Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lotus Eaters

OK, I have to got to admit it. Once again, I've been a bad blogger. I've only put up one post this month and the month is almost gone. I was gone for two weeks, and the week before that I was packing and prepping for the trip. In the week since I've been home I've scaled Mt. Laundry, harvested the fields of suitcase regurgitation in my living room, and tried (not very successfully) to refocus our brains into work and school mode. What I haven't done is bake.

Sure, I've made bread for sandwiches and I've made dinners, but nothing that made me run for the camera and shriek, "Don't eat that yet!" I think I must have caught something in Hawaii. A bug? A virus? Or maybe just a way of life.

We noticed a peculiar phenomenon while we were there. Wherever we went we saw a certain type of person, usually a man. He would be lean, leathered, wearing minimal clothing, as though fresh out of the surf, with an unfocused quality to his gaze as he looked out at the waves.

We dubbed them the Lotus Eaters. They would sit in parks, walk down the streets aimlessly, or stand on the beach, watching the sets roll in. It was as though they had come to the islands many years ago and had been sucked into a timeless existence, living from one ride in the surf to the next, unaware of the passage of time.

Just being in Hawaii does tend to bring on that mindset. Each day is so like the one before it, with temperatures in the 80's, a light breeze coming off the ocean to cool the skin, clouds scudding across the sky, and the sound of the surf always in the background. The only difference day to day is what you choose to do with that day. Playing in the ocean, stacking rocks, watching the sunset, or just closing your eyes and smelling the plumeria.

On the drive back to the airport I kept asking my husband, "Have we really been here two weeks? Are you sure it's time to go back. It feels like only 3 days. 4 at the most!" Without that dated return flight ticket, it would have been so easy to put off the return for just a few more days. And then a few more. And I'd eventually be wandering the streets of Maui with browned, crackly skin, wearing a thong bikini, and a faraway look in my eyes.

I suppose it's for the best that we came home when we did. The thought of appearing in public in a thong bikini is enough to jolt me back to reality. I guess instead of a lotus eater I'll stick with being a brownie eater. It works for me.

These are delicious brownies that I made before the trip. The recipe is one that I've heard raves about. I had to try it, but, of course, couldn't leave perfection alone and had to add my own spin on it. They are fudgy, chocolatey, cherry goodness in a bar, much tastier than lotuses.

Baked Cherry Brownies
- adapted from Baked

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11oz. dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1o-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup tart dried cherries

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, preferably glass or light-colored metal.

2- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

3- Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder into a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter and completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

4- Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Ad the 2 remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat, or your brownies will be cakey.

5- Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the chips and cherries over the flour. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture, chips, and cherries into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

7- Let the brownies cool completely before cutting into squares. Store tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note - I stored mine in an airtight glass container and a few got forgotten on the counter before our trip. When we got back, they were surprising still edible. Hey, why are you looking at me like that? When you've got a chocolate craving, you go with what you've got!


Adam said...

Welcome back :). It's nice to hear you had such a nice and relaxing time :). I know how you feel about the blogging though. Life has been crazy for me the last few months and baking and then writing about it sometimes seems like the last thing you want to do.
These brownies look way dangerous. I've seen the recipe a few times and I keep meaning to make them and never do. But I have to say your images are calling to me. With Halloween and my list of baking items for the weekend growing I'm definitely going to have to invest in elastic waste pants.

Melinda said...

Now I think you probably could rock the thong bikini, Lynn. You look fab for 'mom-of-4' or just a pretty slim lady!
Your brownies look good, but they ALWAYS do! You are so boring that way!

Unknown said...

I vote to be a brownie eater too! LOL, vacations sure do fly by on that last day!

Mrsblocko said...

There's nothin wrong with eating 2 week old long as they aren't fuzzy!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

... I'd eventually be wandering the streets of Maui with browned, crackly skin, wearing a thong bikini, and a faraway look in my eyes. ... What a fate! But in the mean time, pass the brownies please.

hobby baker Kelly said...

Oh, it's been about a decade since I've been to Hawaii. Need to go back. Love those brownies - special, without being illegal... ;) My dad loves black forest, he would love these too!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Adam - Elastic waste pants?? Do you mean adult diapers? I hope not. Perhaps you'd better rethink your baking list. ;-)

Melinda - Aw, you are so sweet. As always. You're boring that way, too, dear.

Jennifurla - Perhaps we should form a club?

Mrs Blocko - nope, not fuzzy in the least. I was amazed.

My Kitchen In Half Cups - Yes, dear. One or two? Pans, that is.

Hobby Baker - Black forest brownies. I love that idea! It needs some playing with.

Shelly said...

Ooh La La! I may have to break into the sacred bag of dried cherries I am rationing and bake a batch of these this weekend!

Elle said...

The trip sounds like bliss! The brownies look amazing and the addition of the cherries is genius...but you are the cookie queen and brownies are super cookies!

grace said...

lotus eaters. ha.
i LOVE the combination of cherries and dark chocolate--this one was worth the wait. :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The thought of myself in a thong bikini is enough to bring me back to reality, although the mesmerized stare is attainable. I am sure it is hard to get back to reality after 2 weeks in paradise with the addictive fragrance of flowers everywhere.

Abby said...

I don't even like to think about bikinis, much less thong ones! Glad you had a good trip! Chocolate and cherries are such a wonderful combo. Looks great!

eatme_delicious said...

Yumm I love that you added cherries to these!

buy eve account said...

OH my! this is so tempting.=D