Saturday, September 1, 2012

the in-between days.

I love summer. I love sun and ice cream, summer dresses and midnight swims. I love it all. I also love the fall. Thoughts of new boots, the first needed sweater nights, pumpkin this and that, and scarves. Lots and lots of scarves.

But the time of year I love the most is the in-between days. Here in Seattle we are almost full swing in the middle of this in-between season. The days still mostly summery, the nights and early mornings cool, and the air thick with the first sents of fall.  It's a time of utter limbo. Pumpkin beers begin popping up on shelves, I start to crave pumpkin pie, but at the very same time we still have late summer strawberries and field grown tomatoes. Basically, it's the time when a lot of good things- the best things in fact- all collide.

It's the perfect time of year.

It's also the time of year my thoughts begin to be mostly and mainly focused on huckleberries.  For me, this season holds a lot of promise. It will be my second huckleberry feast and my second time experiencing the in-between Seattle days. I couldn't be more thrilled.  Huckleberries, besides being the perfect fruit for baking- tart, sweet, and small are still new to me, so every time I see them, eat them, or even really think of them I feel like a kid on christmas morning. Each one a tiny present with endless uses and applications.

Mostly I like them in pies. Or in cobblers, or in crumble bars, or in coffee cake, or in spice cake, or, or, or. Ok, so I like them in a lot of things, but in keeping with the tradition of today's post, I have a truly in-between days recipe for you.

Chocolate Pudding Brownies with Huckleberry Jam. 

Yep. For real. It's the Jam (literally).

To make the Jam: 
I totally made this up so feel free to experiment. My version is how I like most things- on the tart er side of sweet.

2 cups huckleberries
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
pinch salt
zest and juice from one lemon

Cook all ingredients over medium to medium low heat. Watch it bubble, thicken, and reduce. Pull off heat and let cool. This jam is also good with yogurt, toast, or you know vanilla ice cream. 

For the Brownies: 

I've made these bad boys before. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen here a few months ago, I called them Cupboard Brownies.  I still feel they are the most perfect I need chocolate and I have everything I need brownie, but while licking the batter spoon (I still do that- in fact- sometimes that's the only way I eat desserts) this time around, I was struck by how much the batter looked and tasted like chocolate pudding. You know the kind.  Instant, ready in minutes, and in my house growing up a rare treat. I was never one for Jello, but I've gone through some serious instant pudding phases in my life. First when I was eight and loved nothing more than eating the vanilla flavor straight out of the fridge (door ajar) with a spoon almost to large to fit in my mouth. Then again when I was in college and it was about the only thing I "baked." Needless to stay, chocolate pudding helps you write papers, it really does.  And after thinking about instant pudding for the past twenty minutes or so, I may just be entering a third pudding stage, but we'll see.

But, back to these brownies. They look like pudding, taste like pudding, and while they are quick and not at all fussey to make, they are far from being instant. Truthfully, that's probably a good thing.  I followed the exact same recipe this time as above, except I added another extra pinch of salt to the mixed batter.  I think they're perfect now.

So after following these steps, right up to pouring the batter into the greased 8 by 8 pan, spoon your huckleberry jam on top of the chocolate batter and use your spoon or rubber spatula to twirl and mix the jam into the top layer of the brownie.  You could mix the chocolate with the jam first before pouring into the pan, but I prefer the swirl method because, once baked, you are left with dense ganache like chocolate brownie on bottom, topped with a layer of juicy jamey chocolate goo.  And I do mean goo in the best, most pudding like, rich kind of way. As much as I love instant pudding, I feel very confident in saying that these brownies will best even the best box of jello brand. Very confident.

Also, just as instant pudding is best cold out of the fridge, I find these brownies to be best when cold. I stuck mine in the freezer to speed up the process for 30 minutes and then shifted them to the fridge.  Also, they are very rich and and a little sticky because of the jam so I would recommend slicing them like cake and serving with a spoon, or cutting into bite sized pieces, like above. 

But whatever you do, instant pudding or not, I think they're pretty good. And given they right mood, they may in fact be perfect. 

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