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“Good Eats Roast Turkey”

So before Christmas comes a-knockin’ at my door, I desperately need to backtrack and tell you how my Thanksgiving turkey went.  A couple people have asked after reading “My (Secret) Conquest” post, but I need to explain more completely… and that’s because the answer, I realized, is not a simple, “Oh, it was wonderful!” or “Well, there were some problems.”  No, instead the answer is: Just like Thanksgiving meals, the turkey, too, is only better when loved ones help…

Better helping like when I asked James’ mom about her first turkey experiences…  We were in her kitchen, and Mary bent her arms in front of her, placed her fingers together (as if to imitate a crab), then rubbed the tips and started shivering, rolling her eyes.  She confessed she cannot stand to touch turkey skin, feeling the hard little bumps left behind from the feathers.  In fact, it disgusts her so much, she gets James’ dad to help.  Like her hero, Jim walks to the sink, takes the turkey out of its wrapping, rinses it, and places it on a rack.  I still smile, laugh out loud thinking about her story and her loathing for turkey skin… because I love this story.  I hope she’s not mad I’m sharing it with you all, but if you knew Jim and Mary like I’ve come to, you’ll see how they’ll do anything for each other and their family.  It doesn’t surprise me that Jim happily takes over this turkey-rubbing role… and that’s because he does so many things, just to make his wife happy.  For instance, he drives to Williamsburg on Black Friday and goes in store after store with Mary.  And he takes his wife to the movie theaters to see films like The Notebook, Pride and Prejudice, or Valentine’s Day… and the most wonderful thing about it all is that you can see how Mary recognizes this.  She’ll quietly nuzzle into his arm and whisper something in his ear, and they’ll giggle, look into each other’s — so in love after 29 years.

I told James one day I cannot tell which of his parents does more for the other, that it truly seems to be split down the middle.  Every weekend, Mary finds a place in the living room and watches sports games… multiple sports games… with Jim, cheering on his favorite teams and sporting red and navy… burgundy and gold… or orange and black colors.  She puts on multiple layers of clothing, gets out the jacket, gloves, boots all for a cold, early morning tailgate, then cold bleacher sit to watch games in person.  But you can tell it’s all worth it, that she gets recharged when Jim puts his arm around her, pulls her close and gives her a simple kiss.  It’s actions like this that also mean “helping” to me.  Mary wants Jim to have the best time doing what he enjoys, so she’ll help by getting excited when his team scores or angrily explain why calls are wrong if they go the other way; she’ll remember game facts along with practically every players’ name.  And Jim will bring home flowers for no reason, put girly movies on NetFlix, and spend hours in malls.  Both do this so they can help, participate in giving their significant other a good time.

Being honest — This was my favorite Thanksgiving.  Ever.  I normally am not a Thanksgiving fan — I never enjoyed turkey or stuffing or casseroles, and as far as “family time”, well I saw my family and relatives often so didn’t understand why we needed to set more time aside this one particular day.  …But the older I get, I understand the importance of this holiday.  The older I grow, I not only find I’m getting seconds of turkey and asking for casserole recipes, but I’m finding family is the one thing you can never replace, nor want to.  The time — right now — you have with your family is irreversible, unstoppable and each moment should be charished… because at one point, it will change — and you’ll only be able to look back at the time spent with your family.  I really understood that this Thanksgiving.  I’ve always had my family — whom I adore, but now, I have a second family… and getting that second family not only makes me so appreciative for my family and the time I have with them… but it also makes me feel special, honored to be getting — not “a” second family– but “this” second family I’ll have… These absolutely amazing people who didn’t even know me a few years before, but now accept me with open arms into their hearts.  It’s realizing things like this that make me want to spend so much time catching up with my family, and getting to know every detail about my new one.

So James’ and my Thanksgiving started when we went to his parents house Thanksgiving Day.  There, we helped — or tried to help — his mom prepare the Thanksgiving meal.  The turkey was already in the oven, and we had a few hours before the other sides needed to get started.  James’ brother was upstairs sleeping and his sister was gone, having traveled all the way to Connecticut with her newlywed husband for her second family’s Thanksgiving gathering.  That meant it was only Jim, Mary, James, and me.  We talked about so many things while the Macy’s Day Parade floats whooshed by on the TV screen  — about how, for the very first turkey Mary made, she forgot one of the bags inside the turkey holding its parts and cooked it, bag and all.  I laughed, telling her my grandma admitted to this also when she fixed a chicken one year.  We talked about the presidential race… if James and I wanted children… and mused when his sister, Lauren and Ryan would have theirs.  Once noon approached, Mary and I won against three boys and got to watch the dog show over football.  We both texted Lauren back and forth.  She loves the dog show too and was voting for her puppy’s bred — a Pomeranian — over Mary’s Yorkie and my Miniature Pinscher-Chihuahua.  …And while I was away from home for Thanksgiving, it didn’t feel like it at all.  There were so many traditions James’ family has done, that my family do too… so while my family, Lauren, Mary and I were all watching the dog show in different homes, we were all watching it together.

Dinner at James’ family was wonderful.  Everyone — Mary, Jim, James, Lauren — know how to cook so amazingly.  I feel like most people would chose to go out to eat when they get together… but I’m the opposite.  Give me any second with them, and I’d gladly take a dinner at their house instead.  We had a deliciously moist turkey, sweet potatoes (which I helped make!  So happy I could lend a hand!), mouthwatering green bean casserole, stuffing and gravy, rolls and cranberry sauce to boot.  Oh, and the best was Mary’s homemade pecan pie…  To please everyone in her family, she had pumpkin pie for her boys… but for Jim and I, warm pecan pie topped with melting ice cream.  Yummm…

Gathered around the table: James’ grandma, dad, brother, me, and James… Thank you for sharing your pictures with me, Mary!
Helping Jim and Mary with the dishes!

After that, we were stuffed… and a stuffed stomach Thanksgiving Day means sleep… so I crawled into bed shortly after.

Fast forwarding through work on Black Friday, James and I found a second Thanksgiving meal in front of us — this one at my parent’s house.  As I told you in my post before this, I had (maybe too proudly) announced James and I were undertaking the turkey.  So the “eve before roasting” (as Alton says), we were to let the turkey marinate in a brine.  However, since James and I would be at his parents house all day Thursday, I had to recruit extra help.  Enter my parents.  So Wednesday afternoon, I went to their house to prepared the brine by combining a whopping gallon of vegetable broth, black peppercorns, allspice berries, candied ginger, salt, and sugar.

Our brine sitting over medium-high heat

After it came to a boil…

The boiling brown brine (gotta love alliteration!)

James poured the brine into a brining bag to be refrigerated…

Ever so luckily, we tracked down a brine bag… Thank you, Kroger!

and we left a note for my mom so she’d understand the easy steps left to do.

Note: Simply add a gallon of ice water and the turkey 12 hours before roasting. Remember to flip the turkey half way through brine time.

…I say easy because this task apparently was nothing but…

Our Thanksgiving Friday, James and I open the fridge to pull out our brined-soagged turkey… only to find it stuffed in this:

Rubbermaid Tote

a massive multi-gallon plastic storage container!  My mom and dad explained they searched the house high and low for something tall enough to hold a 16-pound turkey… something deep enough to keep the turkey covered in my now two-gallon brine… and something small enough to fit in the fridge.  And the absolutely only thing my family could find?  Not a large pot… not any other deep vessel… no, a fancy-schmancy plastic Rubbermaid container!  …Okay, so maybe I could have given them a heads-up that this may have been a hard task…  I should have guessed when I read Alton’s note saying, “Seal up the cooler and use as an ottoman.”  A cooler?  An ottoman?  Alton has a tendency to be sarcastic, but sarcasm was far from this application…  I believe now this was a true teacher’s tip to avoid tricky messes… like the one my poor parents got in.  They just wanted to impress me, show me they could handle my cherished Alton application and the beloved turkey I fought to undertake.  They really wanted to surprise me with their skills… which PS-took an hour to do… an hour to drop ice and a turkey into a bag and refrigerate.  An hour.  *Sigh*  Daddy and mama, if you’re reading this, you did a wonderful job.  I probably would have called you in a panic if I were the one fixing this turkey alone… but again readers, help.  They wanted to help me succeed.  They wanted me to prepare the best daggon turkey yet to be eaten in the Morris residence.  They wanted to help me because they love me.

Alas, after we had finished laughing at the sight of my poor, gigantic bird shoved in a storage bin…

Turkey… covered in brine… in a brine bag… in a storage container. Check!

next came time to rinse and dry our boy.  I was secretly so excited to touch the turkey.  I had never touched an uncooked turkey before and after hearing James’ mom’s horrors of turkey skin, I wanted to know what it was all about.  The truth: It was disgusting.  Disgusting not so much because of the skin or bumps, but disgusting because after a turkey relaxes in brine for 12 hours, the skin becomes very pliable and almost rips beneath your fingers… nasty.  Regardless, we picked him up (well, James picked him up… he was too heavy for me), rinsed and patted him dry.

Next up, preparing the ingredients to stuff the bird with: An apple, onion, and cinnamon stick.

Stuffing ingredients in a small amount of water go into the microwave to soften
Finished heatin’ up!

Next, combining everything…

Prepare to be stuffed, turkey!

which means rosemary, sage, and my microwaved ingredients go into the turkey’s cavity, then the bird gets coated in olive oil.

Stuffed and coated!

Now it was ready for the oven!  Alton says the turkey should cook for 30 minutes at a high 500 degrees… then cook for about two and a half hours more on 350 degrees… which ensures the outside of the turkey is crispy and delectable, while the inside is moist and delicious!

Into the oven you go!

After this it was a waiting game… which is funny because I have a friend whose in eighth grade named Emily, and she sent me the sweetest Facebook message.  She said, “About Thanksgiving, everyone thinks the turkey is hard to bake but it’s really easy!  It just takes forever in the oven!  I’m sure yours will be just perfect.”  How adorable is that?  And know what — Emily, if you’re reading this, you are 100% right.  The hardest part is probably waiting for the thing to cook!

How to kill time?  Catchin’ up with my family…

My little sister cuddling and kissing her Italian Greyhound puppy
Trista and Penny Mae
Without a doubt, my better half and love of my life

And I just have to include these next shots…  My sister’s fiancé, Nick, was playing with my camera and captured the puppies playing.  While I in no way encourage dog fighting (remember, I seriously consider joining PETA daily and have an absolute loathing for the Philadelphia Eagles solely because they allowed and wanted Michael Vick to join the team), I told my mom I can imagine this is what people who go to dogfights do — Encourage the puppies to “get” one another… however, again, my puppies love each other.  They are sisters (although my mom is hell bent and determined to call them cousins because that’s what they would be “legally”…).  So while some of their facial features may not be the most, well, pleasant, just keep in mind we treat each dog like a princess and would never tolerate one hurting another.  …They just like to play bite (or as I say “open-mouth drool”) on each other… and run and roll together.

And the rompin’ begins!
Yes… The demented black and tan pup is mine… *Sigh*
Cora, my parents puppy, always gives in to Paris and flops on her back… although here it looks like she’s putting up more of a “fight”!
Whew! Now that all the horsin’ around’s done, the bffs can relax together!

Time’s up!  Now James and I had to check on our turkey… and make sure the meat is 155 degrees… and (drum roll)…

“Good Eats Roast Turkey”

It was perfect!  I mean, truly, I could not have wished it to be better.  I was (and still am) elated, in total disbelief, and ever so humbled… because I “my” turkey wouldn’t have been nearly as perfect without my parents help, James’ support, and Alton’s guidance.

Cutting my beloved bird up! First off, the thighs…
Next, the breasts
Please note: My knife skills are improving! Check out that perfectly sliced off breast!
I learned turkey is best if you remove the breast and then slice against the grain of the meat. This creates shorter fibers and therefore, the turkey is more tender!
Can’t forget my beautiful drumsticks and wings!

The verdict?  Well, judging by my gushing (but trying oh so hard not to over gush), 115% wonderful.  Alton’s application called for the perfect turkey pairings — allspice berries, apples, cinnamon, rosemary, sage… and even ginger (despite the fact that ginger is one flavor that makes me absolutely nauseous just to smell).  Alton, I know I’ve said it before, but I wish you read my blog… just once.  Not that you need little ‘ole me saying this, but you’re such an amazing cook and teacher.  So again, with Alton instructing me what to do and my family by my side, this turkey made it in the successful Morris Family Book.  Truth be told, in years to come, we’ll probably forget my great turkey trials… but you know what?  I’m okay with that.  To have succeeded, even if it’s known for just this day, is more than enough for me.

After cutting the turkey, I brought it to the table, like a proud baker showing off a wedding cake that’s being featured in a magazine.  I served everyone — My daddy, mama, sister and her fiancé, my love, and my grandma… and we all talked some more… about the delicious turkey, our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner… and all I could think is how thankful I am — for everyone surrounding me that moment and those the day before that made this Thanksgiving the most cherished of all.

My (Secret) Conquest

I have a secret I’ve been carrying around, like a middle school backpack — zipped busted because the bag is full of thick books — it’s weighing me down, hurting my back.  I’ve been lugging this secret to work, my house, to my fiance’s home, in the car, and back and forth and in between… and I think I’m finally ready to share with you.  I said I wanted to share the nitty gritty, right?  Well, this is it for me.  I know some of you may be let down it’s not something more dark… but sorry.  I don’t run around the house naked when alone; I’m not an animal abuser, porn watcher, or threatening prank-phone caller.  I’m not anything bad or odd…  This is simply put: Just a secret.  Something I’m scared of.  Not a fear that will instantly get me crying, such as, “What if something happens to my sister in her line of work…”  No.  This is just a fear that makes me chew all my fingernails… even though I vowed that would be my 2011 New Year’s resolution.  (So much for that… again…)

*Sigh*  So it’s just a simple secret… and I think I’m ready to tell you.  I think…  See, I knew I would share it with you sooner or later, but I decided to share it earlier, before forced.  I have decided to bare my secret now…

I’m making the Thanksgiving turkey.

I know, I know!  Many of you are probably moving the mouse to another website after hearing that, but listen here!  This is big.  We’re talking a turkey — a whole turkey.  A Thanksgiving turkey.  Really — Stop and think about it!  What are your memories of Thanksgiving?  Who prepares your turkey every year?  I’ll bet either you’ve underappreciated your turkey-cooker… or you’ve forgotten your first turkey-cooking fears.  Well this is a story of mine…

One day recently, I was idly flipping through Good Eats to get a look at my next cooking journey… and that’s when I saw it — Episode 14, Season 2: “Good Eats Roast Turkey.”  Surely it was a sign — Thanksgiving then was about a month away, and here, I had only one application before it!  Now I’ve been known for making over the top goals, but ya know what?  I’m a go-getter!  And at that moment in time, this goal did not seem out of reach.  It was just another culinary step I had signed up for in my personal ‘Alton’s Guide To Cooking’ class.  So… thinking turkey… thinking Alton… thinking, “I have to make a turkey any way!  Why not ask my mom if I can make the Thanksgiving turkey this year?!”  What a great idea!  …Then I realized, I’d have to put up my defenses, encourage myself to speak out — provide a list of reasons as to why I could succeed… and why my mother, the proud turkey-cooker, should step aside!  So as the phone rang, my mental list grew; I came prepared…

“Mama…,” I said into the phone.  “Sooo… I was looking through Alton’s cookbook, and I have to skip his “Chocolate Mousse” because I don’t have a stand mixer — ”
“Honey, you don’t have to get those exact items, you know.  You can easily use your hand mixer instead.”
“…  Huh?  …Oh… yeah.  I know… but I mean, I don’t want to… but — That’s besides the point.  …Sooo… I um, came to the next recipe… and it’s a turkey!”  (keep skirting)  “Can you believe it?!  A whole turkey!   …And I figured… well…”  (deep breath… deliver the punch)  “SinceThanksgivingiscomingup,maybeIcouldpreparetheturkey?BecauseitisjustsillyformetodothewholethingjustformeandJames,butmaybe
Icouldhelpthisyearbymakingtheturkeybymyself,well,withJames,butwecould
contributethatwayand — ”
“Okay, honey.  I think that’s a great idea.”

At this, I had the same reaction when James proudly released my secret to his family — A large gulp.  Then, long pause.  Just like that, I shuffled my mother to the sidelines.  It was one move, and that was it.  My gesture — strong and swift, as if proclaiming, “Checkmate.”  The sole woman who has prepared an incredible turkey for 33 years — my entire life and more… I just scooted her out of her own kitchen.  I felt horrible, guilty… and now, I felt scared.  What if this was a poorly thought out plan?  What if something goes wrong?  What if I mess up?!  I had to call back.

“Mama?  What if I mess up?”
A nervous, loud exclamation: “What?  What are you going to mess up?!”
“The TURKEY, mama!  The TURKEY!!!”
“Oh, honey.”  (A sigh of relief)  “You won’t mess up the turkey,” she said with such conviction.
“Just what if though?  Just… what if…?”
Now my mom was getting exasperated.  She dislikes playing what-if games.  “Then you mess it up!”
“WHAT?!  I can’t!  I can’t just ‘mess it up’!  What will I do!  What will we do?!  What would we eat?!?!”
I think it was here she realized this was a true concern of mine, a real fear.  “Then we’ll eat the other stuff — the stuffing, the beans, the cranberry sauce — ”
“THE CRANBERRY SAUCE!!!  We can’t eat JUST THE CRANBERRY SAUCE!!!”
To this, she decided another approach.  It was as if I could hear her psychological wheels turn…  “Honey.  Calm down.  If it goes wrong, we’ll eat other food, and know what?  We’ll laugh about it later.  We will say, ‘Oh remember the time Laura thought she could make the turkey, and it turned out raw?!  We won’t let Laura near it this year!'” (chuckling)
Maybe she heard my silent chant of, “Raw?!Raw?!Raw?!”, because she then continued, my cheerleader, “It really will be alright… but if it doesn’t turn out, it will be a great memory.  Your daddy still talks about his uncle’s corn beef dinner”…  And here she explained a wonderful family memory I never heard before…

Before my dad married my mom, his uncle came up from out-of-state to spend time with his family.  Because he was staying with family (who always spoiled him with wonderful meals and a place to stay when he visited), he wanted to treat everyone by cooking corn beef on the grill.  He invited several family members for this big ‘Corn Beef Extravaganza’… buuut what happened was not the treat he hoped to give.  My dad’s uncle cooked that meat on the grill all day… until the outside charred, but hey — that’s good and tasty because it means, once the meat is cut, a tender pink meat inside will be revealed.  Yeeet, once the corn beef was taken off the grill, sliced, and put onto plates, no one — not one person — was able to cut it with a knife.  I’m told everybody tried and tried… and tried to cut that stubborn corn beef… and it didn’t even dent.  My mama said my daddy’s grandma then picked it up — with her fingers — and tried to gnaw a bit of the sucker off.  She succeeded… with a tiiiny bit… and was left chewing and chewing… and chewing some more.  In the end, no one could eat it.  “Too tough,” as my mom says.  So what was served for dinner that night?  No one had meat, that’s for damn sure… and if you’ve grown up in a country family like mine, no meat is an utter shock.

So that’s it folks.  On that story of Morris success, the turkey is purchased.  The ingredients — sitting in paper bags at my parent’s house.  I’ve sealed my fate, signed the recipe in blood.  My blood.  By announcing this secret thought to my fiance, my mom, to you… I cannot look back.  “Can I pull this off?,” I wonder.  “Can I truly pull this off?…”  I mean, we aren’t talking about preparing an entire fish… while that is an impressive meal I conquered, it was simply to feed my fiance and myself.  No great expectations; we cook-experiment together.  We aren’t talking about butterflying a chicken… That is solely a talent of wielding a knife, which means even if I failed (and I did), the chicken is still good enough to eat… it just appears oddly (or uniquely) cut.  …No, no.  Instead, we are talking about a turkey.  A whole Thanksgiving turkey.  The turkey.  A bird that is expected to feed seven people… and yield leftovers.  Turkey — which has, by default, shaped Thanksgiving meals across our great nation.  Turkey — the shining star, the spotlight of Thanksgiving meals… sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, corn muffins — all mere fill-ins, extras, space collectors.  It’s the turkey that’s the great wonder, the one sole that gets “ow”-ed and “aw”-ed over.  …And I’m making it this year, with James of course.  But this is one story I would not necessarily want to be in.  Sure, it would be fitting — James and I are known for mischief or clumsiness… but I don’t want to be the next chapter in the “Remember when” Morris Family Book.  I just want a story of success.  I crave a story of high conquest, unforseen victory.  …Possibly the first stepping stone for a new family tradition…

But more than all, I just want to make a delicious, mouth-watering, moist turkey.  And I want to serve it to my family, my loved ones for Thanksgiving.

…Please hope for me…

Please.

— To be continued —

Meet My Enemy, My Nemesis

I’ve never been much of a chocolate fan.  The most I enjoy chocolate is if it is used to cover strawberries or squeezed into milkshakes… and that’s about it.  I’m not the type of girl that gets heartbroken if I don’t have a red Valentine’s Day heart filled with chocolate ‘delights’… In fact, I’m the girl that kisses my fiance all the more, realizing he knows me so well and passed this present by.  Yep, I’ll skip on nibbling the Easter Bunny’s ear… and I’ll pass every year chocolate cake is served for birthdays.  I’m just not that kinda girl… which is why a moan of not-so-happy realization escaped my lips when I read “Episode 13, Season 1: The Art of Darkness I”… ‘darkness’ of couuurse being my enemy.

So it’s “Chocolate Lava Muffins” time.  I admit, if I could be any more un-excited about this application, the ‘lava’ part definitely challenged that.  All I pictured was ewy-gooey chocolate in the middle of, well, more chocolate.  Gross.  And again, lucky for me, that is what I was to get.  Ever so fortunately though, James loves chocolate.  …Thinking about it now, I would probably be a better fiancée if I bought him a Valentine’s chocolate box (mental note to self).  But being serious, I was happy James likes chocolate because that meant someone would enjoy the muffins…  Someone would actually eat them.  Still, I didn’t want him downing 12 muffins alone, so we packed up Alton and our ingredients and went to my parents’ house.

First step — getting my double boiler ready… then grabbing the double boiler ingredients — chocolate and butter…

Bittersweet chocolate chips and unsalted butter

…and tossing them into the double boiler.  This is when I put my muscley fiance to work!  (Love you, baby!)

Mixing butter and chocolate in our double boiler
Almost melted

After that’s complete, we added a small amount of vanilla extract to the mixture, then removed the bowl from the heat.  Now, it was time for our hand mixer (which PS-Alton calls for a stand mixer, but I just don’t have the money right now.  Getting married is quickly absorbing all cooking-utensil needs so, for now, this will have to do!).  As I increased the mixer’s sped, James added one egg at a time… until all four were in the shiny darkness.

A rare picture of James and I cooking together… thanks to my photographer, my mama!

After the eggs were added, it was time to incorporate our dry ingredients:

Sifted flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt

…while I get the muffin tins ready!  Alton says the cups need to be coated with butter, then dusted with more cocoa powder… all before the dark goodness gets spooned inside!

Ready for the oven

After putting the muffins in the oven, it was time to make the “sauce.”  I admit, another reason I wasn’t excited about these muffins are because the sauce calls for adding espresso powder to melted, heated vanilla ice cream.  My sole thought: Why ruin perfectly good ice cream?!  If there’s one thing I cannot stand more than chocolate, it is coffee.  I loathe the taste of coffee, even the smell of coffee makes me feel nauseous.  I think it stems back to when I was little — My mom had a cup sitting out that, I thought, was filled with Coca-Cola… so I took a huge slurp… and was overly disturbed when the warm, pungent taste of coffee spilt down my throat.  Since then, I’ve considered coffee my great sneaky nemesis.

Now, I did consider just going without the espresso, but I wanted to stay true to Alton and prepare his meal the way he requests.  If I don’t like it, I can always alter it next time.  That’s the joy of cooking.

Before: Melting the ice cream
After: Warm, espresso vanilla sauce

Once our sauce was complete, it was time to take the muffins out of the oven.  Two sadly didn’t make it.  They were too gooey with lava and fell apart in the muffin tin.  I wanted to look more professional than I really am… so I took a picture of the remaining seven, but I feel bad fooling you.  (PPS-Alton says this application yields 12 muffins; I added the batter in a disher the size he suggested, and I only got nine.  Oh well.  Less chocolate muffins to worry with!)

Before: Our “Chocolate Lava Muffins”

If you’re looking closely at my muffins, you may notice some… deformities.  Here was one problem I encountered (and by the way, if you actually follow Alton’s instructions, you’ll be fine): I left my scale at my house so I couldn’t weigh the chocolate, butter, flour, and sugar.  “Not a big deal,” you may think, but think again!  Alton heavily preaches weighing ingredients — mainly baking, which must be precise… so I dropped the ball.  I think that’s why my muffins turned out a little… well, lopsided.  If I had properly weighed the ingredients, my muffins would probably have been perfectly formed.  At the time, I promised myself I would re-make them with my scale… but once I tasted them, I changed my mind.  I’ll explain why later…

Lastly, we dished our espresso vanilla sauce over the muffins and let it slip into the cracks to get buddy-buddy with the chocolate lava inside.

After: Espresso-covered muffins, ready for the munchin’!

What did I think of the muffins?  Eh; they were okay.  It’s not that they were horrible…  They just weren’t for me.  If I make this next time, I will definitely stray from the espresso and probably not make the sauce at all.  I think instead I’ll sit my pretty, perfectly measured-ingredient muffins in a bowl and slide a whopping scoop of vanilla or strawberry or cherry ice cream beside it.

Saying that though, everyone else’s reaction was better… other than my fiance (who agreed with me).  My dad though thought they were tasty.  He, too, is a chocolate fiend.

My dad’s first reaction of “Mmmm!”