Posts coming later this week

I have nothing in particular to post this weekend because everything I’ve done so far I’ve already covered. Today (Sunday) I redid the Cook’s Illustrated vegetarian chili from earlier this year; the only thing new I have to report is that I bought a new kitchen scale, with a 10-kg capacity, so now I can better measure and portion food while it’s still in the cooking vessel — in this case, I found that my Le Creuset enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is almost spot-on 4 kg, and the chili recipe, after taring out the Dutch oven, is slightly over 4 kg final yield — so eight servings of just about 500 g each. Saturday I made pie dough for a pie I’ll be baking Monday and went shopping for Browniefest.

I have made the rather disappointing discovery that my local Whole Foods locations appear to have stopped carrying Valrhona Guanaja feves, my go-to 70% baking chocolate; they have a Callebaut 70% but only in huge blocks, and a 73% from Madécasse — a new SKU for them that appears to be replacing the Valrhona. (Nothing against fair/direct trade, but when I’m baking, the Guanaja is almost always what I want, and I was expecting to be able to buy it in the store, because when I get the feves mail order, I end up with a 1-kg bag that I end up eating rather than baking.)

I’m making an effort to use the same ingredients in all of the brownie recipes (to the extent called for, of course, by each recipe), so that the type of chocolate, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, etc., won’t affect perception of the differences due only to the recipe. Some of these (flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt) will be my standard pantry supplies. For unsweetened chocolate, I’ll be using TCHO 100%, which comes in the form of small molded animals (I think bears). For chocolate in the 70% range, I’ll use the Callebaut 70% blocks I bought at Whole Foods, and grumble the whole time at having to chop it myself. For 64-66% or anything that calls specifically for “bittersweet”, I’ll use TCHO 66% discs, and for “semisweet” (which I’m interpreting at 55%) it’s back to the big blocks from Callebaut. (One exception: the Test Kitchen recipe, if I do it, calls specifically for Callebaut L-60-40NV, so I’ll use that.) Milk chocolate will again by TCHO discs, and I’ll also be using their natural cocoa; Dutch-process cocoa will be my usual Valrhona (which at least for the moment they still seem to have at Whole Foods). Dark brown sugar will be India Tree dark muscovado, but light brown sugar will be the Wholesome Sweeteners organic brown sugar from my pantry. One recipe called for chocolate-flavored puffed-rice breakfast cereal, and I got a goofy organic sprouted-brown-rice thing which probably cost three times as much as it was worth. All the nuts are just Whole Foods house brand. I have a few different bags of chocolate chips, and haven’t decided how to match them with the recipes.

I’m taking this week off, not specifically for Browniefest but to catch up on a whole host of other things, but that will give me the time to make brownies and blueberry pie as well, but other than the pie write-up (expect that Wednesday) I don’t know if I’ll have anything to post before the actual Browniefest on Monday the 15th. I’ll start the brownie baking with the recipes that don’t have any sort of icing or topping on them (there are eight of them), because toppings don’t generally freeze well — or rather, they don’t thaw so nicely after freezing — leaving those for later in the week so they can be kept at room temperature.

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