It’s All About That Base

The new kitchen is settling in nicely. I’m starting to appreciate the nuances of my new oven, still marvelling over the fact that I can fit my roasting tin in sideways and generally finding that being in the kitchen makes me even happier than I was before I replaced units that were basically older than Methuselah. So when this month’s box arrived, I was well prepared for the fun and challenges ahead. Little did I anticipate the tragedy at the end of it all… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Note: Pecans, not Toucans. Toucans are birds. These are not birds.

I am a great fan of pecan pie, I freely admit it. It took all my self-control not to eat the pecans straight out of the bag before I even started baking. But I managed to remain focused and began the first all-important job of creating brown butter for the base.

I feel we need an aside here. How did someone discover that by staring at a pan of melted butter for a specific amount of time produced something that is almost but entirely not unlike the starting product, only COMPLETELY DIFFERENT at the same time? Was it a happy accident? That’s got to be it, hasn’t it? A chef, at some point in the past left the butter on the stove for too long while he popped out back for a crafty smoke or something, then said ‘uh, this is a new creation, I shall call it Brown Butter, for lo! It is brown and verily, t’is also butter…” and thus it came to be.

I digress. It happens.

This is butter. It is extremely boring to watch and in no way offers any form of entertainment.
This, however, is its demonic counterpart, brown butter which is bizarrely exciting. I kept shouting OH MY GOD LOOK, BROWN BITS until my husband quietly shut the door.

Butter excitement level sixteen duly reached, I moved on to adding the other ingredients, mixed it all up, chucked in into the tin and stared through the door of my eve-level oven for a while. I was harbouring a deep, deep suspicion that what would emerge, forty minutes or so from that point would be either:-

a) Horrendously wrong; or
b) Outstanding.

I am proud to announce it was the latter and this picture is so glorious, its content so screen-lickingly delicious that it is worthy of presentation without comment. Imagine some soothing background music is playing while you look at it.

Words would render this worthless.

Onward then, to the joy of the topping! Melting more butter (fortunately not to heart-racing levels of excitement this time), then adding the sugar mixture from the bag to produce what can only be best described as sugar napalm. The ‘roughly chopped’ pecans were added to this (sidebar: ‘roughly chopped’ in this instance involved my setting about the innocent nuts with a rolling pin whilst still in their bag. Eh. It worked). Entire mixture was set aside to cool a little and looked very much like Squirrel Nutkin had been out the night before on the booze with Peter Rabbit (don’t judge them, Mrs Tiggywinkle is known to be far worse) and his stomach had rebelled. But it smelled phenomenal.

Squirrel Nutkin needs the Resolve, STAT.

So I moved onto the final part. Spread the topping over the base, then melt the white chocolate in the microwave, put it into the piping bag and then drizzle onto the finished bake.

So simple, right?

I’m going to break that sentence down a little and analyse it so that I can share with you what I shall call ‘Topping: A Tragedy In Three Acts’.

Act One: Edges Are For Losers

In this act, there was comedy as I realised there was not quite enough of the pecan napalm to cover the entirety of the base, but you know what? It didn’t matter. It was enough. So despite a few naked bits on my bake, I girded my loins and moved onto part two.

Act Two: Death and Loss

‘Put the white chocolate into the microwave in ten second bursts, stirring between each burst until melted’. Ten seconds. Stir. Twenty seconds. Stir… ooh, it’s melting. Twenty two seconds… uh, pretty sure that the microwave shouldn’t make fizzing noises and melted chocolate rarely smells like burning electrics in my experience, hello power switch…

Yes, the microwave had run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. The only remaining item from the Kitchen of the Before Times had decided to go toes up during this final, critical phase, leaving me with a half-melted bowl of chocolate chips. I improvised using some water boiled in the kettle and sitting my small bowl in a larger bowl like some kind of weird baking Russian Doll thing, but it wasn’t good enough.

Act Three: Self-Flagellation (or ‘I Don’t Do Piping Well’)

So there I was. Half-melted chocolate, frantically being scooped into a piping bag. It wasn’t melted enough and my attempt at ‘in a circular motion, drizzle over the base’ became a desperate race against time before the dratted stuff solidified again. Thus, we ended with more of a Pollock than a da Vinci, but hey. This blog was always going to be warts and all, so here’s the horror of what happened.

Quiet in the cheap seats.

Regardless of the nightmares, the end product was nothing short of utterly delicious. I meant to take a photo of a singular piece to share with you, but I mostly ate it first. But here you are anyway. This bake may well have surpassed the Brookies for me. I can’t emphasise enough how delicious the base is. Would I make it again? Yes. Absolutely. So until the next bake… enjoy!


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