Brownie Sharing Pudding

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Experimenting with writing from home this time. The familiar hum of the washing machine, occasional opening and closing of the café doors, and lack of ambient buzz typically isn’t conducive to any good writing from my own experience, but let’s see how this goes.

Last exam done, and I’m sat here wondering if this truly may be the last exam I ever will have. The past few days have been a blur, and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. Now back to proper weekly experimentation recipes now that all that is over! Feels unreal. Taking a few snippets from the past week’s diary entries, and I’m wondering if anyone can empathise with any of these, even if not in a totally literal sense:

  • Monday, 9.23am: Gail’s chocolate sourdough is to die for
  • Monday, 12.13pm: Omotesando‘s little kashi cakes are also to die for. I appreciate good company here and the cold brew. I should come here at least once more, again.
  • Tues: Things that made me feel good: reading, exercising, food, going to the cinema alone, watching certain things with certain people, massages (oh my god)
  • Thurs: Everyone should go to Bancone here in London for their silk handkerchief pasta, and there’s also a delicious vegan options for you vegans
  • Fri, 7.07pm: Once the brain and blood gets pumping, a little cycle, a little heel kick, an easing of the joints.. everything else seems to fall into place.

And finally, does anyone else hate it when a face or thought can’t seem to escape your brain… ever? Please hit me up with any possible solution. A solution for dissolution.

C7BF81AD-BAC2-45A7-AB94-4B0C9516D1B6EE94D93C-0AF0-4D08-AB07-00907BD03D96

In short, the most versatile, the best, the fudgiest and chewiest-edged, brownie. I curated this recipe as a ‘sharing pudding’, which is just my way of saying I underbaked this during the experiment and it turned out still to be a very beautiful thing. It’s very reminiscent of a molten lava cake, except this time it’s meant for sharing.

Brownies are pretty close to my heart, which explains why one of my very first recipes was a brownie with some raspberry jam rippled through because I tried to be cool like that. A brownie may be less versatile than a cookie, but there is something so indulgently satisfying about preparing a disgustingly easy tray bake in less than 10 minutes and have something too moreish for your own good a little while later. It’s incentive enough to do something productive, like read two chapters of a book or call up an old friend or do your nails (if you can do that sort of thing, because I can but then realise it looks terrible), in those 20 minutes of waiting. Who doesn’t want a good, classic brownie recipe. The wonderful thing about this brownie is that it’s a brownie, normal and fudgy and satisfying, and also a sharing unit, something to bring you and family or friends together over whatever else may be occupying your night on any occasion.

If you would rather have this individually you can still split the batter into a muffin tin and cook it at the same temperature for 10-12 minutes. I had some extra batter left the first time I played around, so did that, and it turned out beautifully.

It’s muddy, gooey and all-round chocolatey. It takes 10 minutes tops to put together, 20 to bake. You can prep the batter before guests come round for dinner, then put it in the oven just when dinner is about to wrap up. Then. Then you serve this quick and easy babe of a dessert piping hot and ooey-gooey from the oven when dessert time calls. Hand everyone around the table a spoon and you just dig in. No waiting, no cutting, no fretting about when to cut or how big to cut it. You just do. Vanilla ice cream, or cream, or yoghurt on the side for everyone to help themselves.

F75BFC37-13D2-4058-8246-6A9F6822E626

That stretch.

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset3410961 Processed with VSCO with e1 preset

Brownie Sharing Pudding (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

115g salted butter (normal/vegan), melted (add 1 tsp of fine salt to the wet mixture if you only have unsalted butter)

100g brown sugar

100g white sugar

2 eggs or flax eggs (make the flax eggs by combining 2 heaped tbsp of ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp water in a bowl, then set that aside for a while to set)

1 tsp vanilla extract

60g plain flour

55g cocoa powder

90-100g roughly chopped dark chocolate, or you can use a mixture of chocolates (e.g. dark and white)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a standard 9×5-inch loaf tin with a loaf tin liner or parchment paper. Alternatively, simply grease the pan with butter or vegetable oil. If you’re making individual molten cakes, split the batter in a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a bowl, mix the melted salted butter, two sugars and vanilla. Then add the eggs and whisk well. Finally, add the cocoa powder, flour and chocolate, and fold until everything is just incorporated. Pour the batter into your loaf tin/muffin cups and place in the preheated oven to bake for 22-25 minutes (11 minutes if you’re doing the individual molten cakes– check to see if the top and edges have set at the 11-minute mark and leave them in for another minute if it doesn’t look quite dry on top yet). I found that the perfect time for these brownies is 22-23 minutes if you want them extra fudgy, but cook for 2-3 more minutes if you want them slightly more set. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle will reveal a still-wet batter at the 22-minute mark, but that’s what you want, and it will continue to set a little more once you take the tin out of the oven.

Let the brownie sharing pudding cool for at least 5 minutes before serving with ice cream or cold yoghurt. Just let everyone have a spoon for digging in immediately. Perfect.

White Chocolate Kladdkaka

3996315 Processed with VSCO with av8 preset

The sun is streaming in bright and warm in this café. The shot of soy milk in my iced Americano is a weak ivory, colour and taste slowly being watered down by all that ice. As ivory as the white chocolate that was the death of me the past weekend.

So a word or two about white chocolate. The ‘low-grade, ‘fake’, the stuff that will never live up to the heady lusciousness of her dark and milk sisters. If white chocolate has no quality of chocolate to offer (cocoa solids, caffeine maybe), perhaps it should not even be called chocolate. But it’s still a chocolate derivative– cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and the process and pleasure involved in consuming chocolate, dark or white or in between, is nevertheless the same. A silky richness, a smooth going-down.

And now for kladdkaka, a simple Swedish cake, and very much more of a brownie in its own right. Typically made with dark chocolate, or a mix of dark and milk. White chocolate? The Swedish may dislike this, but with some white chocolate Easter eggs lying around, why not, I thought. The prevailing thought: why not. It’s as fudgy as fudge gets, moist, and most importantly, sticky, especially in the middle. That’s what makes it pretty unique. I took a risk baking this jussst until set at the 20-minute mark, but that was perfect, and set up just as well as I had hoped, as it continued to cool after baking.

Last week consisted of more work, feeling more strongly upon seeing people than I anticipated, almost as if totally out of control, leading to dreams similarly on this same level of bewilderment, too vivid for me to process as not real, to the point where I woke up and literally said, oh shit, that wasn’t real at all, out loud. I guess we all have those days. Making this cake was a sweet, sensible end to all the incomprehension the past week, incomprehension borne out of my own incapability of teasing out my own emotions about a variety of things in work and in relationships. It’s not that I don’t know at least a little bit why I feel this way, but I wonder if my mind is playing up, or if I’m simply someone who becomes too emotionally attached to everything and everyone too easily, making myself think I’m ok with doing things which a lot of other people get away with, with no consequence. I wonder what other people do when they don’t know how or what to feel.

I’ve also finished watching Osmosis and Dark, two short but intense series on Netflix, which probably made me feel a lot of things and contributed to that lack of self-comprehension on a subconscious level. In any case, and after all that blabber, I highly recommend both series.

4388188 Processed with VSCO with u4 preset588BC103-93E0-4254-9B56-12F507F11A4E

In the original recipe I referred to, the eggs and sugar were beat together for 7 minutes, although I found my mixture to reach a pale and fluffy consistency at the 5-minute mark with aquafaba, so play around with 5-7 minutes. An electrical whisk/beater is crucial here. You don’t want too-tired arms getting in the way of the fun of the whole process, and the speed and efficiency of an electrical whisk will get your egg-sugar mixture to where you need it to be in no time. You want it to be quite a bit more voluminous than what you see when you first start whisking the mixture. Same goes for the aquafaba, the stuff I used, which takes quite a while to whip up anyway.

I’m not sure if people have strong opinions on using salted butter in their recipes, but since I always have salted butter in my fridge, I almost always end up using it to bake anyway. It adds a nice dispersed flavour of salt, without ever making your final product actually taste salty. Also saves you the hassle of going out to buy a new block. The easy incorporation balances the heady sweetness of white chocolate. Look at that squidge, below, right there, in the centre, and tell me you don’t want to make this.

3996315 Processed with VSCO with av8 preset

White Chocolate Kladdkaka (makes 1 9-inch cake, modified from this recipe)

Ingredients

150g salted butter (if not salted, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dry mix later on)

150g good quality white chocolate (vegan/normal)

150g plain flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g white sugar

6 tbsp aquafaba (the egg-white looking liquid left after draining a can of chickpeas), or 2 whole eggs

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-inch cake pan. I used one with a removable bottom (like for cheesecakes) just so it’s easy to take out, and I’m lazy when it comes to greasing and lining things just like other humans sometimes.

Melt the butter and white chocolate together in a saucepan on medium heat, or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. If microwaving, take out every minute to stir, and so the chocolate doesn’t catch and cook too fast in the middle. Set aside this melted mixture aside for now while you put together the rest of the cake.

In a bowl, and using an electrical whisk, beat together the aquafaba/eggs and sugar for at least 5 minutes, until light, fluffy, and more voluminous than when you first started. Then add the white chocolate-butter mixture, vanilla extract, and flour (and salt if you did not use salted butter). Pour the thick but droppy batter into your greased tin and bake for 20-22 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted will come out pretty wet, but this is normal. The cake will continue to cook when you take it out to set. Once you’ve left it to cool for around 10 minutes, dust on some icing sugar, then eat plain, or with yoghurt and berries. Simply divine.

Fudge Brownie Waffles

3244539 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I had the pleasure of being interviewed earlier on in the week by the lovely Rachel Loh, the name behind lifestyle blog Willow. Working on the theme of disconnection, it boasts a bevy of detail I would not typically reveal online, even in my instagram posts or elsewhere. It was so much fun answering and I would love for you to check it out here.

 

So last Saturday I came back from a rather disappointing visit to a relatively new café, and needed a fresh pick-me-up in the sweltering heat. But the heat also means light, and I’ve found great solace in my mornings alone journalling, the light yellowing the pages, coming and leaving of its own accord.

As it appears, flowers still grow in the dessert. This recipe was borne out of angry determination; I oft find myself thinking about veganism and how it should be made approachable or the norm to more people around me, and figured introducing classic favourites is the way to go. Who in their right mind would refuse a good, gooey brownie? Forget about it being ethical or healthy or whatnot, it tastes good, right? Food opinions are volatile, changed by taste alone. The line between veganism and sin-like lusciousness and satisfaction must be blurred. I never wanted to go vegan for the longest time because my idea of vegan food was worms and cardboard. That’s what some vegan cakes really taste like, anyway. But this is never always the case. Surprise yourself, and surprise others.

 

4294905 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Simply put, the highlight of anyone’s day.

The theme is approachability, guys. This is the sin everyone is looking for in an acceptable form. Double chocolate brownie waffles studded with chocolate, crisp-edged with a tender, gooey middle.

It’s not just a one-bowl wonder, it’s a time-saving wonder. If you’re like me and typically have to rush off to work by 8.30am in the morning, simply make the batter in less than 5 minutes the night before, let rest in the fridge overnight and scoop out batter for the waffle-maker the next morning. You could even just bake these for fudge brownie cookies in a 180C oven for 10 minutes. I say that like I actually did it, but do tell me if they work, because I can’t be the only one to have fun while making some (necessary) mistakes, right? The batter is like unexpected cash, you can do way more with it than you might initially think. For example, I made a fudge brownie waffle sundae by sandwiching two waffle bits with coconut ice cream (I love Luna and Larry’s!) and drizzling it with some chocolate sauce, which I made just by mixing some cocoa powder, icing sugar and almond milk together. How wonderful is experimentation. How life-giving and meditative.

3314541 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset4270594 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Ingredients (makes 6-7 medium-sized waffles)

125g all-purpose (plain flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

30g cacao/cocoa powder

1 large mashed banana (125g), or two small mashed ones. Alternatively, you could use the same weight of applesauce.

40g (a large handful) of vegan chocolate chips, I used these

40g white/coconut/maple sugar

 

Directions

Simply put all ingredients in a bowl and mix until everything comes together. Turn your waffle-maker on and let it heat up according to its instruction manual. Grease it well! Take a heaped tablespoonful of the chocolate batter and put it in the centre of your waffle maker and let cook on a medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes. This is important in making sure your waffles turn out as crisp as possible, You can check after 3 minutes– if the waffles still feel soft to touch then leave it for another few minutes.

Separate your waffles with paper towels to absorb any condensation. You can freeze these waffles for future consumption or leave at room temperature in an airtight container for 1-2 days. If eating the next day and the waffles are left out on the counter, toast them for those crisp edges once more; they would’ve softened within the day.

And now for some fun!

If you’re making a waffle sundae (as pictured above), simply sandwich two waffles or waffle halves with some dairy-free ice cream and drizzle with some chocolate sauce. I did this by mixing a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder, 3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar and a couple teaspoons of almond milk. Play around until you get a relatively thick, dribbling consistency.

 

 

Peanut Butter Stuffed Salted Brownie Cookies

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Cancelled morning lectures obviously means whining here about it being the last week of term and waxing lyrical about all things chocolate (once more). A bit on that later. If I start on chocolate now, I’ll probably forget to add other mundane details about my life, and who would want that right? The ‘first day of the last term’ is a funny thing to say; it really didn’t feel all that long ago when I was panicking to my mother about basic things I might or might not be able to do, like laundry, bedsheets and having enough Asian fare in uni to keep me sane, because the impulsive decision to buy Tesco meal deals doesn’t quite cut it most of the time. It’s all just whizzed by much too fast. The Friday flight home is both an ecstatic and nauseating thought to me.

Despite my pension for café fare, I’m embarrassed to say that not once have I had my favourite alone-time at any one café, though I’ve definitely had the chance to visit some must-see places on my list. I should do a write-up about one of them soon, before I forget and the tides of life push me far ahead, me in blissful oblivion, once more.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The other day I bought the loveliest little tub of peanut-speckles cashew butter, and just knew I had to use it another mind get-up. It’s practically peanut butter because of all those peanut bits, and since not everyone likes cashew butter and peanut butter is easier to find in stores, I decided to put peanut butter in the recipe title instead of what it really is. It’s not even the processed sort, which some recipes insist on for better results, but really you get a perfect peanut-buttery flavour upon first bite even with the natural unprocessed stuff.

The densest, fudgiest brownie cookie with white chocolate and dark chocolate bits, filled with peanut butter (and in this case, for the sake of aesthetic and flavourful pleasure, salted caramel spread on top). 

I like food hybrids like cruffins and cronuts and whathaveyous. Brownie cookies are on the list. The shape and form resembles that of a cookie, but the texture is all of what you want in a good fudgy brownie– this is not quite the chewy sort, but more dense and fudge-like. Definitely more than what you would guess the texture is akin to in the first picture above. The middle is soft, the edges still squishable. Best part? Adjacency of salt and sweet. Nothing beats it. Yes, my description vocabulary needs a bit of a boost, but squishable is still a word. And an accurate one here, at that.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Peanut Butter Stuffed Salted Brownie Cookies (makes 18-20 medium-sized cookies)

Ingredients

125g (half cup) creamy/chunky peanut butter (natural or processed; either works fine)

30g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar (doesn’t need sifting)

large pinch salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

210g (slightly less than 1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour

35g (1/2 cup+couple of tablespoons) cocoa powder, doesn’t need sifting (I suggest Green and Black’s here)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

115g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) salted butter (unsalted works too, but flavour is enhanced with salted)

230g (1 packed cup) dark brown sugar

60g (a heaping 1/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

110g (one heaping half cup) of dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

*optional: an extra handful of white chocolate chunks/chips (30g) and one heaping tablespoon of salted caramel sauce

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease (line if you want) 2 baking trays. In a medium bowl, mix together the first 4 ingredients to make the peanut butter filling. Roll into small balls; you should have around 20 balls, if not more or less. Place the balls on a small baking tray and place in the freezer while you work on the brownie cookies.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, chopped chocolate (both white and dark) and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, two sugars and vanilla extract (add the heaping tablespoon of salted caramel here, if you wish!). Pour the dry mix into the wet mix and mix until just combined. Take out the frozen balls of filling from the freezer. Scoop a heaped teaspoon of dough onto a baking tray, then place one ball of filling in the centre, press down a little, then take another teaspoonful of dough and place on top, smushing around the sides of the filling ball so it’s nicely covered. Repeat until the balls are all enclosed within the gooey chocolatey dough you made.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes– resist baking for longer even though the cookies look and feel weak to the touch after such a short baking time. If you happen to have made very large cookies, then bake for 11-12 minutes, but nothing more than 12. Leave to cool for at least half an hour before eating. These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days, but they’re best eaten within 2 days, during which they retain the ultimate taste and texture. Eat with coarse salt sprinkled on top or more salted caramel sauce.