March 25, 2011 7 Comments
Do you ever have one of those moments when you realize that it is very possible that you are someone else’s crazy? Like, when you have to dig deep and say, “Self, you are about to become the punchline in someone’s ‘Oh my god, I used to know this crazy girl who…’ story if you don’t stop acting so, well, crazy.” ? I was (am?) there yesterday. I asked someone a question that as the words were coming out of my mouth, the logical, non-Sybil side of me was screaming, “STOP TALKING!!! STOP. TALKING. RIGHT. NOW!!” but it was out and there was nothing I could do but own it and try to move on. Yikes.
What this has to do with food is really nothing other than I decided to bake some brownies to occupy my mind (because I’ve never made brownies from scratch before so I thought it would be a good project) and try to bring myself back to a place that’s a little more Zen and a little less whirling dervish. Baking has a calming effect on me mainly because I have to concentrate on measuring ingredients out and setting up bowls and not overmixing or underbaking and it’s hard to think about random acts of nuttiness as you are trying to get egg whites to reach a perfect peak. For a very long time I’ve wanted to make brownies with Peppermint Patties in them because I love brownies and I love Peppermint Patties and so, why not? I realized that putting them at the bottom of the pan would likely not be a good idea, so I decided to do a layer of brownie batter followed by a layer of Peppermint Patties and then topped by a layer of batter. Keep in mind that I was watching the end of Kings of Pastry while I was thinking about this, so inspiration was running high.
It’s doing this–making up recipes–that makes me realize that I really have no idea what I’m doing in a kitchen, despite having taken classes and made my way through boot camp. So when the original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, I had to pause and try to figure out how to account for the fact that I was adding Peppermint Patties to the mix. And then would that change the consistency of the brownies? And would the middle of the patties melt and harden and become inedible? And should I cut back on the chocolate? AND……! And before you knew it, I’d forgotten all about my moment of crazy the day before since I had now spiralled down into an abyss of culinary kookiness. But unlike my other bout of WTF?, I was the only witness and could easily conceal all evidence if need be.
After a bit of tweaking and doubling the baking time, I have to admit to being pretty happy with my experiment. They’re a little crisper on top than I’d normally like, but the center is moist and fudgy and I cut them so there’s a Peppermint Patty in each square. The sides (which are usually my fave part of a brownie) were much too crunchy, so I had to cut them off. I’m not sure if that had to do with lining the pan with foil or that I had to bake much longer than recommended (I think the suggested pan size is too small). But the absolute best part is that I was completely distracted, which is exactly what I wanted (more than I wanted a whole pan of warm brownies, which says a lot). I feel better, I can think back on what was said without cringing and calm has returned to my world. But…there’s one lingering thing nagging at me. If being in a kitchen can make me this happy so quickly, what the *$)#%& am I doing sitting in an office all day….?
Peppermint Patty Brownies (adapted from Gourmet, October 2003)