The relationship between cooks and bakers is a curious one. True, our work is similar in many respects. We all use pots, pans, stoves, and spatulas, and we are all trying to produce delicious, quality food for our customers. Nevertheless, there remains an ancient and unending tension between our two professions. Some may try to explain this as a simple instance of what Freud calls “the narcissism of minor differences,” or the phenomenon of perceiving a group that shares many of your own group’s traits – but is different in certain trivial ways – as utterly different and threatening.
But I think a better explanation is that bakers are just plain weird. We – and here i speak for all cooks – don’t quite understand their methods. Their work involves strange and complicated chemistry (some say witchcraft), and most of it is done under the cover of darkness, while the rest of us are sleeping. They claim that this is necessary in order to have their freshly baked goods prepared in time for breakfast. But I think it has more to do with their natural fear of sunlight. Indeed, bakers are the vampire-witches of the culinary world.
However, over the last five or so years that I have been working alongside the Co-op bakers here in the Cordata kitchen, I’ve had the opportunity to not only observe their behavior, but to get to know them as individuals. And it turns out that, despite their many peculiarities, they are not nearly as threatening as we had once thought. In fact, the cooks here at Cordata have come to grow quite fond of the bakers over the years.
Thus it it is with heavy hearts that we will be seeing them off this summer when they move to their new location on Holly Street, just across the street from the downtown store. I know that I will certainly miss goofing around with Darcy, getting expert gardening advice from Lisalyn, and talking about music and movies with Jessica. But what all of us are really going to miss is those goodies – not quite perfect enough for retail, but perfectly delicious nonetheless – that the bakers frequently leave for us: broken chocolate chip cookies, edge-trimmings from Texas fudge cake, and tiramisu. Oh God! The tiramisu!
Yes, the big move will be great for our customers – the new location will feature a retail space, a cafe, and large windows so that passersby can get a good look at the bakers in action, and so that the bakers can get some well-deserved sunshine, (which, incidentally, will put the vampire hypothesis to the test). But, for yours truly, their exodus will be a bittersweet occasion indeed. Thankfully they have decided to share some of their secret knowledge with me, so that even in their absence we can still enjoy some of their magic.
And if you think that all of that vampire-witch stuff is just typical cooks’ paranoia, try these wonderful, and I mean wonderful, vegan and gluten-free brownies – made with black beans! How else, other than by appeal to the dark arts, do you explain that?
2 cups dried black beans (or 6 cups canned black beans)
1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1 cup agave syrup (maple syrup or brown rice syrup will also work)
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup coconut oil (grapeseed or safflower oil will also work)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
If using dried beans: Rinse black beans. Place them in a large bowl and cover with water, leave to soak over night. Drain beans, then place in a large pot and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook beans, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender. Drain and allow to cool.
If using canned beans: just rinse.
Preheat oven to 350. Add oats to a food processor, with the blade attached, and grind until fine. Place ground oats in a large bowl. Add cooked (or canned) beans and agave syrup to food processor. Blend until completely smooth (this may need to be done in batches depending on the size of your food processor). Add the remaining ingredients, including the reserved oats, but minus the chocolate chips, and blend until smooth.
Transfer mix to a large bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix together. Spread mixture into a well-oiled 9×13 inch baking dish or casserole. Smooth out the top and then place in oven. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
Dust with confectioners sugar, and/or top with some vanilla ice cream, and/or peanut butter, and/or just dig in with both hands.