My brownie frenzy continues. I made the Brownie-in-a-Jar above for a friend by re-purposing an old spaghetti jar. I used a regular tea cup as the measurement device and fashioned a funnel using A4 paper. I forgot to pat down the ingredients before layering them so the layers are uneven. It doesn’t matter since all these dry ingredients will go directly into one bowl anyway.
The whole idea of a brownie premix is to make it as simple as possible for the intended recipient. Hence, I used this recipe by Maisy and Grace instead of the Annabel Karmel one (which is my favourite). I think it makes a cute gift, even for those who don’t bake, as the recipe is easy enough for a child to follow and doesn’t require any special equipment apart from a bowl, a baking pan and an oven.
The Brownie-in-a-Jar Recipe In a jar, layer the following: 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 3/4 cup plain flour 3/4 cup cocoa 3/4 cup walnuts/pecans (optional – replace with chocolate if necessary) 1/2 cup chocolate chips/chunks/buttons Baking directions: Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius Line an 18x28cm (or similar) baking tin with baking paper Empty contents of jar into mixing bowl, mix in 3 lightly beaten eggs and 1 cup (225g) of softened butter. Spread into baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes
Before I went ahead and gifted the jar, I decided to try the recipe myself. The result was alright, but not great – the brownie is too sweet and some of the sugar granules did not melt so you can feel the crunch of the sugar as you eat it. I also find it a little too oily.
So I baked it again using slightly modified ingredients. I disregarded the original baking directions completely, that’s why you see it being crossed out above. The resulting brownie with my modifications tasted so much better, with better texture and “squidginess” and less oily too.
This was how the modified recipe and instructions look like (my addition/changes in italics):
The Brownie-in-a-Jar Mix
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- A pinch of salt
These 3 items are sifted together and then layered as 1 item.
- 1 1/2 cups muscovado sugar (interchangeable with light brown sugar)
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped into smaller chunks
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips/chunks/buttons
All dry items are layered carefully in a mason jar (a large Prego spaghetti sauce jar seems to be the right size).
Then, I typed and printed the following which I pasted onto the jar.
What U Need
- 1 Brownie-in-a-Jar mix
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup of butter (about 200-225g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g white chocolate chunks
How to Make It:
- Pre-heat oven to 160oC, line and grease baking pan and dust with icing sugar or a little flour.
- Dump Brownie-in-a-Jar mix into bowl.
- Melt butter in microwave or stove (medium heat) til it starts to bubble.
- Pour super hot melted butter into mix and whisk til thoroughly combined (Important! You’d want the sugar to melt properly). Depending on mixer, this can take between 3-8mins.
- Beat in vanilla extract then add eggs one by one; keep beating til all is totally mixed in.
- Pour into baking pan and bake for 30-35 mins. Check every 10mins to make sure you don’t overbake. The edges of the brownies should be set with satiny top crust, but when you press it the middle is still soft.
- Cool completely before removing brownie from pan. Cut into squares, dust some icing sugar on top and enjoy! Tastes even better when refrigerated overnight.
Below is how the completed jar looked like, decorated using bits of old decorative wrapper that I found in the house.
The wrapper around the body of the jar is unnecessary coz you want people to see the nicely layered Brownie-in-a-Jar mix. But I did a terrible job at removing the old Prego sauce labels I decided to cover up the blotches this way. I also add the same decorative wrapper at the mouth of the jar, secured it with a rubber band and then screw on the original lid tightly.
The baking instructions were too long to be printed and tied to the lid as a card, so I stuck it to the body of the jar as well. I was impatient as you can see the wrinkles.
Nevertheless, the final jar looks presentable and I was quite happy with the final baked goods.
It has been bothering me that I am unable to cut my brownies into sharp, clean squares. My friend Aten gave me a few tips, I list them below together with other tips that I found online:
- Keep the brownies overnight and then cut it with a really sharp knife.
- Try a denser brownie recipe (I am still waiting for Aten to give me this).
- Line the baking pan with foil (instead of baking parchment), lift it from the pan and then slice it with a long, heavy knife in one smooth motion.
- Use a pizza cutter. Neat.
- Cut the brownie while it is still slightly warm using a plastic knife.
- Give away the brownie in the pan it is baked in. Daiso sells 6″ round silicon pans for RM5 each that are the perfect gift size. I suppose loaf pan works too. If you want to keep the pan then you can just wrap the brownie (uncut) with clingfilm or foil, wrap it again with decorative paper or doily and slap a ribbon on it to make it festive.
I looked up brownie bars online and saw a few nifty ideas that I can consider.
- I can buy a Brownie Bar Maker, price starts from USD15 online. If you are thinking of getting me a gift, get me this.
- Use square muffin tins instead, price starts from USD9. It makes the brownie looks like mini cakes but I suppose that’s perfectly fine. I think I can find this from the bakery supply shop near my house.
Lastly, if you are looking for muscovado sugar, I discovered that Giant stores carry it under the name Organic Molasses Sugar (molasses sugar is another name for muscovado sugar) for RM12.90/kg packet. Taken raw it tastes like a lighter version of gula merah (palm sugar), though I doubt if you can interchangeably use palm sugar in recipes that call for muscovado sugar.
I get all my bakery needs from a shop called Pusat Bekalan Bakeri; you can also shop via their online store at www.bagus.com.my.
I have a few empty jars lying around the house so I rinsed them in order to use them to pack my Brownie-in-a-Jar mix. While waiting for them to dry, an idea struck me and I tried using one of those disposable containers instead.
The container I used is a bit higher than the usual size sold at the stores so there is still some empty space on top. It originally housed the chocolate buttons – I was measuring the items then decided to just reuse the container rather than take a new one from the pantry. If you use the normal-sized one, the recipe above will fit just nicely. You can buys these at retail hypermarkets, usually sold in a pack of 10′s, 20′s, 50′s and 100′s; some sundry shops sell them too.
If you can’t find any containers around, I guess you can make like Musang Berjanggut and just mix everything in a ziplock bag.
Add some wrapping paper and tie a ribbon around it with the baking instructions, I think this can be a handsome gift for the the Ramadhan season.