I credit the frosted lettering to my roommate: we were celebrating the new season of Heroes (we didn’t know it would suck that much). The bite mark is due to the fact that I decided that the frosting would be a good idea AFTER I taste tested it.

I was wondering with which recipe to ‘christen’ this blog. Obviously my repertoire is quite outdated, having moved from TO, NYC to HK the past month has been hectic thus I haven’t had any time to experiment with much. I’ve got my tart tins and cookie cutters in a shoebox at my grandmother’s place here in HK but alas, there’s little room to put it in my temporary home here.

I thought of christening this blog with something fancy: a dazzlingly colourful tart or an intricately piped cake. Yet as I reflect on my amateur career as a baker, I realized it all began back here in Hong Kong with the discovery of Mrs. Fields brownies. As a kid I loved going on the Star Ferry because we’d have to pass by the Mrs. Fields on the corner. I loved Mrs. Fields brownies over any other brownie, especially the triple chocolate ones drizzled with hardened white chocolate. And because of those brownies, I started baking my own version when I moved back to Toronto since we didn’t have Mrs.Fields.

I believe brownies shouldn’t resemble slices of cakes.  Brownies should have their own personality, their own flavour, their own special place in the world of baking. Personally, I think brownies should be dense: thick, indulgent morsels packed with cocoa flavour and NOT fluffy, crumbly layers of chocolate sponge.  THAT, my friend, is what cake is for. Cake is for layering; cake is for decorating; cake is for celebrations. Brownies, on the other hand, are a comfort food.  They bring out the kid in you. They need not be pretentiously pretty: people understand what it is immediately when you pull a batch out of the oven. It’s one of those things that come readily available thanks to quick mixes or one of those easy-to-follow recipes that anyone can do on a whim. All you need is a little butter, sugar, eggs and cocoa. Want some crunch? Simply add walnuts. A chocoholic?  Throw in a handful of chocolate chips. Toss it into the oven, wait half an hour, and there you have it: a dessert/snack that can be shared or individually enjoyed. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and make it a sundae. The possibilities are infinite.

Although I’ve been doing this for eight years, I find the brownie hard to master: to get the right density and enough moisture inside BEFORE it becomes a cake has always been a challenge.  But it’s the first thing I baked back in high school for friends. I was notorious for being the one to break people’s diets by offering these little square of joy.

Although there are a million renditions of the ‘perfect brownie’, I’ve always stuck to this one. My cousin introduced it to me and I’ve been using it since (also easy clean up!) It’s from KraftCanada, of course, because Canadians rock. Here is the recipe of my humble beginning in exploring the world of sweets:

Incredibly Fudgey Brownies

3 squares BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 cup  butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3   eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup  all-purpose flour
2 tsp. MAGIC Baking Powder
1/2 tsp.  salt
1 cup BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts or other nuts (optional)

MELT chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly (do not boil).

REMOVE from heat; stir in sugar.

ADD eggs, one at a time, beating with wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

MIX flour, baking powder and salt; stir into chocolate mixture with chocolate chips and nuts, mixing just until blended.

POUR into greased 13×9″ (3.5L/33x23cm) baking pan, spreading evenly.

BAKE at 350°F (180°C) for about 25 minutes or until firm at edges but still soft in centre.

COOL on rack. Cut in squares.

-Sam

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