Friday, 3 May 2013

candied pecan brownies

One of the reasons why I dig walnut chunks out of any brownie I eat is because, having been baked and left to stew within it, the nut has typically reached an inevitable state of sogginess. Thus, in the making of my own brownies, I made it a point to candy the pecans (a far superior nut to the walnut in my tasting) to ensure a good crunch.

The brownie recipe I used is identical to that found in Leite's Culinaria, save the addition of the candied nuts, and a slight tweaking of the proportions to make one 30cm by 30cm tray. You can see very clearly the effect of a few good minute's stirring on the batter (I have included a photo before and after).

I played a little with the amount of sugar used in the candying as I didn't want a jaw breaking sugar crust, but had to bear in mind that some of the sugar would dissolve during the baking. A ratio of 2:3 by weight of sugar to pecans was what I was happy with. I'm no master at candying nuts but David Lebovitz has written up a rather handy guide. Simply caramelizing the sugar and pouring it over hot nuts does not work. Use as many pecans as your generosity allows.

On a completely separate note, and one I feel I have to raise as you scrutinize my many photos of the brownie concoction process, I have a pointy bone to pick with queue etiquette. Queue jostling is a recurring cause of grief in my life. I claim an expansive personal space and am ever too aware of encroaching subjects. In large crowds, or where there is limited space available, I have no choice but to accept that people are doomed to brush by me. However, to have my space intruded upon by a great hulking brute exuding sweat, a real problem in the summer, while standing in a queue seems absolutely unnecessary when space abounds.

Fortunately I have a few remedies to deal with this. Shopping bags serve as great little barricades. Or, if I have a handy rucksack with me, every now and then I would suddenly spin around, as if something had caught my eye, allowing my bag to clear an acceptable berth. Yawning and stretching is a pretty good tactic too, especially if you 'unconsciously' direct your outstretched arms towards a face. Or just direct their attention to bits of your person (elbows perhaps) that is especially close to them (like a boxer does with his jabbing hand) and the offenders tend to leave a little more room.

Nevertheless it still begets the question why some people insist on standing right up close behind me in a queue? Surely they can not think that if they are standing closer to the front of the queue the waiting time is less even if the number of people before them stays the same. Or do they think that nudging themselves along as tight as sardines would somehow make the queue move along faster? It all seems pointless to me. As a polite person in a queue, there is little you can do to be served sooner.

There is the space argument of course, and truly in some queues, squeezing together is required for throughway to be maintained. However, a case in point would be while I queuing to check-in on my way back from France recently. The hall was vast yet the individual behind me insisted on shuffling himself and his luggage so close behind me, in complete disregard for the marked line behind which he should have stood, that he bopped me with his skis and I could feel my baby hairs ruffling under his breath.

Move back smelly man! And yes, I am one of those people who heartily approve of glaring bright yellow lines marking out the boundaries of a queue. But really, sidling so close to the fellow ahead all seems so pushy and in the end to no effect, so why do it?

This blog will be moving to a new, more appropriately named, domain soon:
Updates soon to come!

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