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A house and Christmas tree


I have been looking at the sky. For a few days now. The dark starry nights are the best ones. To watch. To adore. And to retrospect. On crisp cool winter evenings, sharing a cup of hot beverage with your beloved while counting stars is one of the best gifts of this holiday season. For you, it may be driving back home during Christmas on deserted highway 101 with soft carols playing on Classical KDFC. Or just enjoying a nice book on kindle while sipping cocoa and staring into the dancing flames of the fireplace. Or watching Christmas special “Home Alone” with kids. Or just chilling out with friends in bitter cold by the bay to witness the mesmerizing fireworks to bring in the New Year. Whichever, setting you may choose, it is all about the company and the solitude, ironically all at once. And thoughts – bidding farewell to the losses and gains in the past and looking forward into the future. You celebrate together with your loved ones but yet are terribly alone in your retrospect.

What do I see in my version of comforted holidays? I see those glittering, twinkling stars. I see another year of strength, of togetherness, of growth and a fresh list of adventures. Stars inspire me to count my achievements. They reminds me of one of the Carols I learnt while growing up – Count your blessings! The words of one of its stanza goes like this.(Isn’t it amazing how even after years of learning and experience, one always retracts to childhood basics to draw inspiration and strength.)

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

As I am out of time, I want to keep this post real short. To sum up, 2014 has been a roller coaster ride! New ventures, move, new house, new experiences, new friends, vacations, friends and family reunions and new phase in life!. And as we ring into 2015, I wish you all plenty of happiness, new food recipes, new lessons, new strength. And for everyone out there I wish that aviation travel gets safer – after 3 terrible recent incidents. I also wish that there are better laws on gun controls so that families can be safer. And I wish Neighbors and family members love each other and value shopping and money less. May the world be safer from deadly diseases such as Ebola. May we find cure for AIDS in 2015. And may we all believe in ourselves and with each passing year get better than ourselves. In words of Coach John Wooden, “Success is doing better than thyself and not better than others. With this thought, I leave you all to celebrate 2015. Hope you enjoy this eggless chocolate brownies inspired from an amazing set of recipes at ChefinYou.

Also, sharing pictures from my little version of Christmas as I was remembering my old school days from Carmel. I have blogged in depth about Christmas celebration in this old blog here.


Cups and ceramics are my second love in the kitchen


Flour, cocoa, butter, sugar, yogurt used for brownie


Mix the dry and liquid ingredients separately in two bowls before beating together into a batter


Add your favorite chocolate chips or dry fruits onto the batter


Bake in the oven until done and then cut into square chunks


Another view of chunky chocolaty savories


  • Preparation Time: 15 min
  • Baking Time: 10+40 min
  • Recipe Level:  Easy
  • Serves many
  • Source: ChefinYou
  • Cuisine: Cakes and Confectionary

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I used strawberry greek Yoplait yogurt)
  • 100 gm (4 oz stick) unsalted butter cup
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, pistachio or walnuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped bakers chocolate or M&M chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp half and half or warm water (optional)
  • 1 tsp fruity extract (I used rose essence)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
Method:
  • In a large bowl, sift all purpose flour, followed by sugar, baking powder and cocoa. Sift all of them and keep aside
  • Using a double boiler, melt butter or just microwave for 20-30s in a safe glass bowl.
  • When butter cools down for a minute, add yogurt to the butter bowl and essence as well. Use a spatula or spoon to mix the above ingredients so that essence and yogurt are well incorporated in the butter.
  • In the meantime, preheat a conventional oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. Preheat is usually around 10 min or so.
  • Use a baking pan or oven safe glass container and grease it with butter or oil. Or use a parchment paper and line the container. Keep it aside.
  • Now, getting back to making batter, add the buttery yogurt mix prepared earlier to the sifted flour and cocoa contents in a large bowl. Use an egg beater to mix them or a spatula. Now also add the chopped crunchy dry fruits to the brownie batter.
  • Stir in one direction to form a thick chocolaty batter. Beat it for 10-15 minutes to get a good consistency. Not too thick. Just semi flowing. Add 2 tbsp of warm water or half and half to thin the batter if needed.
  • When the required consistency is achieved, add chopped chocolate chunks or M&Ms onto the batter. Now pour the batter contents into the greased pan.
  • If the oven is preheated, use the mittens and place the pan into the oven. And you are done for next 30 min.
  • Use a toothpick after 30min to see if the pan is ready to be fetched out. If not, use time intervals of 5min to allow it to bake further.
  • Once the sweet chocolaty aroma fills your kitchen, dish the pan out using mittens. And allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • After cooling, knife it to break into brownie chunks. Serve with your favorite coffee or piping cocoa to relish it this festive season.


Enjoy delicious coffee and eggless brownies on an cold evening. Perfect Holidays!


Mad Notes:
  • You can use normal home made or store bought plain yogurt or curds instead of Greek yogurt
  • Preheat the oven as it helps to quicken the baking process.
  • Use half and half or regular milk or warm water to smooth the batter and ensure proper consistency.
  • If using unsalted butter then add salt to the cake else skip salt in case you are using salted butter.
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