Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Come back, Alice B. Toklas

Well, it wasn't really her recipe, but anyway, now is the time at the Dawg when we juxtapose:

"Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverized in a mortar. About a handful each of stone dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus [sic] sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient. Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties.... It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green."

More fudge than brownie, as noted here, but possibly better than this:

[T]he shortening used "shall have stability of not less than 100 hours as determined by the Active Oxygen Method (AOM) in Method Cd 12-57 of the Commercial Fats and Oils chapter in the Official and Tentative Methods of the American Oil Chemists Society," and the "dimensions of the coated brownie shall not exceed 3-1/2 inches by 2-2/12 inches by 5/8 inch."


Shelled almond pieces shall be of the small piece size classification and shall be U.S. No. 1 Pieces of the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Almonds. A minimum of 95 percent, by weight, of the pieces shall pass through a 4/16-inch diameter round hole screen and not more than 5 percent, by weight, shall pass through a 2/16-inch diameter round hole screen. The shelled almonds shall be coated with an approved food grade antioxidant and shall be of the latest season’s crop.

Of course, the nutrients (like the troops who ingest them) must be suitably packaged:

The brownies shall be completely enrobed with a continuous uniform chocolate coating (see 3.2.14) in an amount which shall be not less than 29 percent by weight of the finished product.

The weight of the coated brownie shall be not less than 46 grams.

One chocolate covered brownie … shall be unit packed in bags as specified in or When product is held for more than 24 hours prior to unit packing, the product shall be stored at 80F or below and if storage time exceeds 30 days, the product shall be stored at 00F or below.

But 26 pages later, alas, it's less than rave reviews from chefs:

"They were a little bit crumbly. I typically think of a brownie as being sort of chewy … and it kind of fills your mouth with buttery, chocolatey flavour when it hits the tongue. And this was a bit more bland and a little bit dry. I think that’s because it used shortening. I would say that’s the number one reason."


"...The first thing that would come to mind is dry, quite crumbly … but basically they’ve got something that could be preserved for four to five years here. A soldier could lose it in the jungle and come back and find it … four years later and still eat it."

He added, "I think it’s safe to say I won’t be using this recipe any time soon."

Some of the grunts who have to scarf this stuff down have been invited to taste-test new MREs. Their reviews are hilarious. My favourite, indicating that that not all MIL-SPEC food can double as building material or projectiles: "The vanilla pudding is so good that I ripped it open. Licked the inside and rolled around on top of it like a dog."

Somehow I suspect that Pentagon brownies won't arouse the same enthusiasm.

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