Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Baking (Why I Need to Stay Away from the Oven for a While)

Huh. This doesn't look too bad, does it?
I'm trying too hard, aren't I? I mean, I go "off the air" so to speak, for like... I don't know, what, 6 weeks? 8 weeks? And now... deluge of blogs.

Yea, I probably am.

But I finally have some brain space to blog again, and right now, everything is freaking funny.

So, because I apparently didn't learn my lesson about baking or the perils of Christmas, I attempted to make brownies the morning before our annual Christmas Vacation party.

Son of a...

Side note: you would think that the whole "gingerbread men burning in Hell" thing would be a one-off occurance. Right? RIGHT?

Wrong.

We were having this whole Christmas Vacation party, which, next year, you should totally come to. It's an annual occurance, and we have a ton of fun, and yes, Eric may walk around in public in a too-short bathrobe a la Cousin Eddie. In preparation for said party, I thought I would make brownies.

I have made brownies before. Successfully.

However, this time around, I was out of Baker's chocolate. However, I do have, in large supply, quite a store of Ghananian chocolate.

As in chocolate from the Country of Ghana, which a number of my friends live in. Said friends never fail to bring me Ghananian chocolate every time they visit. Which is very sweet of them.

Unfortunately, the chocolate is not.

My friends from Ghana (who, I assume, are NOT reading this blog and you WON'T tell them about), are so proud of this national export.

However, Ghananian chocolate is not exactly what we as Americans, expect in chocolate.

The Ghananian chocolate is less sweet than you would expect. It tends to shatter when you try to break it, the texture is grainy, and it doesn't tend to melt in your mouth when you eat it. It also has a very different aftertaste than you might want.

It isn't terrible different from Baker's chocolate. So, it would make sense to use it in place of Baker's chocolate right?

Frick.

Well, live and learn. I tried the substitute. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly.

Additionally, after this particular experiment, I learned through placing an additional thermometer in the over, that our current oven heats to approximately 25 degrees above the target temperature. Which may have had something to do with said inferno in my previous post.

Can't tell from the photo these brownies are actually underwater, can you?
However, at 18 minutes (the recipe called for 18-22 minutes of bake time), I looked in the over and found the following:
  • Blackened edges of the DOUBLE BATCH of brownies
  • boiling batter just in from the edge of the blackened section
  • a crisp, perfect-looking center
This can't be good, right? The recipe called for keeping them in the oven until the edges "just pulled away" from the pan. Well, pulled away they were, but that was a little more than just "pulled away." More like 3rd degree burned. Blackened like ocean perch in Louisiana.

So, I pulled those suckers out of the oven, hoped for the best, and let them cool on the stovetop.

Where they turned into something akin to what happens to lava after it cools.

Stone.

Greasy stone.

So, I tried soaking the pans.

Stone.

I tried boiling water and pouring it over the brownies. The brownies sucked up the water in the same manner as lava rock allows water into the porous nature of its surface.

It didn't help in getting the brownie out of the pan.

Seriously, I don't know if it was the chocolate, the additional temperature, or the chemical reaction of the two, but I may never get these pans back. They, after 2 days, are still sitting on the deck, no closer to unsticking then they were the moment I took them out of the oven.

Except that it snowed today. So, those pans are now most likely frozen to the back deck, and will remain so until it thaws, which around here could mean either January or June.

I really need to learn to just stick to dipping pretzels in milk chocolate and calling it a day.



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