With all of the food over the holidays and the joy of my new espresso machine encompassing the majority of my thoughts lately I thought it would be a good time to experiment with some cooking goods. This idea came to me, like most ideas, when I was on the trail and looking for something delicious, nutritious and full of caffeine. I know, I have problems…
The goal behind the brownies (not the other magic brownies) I am preparing is for those long adventure races or times when you need more than just simple carbs for refuel. A new snack when the gu and bars have lost their luster. More and more research has been shown that in longer races, protein plays a vital role in the recovery and endurance aspects of nutrition, so I will be adding some protein power to the mix. Caffeine is also shown to provide some physical/mental benefits but I wont get started on that now. Lets just jump into the mix.
I, like most great chefs (not stating that I am a great chef) start with the best ingredients and what better espresso than pure Regalo 100% organic espresso beans from Starbucks.
These can be added in as is or chopped/grinded to preference. I like the chunks of chocolate and beans so instead of the coffee grinder I used a chopper to leave some big parts for a brownie surprise. This may have not turned out to be the best idea for taste due to the size/temp/mix combo (learning lessons outlined below :-)
Next, should be the easy part. Follow the instructions from the box of brownie mix you just purchased from you neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Warm up that oven and grease a pan. Throw in some eggs, a big stick of butta and mix it up.
This is where the “secret” or “magic” ingredients come in that make these trial brownies outperform. I added two scoops of protein power (about 28grams of protein per serving) and the beans. However, with the added powder and beans it was difficult to mix anything… Monique suggested some other “stuff” (I dont remember but cooking terms for making the mix more liquid) and we ended up adding some chunky apple sauce so we could stir it up.
About 30min later and out of the oven and they are ready to go.
The result? Well, I have to be honest with myself here and leave room for improvement so I will just say that there will be a rev two for the magic brownies but some good lessons learned fo sho. I decided to attack this from three angles so I can focus on improvements and comparison between recipes. For the purpose of review I will use presentation/packability, taste, and nutritional results supplementation effectiveness.
Presentation/Packability: I would give the presentation (and pictures for that matter) high ranking and it makes me question all of those cook books with pretty pictures. Is the food really as good as it looks? OK… taste is next but I have to get high points somewhere… They look good and they can be packed and smashed into the smallest of packs or pockets and still look good enough to eat if not better.
Taste: Ahh…. they were like brownies except really, really dry and hard to eat with those big chunks of espresso beans. While I have to admit that we only ate about 3 of them total there is major lessons learned and this is what this post is all about.
Next time I would start with a better brownie mix box (passing a bit of the blame). This was more of a “cake” type of brownie mix and I would personally prefer more of a fudge/gooey type. I would also grind the crap out of the beans because they turned into a soft chunk of wood tasting mess. I thought at first that they would get crunch for some reason but now I think that grinding them up to a fine power would still provide the “espresso” taste (and kick) but not take away from the brownie delight. I would also keep the protein powder but research some other options to keep the moisture way up.
Supplementation Effectiveness: This has to do with the “magic brownie” being more than just a “brownie”. Did the espresso and protein work? I really don’t have anyway for knowing for sure but assuming that the powder was not somehow destroyed by the heat of cooking I have to imagine that it would help out and be absorbed by the various systems to aid recovery but I will have to get past the taste to try them on the trail first.