The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brownie Juggling and Peppermint Seizures

Or "Ms. Knitingale's Adventures in Holiday Baking"

Turns out that dark chocolate truffle does not, in fact, substitute for floor wax. Who knew? Actually, it doesn’t really do all that much for the refrigerator shelves, the front of the vegetable drawer, or the vent at the front of the fridge, either. But you can’t say I’m not a creative cook.

It started with the truffle brownies. Y’all remember my brownie recipe that I put up at the very beginning of this adventure in blogdom. You stir ‘em up in a bowl and you spread ‘em in a pan… remember. For the truffle version, you put a layer of chocolate truffle on top instead of the caramel (or with the caramel if you have a burning desire to experience coronary angioplasty at a young age), you chill it, you add a layer of white chocolate on top of that. (Yes, it’s quite sinful. Evil is not too strong a word to describe these. In truth, I don’t even bother to eat them. I just tape them directly to my ass because that’s where they’re going anyway.) So last night, I baked the brownie layer. Then I made the truffle layer (melt a half a stick of butter in 2/3 cup cream, once it’s hot take it off the heat and stir in a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips until melted and thick; add a splash of vanilla) and spread that on the brownies. Then I went and sat down to knit on the noro (which is, as it turns out, quite selfish with my attention and will not tolerate my paying attention to any other projects. The shawl has been whining, but the noro is a harsh mistress and will not yield).

An hour or so later, I went back into the kitchen and melted down 12 ounces of white chocolate with a little butter to keep it slightly soft. I stirred it briskly and then opened the fridge and pulled out the brownies w/truffle. And flipped it over completely. COMPLETELY. It flipped away from me, swiping thick, chocolate truffle all down the inside of the fridge, into the vent, and finally splatting face down on the hardwood floor (because, of course, it would have been too much to ask that I might drop it directly down and break a few but leave some intact and not paint 40% of the kitchen with it. The kitchen gods would consider that to be hubris.) It was like an action movie where the car suddenly careens off the cliff in slow motion, and you watch transfixed but unable to do a thing to stop it. Yeah, it was like that. Only with uncensored swear words.

Since that went so swimmingly well (if swimming in truffle counts), I decided to try a different variation on a theme today: peppermint brownies. For this, I was flying by the seat of my pants (easy to do since I didn’t have any brownies taped there). I’d never tried this before, but I had an idea. Once again, a brownie base. Once it cooled, a layer of cream cheese/peppermint goodness, made with crushed candy canes and powdered sugar and a splash of milk. Oh, and a single drop of red food coloring so as to make the palest of pale pink. I’m back in the game. (Regardless of what I told my grandma as a child, it really is pride that goes before a fall, and not summer. She wasn’t amused by my variation, as I recall and the kitchen gods weren't, either.) I spread the cream cheese stuff on the baked brownies and set them in the refrigerator to chill. Mindful of the similarities to the Truffle Brownie Disaster of 06, I used two hands to very slowly remove the chilled pan and set them on the counter. Then I melted down several ounces of good quality chocolate for the very top. And then learned once and for all that when the experts tell you that the tiniest amount of water in your melted chocolate will cause it to seize, they’re serious. (One of my favorite quotes from a foreign movie is “serious as a kick in the…..” well, you get the picture. They’re that serious.) So I stirred around the mess and swore again (I really do use language that isn’t profane from time to time…although I’m sure it doesn’t seem like it.). Mr. K wanted to know what was wrong and I told him, grumpily, “I didn’t dry the bowl well enough and my chocolate seized.” To which he replied, a bit dazedly, “Your chocolate... had a seizure?” Which is why these new creations, now finally repaired and more or less presentable, have been christened “Peppermint Seizures”. What else could they be, really?

They don’t taste half bad, either.

I wanted to thank all of you kind souls out there for your diligent efforts to replace my lost bejeebers. I have finals this week, and I’m pretty sure I’ll need some bejeebers to be scared out of when I see the 100-question test in Anatomy and Physiology. I guess Walmart is fresh out of them, but I feel certain that someone has some. Maybe e-bay. Heck, you can buy ANYTHING on e-bay.

Someone who apparently has all her bejeebers intact and in hand is this little lady:

This photo was taken through the living room window and Mr. K kept knocking quite loudly in an effort to get her to look up so you could see her very sweet face. No dice. She’s even closer than she appears and she cared not one whit about the racket. Apparently she knows we’re no threat to her OR her bejeebers. But isn’t she lovely?

Oh, and a word to Faren: I told Mr. K about the propane torch and the pretzels (check her comment on my last entry if you haven’t—but make sure you’re not drinking pepsi when you do it. Pepsi burns when you snort it up your nose.). I predicted that he would wonder why that was funny, but he did me one better by grinning hugely and saying “Hey, I want to try that!” (If I had a bejeeber left, it would be running from the house with its tail between it’s legs going “yipe, yipe, yipe, yipe!”) He also said something about using the belt sander to peel potatoes, and the power drill to stir cake batter. Faren, I’m blaming your hubby for this one.

Lastly, a perfectly dreadful photo of me (I swear my face isn’t quite this huge in person) wearing a sweater that I did not make, but which has more or less the sort of neckline I think I want for the noro (a tad bit higher, perhaps, in order to minimize the free-range boobage). What think you?


  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    First off, you look fabulous and I really like that sweater, nice design...and the neckline you have in mind sounds perfect.
    Swimming in truffle should absolutely could it not???
    The brownies are beautiful, seriously.
    I've shipped off a crate of bejeebers, overnight air freight, they'll be delivered to your house before you leave for school...just thank the delivery dude, probably might want to give him a brownie...

  • At 2:44 AM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    So a brown kitchen huh? That's not so bad , a bit 1940's but it might come back . I have to admit to not being too sure of what a beejeepers is but I'll happily send you some of them if they are friendly.I have heard it but my brain won't help at all being out at the moment.
    We are so out of chocolate and cocoa today I'd lick your kitchen clean ........two women and no chocolate.Jeff was warned this morning .I am soaking fruit in alcohol and might need some if he doesn't bring home the chocolate ...despite my new diet diet it isn't going to happen .

  • At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree the neckline on the sweater is great for the Noro, are you going to do the raglan shaping because that will solve the blocks of colour too. Just wish I could taste those seizure brownies, mmmm!

  • At 6:21 AM, Blogger Marianne said…

    Sorry Florence, but I'm going to jump back in to say....Jo, the UK genius, coming up with the raglan shaping and therefore quite possibly solving the issue with the stripes......?

  • At 8:52 AM, Blogger Faren said…

    Flo,sorry about your mess in the kitchen. I would probably have to lick it up just because I would need that much chocolate in my system after a disaster like that! Makes me wonder just how bad a sitution is to make chocolate have a seizure? I mean, come on, if chocolate can't fix something, nothing can fix it! But even though I don't like peppermint they still look darn good.
    I'm afraid to tell my DH about the belt sander and power drill. Now I'm trying to think of all the power tools he has used in odd and hilarious ways. He loves to use a dremel to carve pumpkins, has done it for several years so he was miffed when they stole HIS idea this year and actually starting selling dremel kits just for pumpkin carving. He would then light the neighborhood by putting a 60 watt bulb in it. I think our hubbys need to have a cooking show, wouldn't it be entertaning?
    I really like that neckline, nice and simple. If I were wearing it I would be more comfortable with it higher, but that really is personal taste.
    Sorry about sharing so much, but you understand about husbands with power tools!!!

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger Kit Is Knitting said…

    I realize this is very after-the-fact but I found this link for what to do if Chocolate seizes:

    I know Alton Brown, patron saint of all kitchenary stuff over in MY world, says the same thing in his Art Of Darkness episode.

    He also mixes power tools with culinary skills. You should see his power drill pepper grinder. ;)

    And my opinion on the sweater? Three thumbs up!

  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Charity said…

    I love that you share your kitchen disasters - I will hold them close to comfort myself when my own baking/preparations go to H-E-double hockeysticks (yes, I do have small children, why do you ask?).

    Love the neckline you have chosen, and I don't think you need to go too much higher - it's very flattering. :0)

  • At 3:39 PM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Faren--our hubbies and their own cooking show? Oh, I'm pretty sure I'd PAY to see that. The network, of course, would be paying pretty dearly for the insurance, but it'd be worth it. Since Mr. K makes knives as a hobby, he actually has a forge. A FORGE. Can you just imagine the possibilities for disaster? Marianne, the bejeebers arrived intact...but I may need more after tomorrow's final. I'll let you know. Angie, I wish I'd known about your chocolate emergency (for emergency it surely is). I'd have sent you a peppermint seizure care package. Kit, thanks so much for the link. I love Alton, but I probably shouldn't let Mr. K watch him....he doesn't need more ideas. Charity, my kitchen disasters are legendary. You show me someone who's never had a kitchen disaster, and I'll show you someone with a huge collection of takout menus. Ask me sometime about the sugar free cake I made that smelled exactly like vomit. Truly. Mind you, it was supposed to help a person lose weight, and it surely did that.....

    Finally, I wish I'd thought of raglan shaping on the noro sweater. Duh. Clearly my knitting goofiness is on its way to legend as well. But I've finished the back already. I'll have to see if I can make myself frog it. Maybe with enough chocolate...but not on the floor. Please. NOT on the floor.

  • At 8:26 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    I just relayed the potato peeler idea and hubby chuckled a little bit and said "Yeah, that would probably work." Then thought a second "Yeah, that would work, ask him what grit he thinks would work best?" He likes the Alston Brown pepper grinder too.
    And maybe if they have their own show I wouldn't have to clean up after him when he cooks. Talk about a mess! :)


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