Raspberry Brownies, with Love

For my first weekend back in Providence, I wanted to bake the perfect dessert for Alison. Since she is fond of fruit-chocolate pairings, I decided to try making fudgy raspberry brownies. Despite a potentially fatal error in planning and some subsequent hand-wringing during the baking and cooling process, these brownies came out wonderfully. They were dense, rich, and wonderfully moist brownies with a deep chocolate taste, studded with tart raspberry flavors. Even I loved them, and I am neither a brownie nor fruit-and-chocolate aficionado. Full disclosure, however: these brownies should be served and eaten cold. The extra liquid from the raspberries makes them difficult to handle at room temperature. Continue reading

A time for baking

I bake for many reasons. I bake to relax. I bake to cheer myself up. I bake to feel productive. I bake to use up excess ingredients. I bake to care for others, or show them my appreciation. I bake to show off. I bake to pass the time. I bake to have something to bring to parties. I bake to become a better baker. I bake to warm up the apartment in the winter months. I bake to indulge myself, and later feel guilty.

The urge to bake takes hold in fits and starts. Sometimes I spend 12 hours a day or more in the kitchen, or full weekends. Sometimes for weeks or months I can barely force myself to bake something for a party or to fulfill a gift I have promised. There is no rhyme or reason. Baking is a compulsion, but not a consistent one.

I was thinking about this, because tonight Alison is baking to make herself feel better, after a crappy day. (She is making peach cake, which I plan to wholeheartedly benefit from). At the end of last month, I baked to celebrate the completion of a paper I had been agonizing over for more than a year and to thank some friends for a favor. I chose two tasty-sounding options from my favorite baking cookbook, The Good Cookie. After such a long preamble, here are the fruits of this labor:

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I started with peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies.

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Nothing beats a basic drop cookie with chocolate.

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I learned an important lesson from this baking endeavor: use quality baking pans. I received free pans from a friend, but they were noticeably lighter than my usual pans. Using them resulted in burning half the batch so badly, I had to throw them away. The half that I baked on my regular pans came out perfectly, however. The nut flavor was rich, but not overpowering. I will have to make these again. And keep them for myself.
Next up: Caramel coconut pecan brownies

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Did I say nothing beats a drop cookie?
I lied.

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The bottom of the brownie batter is baked slightly to provide a solid base. Then:

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Caramel!

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And more brownie batter.

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The result? A wonderfully dense, chewy brownie.

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I plan to make these again soon.