Phil is very hard to please when it comes to brownies, bran muffins, and some types of cakes (angel food, layered coconut cake are two that come to mind).  I am always trying different recipes hoping to hit one that will awe him. Brownies, according to the resident expert, have to be dense, fudgy, big, contain nuts, and probably meet a number of other criteria that have not yet been conveyed to the person in charge of baking them (aka curve balls).  Last March, on a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, he went crazy for brownies sold at a very unassuming spot, a little cafe at the entrance of Turtle Bay Resort. I admit that they were indeed spectacular, but all my attempts to get their recipe were ignored. Then, I saw this recipe at Maureen’s blog, and decided to give it a try.  They were nothing short of amazing.  I knew they would be, and the best part is, my hard-to-please husband agreed!

Maureen Brownies 22

(from The Orgasmic Chef)

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 2.27.20 PM


I want to make sure everyone reads Maureen’s masterpiece of a post on the subject. No one should miss it, so click here for the full post, recipe included, and you can thank me later… Who else but Maureen could compose a superb post on brownies that starts with not one, but TWO episodes of flying creatures emptying their guts on her head?  Now, do you want to know what makes her post even more special for me? The fact that many many years ago (July 1986), while walking the streets of former Yugoslavia, a pigeon dropped what seemed to be a full bucket of warm, greenish-white liquid on my head, from the balcony of a building. Of course,  not a single drop hit my former husband, his Mom and his Dad who were walking next to me, and had the laugh of their lives at my expense. We had to take a bus back to the hotel, with yours truly still plastered in pigeon poop (#totallynotdistractinglysexy). Can you imagine my mood?  This is just one more reason I consider Maureen my virtual sister. And although so far I haven’t had the unique pleasure of getting showered with bat’s or crow’s poop, I can testify that the pigeon kind smells disgusting.  I am sure my readers are delighted to know that. Ready for that brownie now?


Maureen Brownies1

Isn’t that a thing of complete beauty? And the smell as it baked, and later cooled was OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING!  Yes, in all caps, it deserves it. These babies were moist, dense, intensely flavored, and the walnuts took care of that monochromatic nature of brownies that some people might object to.  Give this recipe a try, especially if you have a brownie-snob in your home… I guarantee these will please the toughest critic.

Maureen, thanks for the great recipe, and of course, for the amusing write-up…  if I was next to you during the crow-attack, I would do my very best not to laugh, instead would help you get back into socially acceptable shape. I am nothing if not magnanimous.

ONE YEAR AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

THREE YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

FIVE YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

SIX YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls


As you might remember from a recent post, I was looking forward to playing with what was left of my precious chestnut flour, born and raised in Corsica, matured in Paris, and lovingly transported all the way to Kansas, USA.  Celia, my dear virtual friend who blogs at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, urged me to try her chestnut brownies, so on a warm Tuesday evening, I went right to work. By the way, these are gluten-free, so if you have allergies or other wheat-related-issues, go ahead and indulge!


(from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

90g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
225g (8oz) 50 – 60% cacao semisweet chocolate (I used Zoet 57%)
150g (¾ cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
40g (¼ cup) chestnut flour (sifted)
150g (1 cup) chocolate chips (you can substitute toasted walnuts, same amount) 

Heat oven to 175C/350F or 160C/320F with fan.

Measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to go.  Line a 20cm (8″) baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined.

Stir in the eggs one at a time.  Add the sifted chestnut flour all at once and stir vigorously until you can feel the batter “snap”. The batter starts out grainy and fairly loose.  As you beat it by hand, it will initially feel like nothing is happening, and then it will suddenly feel a bit stiffer – that’s when you’ll know a state change has occurred.  This might take one minute, or it might take several.  Stop occasionally to check how it’s going. Unlike true fudge, it’s not a huge “snap”, but the texture will definitely change noticeably – it will feel stiffer, look smoother, and pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.

Gently stir in the chocolate chips (or walnuts).

Scrape the batter into the lined pan and smooth out the top.  Bake for 25 minutes until just firm.   Do not over-bake. Allow the brownies to cool completely before lifting them out of the pan and slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

It is not very easy to find chocolate with less than 60% cocoa where I live, but one store carried Zoet, a brand I had never heard of.  So, that’s what I used, and the brownies turned out delicious! My beloved husband is very hard to please as far as brownies are concerned (and cakes, and muffins, and pies – I’m clearly a martyr), but he was totally in love with them, and insisted I should write an email to Celia right away to say “Phil is giving these brownies two thumbs waaaaay up“.


We started the morning savoring a piece with our cappuccino – can you recognize perfection when you see it?  That was it.  The rest of the batch was offered to our colleagues at the department. That Wednesday started gray and rainy, a bit on the cold side, but I hope the  brownies helped face it with a smile. Did you notice?  Baked them on a warm Tuesday evening, served them on a cool Wednesday morning… that’s Kansas spring in all its glory… 😉


And now it’s celebration time!  I was recently nominated by Tuscas Värld for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.   I love dragons, I think they are a good match for a bewitching site, don’t you agree?


The rules for the award are simple, you have to link back to the blogger who nominated you – done! – post the logo on your site – done! – and tell 7 interesting things about yourself.  Not sure they will be that interesting, but here they are:

1. Every time I see a recipe with a title that starts with “Healthy”, I roll my eyes to the ceiling. Every. Single. Time.

2. I pay as much attention to movie reviews as I do to wine ratings: none. 

3. I went through a phase of intense fear of flying that lasted for a couple of years.  I managed to get over it, but a little turbulence still sends me into panic mode. Interestingly enough, I would love to learn to fly a plane. It’s all about control, I suppose…   (sigh)

4. If I had to choose between having a root canal or going to a live performance by Celine Dion I would set the dentist appointment right away.

5. I don’t like to be away from Phil, a trip without him has no appeal for me whatsoever. Even if it involved Paris.

6. We started watching Breaking Bad (disclosure: 90% of the time I say Baking Bread) a couple of weeks ago and we are hooked!  For other fans of this amazing series, take a look at this letter from Anthony Hopkins to Bryan Cranston. Awesome!

7. I am terrified of heights, but this video mesmerized me!  Phil and I watch it over and over. The song is great, the people super cool… It’s decided: on my next life I won’t be a wimp! 😉

 Again, thank you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, I do realize that I should pass the award for other 15 bloggers, but as I explained in the past, I do not forward awards, I hope it’s not a serious drawback.   One of the ways I like to show my appreciation for bloggers is doing what I just did in this post: cooking a recipe from their site.

 Celia, thank you for the constant inspiration not only in cooking, but through your approach of “Living well in the urban village”. You do that like a pro!


ONE YEAR AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

THREE YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

FOUR YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands