Brownies with walnuts and browned butter

_MG_0427

I´m home on holiday – again! I know!!! That´s the advantage of having my exam after Christmas – getting an extra vacation! So, that´s pretty nice… I came home last weekend to Celebrate my boyfriend´s mother´s birthday, cause she was turning 60, and having a big celebration. And the plan was to fly back on Sunday for my exam the following monday. But, it turned out, that after my exam there weren´t any lectures until February! And as the exam was a home-exam, well, why not stay at home in Norway writing it? After all, that is my primary home! So I did! And now I have a good week at home to do – well – bake? It´s not like I have anything else scheduled! Well, other than seeing family and friends, of course. But those things are very well combined. Last night, I had a friend over while my boyfriend was at football practice. Our initial plan was meeting at a café and then going to the cinema, but poor as we are, we decided on a night at home instead.

I promised her some baked goods, and had my mind on brownies. She´s pretty much a chocoholic (yeah – blame her…) and, well, ok, I was having massive chocolate cravings, so brownies seemed just right. And easy enough to gobble on when you´re deep down in the sofa, under the blanket, watching tv. Important. So, the one thing I was going to do that day, was baking a batch of brownies before her arrival. But did I manage? Nooo. I spent too much time gazing out the window. Facebooking. Warming my hands above the oven. Staring out the window again. And searching for recipes – brownie recipes. I had borrowed the Hummingbird bakery cookbook from my mother, and was planning to make the basic brownie recipe from that book. But then I had some extra time on my hands, and starting searching online for recipes…

_MG_0423

_MG_0420

And then I found these. They looked insanenly good. I was a little surprised to see that the brownies were made of cocoa, not chocolate, I mean, being a brownie, and all! And still – they looked so chocolatey! But, than again, I do recall a super-moist chocolate cake made from cocoa, so that didn´t put me off! I was a little afraid that the basic Hummingbird brownies weren´t gooey enough, or fudgy enough to my like, cause I couldn´t really judge by the photos. And to me, that´s what brownies are all about. Fudge and goo – yes please! I realized that the ingredients and measures in the cocoa brownies were the same as another Hummingbird-recipe, the frosted one, though without the frosting… So, I decided on that one, and got to use the book after all! I just tweaked the methods, to go with Alice Medrich´s approach. And also with her addition of browned butter…..mmm.

So, I never managed to bake the brownies before my friend arrived. But what´s good, is that these brownies come together in no time! Cause we were gonna have brownies, that was for sure! I just whipped them together in a hurry after dinner, and within an hour, they were served! And maybe it was just as good I didn´t bake them in advance, because what´s better than warm, fudgy brownies, straight from the oven?It was the perfect accompaniement to Bridesmades, a glass of milk and good company!

Verdict: Fudgy? Check! Chocolatey enough? Check! Good? Hell yeah!
So yes, the brownies lived up to their expectation, and to the photos – Luckily!

Bake away!

brownie

Cocoa Brownies
(Adapted from Alice Medrich)

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 170°/ 325°F. Line the bottom and all 4 sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick vegetable spray

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and continue to cook, whisking gently, until it is golden brown and the milk particles suspended in it are reddish brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stop the cooking by immediately adding the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir to blend. Let cool for 5 minutes; the mixture will still be fairly hot. (Well, I didn´t have time for that – instant chocolate cravings! And they still turned out beautifully!)

Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula after adding each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add all of the flour and stir until you no longer see streaks of flour, then beat vigorously for 50 to 60 strokes with the wooden spoon or the spatula. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the batter in the lined pan, swirling the surface if you like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges almost clean (the brownies will still be soft and gooey even if the toothpick looks clean). Cool in the pan on a rack.

Lift the edges of the foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Slide a metal spatula under the brownies to detach them from the foil (or invert the brownies and peel off the foil, then turn the brownies right side up again). Cut into 16 or 25 squares. The brownies keep stored airtight, for 2 to 3 days.

_MG_0426

Whole grain scones with raisins & walnuts

IMG_8496

IMG_8507

Scones! Gotta love´em! I know I do. I´ve said it before, and I´ll say it again: I love scones! I´m not afraid to admit it. It´s a fact, it´s a thing I can´t deny, like the fact that I will love them till I die… Ok – you get the picture.

Why this love of scones you say?
Well first of all – they taste amazing, but secondly, and maybe most importantly, you can start baking and get to the eating-part within 30 minutes! Unlike their yeasty relatives… And may I add that there´s absolutely no kneading involved! Only slight stirring, and even barely so. Which means you don´t have to wait for the dough to rise or to evolve to another stage, which again means there´s no disappointments when your dough doesn´t behave like it´t supposed to. No, no. None of that. Scones are grateful little creatures. At least compared to their yeasty cousins, which seem to live a life of their own. And that can be interesting at times, but other times, you want to be in charge, you want to be the master in your own kitchen. And then, my friend – scones are your friends.

And, like many other things I guess, you can play around with them, mixing them up with different kinds of flour or addings to suit your liking that day. You can go all in with full cream, butter and sugar and chocolate, or you can add berries or fruits for freshness, or you can substitute some of the ingredients to make a sweet, yet slightly healtiher scone. That´s what I intended to today. Sweet – yes. Always sweet to suit my sweet tooth, but also trying to make them a little less fatty and sugary, so that I can gobble on more of them, and eat them like a sweet substitute for bread.

IMG_8499

IMG_8503

Like I may have mentioned before, I´m on an everlasting search for a scone recipe that will resemble, or ideally copy – (but I don´t aim that high any longer) – the scones from my time working at the Lie Nielsen bakery. And judging by the photos, and list of ingredients, these seemed to be fitting.´ve actually made these once before, but that was a long time ago. I couldn´t really remember how they turned out last time – so it was time to make them again! It was my turn to bring baked goods to my sweet-loving health-concernded classmates this week, and what opportunity could be more appropriate? The recipe is from a book from the Norwegian bakeri Åpent Bakeri. I don´t really know the bakery, since it´s based in Oslo, but from what I´ve heard, it´s one of the best. And their scones are no exeption… And neither are mine – if I dare say so!

Scones (adapted from Åpent Bakeri)
– yield 8 decent sized scones

115 g sugar
100 g butter
1 dl buttermilk or greek yoghurt
2,5 dl milk
375 g flour (I used about 200 g wheat, and 175 whole grain – a mix of spelt/rye flour)
25 g baking powder
50 g walnuts
75 g raisins

The day before baking, soak the raisins.
(Or at least for a couple of hours – if your scones-cravings are urgent!)
Drain the raisins, then set them aside on a paper towel to soak up any external moisture.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, yoghurt and sugar. Add the (sifted) flour and baking powder mix in stages, then knead lightly till it is smooth and elastic in texture. Slowly add the milk while beating, and stir the mixture till it is smooth and lump-free (don’t worry if it appears curdled, mine did and my scones still turned out beautifully!) Carefully stir in the soaked raisins and walnuts, then shape the dough into a ball. (Be careful not to over-stir! The less you do the better – You just want the dough to hold together and be somewhat lumpfree) If the dough turns very wet, add a little more flour.

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle withe chopped almonds. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles. I like to pull them apart too, just to make sure they bake more evenly. Place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature with butter. Simple as that! And that´s why I love scones!

IMG_8491