Tonight’s tale is one of tragedy. My fiancée and I both decided to get back on our diets tomorrow, which naturally meant that we needed to take advantage of our last chance to eat sugar with reckless abandon.
Two words immediately popped into my head: CHOCOLATE. BANANAS. I cast about the internet looking for a brownies recipe that would work, and I ran into a bit of trouble. We had cocoa powder, but not bakers chocolate. We had bread flour, but not all-purpose flour. We had bananas, but they weren’t mushy. We had half and half, but not milk. the list went on and on.
I eventually settled on this recipe from Food.com and decided I could make it work. The first problem? The recipe required bakers chocolate. The second problem? Everything was in grams. The third problem? I was too tired and chocolate-delirious to think things through properly, as would quickly become obvious.
Anyway, I got down the stand mixer and dumped in the first two ingredients: 175 grams of butter and 180 grams of brown sugar. Next up: 200 grams of bakers chocolate. I found a conversion online that 1 ounce of chocolate can be subbed with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. 200 grams is basically 7 ounces so that’s 21 tbsp of cocoa. I converted 21 to cups and started to dish my cocoa powder into the bowl.
It hurts to think about the red flags I missed. Moments after dumping in 2 1/2 cups of cocoa powder, I decided to glance down at my phone, only to realize that I had accidentally converted 21 ounces to cups instead of 21 tbsp. I had accidentally poured in about double the cocoa I would need.
I quickly realized my mistake, but not quickly enough. Okay, I thought, I’ll just double the recipe. But one major problem: we didn’t have enough butter or bananas. At this point, my inner Chopped champion kicked in. How to make these edible? Well, the cocoa was bitter, so we need more sugar. It’s really dry, so we need vegetable oil. We need more non-cocoa flavor, so I added more vanilla. And just in case my bread flour wasn’t “self-rising” enough, I added some baking powder to make sure they were fluffy. I honestly couldn’t even tell you what the final recipe consisted of, but trust me that you don’t want to know. I poured it into the baking dish and away we went.
30 minutes later, the house smelled of wonderful chocolate. Had it worked? Did I snatch deliciousness from the jaws of inedibility? With a trembling hand I took the baking dish from the oven. It looked good enough. It was certainly dark brown, but it smelled like heaven. I dumped the brownies rather inelegantly on a plate and brought them to my fiancée without telling her the horrible things I had done, hoping just for a moment that maybe I had gotten away with it. She picked up a brownie, took a small bite, and… grimaced.
“Do you like these?” she asked, accusingly.
I took a bite. It tasted like dark chocolate that was both not sweet enough and too sweet at the same time, which, let me tell you, was not the effect I was going for. Somehow the bananas made the whole brownies cloyingly sweet while somehow not cutting the bitterness of the chocolate. “They’re fine,” I deadpanned. “Really hits the spot,” I said while choking down another bite.
“This tastes like unsweetened cocoa powder and hot banana,” she said, not knowing just had accurate she was.
Finally, I confessed to my measurement mishap. The brownies were awful. I tried to eat a few, but finally committed to throwing them away. At least we won’t be tempted when we get back on our diets.
Let this be a lesson to us all: baking is chemistry, and not something we can ad-lib as easily as a stirfry. If I didn’t know already, tonight confirmed that I am not a chemistry prodigy.
This was a sad tale, but it’s nice to get back in the swing of writing. Some upcoming stories I’ve been saving up and need to write about soon:
- My vegetable garden (tomatoes! so many tomatoes!)
- The joy of a Caprese salad with homegrown ingredients
- Fermented hot sauce v2
- HelloFresh recipes
- Putting shrimp in everything