Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 2 & 3 - Brownies with Chocolate-Covered Raisins

I about had a heart attack when I tore off the January 1st page and saw the recipe for Jan 2 & 3.  Brownies with chocolate covered raisins????? 

People who know me know that I cannot stand three things when it comes to food:

1.  The combination of mint and chocolate together... (the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up)
2.  Green peppers...(my stomach is feeling a little queesy)
3.  RAISINS!!  (I just threw up in my mouth a little).

So when I saw a recipe for brownies (one of my most favorite things in the world) with the addition of raisins, I got enraged!  That's like going to ceiling of the sistine chapel and adding a picture of Charlie Brown to it.


I hate oatmeal cookies with raisins in them.  I hate bread pudding with raisins in them.  I hate chocolate covered raisins.  So while I am blasting the people at Bon Appetit for their lack of respect to the brownie and cursing their very existance, Brian asks me why I hate raisins.  I stop and stare at him while the steam bellows out of my ears.  The camera clicks on in my brain and we are sent to a flashback:

There I am in third grade, sitting in the lunchroom of the Catholic Grade School I attended for 8 years.  Dressed in brown corduroy pants and a gold polo shirt, I am happily eatting my peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich with all the rest of the boys.  To my right is one of my friends, Robert.  He is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as well.  We are talking and eating when Robert puts his hand into his brown paper bag.  {Cue Slow Motion}.  He slowly pulls out one of those really small boxes of sunmaid raisins.  He opens it up.  {Cut to me} My face still has a smile on it.  {Back to the action} The raisins come out as one big block.  He begins to pull the raisins apart and begins to stuff them up his nose. {Cut to me} My smile falls into a look of utter shock.  {Back to the action} After stuffing the entire box of raisins up his nose, Robert laughs.  The kids around him laugh.  I am still gaping at him with a horrified look on my face.  {Cue the Organ Chords}  Robert blows the raisins out of his nose.  They land on the table top in slimy little masses.  He picks one of them up and proceeds to place it into his open mouth.....

I CAN'T....I CAN'T...  As I write this, I can't go there.  I can't finish.  It's too traumatic.  Happy place...Happy place.

So the only things I bought for this recipe were the raisinets, the bittersweet chocolate, and a pound of butter.  Luckily I had everything else in my pantry.

Raisinets = $3.39
Chocolate = $2.99
Butter = $1.99

Total = $8.37

Warning:  Snobby Chef Talk Ahead
Whenever I have the option, I always use bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet.  I prefer the dark taste of bittersweet, especially in things like brownies, truffles, and chocolate ganache in general.  It slightly lowers the sugar content of the recipe as well.

Also, I highly recommend using the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (which can be found at your local Williams-Sonoma).  I never used to be an ingredient snob; I used whatever was the cheapest I could find in the store.  But after years working with pastries and desserts, I discovered that you want to use a really good vanilla extract when adding it to chocolate. It will help bring out the chocolateness (made up word)  in your recipe.

Oh..and use really good chocolate that helps too. End snobby chef talk.

So I got a complaint that my blog about the guacamole was too involved, so I won't go into too much detail about the process of making the brownies.  Instead, I'll focus on the highlights and give you some tips

Basically you take your unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates and melt them with butter.  Then you cool it.  I like trying brownie recipes that use real chocolate rather than cocoa powder.  Using real chocolate, however is very tricky.  It adds more "liquid"component to your recipe, so you have to compensate with more dry ingredients.  Also, you have to watch the baking time.  If you over bake your brownies by even 5 minutes, you'll get that bitter burnt chocolate taste. 

Isn't that scale cool.  I love it. That's why I took the picture. (Shameless plug) Oxo Brand!

So while that's all melting you add the sugar to the eggs and beat them for three minutes until they are thick




TEACHER/FOOD NERD TALK:  I love the whole beating the eggs with sugar process; it's so cool.  There is this chemical reaction that occurs that not only changes the color of the eggs but the texture as well.  This process allows you to add more air to your final product!

Alright so then you mix your dry ingredients while thats going.  Then bing bang boom, you add the cooled chocolate to the egg mixture, then the dry ingredients to that.

Next you add the most evil of ingredients to the batter and place it all in a butter 8" square pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 (or in my case 365 cause my oven sucks).  

And then Viola!  You have an unholy pairing of the angelic brownie to the devil raisin.  Mischief...mischief... I say!!


Fast:  Realtively.  With baking time and chocolate melting time, the whole recipe took me maybe 45 minutes.  While one part of the recipe is going, you can start working on another part so the prep goes pretty quick.

Easy:  Yes.  Although it was hard for me emotionally to dump those raisinets in at the end. 

Fresh:  Meh....  Can you call brownies fresh?  I guess adding chocolate covered raisins would be a fresh take on the classic brownie.  Okay, Bon Appetit I gave you this one...but you owe me.

Overall:  The brownie recipe (minus the raisins) is good.  Just watch your baking time.  Also, if you stick a toothpick in the middle to test the recipe, be aware that you might hit a chocolate covered raisin and it will make the tester come out looking like it's still raw.  The 30 minutes is pretty much right on the nose.  Plus I like more of a fudgy brownie anyway so undercooking it is alright by me.  Brian, my unbiased tester, loved the recipe.  I, however, will be giving these demon brownies away. 

Monday = tip day = rest day!  Yee haw!  Maybe I'll write a little something...otherwise, see you Tuesday!


Nikki said...

Put one in the freezer for me! - I'm so proud of your ability to add the evil ingredient. Have you looked ahead to see if there are any mint/chocolate combinations? How does the brownie compare to Ina Garten's brownies?

SuperStar Chef Mark said...

Haven't spotted any mint chocolate...thank god. Although these are quick and easy, I've got to give it up to Ina for a better overall brownie recipe. Also, I've managed to wrestle away a brownie from Brian, so its in the freezer for you.

NikiTheo said...

Haha, I just made oatmeal cookies w/ Raisinets last week!
Now, I like raisins, but I'm not really sure about the raisins in the brownie thing. That just sounds kinda wrong to me...

Nicole said...

You know, I forgot to comment that I liked that the whole recipe was visible (upon enlargement) on Jan 2/3. If anyone wants to try it out it will be convenient to read it in its original form.

ஜCupcakeWhimsyஜ said...

Great story. I could picture you sitting there with that horrified look as if I was there with you. Of course, I've seen that look on your face many a time growing up. On that note, I am going to look up Ina's brownie recipe. Thanks! ~ lori

joybjoyful said...

The picture of Charlie Brown on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is priceless! Now, if he had only been holding a box of Thin Mint cookies, the picture would have been complete!

Nikki said...

Thanks for the brownie! I loved it. The little pockets of chocolate were like tiny gifts, bursts of enjoyment for my mouth. I couldn't really even taste the raisins. They were VERY subtle. IN fact, if I make them, I might add more!