I said before that my "kitchen" consists of nothing more than a mini fridge and a microwave in a dorm room. This isn't entirely true- my residence hall has one small kitchen on the first floor that anyone can use. I've used it twice, and both times vowed never to use it again. The first time was the first weekend of the fall semester, when my roommate K and I made vegan ginger-molasses cookies. Many months passed before the second time I ventured back down there, which was this year's Superbowl Sunday. It wasn't to make vegan hot wings or pizza (although those are both awesome), but to make Smitten Kitchen's Homemade Oreos to send to my boyfriend S in Arizona for Valentine's Day. It was out of pure fondness for this hallmark holiday and adoration for S that I sucked it up and carried my heaping pile of ingredients, mixing bowl, and single cookie sheet down into that dingy kitchen for the afternoon. The experience could only be described as catastrophic.
Not that the people at my liberal arts Oregon school aren't cool, they're just less concerned with things like clean counters and mysterious smells emanating from the communal fridge. I, on the other hand, am very concerned about these things. My fondness for cleanliness might be seen as stepping into anal territory to some, but personally I just like to be able to roll out pie dough without fear of whats on the counter, and know that the only smells coming from my kitchen will be yummy ones. Also, it would be cool if the compost was not kept under the sink, so that every time you go near it you don't smell rotting fruit and have to ward off a cloud of fruit flies. Yuck.
Add that to the fact that the temp knob on the oven is totally out of whack and led to me burning my first batch of oreos, and you can see why I returned to my second floor dorm with fresh vows to never use the communal kitchen for baking again. All is not lost, though. Left to my own devices in my teeny dorm room with my abundance of baking supplies and ingredients, I've come up with a couple of ways to satisfy my baking withdrawals. The crafty concoction I probably fall back on most often is the one below for microwave brownies.
This recipe is brilliant for so many reasons. For one, it's super fast to make so it's great when you want a yummy baked treat in a hurry. Also, it's incredibly versatile. You don't have to be super meticulous with the amounts- In fact, you could probably even get by without measuring cups entirely, and just eyeball everything. Then, you can add any kinds of extras you want- extracts, nuts, chocolate chips, whatever you like in a brownie. After you've mixed it all together you can cook it as little or as much as you like, depending on if you want a fudgey, gooey brownie or if you like a drier, cakey brownie. Lastly, theres almost no clean-up, because you mix it, cook it, and eat it all out of the same dish. I've yet to find a regular baked good as efficient as this one.
Don't write this off as lazy-college-student dorm-food. Sure, it's quick, easy, simple, and probably not all that healthy. Ok, definitely not healthy. But hey, fancy gourmet brownies aren't healthy either, so if you eat those you should give these a try. Quick Single-serving customizable homemade brownies are totally appropriate for all ages.
1/2 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter or margarine if you're a die-hard omni)
1/8th cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose will work too, but seriously, get whole wheat pastry flour.)
1/8th cup sugar (I used white because my roomie and I share baking supplies, so it's all I have, but use turbinado or sucanat if you have it!)
1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
pinch baking powder
splash of soymilk (or rice or regular milk)
optional: a couple tablespoons of chocolate chips (Ghirardelli and Sunspire Tropical Source both make good dairy-free ones) nuts, or anything else you might like. You could also try adding a few drops of vanilla, peppermint, or almond extracts. It's all up to you!
- Melt 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance in a shallow microwave safe bowl- like a cereal bowl.
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. I use a large tbsp of cocoa powder, because I like my brownies really rich and chocolatey. You can use less though, to suit your tastes. You can also use less sugar to make the brownie less sweet, and more or less baking powder depending on how much you want your brownie to rise. I like my brownie fudgey, so i only use a couple small pinches. Stir the dry ingredients, trying not to incorporate too much of the butter,in order to avoid clumps. Don't worry about it if you do, though.
- Add the soymilk, and stir so that everything is incorporated. The batter should be wetter than cookie dough and thicker than cake batter- basically like brownie batter is supposed to be :) Add more flour or soymilk if needed to reach the right consistency. Once it's all mixed together, spread it in the bowl and even out the top with the spoon you used for mixing.
- Put the bowl in the microwave and set it for one minute on high. Be careful with this part, because all microwaves cook differently and yours is probably a lot better than my rented low-watt turn-dial microwave. I usually just stick it in, turn the dial, and check it every thirty seconds or so. Obviously, the less you cook it the gooey-er and fudgey-er your brownie will be, and the longer you cook it the cakey-er it will be. Keep an eye on it and test different times to find what you like. When you've decided it's done, take it out and let it cool for a minute or so. Then, eat it right out of the bowl! Or, you can serve it on a plate, like below, but that's really just another dish to wash, right?
Mmm... as you can see, mine is really gooey and fell apart as soon as I took it out of the bowl to try to take a picture. It's still delicious though. I think this recipe makes a perfect small serving to quickly cure a chocolate craving, but if you're really hungry or you want to split it with someone you can double the recipe and use about 1/8th tsp of both salt and baking soda.
I bet this is also awesome with fresh fruit and/or ice cream. Try Soy Delicious or Coconut Bliss for awesome vegan ice "creams"- they're my fave.