When I studied abroad in Stockholm, I experienced a huge culture shock adjusting to the metric system. My lack of familiarity with metric affected my favorite pastime – baking. Once, even though there was a complete lack of equipment in my student apartment, I decided to make a cake for my new friends. Following a recipe from a British food blog, I remember eyeing the bag of flour, assessing the number of grams in the bag versus the number of grams in the recipe, and estimating what fraction of the bag I would have to pour into the bowl. Despite the fact that I’d never made a recipe that required measuring ingredients in grams, along with a lack of tools that measure ingredients by volume, the cake came out surprisingly well. But for the rest of my time abroad, I settled for box-mix cake.
Since then, I’ve been considering getting a food scale. I thought it would be nice to actually make some international recipes. The recipe I chose to test out my new EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale is from one of my favorite food bloggers, Raspberri Cupcake, who writes from Australia. Her recipes use grams as the unit of measurement (sometimes with an approximate conversion to Imperial), and I have been eager to have the right equipment to make them. I made these Bourbon & Brown Butter Brownies (full recipe available here). Even though I can’t say they are “eating smart,” they were delicious. If you aren’t a fan of dark chocolate I would suggest using semi-sweet chocolate to make them a little sweeter.
I gathered everything together and assessed what needed to be measured out. The scale has a ‘tare’ function, which allowed me to calibrate the scale to 0 after putting a bowl on it. Instead of scooping flour out with a 1-cup measure and leveling it off with a knife, scattering flour all over the counter, I neatly scooped flour out with a tablespoon until I had the right amount. Measuring out the butter was different. I weighed the stick first, and then estimated a conservative amount to take away. I got exactly 100g on the first try!
This was a completely different way of baking. The scale was sensitive to the gram, so I was confident that I had exactly the right amount of each ingredient. The brownies came together quickly after I had everything measured out and I am very excited about the number of recipes I can easily try with my new kitchen scale.
Bourbon & Brown Butter Brownies Recipe from Rapsberri Cupcakes (makes 16 brownies)
250g good quality bittersweet chocolate (if you want them to be less gooey/fudgy then only use 175g)
120ml (about 1/2 cup) bourbon
3 tbsp dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
75g (about 1/2 cup) plain flour
190g (about 3/4 cup) sugar
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease very well and line the bottom and two long sides of a 20x30cm slice/brownie tin (can be substituted with a 20cm square cake tin but you may have to bake it slightly longer as it will be thicker). Let the baking paper hang over the long edges, it will make it easier to lift brownie out later. Prepare the brown butter; place butter in a small saucepan on low heat until it melts, continue to stir over low heat but keep a close eye on it, as it begins to bubble and the milk solids separate and settle at the bottom of the pan. Stir it frequently at this point, so that the milk solids do not settle at the bottom of the pan for too long and burn. Continue until the mixture turns brown and smells nutty but take care not to leave it for too long or it will taste burnt. Remove from the heat.
About the Author: Theresa Zappala is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, College of Architecture who enjoys baking in her spare time.