Monday, November 19, 2012

What If There Are No More Twinkies?!

When Hostess Brands announced on Friday that it was going to liquidate, many people apparently became very concerned about their snack foods and emptied store shelves.

Today, at the behest of the judge, Hostess and the bakery union agreed to meet for mediation. I hope they will be able to resolve their differences so more than 18,000 people do not lose their jobs.

If mediation doesn't work out and you are concerned about the fate of Twinkies or another Hostess product, chances are it will live on under another company's care.

Personally, I don't care one way or the other. I've never been a big consumer of Hostess products--not even Twinkies! I've eaten plenty commercially produced snack foods. Oreos come to mind. One Oreo incident occurred when I was a college student. My friend and roommate Nancy D. and I once (or more) shared a package of double-stuffed Oreos while writing our papers: she ate the stuffing and I ate the cookie parts.

But more often I've made my own snack foods. There are advantages to this: they usually taste better; you know what is in them; they are less expensive; and (theoretically at least) you are more mindful of them. What I mean by that is, if you have to make it instead of just buy it and have it on hand, you are more likely to think about it before going to the bother of making it.

Over time I have developed better snack-eating habits. I have modified many recipes to be less unhealthy. I also try to make things in more appropriate amounts.

Here's an example. I love chocolate, so brownies are one of my favorite snack foods. Instead of baking a whole pan of brownies, if I am baking them for a snack, I quarter the recipe and bake it in four ramekins. When you figure that I cut my original recipe into 24 squares, each ramekin holds the equivalent of a brownie and a half. I share the three other servings or put them out of sight and out of mind.

This recipe is really easy and fast. It's based on my cocoa brownie recipe, because cocoa is less expensive than chocolate and has less fat and fewer calories. It still tastes very good. Too good.

Start by melting 1/4 C butter in a bowl that holds at least 2 cups. I melt it in the microwave.

In some recipes I substitute applesauce for half of the fat, but not in brownies.

Next, stir in 1/2 C brown sugar--1/4 C two times-- and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Beat in an egg. If you want, you can use 2 egg whites instead of one egg, for less fat.
By the way, I just use a table fork for stirring and beating in this recipe. It works just fine.

Now add 3/8 C flour--that's 1/4 C plus half of a 1/4 C. You can use white all-purpose flour, but my favorite is flour milled from soft white wheat. That adds nutrients, making this less unhealthy, and I prefer the flavor. Hard whole wheat flour works well, too, but the soft flour has a milder taste and softer texture. (Very soon I will write some posts about different flours and their availability.)

Also add 3 T unsweetened cocoa--that's three-quarters of a 1/4 C. I use Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa. I've spoiled myself. I can't go back to Hershey's. I don't dare try Scharffen Berger.

Stir in a pinch of salt.
Now divide the batter among 4 greased ramekins. Cooking spray works fine, but I prefer butter. If the butter is soft, it takes less than 1/2 tsp. to grease all 4 ramekins.
"Bake" them in the microwave. I like mine dense, so I only cook them until they bubble and start to set, about 70 seconds in my microwave oven. If you like them cakey, add 1/4 tsp. baking powder with the other dry ingredients, and cook a little longer--but not too long or they will burn.
I always prefer brownies to be completely cooled before eating.

I'm sure you can think of lots of variations, such as adding chopped nuts, topping with sprinkles (my grandkids' favorite), and, after they're baked, topping with ice cream.

Here is the original recipe:

Cocoa Brownies

1 C butter
2 C brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1½ C flour (all-purpose originally; whole wheat works well; soft white whole wheat preferred)
¾-⅞ C unsweetened cocoa (Ghirardelli)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 C chopped nuts (optional)

Beat together softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and then add them to the first mixture. Add nuts, if desired. Bake in a greased and floured 13”x9” pan at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

After cooled, cut into 24 squares.

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to try this recipe...although there are way too many brownie lovers around me to ever make just four. :)