Jeannette StG said...

Cathryn, you make me smile - I've never seen anyone so turned on to knitting and becoming good at it so fast! It's impressive! Love the peachy lacy socks:):)

Brownieville Girl said...

Love that they vanished like a politician's promises!!!!!!

I can't take credit for the recipe though, Hanaa (linked on my blog) brought it to my attention (bless her!!)

The brownies look fantastic - glad you enjoyed them.

Love the socks, my feet are freezing at the moment so am having a bit of sock envy!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love the socks and boots! I love all the photographs on your posts.

I've had to re-sign in because a blogger glitch forced me to abandon (export) my first blog. But they don't export followers, so I've go to go in manually and re-follow those I want to re-follow. Yours is definitely on my list!!!

Winifred said...

That brownie recipe looks good. I've used the Lesley Waters one on the BBC site and it was quite good. Yours has more chocolate in so think I'll give it a go.

I use Aldi chocolate too, so cheap and delicious.

Funny but I've just bought some Clark's boots very similar to your. They're so comfortable. My last pair were from M&S and have been very good but they're a bit shabby now. However Clark's give a choice of 3 colours so this time I opted for the navy, so hard to get navy shoes never mind boots. I'm going back for a black pair on Monday!

Love the socks!