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fudgy coffee brownies

I love chocolate dearly. Even more than I love cardamom, and by now you must know how much I love cardamom. Sometimes, I love them together.

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But my tastes are also a little finnicky. I don’t like chocolate cake, but I love chocolate ice cream, fudge, and chocolate bars. I’m not a fan of milk chocolate, unless it’s shaped like an easter egg and has indefinable cream inside.

Or it comes in the form of ice cream.

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With my difficult-to-pin-down tastes, which confound everyone around me (“You don’t want coffee right now? But you love coffee,” “you’re eating gelato? but you’re allergic to milk…” and so on), it’s a surprise even to me that I love brownies so much. And to be honest, the only brownies I don’t like are store-bought brownies wrapped in plastic that taste like a factory.

I mean, don’t you hate when your food tastes like a factory? Because I totally know what a factory tastes like.

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But honestly, I love Betty Crocker boxed brownie mix (just add canola oil!) I like them undercooked, I like them burnt, I like them on a bike, I like them in the road, yes Mr. Cat, I do like green eggs and chocolate.

Brownies are one of my top favorite sweets to eat and to make (they’re unbelievably easy and forgiving, and I could live off of the batter even after the salmonella kills me.) And above all else, my favorite thing is fudgy brownies. Brownies that are almost like…fudge. After my cardamom adventures, I was curious to know how to make different types of brownies, and when I checked The Google, I found a simple answer: more flour = more cake. More fat = more fudge. BUT! More fat = less dark, and I love me some dark, dark chocolate.

I took the cardamom brownies recipe and played around with some ingredient combinations until I discovered these fudgy coffee brownies. Beware, there is a lot of coffee (powder) in them. I tried using Kahlua but it was too much liquid. I tried overcompensating with extra flour, and…factory. This recipe finds the perfect balance between coffee flavor and dark chocolate fudge, and I cut down the sugar to enhance the bitterness…and, best of all, I salted the brownies (gasp oh dear) to enhance ALL the flavors.

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The measurements are a little different than the cardamom brownies, but only because I wanted more brownie. I added 20% more of everything to the batter, more butter for more fat, less cocoa powder so they wouldn’t dry out, less sugar for more bitterness, and less flour for richer batter. You can take the old recipe and substitute the cardamom and vanilla¬†for instant coffee. Even if the batter doesn’t fully cover the bottom of the pan, they’ll rise and fill out in the oven.

 

fudgy coffee brownies

makes 16

based on the cardamom brownies recipe

 

180 g unsalted butter, melted

70 g cocoa powder

240 g granulated sugar

6 T instant coffee powder

2 eggs

60 g all-purpose flour

kosher salt or sea salt for the top

 

Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325 F (163 C.) If using a toaster oven, line the brownie pan with paper.

Over a double boiler (or directly in a pot), melt the butter and don’t let it bubble or burn. Once mostly melted, remove from heat and turn off the stove.

With a spatula, mix in the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and coffee powder until completely blended and smooth.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is silky smooth.

Finally, fold in the flour until there are no pockets of white left.

Spread the batter out in an 8 x 8 brownie pan lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle the salt on top.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until you can smell the chocolate. If using a toaster oven, do 740 W for 20 – 25 minutes. The toothpick test won’t work with these brownies, and they will set when they cool down. They’ll look and feel dry on top and start to come off of the sides of the pan, but the batter will still be melty in the middle. It will firm up as it cools.

As soon as they’re done, transfer the pan to the refrigerator. The sudden change in temperature helps the brownies become crispy.

Once they’re cool, remove the brownies from the pan, cut, and enjoy. They are, understandably, best enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

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Try not to eat them all at once yo,

Nick P.

Categories: bars and brownies

(american) southern buttery biscuits

It’s been raining on and off over here, and the temperature has been moody like someone abstaining from coffee.

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Not that I…know what that’s like…

And back home, I hear it’s snowing like crazy, such that some people are losing power and some businesses are closing temporarily. It reminds me of a time in middle school, when my hometown (Chapel Hill, NC) had an ice storm. I don’t remember what an ice storm is like. I just remember being let out of school early (for the FIRST and only time in my life) so we could get home before it got too dangerous to go outside. Our bus had some trouble making it back to my neighborhood, and we had to get out early and wait for another bus, or walk. Buses were scattered around the ditches all the way home (I could have made the walk in fifteen minutes, if I wanted to die of frostbite.) We lost power the next day and had to rely on camping stoves, cup noodles that tasted like hamburgers because we cooked them on the camping stoves, extra layers of blankets, a real wood fire, and the entirety of our winter wardrobes to help us sleep at night. My dad’s office regained power after a few days, so we migrated to downtown, picked up some pizza, and camped out in the conference room of his law firm until our house regained power.

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Good thing my family loves candles. We had a lot of candles and if not for those, we would have been screwed.

Yesterday, my Canadian friend showed me photos of the worst winters in Canada, and then a photo online taken in North Carolina…there was hardly any snow. I don’t know what it’s like back home right now, but even though it may never be as difficult as a Canadian winter, I still hope people are faring well.

All this is to say, I’m homesick. I never felt much Southern until I went to college in Los Angeles and people actually laughed when I would say “y’all” (and then not only say it themselves without any hint of irony, but also completely misspell the word.) And I realized recently that I’ve never been in touch with my upbringing, which isn’t very Southern by even central North Carolina standards. But I’d like to. So a few months ago I attempted deep-fried okra…and it was not pleasant. I asked my parents to mail me some Southern food and I’ve had a box of corn bread mix in my pantry for over half a year (I ate the jambalaya a month ago.) I found cornmeal in my local import store and it takes all my willpower not to buy it (soon. soon, my precious.)

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But on a lighter note, I’ve spent the weekend making (American) biscuits. Definitely the easiest thing I’ve made in the last twelve months, and after only two attempts, they already taste like home: salty, buttery, warm, flour-y, and full of clogged arteries…I mean…delicious calories. For lunch on Saturday, I used a biscuit cutter to make an egg patty and had a bacon-egg biscuit. I cried a little…then I choked on a biscuit crumb that found its way into my windpipe.

So while I comfort myself through the rain with a taste of home, I feel like I’m experiencing the late winter madness that my family is going through (but actually I’m just really happy that it’s not so cold where I am right now.) And when I’m feeling really cooky, I make garlic black pepper biscuits, too.

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Southern buttery biscuits

makes one dozen

320 g all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt*

1 Tbsp baking powder

120 g butter

195 g milk

dash of lemon juice

 

*For garlic biscuits substitute the salt for 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp black pepper, and add 1 tsp garlic paste or diced fresh garlic

These can be baked as soon as they’re ready, or frozen and baked later.

Chop the butter into small cubes, about 1 centimeter square, and let chill in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder (and garlic powder and black pepper if using) in a large bowl.

Using a pastry mixer, food processor, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter’s coated and resembles small beans.

Add the milk (and garlic/garlic paste if using) and mix loosely just until dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour the counter and dump out the dough. Knead it loosely until it comes together and stops sticking to your hands. Flour as needed. Don’t be afraid of the flour.

Press the dough out to ~1 inch or ~1 centimeter thickness and cut out with biscuit cutters. If freezing, line a tupperware container with parchment paper and put a layer of paper in between each layer of biscuits. If baking now, put the biscuits on the baking sheet so they’re touching, no space in between.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. If using a toaster oven, toast at 1000 W for 15 – 20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper. Best eaten the same day.

 

 

I can already count the number of breakfast biscuits and fried chicken biscuits I’m going to consume in August when I move home. Bojangles, brace yourself.

Nick P.

Categories: Breads