Morging (featuring Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies)
I don’t need to tell you how I know this, but when you have plastic surgery your doctor gets a sneak peek at the final results. Right after he or she closes the incision and wipes the reconstructed site clean your brain signals an influx of white blood cells, oxygen, and minerals to the area to help with healing. But it takes a moment or two for the actual swelling to occur so whoever is in the room right after the operation gets to see what your… let’s say just for random example’s sake… nose will look like. By the time you’ve woken up from surgery, the swelling is in full force, and you won’t get a true idea of what your new face looks like for another month or two. It takes a while for the true results to reveal themselves.
So…what the hell am I talking about?
I’m not talking about noses.
I’m talking about time and how undervalued it can is as a tool in cooking.
I have a funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) problem right after I bake something sweet: I can’t taste anything but its nuance. The sweet/ salty/ buttery goodness all feels muted. Years ago, after I had explained this issue to a friend who worked with me, she said, “That’s because you’ve smelled it all up!” Her theory was that in the process of cooking one interacts so closely with the smells and tastes of the ingredients that by the time the final product is pulled from the oven your senses are tapped out. Full disclosure, this friend was more of an actress/server than an olfactory scientist, but I always think of her statement as I pull a batch of seemingly dull, flavorless cookies out of the oven. “I smelled it all up.”
An hour after, however, I can taste the depth of flavors in the chocolate. Two hours later, the salt lifts the sweetness up. By the next morning, the butter and sugar are trumpeting their union, the chocolate is dancing with the vanilla, and the cookie is magnificent! What happened?
It’s actually a chemical reaction that occurs. New flavor molecules develop after the cookies are removed from the heat. Proteins relax, reabsorb moisture, and release more flavor.
For me, time is the essential component in revealing what’s possible. Examples are everywhere. The difference between a steak taken right off the grill and one that’s left to rest for 5 minutes is immense. The meat is more tender, more juicy, more evenly cooked. Time – that’s all it took. Pasta sauces are always better the next day. Many Indian, Moroccan, and French dishes become exquisite only after they rest.
My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, had a great term for the process of letting time change the taste of something you’ve cooked.
“You have to let it morge,” she would say, or so my husband Francis says. If she was going to make a potato salad, for instance, she’d always make it the day before, for proper morging to occur.
For me, morging is key to dessert baking. I know there’s nothing better than a cookie straight out of the oven – and believe me, I always eat one or two when I’m baking cookies. But the shift in flavor over a day or two is thrilling.
These days when our society is so reliant upon immediate gratification, I’m happy to report that there are rewards in waiting for something.
I also like a reminder that I’m not the only one getting better with time.
You were probably expecting a cookie recipe, but I’ve been craving brownies and wanted to perfect my recipe. This has a secret ingredient – dry milk, which gives a lovely depth of flavor without altering the texture the way liquid milk would. And then, because I’m a big fan of butterscotch, I added the chips at the last moment. It was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.
These brownies are amazing at every turn – right out of the oven, a few hours later, the next day, the following week out of the freezer. You can’t go wrong, I promise.
Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies
Makes 9 large brownies
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons dry milk
- ¼ cup cocoa, preferably Dutch process
- 4 ounces (about a heaping ½ cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butterscotch chips (optional)
*Pro tip: Cut a piece of parchment into half to make a nonstick parchment sling for your 8”X 8” pan. You can also just grease the pan, but the possibility of it sticking is much greater with the moistness of these brownies.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small pot, cook the butter until it’s melted and starts to brown. This will take about 10 minutes on medium flame. Watch that it doesn’t burn. Add the dry milk and stir for about 30 seconds (it will bubble up and then calm down). Stir in the cocoa and the chocolate and keep the pot at a low temperature so the chocolate melts. Add the oil. Take the pot off of the burner and bring it to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the brown sugar first, whisking it through, then the granulated sugar, making sure the mixture isn’t grainy. Stir in the vanilla, the flour, and the salt.
- Pour the cooled chocolate butter into the egg mixture and stir until blended.
- Pour batter into the prepped pan and then scatter the butterscotch chips on top. Using a knife mix the chips throughout the pan. I do this so the butterscotch chips don’t fall to the bottom and are evenly dispersed through the brownies.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
Wait an hour.
Wait one day.
Eat the rest.
Or just do what you want.
And here is a clip of me making these on KATU’s show Afternoon Live: