on writing...

I have always loved words and everything that has to do with them. My current dilemma now is that, to my horror... My writing is becoming rusty.

I remember wanting to become a journalist some ten years ago. I wanted to be like Loren Legarda - be on television, deliver the news where it mattered.

When I was in grade school, I always joined our school's Festival of Words, and always fighting for the chance to bag one of the roles for News Casting.

When I was in high school, I joined our school paper writing for a DevComm column. I was also the school's representative to various Spelling Bee competitions. I was always in the school library days before the competition, burying my head in ginormous dictionaries. Yes, I was a geek in my past life.

In college, I wanted to take up Journalism or even Broadcast Communication, but as fate would have it, I was accepted for the Speech Communication program of the College of Arts and Letters of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Truth be told, I didn't really want to study in UP. I mean, I wanted to, but when I received the acceptance letter, I no longer wanted to.

My love for words and writing has never wavered, except that I was never fond of academic writing, except for papers for my Psychology and Theater classes.

I've started blogging since I was in second year college - that's almost 8 years ago. I used to write a lot, I even kept a journal.

That's all in the past. Fast forward to now, the present --

Where has my writing gone? It's as if someone or something stole my magic.

No, it's not just my writing... Even my reading. I have quite a few books that are still left untouched, collecting cobwebs, begging me to read or at least flip through them.

They're still there, I'm still here, and my thoughts are all over the place.


the perfect brownies :)

I haven't been able to update since the year started - that's almost a month of hiatus!

I was just swamped with stuff that I needed to attend to, and I forgot about updating my blog to document my newest culinary undertakings. Haha.

So, what have I been up to lately? Nothing worth blogging about, really.

In the recent weeks, I have tried to make cupcakes but I am not just happy with the results. I want my cakes moist, but they just don't turn out that way. Gah.

The culprit could very well be the type of oven I'm using. See, using a turbo broiler is just unreliable and unpredictable.

I have already learned that I have to reduce the baking temperature and foregoing the pre-heating process, but I have neglected to calibrate the baking time.

In my past baking attempts, I have always just reduced the temperature and stuck with the prescribed baking times. I always thought the results were good until I started baking cupcakes/cakes a little more seriously.

Two weeks ago, my friend Maja invited me over for some baking spree. We planned to bake brownies, cookies, and cakes but ended up with just one - a very ambitious and successful Devil's Food Cake. I was very happy with how it turned out, except for the caramel filling.

The cake was moist, not too sweet, but still very delicious. It reminded me of Chocolate Kiss' Devil's Food Cake without the ginormous marshmallow frosting. We followed the recipe for the caramel filling but it didn't turn out to be like caramel. It wasn't brown, for one, and it had a kind of grainy texture.

Anyway, the point is, it still tasted yuuummmy and I think one of the reasons could be cos we used a real oven.

I tried to bake Devil's Food Cupcakes using the same recipe when I got home that night, but it didn't turn out well. I reduced the baking temp, but it was just a major fail. I tried to save it by making some last-minute strawberry cream filling and frosting which tasted like ice cream. Haha.

Just this Monday I tried to bake some cupcakes again, this time I made something like molten chocolate cupcakes. The result? Well... You guessed it, they weren't as fabulous as I wanted them to be. The Flat Top I used as the center filling didn't melt as I expected, but it was yummy (kasi Flat Tops sya). The texture of the cake disappointed me, so much that I declared a leave of absence from making cupcakes. Hahaha.

So today, I tried to make something else - brownies and cheese bars.

My first time attempt at chocolate fudge brownies was a major fail, and I was determined to make it a success this time. I used the recipe I found from All Recipes, it was originally for Rocky Road Brownies but I wasn't able to get some mini-marshmallows from the baking supply store, so I just left them out.

Here's how they looked:

1/2 c unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 c granulated white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (I left this out cos I used salted butter)


1/2 c semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 c miniature marshmallows (store bought or home made)
1/2 c chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and/or pistachios) - I used pili nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour and salt. I also folded in about a handful chopped nuts to the batter.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the brownies with the chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and chopped nuts. Return the brownies to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the marshmallows start to melt. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

I tried to experiment with the baking time - I didn't follow the prescribed time, I baked it for 15mins, sprinkled chopped pili nuts and chocolate chips, then baked for another 5 minutes. It turned out well.. No, it wasn't just well. It's my best, fudgiest, and chewiest brownies to date.

I cooled it for around an hour, in room temperature, before cutting them. The center was not that hard yet, so I suggest chilling the brownies for about 30 minutes before cutting. :)

I didn't stop with the brownies, I baked some cheese bars next. I am addicted to the cheese sticks I buy from my home town and I wanted to recreate them. My Mom used to bake very delicious cheesecake bars when I was in high school and I asked for the recipe. It's very similar to the cheese cupcake recipe I use but it tasted differently. I loved the bars more than the cupcakes. Hehe.

The recipe from the top of my head:

2 c AP flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 can condensed milk (that's around 1 c)
2 eggs
1/2 c grated cheese plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 175C (I set my turbo to 150C). Grease and flour 8x8in pan or whatever pan you have, (I used loaf pans hehe).

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pans until 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes, remove pan from oven and sprinkle top with grated cheese. Return pan to oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes  or until sides and cheese topping are slightly brown. I baked mine for around 15 minutes, topped with cheese, then baked again for 5 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for about an hour before cutting.

Makes around 30-40 bars.