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Monday 29 November 2010

Baking Again - Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Having successfully negotiated a recipe for cookies, and having picked up a box of this Betty Crocker ready-made mixture some months ago, I finally decided to give it a whirl. Hey, I've got the Delia Smith Christmas Cake package, so I need to work up to it somehow. You won't catch me going straight from cookies to large cakes! I'm not daft.

This package is incredibly convenient, because it's almost all the ingredients you need. All you have to do is add the fluids, stir, and bake in a suitable tin. Having done this, if I manage the Christmas Cake, I may revisit brownies in the New Year, and start from scratch, rather than with a pre-prepared recipe. Y'know, baby steps.

But this wouldn't be snacks & the single man if I didn't do something wacky to the recipe. I'd had a secret ingredient in mind for quite some time so, before starting, I popped down to my local Confectioner in search of Pop Rocks. They only had Cola flavour, so I had to detour to the local supermarkets, eventually getting something like what I needed in my nearest Sainsburys. Continuing the crackly candy theme, I decided to top the brownies with a whole Terry's Volcanic Popping Candy Chocolate Orange...

But was I ready for the results?

Onward, gentle reader, and you shall see...

  • 1 packet Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
  • 75ml Water
  • 30ml Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Medium-sized egg
  • 1 Terry's Volcanic Popping Candy Chocolate Orange
  • 2 packs Pop Rocks (or equivalent, I used something called Fizz Wiz)
Preparation Time: Allow about 20 minutes to blend the mixture thoroughly, then 20-25 minutes to bake, followed by 10-20 minutes cooling time.

Tools Required: 
  • Medium-sized Mixing Bowl
  • Spoon, Fork or other preferred mixing implement (or, y'know, a blender if you're lazier than I am)
  • Baking Tin

Gotta say, when I measured out the miniscule quantities of water and vegetable oil, I was just a little incredulous - how could so little fluid turn a whole pack of this chocolatey powdered melange into brownie dough? Of course, once the egg went in, my fears were quashed - that accounts for a fair amount of the required fluids and, apart from a few persistent lumps, it all mixed up nicely. I did it by hand, too, which gave me nasty RSI, but that's just because I'm a complete namby, and don't do this kind of stuff nearly as often as I should. I mean, come on, it's not exactly a hardship, is it? Weigh it up, people: Brownies vs Arm Ache.

Brownies win.

Anyway. Essentially, with a mixture like this, all the hard work is done for you. All you need to do is dump the mixture into a bowl, measure out and add the oil and water, then crack an egg into the bowl before mixing it all up. Once you have a nice, smooth dough, you are ready to proceed - I did find the clumps of powder were rather difficult to eliminate, and so I basically gave up after about 20 minutes of arm-ache. That, and I got bored.

Lightly grease a baking tin (I used the vegetable oil, but butter is just as good if you prefer) and spread the mixture evenly about the tin. Now, in the interests of honesty and full disclosure (and because I do so love to criticise myself extensively), I'm going to admit that I'd started pouring the dough into the baking tin before I rememberd to add the damned Pop Rocks. It was no great shakes, though - just meant I had to do a small amount of stirring once they were added into the bulk of the dough and final mixture decanted into the tin.

The first sign that my brilliant idea was destined to fail was audible immediately. The mixture was popping merrily away in the tin. I suspect that it had all dissolved into the mixture before the tin even got into the oven.

Once the dough was evened out as much as possible (again, short attention span got in the way of doing it properly properly), I broke open the Terry's Chocolate Orange and laid out its segments on the top. I figured they'd either sink in, or melt nicely over the top...

Finally, the tin was placed roughly in the middle of my oven, which had been preheated to 160degrees (being fan-assisted, 180degrees is suggested otherwise). 20 minutes later, I inserted a fork into the brownies to check their progress... it came back covered in dough and melted Chocolate Orange. I gave it another 5 minutes - the instructions reckoned 25 minutes would be the most it would require, after all.

At the 25 minute mark, however, the fork test was still suggesting that more time was required. I risked another 5 minutes, and the fork came back nice and clean. So far, so good.

The tin was removed from the oven and left to cool for a while before cutting. At this point, I cursed my stupidity for leaving the cooling rack in the bottom of the oven - not much good for cooling if it's baking hot! Since my experiment was to be tested on my colleagues at work, I wrapped the brownies in cling film and left them in the fridge overnight. Normally, I'd just scoff the lot there and then. In between getting them into the fridge and getting them out again to take them to work, I did drop a couple of pieces. I'd cut it into 25, though, and 23 was still more than enough for the few I intended to share with. And, hey, it meant I got to sample it early.

The Results:
Resoundingly positive, except in the case of the colleague I almost poisoned, as he despises orange flavoured chocolate. When I got some funny looks following my announcement of "a secret ingredient", I didn't immediately realise why. Once I figured out the possible implication, I joked that the secret ingredient was actually crack cocaine. Sadly, the Pop Rocks were basically indistinguishable, though a couple of folks reckoned they got a little pop out of their piece.

The brownies were nice and moist, very chocolately and, while the topping didn't melt evenly, it worked well enough. It's certainly an excellent recipe, and the instructions are probably simple enough for any baking novice to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Nice, I like the way you think. I'm about to use a Terry's popper as the secret centre for a steamed pud (Heston style, only cooler). Hope the popping survives.