Pastry Hacks: Two Types of Brownies on a Stormy Day

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During the midst of Yolanda’s strong winds, I decided to to kill time and my sweet craving and bake some brownies. Since my ingredients were incomplete and there was no way you could make me head out in the biggest super typhoon in recorded history, I whipped out a pack of Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Brownie and gave it my own little twist. What’s great about this particular brownie mix is that it actually tastes better than some made-from-scratch recipes that I’ve had tried. It’s chocolatey, fudge and pleasantly gooey every single time I make it on its own. If you have more time to prepare the stuff that you need, you can try out this recipe from David Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert book.

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I made the brownies according to package instructions, but the fun actually starts just before I pop it in the oven, or oven toaster in my case. I placed the brownie mixture in a cupcake pan, placed three big marshmallows in the first three cups and a dollop of crunchy Trader Joe’s Speculoos cookie butter on to the last three. I preheated the oven toaster at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and placed the pan there for 30 to 35 minutes or until nothing sticks to my fork. This was how the first batch turned out:

The first three in the upper left corner were the marshmallow brownies. I was kind of hoping it would have this s’mores look to it because I froze it , but it just became a sticky mess. Even if I tried a different approach in the next batch by submerging the mallows, I still got the same results. I ask my mother (my first baking mentor) why it turned out that way. She said the marshmallows that I used were too big, and I can only do what I was going for with a burner. It was a lesson we both learned together long ago when we used to make Jessica’s Marshmallow Clouds. My only consolation was it still tasted good (although too sweet) despite its appearance.

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The Speculoos brownies were a different story though. I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. This sweet gingery, cinnamon spiced spread went really well with the brownies. I could definitely see myself doing this again especially for the holidays.

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Last week’s brownie baking experience was really something fun to do and it really eased my mind off a bit on the terrible weather outside. Next time I try another experiment, I’ll use Lebovitz’ recipe and ask for some solid baking advice before I begin something.

The Dessert Comes First Fans’ Day: A Fangirl’s Sweet Experience

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“Finally!”

This was the first thing that came into my head when I learned that Lori Baltazar, author of popular food blog Dessert Comes first was releasing a book. I’ve always wondered when she would write one whenever I’d read her blog. As a DCF follower since 2009, I got excited with the idea of seeing her mouthwatering descriptions and interactions with the best chefs/bakers on print so buying it was a pretty easy decision. It also helps that I get a chance to see one of my favorite local writers in the flesh during her big event.

When the big day finally came, I arrived at Fully Booked three hours early to be part of the first 200 who will get to have their book signed and avail of the free food bazaar that’s also happening during the event.  After registering, other guests including myself were treated to free bread, donuts from Gavino’s, and coffee by Magnum Opus while waiting. Instead of staying, I grabbed a donut and went out for fresh air.  This got me into a bit of a dilemma when habagat winds blew away my number stub. Good thing the girls manning the booth were willing to give me a new one, and the donuts were soft and chewy enough to almost make me forget about my close call.

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After walking around and having a quick lunch, I went back and waited until the organizers start the event. Upon reaching Top Shelf, I was welcomed by the sight and smell of food, both sweet and savory, all in one place. It kind of made me regret that I ate beforehand as it left me with less room to enjoy all of the offerings that were there. The event didn’t officially start until Lori in her short highlighted bob and energetic voice welcomed all of us to her fan’s day. Being the sweet tooth that I am, I headed first to the dessert tables. How appropriate of me, right?

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The first thing I tried was mini ensaymadas from Tito Panadero. I found it rather too dense for my taste at first bite, and as I was trying to eat it, a woman from another table approached me and asked if I wanted to try her desserts. It wasn’t long until I realized I was talking to Karen Young of Karen’s Kitchen. I often read her in food magazines and newspapers, and I was thrilled that she asked me to try their baked goods. I instantly fell in love with her melt-in-your-mouth Pyramid Chocolate Cake 
and Peanut Butter Reese’s Cheesecake that brought a smile on my face. Other notably delectable sweet treats during the event were the Coffee Toffee Sansrival and the sinful Glutton’s cake by Kitchen’s Best, chocolate Surprise Cupcakes from Homemade by Roshan, and the Suki (Nutella stuffed cookie) by Smitten Sweets.

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Aside from desserts, Lori also included other purveyors and establishments with more savory offerings. My personal favorite was Chef Him Uy de Baron’s (of Nomama fame) Wagyu Beef Cheek Ramen. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. I kid you not. You can check out the rest of the offerings in Lori’s entry about the event here. While the food was certainly one of the biggest highlights of the event, it pales in comparison to the moment that Lori signed my book. I got my fan mode on as I got to talk to her (and gushed a bit about her book and blog) briefly. I love that she is as warm and engaging in person as she is online.

From here on, the 21st of September is more than just part of an Earth, Wind, Fire song for me. It’s the day that got me inspired to keep writing about what I am passionate about, just like what Lori Baltazar does.