From dreams to reality. (And a really good brownie.)

So, this post begins with a small announcement.

(Actually, it’s quite a big announcement.  Well, in terms of things here on the aspiring baker.)

…Ready?

Around three weeks ago, I found out that I’d been accepted onto Le Cordon Bleu’s Patisserie Diploma for the Winter 2013 intake.

It was a windy and otherwise unremarkable Thursday on the Southbank when I first found out.  I’d spent the morning exploring Borough Market with my parents; we sampled wild boar tortelloni (or tottenolli, as my dad calls it) and tried paella for the first time.  Later, we dropped by the Royal Festival Hall, an old and favourite London haunt, for a cup of tea in the mid-afternoon and it was only while cursorily checking my emails that I discovered the school had finally made a decision on my application.

It was a strange moment, feelings of joy and celebration mingled with a sense of surrealism and the dawning comprehension that I was finally on my way to realising my culinary ambition.  It was the transition from dream to reality; I’ve wanted to go to Le Cordon Bleu since I first discovered the Patisserie Diploma that they offer and now, I have to chance to do so.

So…this is it.  This is actually it.

It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of quiet hoping and dreaming, (im)patiently waiting out the last year of my degree and a lot of careful thinking, research and hours spent on Google investigating various culinary schools and pastry arts courses.  My plans for the future, previously intangible and somehow unreal, based only in thoughts and words, are coming together at last.

Equally though, this is also the first step on what will no doubt be a long (but hopefully interesting and rewarding) path towards the realisation of my aspirations, the first careful, tentative step towards turning my dreams into a reality, a career, a life.  Even now, weeks after receiving the news, it still strikes me occasionally just how far-reaching this decision is.  Culinary school is, for me, an investment in my future.

All this is a far cry from where I was when I started the aspiring baker just under twelve months ago.  Back then, I was an uncertain final-year university student hoping to turn a crazy dream and a heartfelt passion for baking into a potential career.  Now, I stand on the brink of making it real.  It seems pretty amazing to me, proof that you really can pursue your dreams and do whatever it is you want to do.  That’s not to say that it’s easy (I’ve been plagued by more than my share of self-doubt and indecision over the last few months), but it is possible, if you have the passion and the determination to see it through.

Anyway, in celebration of my acceptance to culinary school, I offer you…yet another recipe for brownies!  (“Not another one,” I hear you say, rolling your eyes.  But just stick with me here, I promise it’s worth it…)

“Better-than-crack” brownies – 13/08/2012

As you know by now if you’re a regular aspiring baker reader (do those even exist?), I love a good brownie.  I’ve made them with marshmallows, pecan nuts and Mars Bars, peanut butter frosting, sour cherries…you name it, I’ve probably tried putting it in a brownie.  (Not literally, of course, because that would be weird.  Imagine, spaghetti bolognese brownies…)  However, these are not your typical brownie.  These are “Better-than-crack” brownies.

After seeing these on another food blog, I just had to make them.  They’re chocolate brownies, but with a difference; they’re topped with a mixture of Rice Krispies, chocolate and peanut butter.  (In my case, I used Coco Pops, because that’s what I had at home, but you can really use any kind of puffed rice, I think.)  I altered the recipe a little and omitted the peanuts and peanut butter cup layer, but the end result was no worse for it, a decadent and luxurious chocolate-y treat.  Dense, soft, an almost cake-like brownie (I used my go-to brownie recipe, see below for the link) contrasting with the crunchy, nutty, sweet, slightly salty topping, it’s delicious.  I particularly like the inclusion of peanut butter, which is one of my favourite things; oddly though, I don’t like peanuts.  Weird, I know.

Better than crack?  I couldn’t say.  But one thing’s for sure; these are very good brownies indeed.

(“Better-than-crack” brownies taken from how sweet it is - though it suggests using a box mix for the brownies, I prefer to make my own using the recipe at Joy the Baker; simply omit the marshmallows and graham crackers for plain brownies.)

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