June 12, 2012

Baking bits.

Last Monday you'll recall that I felt like garbage. I ended up having no workload so I pretty much recovered at my desk and felt much better Tuesday morning. Monday night baking actually still happened, believe it or not, and it was fierce. I would just like to remind you that Monday night baking is done for myself, because I want to eat it. I don't do it because I feel an obligation to make Monday nights my baking night; it just kind of works out that way.

I made myself this recipe. I'd made it a few times before but never with particularly thrilling results. It's kind of dry, crumbly and totally lacking something. So I kept making it, even though it was never quite right. Well, Monday night I decided that a cookie was what I needed to make myself feel healthier. That and a good dose of Game of Thrones finales. Just one, really.

Anyway, the cookie was amazing. I've started to lose my taste for milk chocolate (maturity?) and am so in love with dark chocolate. I can't believe I ever used to prefer white chocolate. So, I knew right away that I was going to use dark chocolate chips in my cookie, already amping up the deliciousness scale. I subbed whole wheat flour in figuring that the stupid thing couldn't be any drier than the original recipe. Instead of using butter or what I call butter (margarine) I used oil instead. I hate mixing in hard butter and wasn't motivated enough to actually use the microwave and another dish. Feeling even more daring, I added some unsweetened coconut to the mix to add a little pizazz and doubled the amount of water called for. I was tempted to add some cinnamon but held back, thinking it might make the flavour a little too complex.

I don't want to brag, but I made that recipe into something magical. The giant cookie that was the reward for all my (minimal) efforts was so good, so tasty, and, apparently, had healing powers because I felt much better Tuesday when I went to work. I felt so good, in fact, that I made another cookie Tuesday night (sans recipe because I'm that smart) and it was equally as amazing.

I am absolutely going to make that recipe again, although this time I'm going to try using stevia instead of sugar. I'm not really sure how well it'll work but I guess that's the beauty of the solitary cookie; if it's a flop I can just toss it and try again. Or eat it and do better next time. Let no cookie go wasted.

That was pretty much it for my baking escapades last week. I was actually disappointed that I didn't have any homemade snacks to take with me to work and ate pretty abysmally all week while at work. Thankfully I prepared myself last night for what was to come.

Yesterday afternoon I started craving dark chocolate so badly it was all I could think about so I did the only logical thing I could think of; I looked up recipes to make when I got home.

Normally I'm not fazed by looking at food pictures but for some reason yesterday it was just agony. You know how they always say never to grocery shop when you're hungry? I've never agreed with that. If I'm stuffed I won't have any interest in food so I'll be an ineffective shopper. If I'm hungry I'll be more realistic about what I buy and will want to eat later in the week. Well, yesterday I was recipe shopping and became that person that shouldn't do it when they're hungry. I committed myself (mentally and emotionally) to making two recipes as well as a delicious and nutritious quinoa salad for dinner.

Sometimes I wuss out when I give myself  a chore, but, for some bizarre reason, when baking I don't. I do it. I tell myself that I must do something so I do it. It probably has to do with the fact that baking isn't actually one of my favourite pass times so, like jogging, I just make myself do it. Except I don't jog anymore because I don't do well in heat and don't like getting up before seven to avoid any heat. Also, I turn purple and sweaty. And that's why I choose baking over jogging. Baking requires less energy that jogging (unless it's cookies, in which case I will recruit a helper) and the results are much more tangible. Plus there are no hills or healthy people lapping you.

Maybe once I've mastered baking (ha!) I'll start jogging again. If I can bake, I can do anything. It's one of my eventual future grown up goals.

So yesterday afternoon I decided that I would make myself some brownies and granola bars. I have several granola bar recipes, but these are the only ones without peanut butter so I just went for it. It was also the first time I used xylitol as a sweetener.

I made the granola bars first while dinner cooled. I've been trying to psyche myself up about them for a while but since I don't have a food processor kept putting it off. My mom just got one, though, from a friend so I borrowed it last night. It was a whole new experience. Until I had it in front of me I still wasn't entirely certain what set it apart from my other appliances. I guess my Magic Bullet could have done the trick, but I didn't want to kill it.

So I made the granola bars, subbing cashews for pecans and whatever other nuts I had in the cupboard. I knew I was safe doing that and that it wouldn't ruin my bars. I had totally forgotten that the recipe called for coconut milk powder so was left unprepared. Thankfully my mom had some skim milk powder (best before 2009) that I could use so the recipe wasn't a total bust.

Except it didn't turn out.

I did not, in fact, manage to make granola bars last night. Instead what I created was some charred looking granola. I read the blog comments for the recipe and it turns out that the coconut milk powder substitution was likely the culprit for the bars' lack of cohesion. Oddly enough, even though the granola looked burnt beyond human consumption (a more expensive mistake than I would have liked) everything turned out fine. Nothing tasted like coal and I even brought some for lunch today to mix with my Greek yogurt. I can't really identify what's what in the mixture since it's almost all a uniform black colour but my tastebuds are clearly colour blind.

Let no cookie go wasted.

Then, because I clearly hate myself, I made some brownies even though the recipe quite specifically says to let them cool over night in the refrigerator. Yep, I must really hate myself. I actually thought about making another solitary cookie but abstained.

Actually, I totally forgot to put the in the fridge last night so I guess I'll do that when I get home.

And, okay, I'll admit that I had a couple before bed last night.

I really enjoyed the last coconut flour recipe I made so I was pretty stoked on these brownies. Once again, I had to make a substitution with what I consider butter and heavy cream. I don't keep that stuff around so I winged it and used 1% figuring it wouldn't be a big deal. I don't think it was. I also didn't add any nuts.

The result wasn't bad by any means but it wasn't what I was expecting. If I make these brownies again (which is very possible) I'm probably going to double the amount of cocoa in them or add some dark chocolate pieces or maybe even cacao nibs. I realize that will totally defeat the sugar free nature of the whole thing, but they didn't quite fit the chocolate craving.

In fact, the brownies tasted an awful lot like the coconut flour pound cake I'd make before. I do enjoy the taste of coconut flour but it, sadly, was the main taste in my brownies. They're still good, though, and I'd recommend the recipe.

Right then. Tonight I'm going to abstain completely from anything in the kitchen and eat leftover quinoa, leftover brownies, and do things I know I enjoy. Like yoga and clothing swapping.

And, just to tease you, I'll be making a terribly exciting announcement about my blog and some changes to it coming up shortly. (Just kidding, it's not that exciting.)                                                     

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