Notes From Hairenik
December 7, 2009

I admit that I am a typical American living in Armenia who longs for my mother's cooking, especially her chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Never mind that they were nearly always made from a boxed mix that you can find in any supermarket from Boston to Los Angeles. No one can make brownies like her.

That is, until Anush and I tried baking them from scratch at home.

There's only one place that offers brownies that I know of in all of Yerevan--a French bakery on a narrow street just off Sayat Nova, only an eight minute walk from our apartment. But just one brownie--about an inch square--costs 300 dram or about 80 cents. And there's something missing... it's not chocolaty enough, seems like they use too much flour. They make excellent baguettes and croissants, but the brownies are a rip off.

Considering that a 100 g box of cocoa power costs less than the price of one there and bag of flour sells for just over a dollar, I figured we could try it at home. I did a search for "brownie recipe" and we followed the directions posted on the first site that was listed in the results. We didn't believe how easy it is to make brownies. So far we've churned out six batches in the last week alone, and I don't think we've spent more than $10 total for the ingredients. Although we have one advantage in that we don't have to pay for sugar--her mother bought 50 kilos worth earlier in the year during the mass panic that ensued when the national currency devalued over night by 80 dram. They are always moist and delicious, but they can be too sweet, the trick is not to overdo it with the sugar.

Anush says the key is using a little less flour than the recipe calls for. At first we had trouble with the height of the brownies--they were more like cookies--because we realized that our pan is too large for the number that the recipe yields, so we fixed that problem by tripling the amount of ingredients.

So when we're not entertaining Chi Chi or our guests, we're baking brownies. I crack the walnuts and grease the pan with sunflower oil while she does the mixing part. We're doing this while drinking red wine, naturally. It's no fun without the wine. Next time when she's not looking maybe I'll add a few drops in the brownie mix to see how it will taste.

For those of you living in Yerevan who are drooling while reading this, we are taking orders, although we haven't decided on a price just yet.


Blogger nazarian said...
I'm glad you are enjoying brownies. This makes me think that I should go and get some tonight. :)

Yes, it can be tough to be an American living in Armenia when it comes to craving American foods: brownies, sweet potato pies, Hooters chicken wings, just to name a few.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
If you add 1 T of freshly brewed coffee it will intensify the chocolate,and not be as sweet.


Blogger nazarian said...
Got some brownies last night with white and dark chocolate flakes on top.