If you want to make new friends, there are a few tried-and-true ways you can go about it.
1) Have a really great, super, sparkly personality!! With lots of non-sarcastic exclamation marks!! (Have you met me? No? Well, my personality is not sparkly. Awesome and sarcastic, yes. Sparkly, no.)
2) Give them money. (Uhhh…yeah…I was a teacher before I became willingly unemployed. ‘Nuff said)
3) Have a yacht. (See above.)
4) Give them alcohol. (Drunk people are idiots. I include myself in this.)
5) Give them baked goods. (Now THIS I can do…or used to be able to.)
So, giving baked goods became my number one way to earn affection back home. And it worked. If you do a poll in my apartment, I guarantee that you will find that my chocolate chip cookies are the best in the world and that everybody who eats them wants to be my best friend. And my chocolate root beer bundt cake? Well. That speaks for itself .
Unfoooooortunately, baking at home is not a big thing in Asia. I didn’t have an oven in Japan and I don’t have an oven here. It’s like I have a limb missing. Yes, the baking limb. It’s a vestigial one that most people don’t even know about.
I haven’t baked anything since mid-August of 2010, when I moved to Bangkok. That’s a long time. My friend Melanie has an oven here in BKK, though, and invited me for Adventures in Thai Baking last week.
Because I’d made the brownies before, it was decided that I should be in charge of them and Melanie should be in charge of the cupcakes. I just want to preface all of this by saying that I’m a really good baker. Just saying.
Melanie and I assembled the ingredients and got to work.
Mel’s Nutella cupcakes looked fabulous, both before and after they were baked.
They were very dense, more like a pound cake than anything, and that swirl of pure Nutella on the top pushed them over the edge.
My brownies, however…
Okay, remember how I said I’d made them several times before? I HAD, and they turned out PERFECT.
The first step is to melt chocolate, butter, and a touch of espresso powder in a double boiler. Easy peasy.
This step was fine. The chocolate ended up shiny and smooth, just like it was supposed to. I felt pretty smug. The next step was to add 1.5 cups and white sugar and .5 cups of brown sugar (you can’t make brownies without sugar, people!).
This is what happened:
It’s not supposed to look like poopy sand. It’s supposed to be smooth and silky, with all the sugar dissolved into the fat, so it looks like the chocolate river from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, I did not get smooth and silky chocolate river. I got poopy sand.
The texture was like quicksand; it looked solid, but when you started to poke it, it would break apart like liquid. It was disturbing. I’ve never used the word “disturbing” attached to chocolate and sugar and butter (“The Trifecta of Perfection”) put together, but that’s the only way I can describe it. Disturbing.
We forged ahead, however, because all of those ingredients were expensive.
Hooray! Success! Kind of!
They still tasted great. The 11 ounces (!) of dark chocolate, 1 cup (!) of butter, 2 cups (!) of sugar, and 5 (!) eggs really make a perfect-tasting brownie. No skimping on flavor; they’re complex and oh-so-rich-and-chocolatey. But the texture of this batch–ugh! It was like brownie ooze. Truthfully, that would be a great name for a band, but it’s not good if you’re expecting firm squares of baked dark chocolate goodness.
I’m not saying I haven’t eaten a ton of them, because I have.
I’m just saying I lost this smackdown.
Nutella Cupcakes: 0 Melanie: 1
Baked Brownies: 1 Megan: 0
I vow to try again! As soon as Melanie lets me use her oven again…