“Pistachio and Raspberry Brownies” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

IMG_7321DISASTER! A delicious disaster, but a disaster just the same.

I don’t want to bury the lede. I wish I could say this recipe worked and it was great, like all the other things I’ve tried in this book so far this month. As I was assembling the ingredients, I kept thinking to myself, “This is going to be fantastic.” As it was baking in the oven, everyone else in the family came into the kitchen and said, “Wow. That smells delicious.” Alas, it was not meant to be.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that I did not use any of the healthier options for the ingredients. I went ahead and used unsalted butter rather than coconut oil, soft brown sugar instead of coconut sugar and eggs instead of chia seeds. I very much appreciated the suggestion in the introduction that said, “If coconut sugar is a bridge too far then soft brown sugar will work too.”

Indeed. Coconut sugar is a bridge too far for me when it comes to baking.

When I recounted the experience to Kirstin, she reminded me of the chocolate cake they made last year out of the first cookbook and that didn’t work either. 

I wish I could say this was down to operator error, but I just think the bake time was wrong. Perhaps it only takes 25-30 minutes if you use the alternative ingredients, but slightly longer if you use traditional ingredients.

After 30 minutes, I took them out of the oven, against my better judgment. Good brownies should wobble a bit when you take them out of the oven, then they’ll continue to set while they cool on the counter. In this case, there was quite a bit of wobble [are you enjoying this technical discussion?] but I figured the recipe said to bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, so I figured it would firm up later.

I was wrong. When I went to cut into them, two hours after they came out of the oven, the middle was still a gooey, liquid mess. We ended up eating the brownies that were on the sides, as the middle bit was just a pool of chocolate-raspberry-pistachio liquid.

There is a happy ending to the story, however. I put them into the refrigerator and by the next day, the centre had firmed up enough that I could cut them into squares. From a food safety perspective, I don’t know if the egg had been cooked enough to make the safe, but we like to live dangerously in this family. They were delicious.

Would I make this again? I’m tempted to, if only to see how much longer I really should have baked them (I’m guessing another 10 minutes). But the combination of pistachio and raspberries is highly recommended.

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“Pistachio and Raspberry Brownies” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Raspberry Upside-Down Cake” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to make this, please click through this sentence to find the recipe on UK’s Good Food Channel. Trust me. It’s good.

First, an important note. This photo doesn’t do this cake justice. While it may look more like a big blob of dark red on top of cake, or even, dare I say it, an edible blood clot, it tastes better than it looks.

This is a perfect cake to make when you’re short on time, which frankly, is much of the time. I’ve now made it twice– once for the grand finale of a Sunday lunch, and again last night for my book club. Both times it was a winner.

The cake is such a resounding success because of the simplicity of the ingredients. There’s no running around to specialty shops to find something obscure. It’s just sugar, butter, eggs, self-rasing flowers and raspberries. Even the raspberries are frozen, which I easily found at my local Co-Op.

Making the cake itself is also a doddle. I finished last night in less than 15 minutes, which a real win.

One thing to note if you do decide to make this– the quantity of raspberries is a bit miserly, only 250 grams. The first time I made this, it didn’t really cover the bottom of the pan. Last night when I made it, i went a bit overboard and added 600 grams of raspberries, which was too much. So maybe 500 grams would do it, but 250 grams is definitely not enough.

All in all, a triumph.

“Raspberry Upside-Down Cake” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”