Poached Eggs (Without the Headache)

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Brussels has been quite gray and cold lately, the kind of weather where it’s pouring down, but too windy to rely on your umbrella not doing that inside out thing umbrellas will do. This morning it’s been raining and hailing, but with super bright light and patches of blue sky all the same.

Today is Saturday, and for some reason I’ve been craving eggs for a few days now. I must be low on vitamin B or something. So I woke up and decided on a whim to try my hand at poaching eggs. Again.

My previous success rate when it comes to poaching eggs is about one in three, which has been very frustrating. I’ve tried all the different recommendations: super fresh eggs, a wide shallow pan, a few inches of water, either a rolling boil or a gentle simmer, swirling the water with a wooden spoon to create a vortex into which you drop the eggs, adding vinegar to the water, using a small bowl to drop the eggs into the water, not using a bowl to drop the eggs into the water, leaving them on the heat, or taking the eggs off the heat and covering with a lid, even a special egg-poaching device (that one was a complete failure let me tell you).

Today I was like, no thank you. So I got out a saucepan, added a few inches of water to said saucepan, put it on the stove top at a high heat with the lid on, and waited for the water to come to a rolling boil.

When the water was boiling, I turned the heat down low so that the water was still gently bubbling, and then cracked two eggs into the pot (about an inch apart to keep them from sticking to each other) and began debating with myself as to whether to swirl the water. I decided to wait, for a minute or so (I’ve found that sometimes the swirling will actually make the egg whites spread and create those straggly bits nobody wants?). Some of the egg white sort of spread out and clouded the pan, and so after about a minute I gently swirled around each egg with the handle of a wooden spoon. All the extra egg white that had clouded the pan wasn’t actually sticking to the eggs, and the whites seemed well distributed around the yolk.. well here goes nothing, I thought to myself. After about 2 minutes I gently fished out one egg with a slotted spoon, to check how done it was, put it back into the pot for about 30 seconds, then fished out both eggs, leaving them to dry on a plate covered in kitchen roll for about 20 seconds while I buttered my toast.

And lo and behold: these are the best looking poached eggs I have ever managed to make. None of those weird straggly bits of egg white, just even, perfectly poached eggs. And I wasn’t stressing about how much to swirl the water, or creating the perfect vortex to drop the eggs into. Just a few inches (more or less) of boiling water, two eggs, a bit of swirling once the eggs have settled into the water, 2-3 minutes (depending on how set you want the whites to be – I am ALLERGIC to gloopy egg whites – just use a slotted spoon to gently fish out the egg and check that the whites are nice and opaque) and a short rest on paper towel once done, just to absorb the water sticking to the egg.

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I shall report back once I’ve tried this again, but I have a really good feeling about it! And it took less time than boiling an egg!

Happy Saturday to all 🙂

Next day update: I’ve now successfully made a second batch, and whilst they were slightly less even-looking (but only very slightly, and I think this is because I attempted four at the same time and got a bit overwhelmed with the swirling), and I slightly overcooked the yolks (they were still yummy and runny though, but one can never have too much runny yolk, and very easily have too little, in my opinion), they still worked out just great! So I’m definitely sticking with this method of poaching eggs 🙂 Happy Sunday!

Fudgy and Chewy Bittersweet Brownie Cups

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I’ve been less than active on the blogosphere as of late, not because I haven’t been baking, but simply because I haven’t baked anything noteworthy.. other than several banana cakes for which I’ve already posted the recipe (here). I had a real hankering for all things lemony all throughout January, and tried several different lemon and coconut cookie recipes (one with toasted coconut and white chocolate which had a lovely flavour, but lacked the crunchy-chewy texture I was after), but was left slightly ‘meh’ every time, it was really frustrating! So I went back to my trustee old banana cake, which never disappoints me. I’ve recently discovered that it’s even better if you microwave it for 20-30 seconds before eating, as the chocolate melts and it’s just like eating it fresh out of the oven, gooey chocolate streaks and crunchy bits of walnut. It’s really one of my favourite cakes ever.

But I thought it was time to try something ‘new’, and by new I mean a new recipe for an old faithful, namely a brownie. I already have a favourite brownie recipe, but this one uses unsweetened chocolate, and I like my brownies seriously dark, not too too sweet, and fudgy and chewy at the same time (NOT cakey). Since Deb’s (of smitten kitchen) recipes have yet to fail me, I went for this here recipe. To maximise chewiness, I decided to opt for individual-sized brownies.

They take minutes to stir together and pop into the oven, and the smell in my apartment as they were baking alone would be enough to make me bake them again. They yielded a frustrating 11 in a 12-hole cupcake pan, but never mind. Next time I’m doubling the recipe anyways.

Anyways, should you decide to make these, here’s the recipe 🙂

Fudgy and Chewy, Bittersweet Brownie Cups
From smitten kitchen 📠

  • 85 g (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
  • 115 g (1 stick) butter (I used salted because that’s what I had)
  • 265 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar (I used unprocessed cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 2 eggs
  • 85 g (2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • Butter or cooking spray to grease the tin

Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F.

Grease (liberally, to help the brownies come out after baking) 11 holes in a 12-hole cupcake tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate together (either in a bain marie or in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, just until all the butter and some of the chocolate is melted, then taking it off the heat and stirring until the rest of the chocolate is fully melted).

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Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and the salt, then fold in the flour with a spatula.

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Scoop into the cupcake tin (I used an ice cream scoop), even out a bit with a teaspoon, then bake for 15-20 minutes (I baked mine for 20), until a toothpick comes out clean.

Leave to set in the cupcake tin for at least 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then gently go around the edges with a thin knife, making sure each brownie is completely loose before gently lifting it out onto the cooling rack. Two of mine broke in half horisontally (?!), but I sandwiched the parts back together and put all of the individual brownies in cupcake liners, so no one will be any the wiser 😉

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The brownies keep for a few days in a cookie tin or air-proof container! And they travel well stacked on top of each other in individual cupcake liners 🙂

P.s.: According to Deb the brownies freeze well!

The brownies can also be baked in a 8×8 inches/20×20 cm pan lined with baking parchment (in this case bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes, then cut into squares once they’ve cooled), or in a mini muffin tin (bake for 16 minutes, yield: 29).

P.p.s.: I have since tried this recipe with 70% dark chocolate, because that was all I had in the house! I lowered the sugar dosage to 215 g, and added 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder when adding the flour. And I think they turned out great! Also, I managed to eke out 12 brownies from the portion of batter, and it was completely fine, and I’ve also doubled the recipe with great success! You can also pour the batter directly into liners, and although some of the brownie will stick to the liner, it’ll be completely fine and much easier than getting the brownies out of the tin/placing them in cupcake liners after baking (especially if you’re making a big batch).