A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
My two idols, Fatboybakes and Boolicious were espousing the virtues of baking. I listened keenly, wanting so much a little bit of this happiness which was theirs. They made baking seem…..almost….magical.
So with a grocery list in hand, I went to Bangsar Village to get the ingredients for Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies, a recipe which Fatboybakes had referred to as the easiest recipe ever posted on his blog. It was like God saying how easy it was for Him to create the world in 7 days.
Fatboybakes had indicated that he had taken only 10 minutes to blitz the ingredients together. I figured that since I wasn’t an experience baker, I’d take hmmmm maybe 20 minutes. I laid out the ingredients on the kitchen table, and with a Martha Stewart-like air, I waited for the magic to envelope me. 20 seconds passed, and I didn’t feel anything. Well, perhaps it would come when I started blitzing the ingredients together. Tum-de-dum, I hummed.
I took out the cake mixer, turned it on to test it, and to my horror, I discovered that it wasn’t working. Now that’s what happens when you store away something for 5 years without any protective covering. It was already 10.30 at night, the ingredients were waiting for me, and I had to get moving as I had allocated sufficient time to take a shower after baking and to catch the repeat of the American Idol show at 11.30pm.
So I rolled up my sleeve, chucked the 250gms of cream cheese into a large mixing bowl together with 1/4 cup of castor sugar (an estimate since I could only find my 1/2 cup scoop but not the 1/4 cup) and whisked it manually. Now if you ever want to work out your biceps and triceps, you should try this. After 5 minutes, the cream cheese had yet to change its shape. Heck, I wasn’t going to be fussy, was I? What else did the recipe call for? One teaspoon of cornflour. Check. And yes, one egg. that was easy. I had chosen only the best ingredients for this brownie which I was going to lovingly bake for my husband. Bangsar Village was selling ayam kampung eggs (free range eggs) at RM2.80 for 4 eggs. So the shells looked like they had been splattered with white stuff (no prizes for guessing what), but I figured it added to the authenticity of the eggs.
So far so good, but the magic still seemed far away.
Use the zest of one orange and the juice of the same orange. I wasn’t about to waste my precious time grating oranges, so I figured the next best thing was to pour in some orange juice from a carton.
I poured in a splash figuring that it would equate one orange. Stir stir stir. I looked at the stuff in the bowl. It looked lumpy. Obviously, my biceps needed more working out. Whisk whisk whisk. Sprays of orange juice mixed with cream cheese splashed onto my blouse. Beads of sweat appeared on my forehead. My carefully coiffeured hairdo got undone, and I looked worse than a raggedy doll.
“Relax, you’re half way through,” I told myself. “The rest of the recipe should be easy.”
I turned on the oven at 180 degrees to heat it up before I went on to the next step.
Melt 250gms of chocolate in 60gms of butter. I had bought Hershey’s Unsweetened Chocolate (which Fatboybakes had assured me was perfectly fine for this recipe), but at 113gms per bar equalling 226gms for 2 bars, I didn’t worry too much about the remaining 24gms. Feeling quite the accomplished baker, I didn’t bother to measure out the 60gms of butter. I measured a quarter portion of the slab and chucked it into the pan, then threw in the chocolate, remembering to break it into smaller pieces only when I had reached the second bar.
I smelt peanut butter in the air. Puzzled, I looked for the source. Sitting on top of the really hot oven was a plastic container filled with finely chopped peanuts which I had used for another recipe a long time ago. Now, children, what happens when you place plastic on heat? Uh-uh. Yep. Exactly. I reached for the container and lifted it. Big mistake. By that time, there was a gaping hole at the bottom of the container and bits of peanuts drizzled onto the oven, all over the counter and on the floor. Looking at the chocolate melting on the stove, I knew I had to work fast. Wipe wipe wipe. Now I know why I don’t have babies. I’d have fainted from all that cleaning.
At least I didn’t burn the chocolate. But by this time, I had noticed that the chocolate was hardening again. “Warp speed!” I yelled to myself. No, none of that air of zen was present at that point. I grabbed the bag of sugar and measured what I estimated to be three quarters of a cup and threw in half a cup of flour only to realise that I should have sifted it first to remove all the lumps. Too late.
I tasted the mixture. It was bitter. Duh. I had used unsweetened chocolate. I poured in more sugar, not bothering to measure it out anymore. The recipe also called for 2 eggs + 2 tablespoons of cold water. I was so preoccupied with figuring out the cold water bit that I hadn’t realised that I had added just 2 teaspoonsful of cold water. No problem. I added another tablespoon of cold water into the chocolate concoction.
Breath in, breath out.
Line an 8″ square pan. I hunted for my baking parchment which I knew I had stored away somewhere. Murphy’s Law. When things go wrong, they really go wrong. Of course I wasn’t able to find it, so I resorted to the old fashioned method of buttering and flouring the pan. I still had some extra butter after applying it to the pan, so I threw it into the chocolate mixture. Waste not, want not.
I poured the batter into the pan, and then added the cream cheese. With a fork, I decided to make some artistic swirls ala Michelangelo. Instead, the cream cheese sunk like the Titanic to the bottom of the pan. The whole thing looked like a horrible mess.
My ordeal was not over yet.
Shortly after I put the pan into the oven, I realised that the RM20 bottle of vanilla extract was still sitting in its packaging. I let out a yelp and ran to the oven, dragged the hot pan out, got burnt in the process, sprinkled some vanilla extract on the surface and stirred it in. An unconventional approach, no doubt, but hey, better late than never.
Five minutes after the cake had begun merrily baking in the oven, I noticed that the oven was set to the “grill” function. I looked heavenward and wondered what I had done to deserve this.
Drenched in sweat, with the air permeated with the smell of vanilla and chocolate and peanuts, I heard the opening credits for American Idol on TV.
To Fatboybakes and Boolicious – therapeutic, you say? MY FOOT.
The house still smelt of peanuts the next morning.
The Girl from Abu Dhabi may view pictures HERE.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.