• Brownies (baking tips for newbies)

    I don't cook that much but I love to bake since I have one hell of a sweet tooth. While I won't be able to divulge our family recipe for brownies, I'd like to share some baking tips for newbies.

    Baking is pretty easy (I'm not an expert though). But you must be patient and in my opinion, exact. Here are some things I learned through the years...
    Tip 1. MEASURE. Some people tend to "guesstimate" but the slightest change in measurement would change the consistency of the dough or mix. So I use measuring cups and spoons (we have a set at home).

    By the way, I have yet to find a "rich" local cocoa brand so in the meantime I use Bensdorp (Dutch) cocoa. This will give your brownies that real chocolatey taste. The cheap local counterpart results in brownies that taste like cheap chocolate coins.

    Tip 2. Separate dry ingredients from the wet. Mix all the dry ingredients first (cocoa, floor, sugar and a small amount of salt). In another container, mix the "wet" ingredients like egg, oil, butter and vanilla extract.

    I'm making half a batch of brownies so two eggs only.

    Oh how I love vanilla extract. I should buy a new bottle from the nearby bakery supplies store  (it's cheaper than in the supermarket. I'm sure you'll find one near your neighborhood).

    Tip 3. Don't melt the butter. Just mix them in. I tried melting them once and using a blender another time. Both produced liquid-like mixes. Of course let them soften a little in room temperature to make mixing a little easier.

    From Landolakes.com: The physical properties of butter are changed when melted and prevent butter from being mixed properly with the flour in the cookie dough. Butter that has been melted coats the flour in the dough differently than softened butter.

    Tip 3. Make a crater from the dry ingredients and pour the mixed wet ingredients unto the center. I actually don't know why this is done but that's what most baking recipe books suggest. Maybe it's just more practical since you are able to immediately mix the dry with the wet.

    Tip 4. Mix mix mix until all the hard stuff are dissolved. I got lazy once and ignored the fact that there were still particles of sugar that were not thoroughly incorporated into the mix. Instead of being soft, the brownies had these hard bits of sugar... Really small bits but annoying nonetheless.

    Always grease the container before baking. One time I forgot and...

    Tip 5. To make sure that you don't waste ingredients, use a plastic spatula (check out the butter and egg picture) to completely transfer the mix into the baking pan or in this case, Pyrex/glassware.

    Pre-heat the oven. I'm a little scared of fire so I use an electric oven.

    Tip 6. Top with nuts or white chocolate AFTER or NEARING COMPLETION of the baking process so they don't burn or sink. Burnt white chocolate tastes like burnt food. Duh. And if they don't burn, it's because they probably already sunk into the middle of the mix.

    Enjoy. :) Sorry if the cut wasn't really straight. 0_o

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