Friday, October 2, 2009
My Venture into Culinary Landscaping
Today is one of my dearest friend's birthdays. Happy birthday Sweetie! There are two things Denise loves in life – dark chocolate and football. She is a huge fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, which I understand is a football team. This may come as a surprise but I am not a sports fan. I do, however, enjoy the fattening foods they serve at athletic stadiums as my big patootie will attest.
The idea for this dish comes from Pioneer Woman – a great website that you need to check out. I love her recipes and incredible photography!
For the filling, I was inspired by a recipe from Wayne on Allrecipes.com. I tweaked the recipe some to get it the way I liked it. I'm not a chocolate fan so it's not something I would normally eat but others have told me they like it.
I bought the flower pot from a website specializing in the personalization of gift items. As you can see from the top image, I had Denise's name inscribed on one side of the pot. On the other side, I put "KC Chiefs Fan". Hopefully, she'll like it!
My goal was to make the filling in the flower pot look as realistic as possible. The pictures below will give you a better idea of how I assembled the pot. I normally prefer to shoot pictures for my blog using natural sunlight. Because I had to bake the brownies, let them cool, make dinner, etc, after I got home from work, I ended up having to shoot the pictures in my kitchen under fluorescent lighting in the late evening so please forgive me for the poor image quality. It definitely looks better in real life.
The recipe is at the bottom of this webpage. Here is how to assemble the flower pots (you may click on the image to see it larger):
Cut a small circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the flower pot. This will keep everything from falling out of the water hole. Pinch off little pieces of the prepared brownies to make them look like clods of dirt and place them in the bottom of the pot. Add some clods then insert a straw (one with as large an opening as possible).
Add some walnuts to the top of the clods of dirt. The nuts are meant to look like a little sedimentary layer of rocks in the soil.
Add some of the prepared chocolate mousse. The mousse kind of looks like clay once it sets up. I don't like chocolate but this mousse is REALLY good! Notice how I got some mousse on the side of the straw? I'm a real slob when I coook. I dropped the straw on the floor and stepped on it a couple of times. Don't worry, I licked it clean before putting in the flower pot. Shhh. Don't tell Denise. She'll never know.
Add another layer of brownie clods and walnut rocks.
Add another layer of mousse. Would somebody keep me away from this mousse?!
Add a final layer of the brownie clods but don't add any more nuts or mousse.
Snip off the straw about 1/4" about the brownie clods. Crush some Oreo cookies in a resealable bag. It's amazing how the crushed Oreos look like potting soil. The white filling from the cookies makes it look like that stuff manufacturers add to potting soil. The crushed Oreos will be our topsoil. Add enough to come up to the top of the straw.
Stick a couple of flowers into the straw opening and voila! You have a realistic-looking flower pot filled with decadent brownies and mousse. You have to try this sometime. It will make a cool surprise for any special occasion. Happy Birthday Denise! You don't look a day over 29!
Enjoy -- and happy landscaping!
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Flower Pot Brownies with Rich Chocolate Mousse
1-19.9 oz Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, prepared as noted below with water, eggs, and oil
1/2 cup milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk, refrigerated
1-3.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding mix
1-8 oz container of whipped topping
The Sedimentary Layer
1 cup English walnut pieces
About 15 Oreo cookies, pulverized to look like top soil
2 (4.5") glazed flower pots, cleaned and dried
2 straws (preferably with big holes)
Flowers of your choice such as daises, asters, chrysanthemums, carnations, orchids, etc
Prepare the Soil
Instead of using a 9x13" baking dish, use a 9 x 9" pan to produce a thicker brownie than normal. Spray the pan liberally with cooking spray. Prepare the fudge brownies per the instructions on the box. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and adjust the baking time and temperature as listed on the box to compensate for the smaller pan. It is very important not to over bake the brownies. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for 1 hour before filling the pots.
Prepare the Topsoil
Add the Oreos to a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to break up the cookies into small crumbs that resemble potting soil. Leave the bag sealed until the cookies are needed.
Prepare the Clay
Make the chocolate mousse by whisking together the milk, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate pudding mix. Using a spatula, fold the whipped topping into the chocolate mixture until all of the white streaks are gone.
Assemble the Flower Pots
Cut two 3" circles of parchment and place one in the bottom of each pot (to cover the water holes). Use a spatula to loosen the brownies from the pan and dump the brownies onto a plate. No need to be gentle because you are going to be tearing the brownies into pieces in a minute anyway.
Pinch off pieces of brownies in small "clods of dirt" and add the clods to the bottoms of the pots – about 1" deep. Slightly pack the clods into the bottoms. Place the straws upright in the center of the pots. Sprinkle a few walnuts on top of the clods. Next, add a layer of the clay (chocolate mousse) to each pot. Add another layer of brownie clods, more walnuts, and then another layer of mousse. Add a final layer of brownie clods and lightly pack but do not add additional mousse or walnuts. Snip off the straw about 1/4" above the brownies. At this point, you may enclose the entire pot in plastic wrap (including the bottom) and refrigerate until needed (maybe up to a day).
When ready to serve, add two to three flowers to each straw – trimming the stems as needed to the appropriate height. Add a layer of the crushed Oreos to the top – making sure to cover the straw so it cannot be seen
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 5:51 AM