Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Brownie ♥

Brownie? It is hard saying no to that word. Simple things like brownies, I take them for granted and forget to stop to think where they actually came from; Who published the first ever recipe and who made the name ‘brownie’ stick?
Well, I took the time to look into it this time and here it goes:
“The brownie first appeared in public during the 1893 Columbian Exposition, held in ChicagoIllinois. A chef at the city's Palmer House Hotel created the confection after Bertha Palmer requested a dessert for ladies attending the fair; it should be, she said, smaller than a piece of cake and easily eaten from boxed lunches. These first brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, and they are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe.”
“Smaller than a piece of cake
and easily eaten from boxed lunches”
Mmmm, you could choose any ingreadients and flavours for those instructions. Why chocolate then? Well, that’s a pretty easy question to answer…EVERYONE loves chocolate!!!

Anyways. I’ve tried my fair share of brownie recipes (although I have no posts to prove this, sorry:/) and I am still searching for that ideal recipe. My inspiration for this recipe and blog post comes from a good friend in the US of A, whom I know appreciates my baking passion, although I haven’ even had the chance to bake anything for him yet! (Thanks Garrett J) I promised I would send him my famous banana bread via mail one of these days, although I doubt the smell of that scrumptious baking treat would make it past US customs!

Now on to this recipe. Garrett described it as ‘absolutely amazing’ and I must say, I 100% agree! The texture is gooey, chocolately and almost a bit sticky. I love it. I have added a second brownie recipe below as well that I have previously tried a few times with great success. If you want to indulge  in a little baking day and make a number of chocolate lovers VERY happy, I suggest you simply try them both!
Tip? The brownies are best if you let them sit in the fridge over night! Also, use good quality chocolate. I used Cadbury's, which was yummy but you can even make the more amazing with better chocolate. 

The Death by Chocolate Brownie
3/4 cup dark cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup melted butter
Mix together and slowly add 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until thickened, let cool a bit but not too cool
Then stir in:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs whipped with cream or half and half about 1/3 cup
1/3 cup canola oil
Keep stirring and add:
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup grated bakers dark chocolate
½ cup milk chocolate chips 
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
Stir well, consistency should be somewhat thick but smooth, if it’s too dry, add a little water at a time, if too wet try flour with dark chocolate.
Blend well do not use a mixer—spray glass baking pan (9x13inch) lightly with PAM (butter/oil spray) and bake at 350 °F (175 C) (if you’re oven runs hot, bake at 325°F (163 C)) for about 35 minutes, take it out when knife inserted in center is still slightly covered with mixture but not runny.  Optional --When cooled, sprinkle about ½ cup grated bakers dark & white chocolate on top.

The Fudge Brownie (check out the recipe site here)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2) In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
3) While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
4) Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
5) Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

6) Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The most Snuggly, Adorable and Warmly decorated cafes in Cape Town!

I’ve lived in Cape Town for close to a year now and I can say full-heartedly say that I absolutely love this place! I’m a bit of a sucker for cafes, interior design and good/healthy food. The Cape Townians just seem to get that equation right every time! There is a rich café culture in this city so you never have to worry about being bored on a rainy day. Just grab yourself a good book or some good friends and escape to one of the snuggliest cafes in the city!

The Meeting Place
Eating out is definitely also on my top ten favorite things to do. Once again, it is hard to run out of options of good restaurants in this city. And the best part about it? It is affordable! You will usually not pay more than 100 Rand (approx 10 Euros, 13 US$) per person a night (food and drinks included).
So before leaving this city at the end of the year, I thought I’d include one blog post of all the secret and not-so-secret little hotspots in the city. For anyone travelling to Cape Town or anyone that knows someone coming here, simply refer to this blog post and you (or they) will not be disappointed with eating or drinking out! I promise ;)
Foodbarn Deli
Snuggliest Cafes:
The Foodbarn Deli, Noordhoek – Simply THE best! I may be biased as it is around the corner from my house and I go there a few times a week (if not every day J). The bread is to die for (get the Scandinavian Rye or Organic Loaf) as if everything else in their deli. Like I said, simply the best.
Olympia Café, Kalk Bay – Also mentioning this one under restaurants but a great place for an afternoon coffee and baked treat. It is a bakery as well and the Ciabatta is the best in town for sure.
The Meeting Place, Simons Town – Cutest café EVER. It is half a café and half an interior design store and it is simply beautiful. The goats cheese, pesto & tomato stack is highly recommended.
Kaffeen, Kenilworth – A great find tucked away in not the most picturesque neighbourhood. They sell their own cookies and treats as well and have great healthy salads, sandwiches and burgers for lunch.
Knead Muizenberg – A more modern café with a little great bakery attached to it. Great pizzas, sandwiches and salads
Melissa’s Foodshop, Waterfront – Half deli, half café. A large selection of the lovliest baked treats, jams and goodies each packaged individually and with love. This place is located inside the Waterfront shopping centre, so not the best location but it gives you the chance to escape into another little world, when you need that break from shopping.  
Olympia Cafe

 Simply the all-round best restaurants:
Beluga, Greenpoint – BEST ½ price sushi and cocktails everyday for lunch and Sunday all-day!
The Sidewalk Café, Vredehoek – A romantic little corner restaurant/café tucked away in a beautiful CT neighbourhood. Food is amazing here!
Olympia Café, Kalk Bay – What can I say? The rustic atmosphere and simply amazing food makes it the best evening get away every time. The menu is small but changes every day/or week? And you’ll always find something you like. You cannot book ahead, it is first-come/first-serve so pop in a little earlier so assure yourself a seat.
Burger Royale – Best burgers in town! I always have the chicken Cosa Nostra with additional avocado, y.u.m.m.y!
Willoughby’s & Co, Waterfront – This place absolutely buzzes at lunchtime! Some of the best sushi I’ve ever had but the menu has it all. It has a little deli attached to it as well. It is a must at lunchtime if you are shopping at the Waterfront.
The Foodbarn, Noordhoek – A local favorite. A blend of French/Cosmopolitan cooking from a famous chef (Franck Dangeroux) who has been nominated amongst 50 top chefs in the world!
Blonde, Gardens – This is a great newby in town. It is a sister restaurant to Beluga and they simply get it right every time. Located in an old Victorian house, the cosmopolitan, fancy menu (specialise in meat and a bit pricier) and excellent service will make leave you having a great night.
The Toad in the Village, Noordhoek – Fun pub atmosphere. Great pizzas and other dishes. Simply love it!
Harbour House, Kalk Bay – Perfectly situated. In a white-washed house (decorated with white-washed furniture and orchids) built literally on the rocks by the Kalk Bay harbour, you will feel as though you are on a boat at sea (minus the swaying). Prices are slightly higher but quality is beautiful! Below it is Polana restaurant, which is slightly cheaper (nearly as good) and has live music on Fridays J
Panchos, Observatory – Good mexican food and amazing margaritas. Always busy so book ahead!
More of the Foodbarn Deli 
Melissa's Foodshop

Sidewalk Cafe

Baked In Love 

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