Ray, when somebody asks you if you’re a god, you say YES! Same goes for when a recipe calls for a 9×9 inch pan. You find one or choose another recipe. I made the bold move of using an 8×8 inch pan thinking it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Oh but it did. These brownies were such a mess. I debated even posting them, but it will be cathartic to get it out there into the digital void that is the internet. The worst part is — I actually went out and bought the 8×8 inch pan. I sold myself down the river.
I had planned to make these fantastic-looking Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from a Martha recipe I found online. They were to be a house-warming gift for a friend who was throwing a party in her new apartment. Why is it that I only ever majorly screw up on the food I’m planning to bring to somebody and not the food that stays in my kitchen to be nibbled upon throughout the week? It’s always the gifts and treats that I want to look perfect and present proudly that end up reducing me to crazy lady tears as my roommate looks on in apprehension.
Everything was planned out so thoughtfully. I even had time to glitter pumpkins while the brownies were cooling. Little did I know that beneath that golden brown exterior lay a slab of gooey, undercooked brownie batter mass. This recipe was a lot of fun to make — up until it came time to slice the brownies. I had timed everything out perfectly and gave myself just enough time to pack up the brownies and finish getting ready for the party. But when the knife slid into the center of the brownies revealing a globby chocolate-pumpkin swirled mess inside, I knew it was going to be a rough night. Several suggestions flew around the room as to how to remedy the situation. Naturally, I get all worked up and act as if this one ruined dessert is literally the end of the world as I know it. A bit of an overreaction you could say.
As a last-ditch effort to salvage the brownie mass, I popped it back into the oven hoping to continue the baking process. Somewhere deep down I knew this attempt was in vain as it was only likely to over-brown the outside of the brownies and not fully cook the insides. What. A. Mess. Also, I realized that baking them again wouldn’t give me enough time to let them cool to be sliced and packaged for transport. Crisis!
In a frustrated fury I snatched the hot pan from the oven and slammed it on the cooling rack, hoping it would do its namesake justice and actually cool the brownies. My impatience getting the best of me, I flipped the still-warm brownies out onto a cutting board and proceeded to slice of the edges — the only salvageable parts of the brownie. The center was literally hot brownie batter surrounded by a golden brown crust. Delicious in theory, but not exactly what I was going for. And the mass of brownie was in fact tasty — my roommate’s boyfriend expressing his confusion as to the problem considering the partially-baked brownies tasted pretty damn good.
My MacGyver adaptation skills in high gear, I popped the unfinished brownie edges into my toaster oven (that’s right, desperate times…) to bake them off. They came out edible, if not exactly beautiful and I sliced them up, packed them into a cute box and headed out the door. They were definitely still warm with telltale signs of condensation building up on the cellophane lid of the box. I kept the flaps propped open to release some of the warmth and jetted down the steps to the subway. Only to DROP THE BOX ON THE TRAIN. This was so not my day. Fortunately (I guess…maybe these brownies were destined for the floor of a subway car) I caught the box before it spilled its contents all over the place. A nice woman next to me assisted in righting the box and asked what they were. I of course launched into an entire diatribe about the ruined brownies, being late for the party, and freaking out in general. She was lovely and quite complimentary saying the brownies looked beautiful and that people were probably going to love them. This calmed me down considerably. And guess what — people loved them. The spiced cake-like pumpkin portion of the brownie counteracts the deep richness of the chocolate while the chopped hazelnuts tie the flavors together. Also, the addition of paprika gives these brownies a subtle, unidentifiable kick. Didn’t somebody famous once say “Only you know what goes on in the kitchen”? I feel like it was Julia Child or someone along those lines. Regardless, it’s true. And there’s no late night snack better than gooey half-baked brownies.
As I mentioned, these brownies were a lot of fun to make because of the two dueling batters. Had a I used the appropriately sized pan, they might have been fantastic. Check out the process (and a grisly shot of the massacred brownie batter)…