What do brownies and pickles have in common?


brownies and pickles

What do brownies and pickles have in common? Not much, except that I’ve been working on both recipes this week. I’ll taste a bite of brownie, then try one of my pickles. I’ll make a few adjustments and try again. 


I wouldn’t actually suggest this combination, unless you’re pregnant and just happen to have some strange cravings! Even so, I have learned two tips that apply to both. 


1. Each recipe needs just the right type and amount of sweetener to achieve the best results. 


2. Developing an original recipe is a lot harder than you might think. Don’t expect perfection the first time.


Take the brownies. How often do you see “homemade” brownies at a cookout or family gathering? You might think everyone has a family recipe handed down through generations, but that’s probably not the case. When I ask someone how they make their brownies, often the response includes the name, Betty Crocker (and I’m not talking about the cookbook). So, I set my mind on making truly homemade brownies — from scratch, not a box. I found that it’s not easy to create the same chewy texture without the use of high-tech ingredients. 


Thus began The Brownie Experiment. 


My first goal was to make a healthier brownie by cutting back on the sugar. Some recipes call for outrageous amounts. Can you imagine 2 1/2 cups of sugar in a dessert this size? Then there was the question of what type of sugar to use. Although any type of sugar will taste sweet, I discovered that granulated sugar is the only one that will result in a shiny top, like we’re used to seeing from boxed mixes. The whole cane sugar didn’t cut it, as you can see — Dullsville!


IMG_1339



DSCN6191


Granulated sugar like the one on the right had to stay in the recipe. As an aside, I always choose sugar from sugar cane. If it’s not indicated on the package, there’s a good chance that the sugar came from sugar beets, which today are primarily GMO (genetically modified) crops, designed by Monsanto to within copious amounts of Roundup throughout the growing period. The proliferation of these GMO sugar beets in our food supply is an interesting story and one I encourage you to read here. I choose to avoid GMOs since I’m trying to use natural, real food (even if it is a little refined).


Next problem: how much sugar is enough? That depends on a number of other factors, which I’ll discuss later. 


Let’s move on to the issue of fat. Yes, brownies need fat to be gooey and moist. However, I learned that a combination of saturated and unsaturated fat works best, as long as the ratio is just right. Using butter exclusively doesn’t work. But wait, isn’t everything better with butter? No, evidently not! This batch was buttery, but not chewy. They were more cake-like, which is not a bad thing, just not what I wanted.


DSCN6036


For the fun of it, and to boost the nutritional value, I added avocado to my next batch, along with some sunflower oil and butter to get the right proportion of fats.


DSCN6172


DSCN6173


As you know, there’s more to brownies than sugar and fat. We need some chocolate, of course. I had to decide if I should use cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate squares, sweetened baking chocolate, chocolate drops, or a combination. Also, what’s the right amount to produce a rich, dark batter? 


That brings me back to the sugar problem. The amount of sugar I’ll need depends on which type of chocolate I use. Sigh! This is getting complicated, and I really need my recipe to be simple, or you’ll just go out and buy of box of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix! And, I haven’t even finalized the ratio of flour to fat or white flour to whole wheat. I think you’re getting the idea. Recipe development is an art, and a great way to pack on a few unwanted pounds!


I’m still not entirely happy with the results. My latest batch with the avocado was almost the consistency of fudge, which was not what I was going for either. It’s also hard to smooth out the avocado lumps without the use of a food processor or Vitamix. Since this recipe is primarily for The Cookbook: Essentials for the Young Adult, and most of the target audience will have a sparse kitchen, I think I’ll leave out the avocado for now. 


It’s back to the drawing board. First, I must finish eating this batch. Poor me! Fortunately, it’s not that much of a hardship. The deep chocolate flavor is just what I was looking for, even if the texture is not quite there yet. You’ll have to wait for the recipe.


What does all this have to do with pickles? I’ll fill you in on The Pickle Experiment in a later post, but suffice it to say, that my first attempt was way too tart. I enlisted the help of some local, raw honey that I picked up at the Farmer’s Market. Stay tuned!

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™