Alton Brown-ies (or, glutton for punishment?)

Being an honorary South African (or Swazi, or Dane), I am a relative latecomer to the phenomenon of Alton Brown – who, as per above, has apparently been teaching (American) geeks how to cook since 1999. He’s entertaining and whacky in a Heston Blumenthal sort of way, except the comparison stops at invention: they’re both mad scientists, but Blumenthal is definitely one up on the Willy Wonka factor (never mind snail porridge: how many people can actually get their dinner guests to lick the wallpaper?). Alton Brown is fun to watch because he explains how stuff works, in a way that you could actually try at home (I once mimicked his recipe for mint juleps: they was good).

So it only made sense that I should break my latest vow never to make brownies again with Alton Brown’s recipe. I like it because it only uses cocoa (no faffing about with melting chocolate), and it contains four eggs, which should produce some nice thick, chewy brownies.

And I planned to follow it exactly to the letter, so I could only blame Alton if they didn’t work. Except for one minor alteration, which was to add an entire box of Dalla Cia grappa chocolates. How beautiful it promises to be in execution:

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I wish I could say the above picture (of the brownie) came out of my own kitchen, but alas, my brownies are still cooling in the pan, so I borrowed this picture from someone who actually got it right (click on the image to visit that baker). And I may as well add right now that I didn’t have enough butter and couldn’t be arsed to go to the shop again, so I supplemented with a little oil. Oh, and I added some espresso powder too.

In theory, these will be the perfect ode to something the Philosophe and I call our cap-grap routine: cappuccino and grappa after lunch (which ideally includes a glass of some nice cold riesling for these hot summer days). But I fear that I – unlike Alton Brown – am a crap scientist in the kitchen. My last batch of brownies contained two whole boxes of Lindor chocolate balls. They should have been superb. Instead the whole lot ended in the bin.

Let’s hope the garbage trolls don’t get lucky again.

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