Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Spicy and Sweet...Mostly Sweet

Two weeks ago I came down with a nasty 24-hour stomach bug. For most people, that would mean avoiding the Food Network and anything else with edible references, but I got just as much out of watching the daytime lineup as I would have if I'd been healthy.  By the weekend, I was itching to get back into the kitchen and start eating the way I wanted.  

My first task was to make good use of the seven habaneros given to us by a friend.  I never got around to making jerk seasoning last fall, and I wasn't going to make the same mistake again.  I'm also not going to make the mistake of letting a short Saturday afternoon project prompt a long-overdue organization session with my spice cabinet again, but that's a different story.

Following my dad's tried and true recipe, I prepped and gathered spices, scallions, onion, and the peppers - I left half with seeds, and gutted the others.  

Everything went into the food processor, and I pulsed it for a few minutes until the jerk was almost smooth but still had some texture left.  

It's not the prettiest of seasonings, but it's got a luxurious layering of flavors, and there are two jars worth of it that I'm impatient to use on some grilled chicken or fish.

The next item on my post-sick list was a batch of The Pioneer Woman's Knock you Naked Brownies.  I had my eye on these since she posted the recipe, and was feeling just sorry enough for myself that I felt the time was right to try them.  These are interesting because the bulk of the ingredients is composed of German chocolate cake mix, and doesn't really have anything to do with brownies.  The end result, however, is quite brownie-like.  

I added more chocolate chips to my middle layer, of course, and changed the caramel filling.  Instead of making my own caramel sauce, I used the remainder of the Trader Joe's jar I bought a few months ago.  It had the right flavor, and added some stickiness to the brownies, but it didn't have the same oozing quality as The Pioneer Woman's filling.  After the first few days of eating them, I discovered that microwaving the brownies achieved the desired level of gooeyness.  They wouldn't be first on my list of desserts to make again, but they were well-liked by others and were fairly easy. 

My next two brownie efforts, which came about a week later, will probably stay in my regular baking rotation.  One of my co-workers changed departments, and I made Reese's cheesecake brownies in her honor, because she likes cheesecake, brownies, and peanut butter.  And I hate all of those things.  This wasn't about me at all.  This also wasn't an excuse to buy a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix from Costco.  Who even likes that stuff?

My brownie layer, true to the guide on the box for two mix packets, was extra thick.  I think next time I make these, I'll use a different recipe (not another mix - I'm loyal to Ghirardelli) or just not use as much of the batter so they're a little thinner.  Some of the brownies in the middle weren't even cooked through, though I didn't see that as a problem, and neither did many others who consumed these.

The top layer, melted chocolate chips and a little bit of cream, wasn't really soft enough to cut through with a fork without dismantling the whole square.  I'm not sure how to adjust that, but it wasn't so distracting that it took away from all of the rich flavors in the brownie.  These are no joke, as Jillian Michaels would say.  

Last but not least, the Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Trifle from How Sweet it Is.  I don't think this warrants much of an explanation.  I will say I messed up and got regular cream cheese instead of whipped cream cheese, although I think I would do it with the regular again.  My layers weren't exactly even, and I ended up making a side trifle, because not everything fit in my dish, but I am not complaining.  

It's genius to have chocolate pudding as one of the components instead of excessive amounts of whipped cream, because it prevents each bite from being overly sweet.  Make this ASAP.  You will be able to feed a crowd with it, and no one will be disappointed.  

Davy's anxiously awaiting a taste as he sits in a tub of trifle.

Who's ready for dessert?

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