Living The Semi-Homemade Dream

Pookie has long been trying to get me to buy the fancy extracts sampler from Baker’s Catalog, and I finally succumbed when she convinced me that the new kitchen was a good excuse for getting them. So I’ve had these five little bottles sitting in the pantry, and I haven’t really had a lot of uses for them.

Fast forward to a month or two ago, when Boomer and I made our first venture to Costco. Being us, we couldn’t resist a box that had instructions on it for making 96 brownies:

Last weekend Pookie had the brilliant idea of using the extracts to semi-homemade up the brownie mixes; what can I say? She’s a genius! We started out with a batch of orange brownies, then moved on to the almond extract, and ended today with the coffee.

It should be mentioned that I’ve added orange extract to my homemade brownies before, so we knew it would be delicious in these. Pookie has gone so far as to say she wouldn’t be ashamed to bring a box of from-mix brownies with the orange added if she had to provide a dessert to an office potluck. I can highly recommend that as an additive. The almond also delighted me, although Pookie’s review was that if she hadn’t known that’s what the flavor was, she would have decided it was coconut, because it’s markedly not just a normal brownie, but not entirely obvious, either. It’s flowery and fresh-tasting, though, and really mellow if you let the brownies sit overnight. The coffee extract was a disappointment. It did the least of the three, both in terms of disguising the “from a box” flavor and in terms of bringing something extra to the table.

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11 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods, Taste Test

11 responses to “Living The Semi-Homemade Dream

  1. I’d never heard of “Baker’s Catalog” so I just googled it and came upon the “King Arthur Flour” website and I found the Nielsen-Massey Extract set. I’ve only ever used peppermint, almond, and vanilla McCormick extracts…if you have too, can you tell a difference between the “grocery store” brands and these fancy ones?

    You didn’t post a picture of your fabulous place settings and decorations that you must have made to go along with your semi-homemade brownies! ;)

  2. The Baker’s Catalog is my favorite resource on the interwebs that doesn’t rhyme with “Blenzey’s”! I love it so much! As for the Nielsen-Massey extracts, the only one I can compare with the McCormick stuff from the grocery store is the vanilla. I think it has a much more floral and fresh taste to it, but it’s been a long time since I’ve used McCormick (I buy those 32-oz jugs of Nielsen-Massey, because the price is so good). We recently got a sampler of vanillas that included Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican vanillas. The differences between them were PROFOUND. It was really surprising. Anyway, I know I’ve read some taste tests where Nielsen-Massey isn’t the favorite vanilla, so maybe I need to do a head-to-head to figure out if it’s worth the extra money compared to McCormick!

    Our brownie tablescape was simply TOO BEAUTIFUL for pictures to adequately capture. It involved paper towels used as plates, a couch, and us wearing pajamas and spacing out in front of hockey games. It was inexpensive AND attractive. :P

  3. I never even knew there were different types of vanilla extracts!

    Question: do you use a special kind of flour? I’ve only ever used Gold Medal flour but have always been tempted to try the King Arthur flour but am not sure if it’s worth the extra cost.

  4. I use King Arthur flour because it’s unbleached, so it just seems better for you. I have no idea if it actually is! But I think Gold Medal sells unbleached flour now, too. My grocery store is really lame, so the only unbleached option I have is the KAF.

    (I knew there were different types of vanillas, but I would never have guessed they would make as big a difference as they do. We really only play with them in chocolate chip cookies, where we’re eating a lot of the dough in “cookie pudding” form. I’m not sure how noticeable the difference is when they’re baked. Heh.)

  5. Iain

    Ahhh, this explains the brownie testing that was referred to during the Rags game the other night…

    Chocolate and orange. BFF.

  6. We were in the middle of our almond brownies during the Rangers game. It was a nice pairing! (The almond brownies and the Rangers losing. The best pairing of all is the chocolate and the orange. Mmmmmm… BFFs, indeed!)

  7. Oh my god girls. How did I not know about this blog? You chicks are amazing. Now I’m going to have to spend all my time reading up about cooking, eating, and gardening. Fabulous. Are you sure we aren’t somehow related?

  8. Amy

    Those brownies look delish!

    If you didn’t do a tablescape or coordinating room decor, please tell me you had a cocktail of some kind. Cocktail time is the best time of the day, after all.

  9. Oh, there is no disputing that cocktail time is the best time of day. As we said in Arizona, when we had a view of the mountains from the back of our house, “When the mountains are pink, it’s time to drink.” I like to assume that somewhere in the world, at any time of day, there are mountains glowing pink. (I think we had Dark and Stormys with some of these brownies. Rum, lime and ginger beer. It’s the breakfast of champions.)

  10. My mom always tells me to use unbleached and my regular grocery store sells Gold Medal unbleached flour. I think it also sells Kings Arthur or maybe I saw it elsewhere. I’m in need of more flour so I think I’ll pick up the KA next time just to try it out. Oh, and I’ll be near the Penzeys store tomorrow!! I’m planning on taking my mom because she’s never heard of it!

  11. Ooooh! I hope you and your mom have a great time at Penzeys!

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