October 3, 2010

My 23rd Year on Earth and Rocky Road Bars

Rocky Road Bars

It was 9 in the morning when I reached my desk in the office. The phone on my desk rang immediately.

After exchanging a few lines on the phone, my heart sank. I could barely lift up my feet. Still, I trudged my way through and clambered up the staircase to the floor above. Something wasn’t right, I could sense that. My heart stomped for quite a bit.

Twenty minutes thereafter, both frustration and motivation suddenly gushed from within. No matter how bitter I felt, I was and am thankful for the discourse I had with my superior. It was enlightening.

That was, what I’d consider, both a painful and an inspiring little snippet of my life. It all happened just a few days ago. My ego and dignity were trampled upon; however, I feel blessed for the invaluable lessons learned, which were unobtainable elsewhere. Almost every day, I’d reflect upon the things that passed me by and in which I was or am still a part of. That little episode above has really gotten me ruminating on my past 1 year.

Today marks my 23rd year on earth. Over the last few days, I kept thinking and asking myself: “What have I learned during the previous year? Have I become wiser? Have I grown up for just that wee bit to reflect how a 23-year-old should think and behave?”

Rocky Road Bars

Returning home from America as a jobless graduate, I started my first real job exactly a year ago. Trained to be a journalist, I found myself working to write mainly for the purpose of marketing products instead. When I was little, I’d never imagined myself becoming a writer.

Looking back at the last 365 days, I’m pleased to conclude with the changes and serious upgrades I’ve had, be it in my career, hobbies or attitude and behavior. Those changes and upgrades would also include my gradual transition to full financial independence, as well as what you can see in this little journal of mine. It was never my intention to merge food and life together in my (lengthy) writing; it just develops naturally as I grew over the year. And hopefully, these changes are here for the better.

Entering the workforce signifies another phase of my life. It’s going to be another long way down the road. It’s exposed me to the many facets of human personalities and behaviors, both the good and the ugly. In nature, I can be both quiet and talkative, depending on the situations given. Since we are born and molded to be different, I can’t expect myself to be liked by everyone. (Duh!)

My mom always says, “要摸著良心處事, 要懂得潔身自愛.” (Let your conscience be your guide, and do only what you deem right.) Though I can be a stubborn daughter, these words are forever etched in my brain, so long as I’m alive. Mom, thank you so much for going through the pain of carrying me in your body for months, and for giving birth to me on this day 23 years ago! (Dad, thank you too!)

My family hasn’t been celebrating birthdays for years. At most, we’ll just wish the Star of the Day a happy birthday. No cake whatsoever; a birthday is just like any other day. We’re happy so long as we can make it through safely. (I’ve forgotten for how long we’ve actually ceased having huge birthday celebrations.)

Even with simple bars like these, they’re good enough for my family. We absolutely love these rocky road bars for that they are deadly chocolaty and chunky with all the pecans and walnuts. The marshmallows also lend an interesting texture to the bars: somewhat airy and yet gooey at the same time.

Rocky Road Bars

For me, the rocky road bars are a variation of brownies. They are somewhat dense and yet cakey. Yummy nonetheless! Underbake the bars for a little to retain that moistness. I even reduced the amount of sugar to suit our palates. So, the bars turned out to have just the right sweetness for my folks. If you’re a chocoholic and lover for anything nutty, rocky road bars will grow in you like an addiction.

What’s more, I think these rocky road bars make perfect birthday treats to mark my 23rd year on earth. I love rocky road bars for that they’re aptly named: They’re rocky and yet pleasant to munch on. For the rest of my life, it’s going to be another long and rocky road ahead. Hopefully, it’ll be a bittersweet one – like how these bittersweet bars ought to be.

Rocky Road Bars

Rocky Road Bars
Adapted from “Joy of Cooking: Christmas Cookies,” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker

113 g unsweetened chocolate – chopped finely

106 g all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp salt

(B) -- I didn't follow the suggested quantities for the three ingredients below closely.
113 g pecans or coarsely chopped walnuts
* I used a mix of both the nuts. *
* As I don’t like the taste and mouthfeel given by raw nuts, I toasted mine beforehand by baking the nuts at 150°C for about 15 minutes. I let the nuts cool completely before using. *
170 g semisweet chocolate morsels
57 g miniature marshmallows

113 g unsalted butter – softened at room temperature
220 g caster/granulated sugar
* The original recipe calls for 300 g granulated sugar. *

4 large eggs – at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking pan, then line with parchment – allow about 2 inches of parchment overhanging the two narrower sides of the pan; set aside.
    * I used two square pans instead, a 7”x7” and an 8”x8” one. *
  2. Place the finely chopped unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl fit snugly over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often, to melt completely. Remove from heat, stir the melted chocolate a little just till it’s become smooth. Set aside to let cool to room temperature before using later on.
  3. Combine (A) together with a balloon whisk, then set aside.
  4. Combine (B) together, then set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, cream (C) together till light and fluffy. Now, beat in the eggs, one at a time, then followed by the extract, till incorporated. Don’t overbeat the mixture as you may risk beating out the air within the creamed mixture.
  6. With help from a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the cooled melted chocolate to the creamed mixture to combine well. Next, sift the flour mixture over and fold to mix well. Halfway through, stir in all but 1 cup of the nuts-marshmallow-and-chocolate morsels mixture to the chocolate batter until well-combined.
  7. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, spreading to the edges and smoothening out the surface. Now, evenly scatter the reserved 1 cup mixture of nuts, marshmallows and chocolate morsels over the surface of the batter.
  8. Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes or till the top is firm when tapped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly wet.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven, then transfer to wire rack(s) and let stand to cool the bar completely.
  10. Once cooled, using the overhanging parchment as handles, lift the bar up and to a cutting board. Carefully peel off the parchment from the sides of the bar. Cut into bars and serve/store in an airtight container.
Rocky Road Bars


crustabakes said...

Happy birthday! Your brownies seems ready to rock that road!

ICook4Fun said...

Happy Birthday Pei-lin. Best wishes to you and may all your dreams come true. Carlos birthday is just a day after you :)I too just made some brownies as Diana will be home today. She loves brownies. I like this variation of brownies. I have to remember try out your Rocky Road the next time.

Quinn said...

Hey Love...

It's been a while..sorry I've been so tied down for so many various reasons...Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day to you Pei-Lin...While I really love how you combine food and writing into one (well, you're a trained journalist so you essentially need to write well for a living), this would be the only time I disagree with you about how one should behave proportionally to their age...

Everyone has a child in them and that rocking-the-road rocky bars certainly brings out the child in everyone...When we are faced with difficult, we sometimes strived to be more than just our age...

Just my thoughts but I'm sick now so I do not know what I am rambling sometimes...now would you excuse me for some rocky road bars moments just virtually eating it off the screen now, thank you!

jess @ j3ss kitch3n said...

happy birthday pei-lin!! and its makes me envious that you are so young!! haha old woman grumbling! stay cheerful always and all the best in your future! your rocky bars are a smash!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you so much for the wishes!

@Gert: HAHA! Actually, I've already someone around me having birthday the day before mine. Another colleague will have hers the day after mine. LOL! What a world! Yeap, great minds think alike! I've been missing these evil brownies. Argh! I'm sure both Carlos and Diana will love your brownies to bits! I have to remember to pop by and send my wishes to Carlos, too! =D

@Quinn: It's OK! Perfectly understandable. Your apologies aren't accepted. HAHA! You don't have to apologize, K? Nah, I'm still a novice in writing honestly ... especially in terms of marketing ... I still prefer dead, boring journalistic writing ... HAHA!

True. That sounds like me. I sometimes try to act "wise" and end up giving myself too much pressure. Oh, well! But you haven't seen the Si Manja in me. LOL! I'll only manja like a cat to my loved ones. LOL! =P

Hey, take care yea? Speedy recovery to you! No worries, your words are still making sense to me. That's why I feel the urge to reply to your comment promptly! Help yourself with the brownies! =D

@Jess: You're complaining about being 27!!!??? Ugh! I'm old too! I wanna join your league of the late twenties ... HAHA! =P ... Thanks! I'll keep my head up as I march my way toward the unknown future ...

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

Oh!!! No wonder you were asking me about my niece's actual birth date!!!
It's ur big day today!!!

Happy happy big day!!!

Anncoo said...

Happy Birthday Pei-lin, all the best!

Abbi said...

Happy Birthday Pei Lin! I hope you had a wonderful day! Your brownies look very very yummy!

We spent this day gleaning potatoes. The root cellar is full once again.

Small Small Baker said...

Happy Birthday Pei Lin! The brownies makes me drool in front of my computer. Great treat for birthday! Enjoy and have fun celebrating!

You looked so cute and chubby when young. :)

Hearty Bakes said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pei-Lin! Wishing you all the best and a great year ahead!
Love that pic of you when you were young, so cute! chubby too hehe...

edith said...

Happy Birthday Pei Lin! Gosh, 23 years is so young.

May you blessed with good health and plenty of laughter.

Your brownies look good.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Happy Birthday girlfriend!! You are only 23 years old and you already sound mature for your age. :) you are still young and there are indeed so much more ahead of you to look forward and experience it for yourself. (BGR, marriage, pregnancy and family, list goes on....) Yes, no matter how rocky the road may be, just be true to yourself and live to the fullest. Anyway you are such an intelligent girl, you don't really need my advice, lol! Anyway, sincerely hope you have a wonderful birthday and many more memoriable ones to come. Next time come down to Singapore on Oct 3rd, I'll make a birthday cake for you sweetie. :)

Passionate About Baking said...

Happy 23rd Birthday Pei Lin! With each added years, we will grow wiser and better. You're only 23rd this year! So young! You'll have many wonderful years ahead of you!
Your brownies looked so good...and so real! Yummy!

Beau Lotus said...

Happy Birthday!

You're still very young, at your age I've already gone through a rough patch or 2 and we all learn from them.

You have alot of talent and enthusiasm, I'm sure that you'll have lots more fun be it baking or writing in the years to come.

Swee San said...

hey Pei-Lin, Happy Birthday!! U and Wendy's birthday are quite close eh ? Hehe You're only 23 and there's so much more things to do and explore, don't worry much and... don't forget to HAVE FUN!!

Aimei said...

Happy birthday to you Pei-Lin! I'm glad that you are positive and see each day and passing year a journey of learning and growing. Isn't that great when you looked back and glad that whatever that has happened, good or bad, you have overcome it and live through those good or bnot so good moments? :)

I totally agree with what your mum says. :) Afterall, nothing or no one is perfect in this world. Be positive and true to our conscience and jia you ok!

Oh your rocky bars is making me wanna abandan my diet plans.. hehe... I will do it after my ROM (marriage solemnisation). ;)

Bakertan said...

hey pei-lin,

happy 23rd birthday! these treats make a good birthday cake substitute. looks absolutely mouth-watering. I love to have a piece of these mean treats.

whether life in future for you is a rocky one or not, just look on the bright and sweet side of life ya!

Allie said...

Happy Birthday! You're so young, yet so so mature! I believe you have a fantastic life with many good days ahead of you.

These brownies look awesome! I'm inspired to make brownies too but never liked marshmallows. However, I love how they add specks of white to the otherwise all-brown brownie. Yummy!

Su-yin said...

Happy belated birthday! :) I hope the year ahead holds good things for you.

Happy Homebaker said...

Dear Pei Lin, Happy Birthday!!!
You are still so young, don't think too much, just enjoy your youth :)

Kitchen Corner said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Pei Lin! May all your dreams come true and stay healthy and joyful everyday! Your rocky road bars look fantastic!

DG said...

Happy belated birthday Pei-lin! Your brownies look very attractive and delicious.

Little Inbox said...

Happy belated birthday to you! Wow, you are so young!

Keren Ruth said...

Happy Birthday!!! :) I hope that your 23rd year is a great one!

faithy, the baker said...

Am i late? Happy Belated Birthday ..lol! You're still so young..so many more years find your dreams..and may you have success with finding your dreams too! Oh..before i forget..delicious looking rocky road bars!

Jess @ Bakericious said...

Pei Lin, Happy Belated Birthday, may all your wishes come true! Sorry not able to send the greeting to you earlier as I was extremely busy past few days, finally can catch some breath today.

You are so so young, making me sound and looks so old :P.

No matter how rocky the road is ahead, be positive and brightful, the sun will eventually shine on, all the best and smoothest journey ahead of you :). All the best 小妹妹.

qinyi said...

Happy (belated) Birthday, dear Pei-lin!! :):):) those rocky road bars look are filled with lots of yumminess!

Meldylocks and Her Three Bears said...

Gosh, I'm late! but still... HaPpY B!RtHdAy to You Pei-Lin!! I must say that although you are only 23 and yet you write , bake and cook so well...
...And I think it's true that most ppl are born in the last quarter of the year...most of my friends are, my kids are...
OMG!!! All these are making me feel OLD!!!

Jo said...

Hi Pei-Lin, happy belated birthday and did you say 23. OMG you are making feel so ancient. Hope you had a great day yesterday. Will let you know when I get back to KL .. hopefully later next month. And thanks for being a friend.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Wendy: Hehe ... No wonder I sounded so "gwai sh-oo-ee" (鬼祟) ... Thank you, Dai Kah Jeh!

@Anncoo: Thank you! Same to you, too! =D

@Abbi: Thank you, Abbi! How are you all back in Bemidji? How I wish you all could have had some of the brownies! Miss baking and cooking with and for you guys! I know you guys used to give me GOBS of potatoes. Nice to hear you guys are well stocked with potatoes to last thru the year. I'll write you guys a mail after this. Take care and stay warm!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@SSB: Haha! Wish you could have had some. I know ... I wasn't chubby! I was overweighed! HAHA!

@Edith: Thank you! 23 is just a figure. But time flies by in the blink of an eye!

@Bee Bee: Reading your words always cheer me up! Thank you! Really? Some think of me as more of a pessimist ... HAHA! Guess this is the result of being an atheist and pragmatist. Erm ... I think you've analyzed things for WAY too far ... I haven't even thought of marriage ... and not to even mention about pregnancy!!! AND, I'm still a little lamb that needs to learn a whole lot more ... Hehe ... Erm ... About my traveling plan, we'll see ... Now that I've got no clue ... LOL!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Jane: Same to you! You're YOUNG, TOO! Most importantly, young at heart! HAHA!

@Beau Lotus: Thank you so much for the encouraging words! You've just given me the much needed force that pushes me further! Same to you, too! =D

@Swee San: Yea lor, Wendy's and mine are pretty close to each other. Yea la ... I'll live like a little girl ... always ... A carefree, soh-soh dei life ... HAHA! Not sot-sot one ...

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Aimei: Thank you for being so supportive and a good listener ... as you know, I'm long-winded. HAHA! I'm split: Some say I'm a pessimist while others say I'm an optimist. Definitely! I just learned something today. I appreciate my own history, too. And the same goes to you. Can't wait for you 10-10-10 Big Day! Gosh, I sound SO excited even though I'm not the bride. LOL! Eh, don't go on diet la ... You're already skinny enough ... Then, what am I? HAHA!

@Zhuoyuan: The idea of mailing each other our foods sounds like a good one, though, not feasible at present. HAHA! Thank you for listening to me also. LOL! Yes, sir ... I will lar ... Same goes to you, too. =)

@Allie: Thank you! Didn't know you aren't a marshmallow fan. I thought you've made brownies with quite a number of recipes. Oh, I've yet to blog about the Brrrrr-ownies ... Will see when .... HAHA! I'm darn slow ...

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Su-yin: Thanks, gal! Same to you, too!

@HHB: Thanks for the advice. I will ... Life is too short to live. =)

@Grace F.: Thank you! Same to you, too!

@DG: Thank you so much! =)

@Little Inbox: Thank you! No lar ... 23 is just a figure only ... =P

@Keren Ruth: Hey! Thank you! I hope so, too! Will write to you guys the soonest I can. Stay warm in Bemidji! =D

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Faithy: NOPE! You're never late! Thank you so much, buddy! I wonder if I can some of these brownies to Singapore for you. HAHA! Will see what I can bring on my next southbound trip. =)

@Jess L.: Apologies declined. Don't ever apologize to me! You've done nothing wrong. LOL! I heard from Wendy lar ... you're not too old lar ... Cheh ... Haha! Thank you for being so supportive, Ah Jess 姐! The same to you, too! Btw, "23" is just a figure only. You're always one beautiful mom! Come to KL and get crazy with us three ladies lar ... HAHA!

@Qin Yi: Hey, buddy! How is Leicester treating you? Yours is just around the corner, too! I'm gonna wish you on the day itself! Watch out! Check your inbox, yea? I miss you A LOT! When you're in Malaysia, have to lemme know, K?

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, all! Thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and well wishes! Been terribly busy! So sorry about that! I'll try catching up with you when time allows. Have a lovely week ahead! =)

@Melody: No, no ... You're never late. Thank you! I'm still learning from you all lar ... You, Wendy and Swee San so geng ... 我獻醜啦 ... Yea lor, your observation is so right. I realized there are so many people who are having their birthdays in October ... Why ar? Cis, apa la ... "23" is just a figure only lor ... LOL!

@Jo: Aiyo, "23" is just a figure ... See, it should be that the larger the figure is, the more wisdom the person possesses. LOL! So, does that compensate the discrepancy? LOL! Yea, hopefully you'll get to see other Malaysian bloggers too! Can't wait! Been close to 2 months since I saw you! You bet! I'm glad to have a friend like you! Take care in the meantime!

mycookinghut said...

Happy Birthday, Pei-Lin! The little Pei-Lin was so cute!! :)
This little treat is absolutely yummy! Well done!

pigpigscorner said...

Happy belated birthday Pei-lin!

Elin said...

Pei Lin...sorry for the late birthday wishes...Happy Birthday Pei-Lin and may all your dreams and wishes come true for you.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful brownies. Will try it when Jo is back. She loves brownies :)

noobcook said...

Happy belated birthday, girl! And your baby pic is so cute! Love the generous nuts in your chocolate bars.

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy Birthday Peilin! (Sorry I am late, but better than never, right?)
I love your baby picture...you were so happy in the arm of your mom. :-)
Perfect rocky road!

Tuty said...

Albeit a tad late, I also want to wish you many happy returns.

May you be blessed with many more happy, healthy, and successful years.


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, guys! Sorry for the late reply! Been very busy and tired! But thank you so, so much for the encouraging words and wishes! You've made my day! And I truly appreciate it! =D

@Elin: Oh, so when is Jo gonna be back to Ipoh? Me and Swee San may be going up to Kuala Kangsar .... When things have been finalized, we'll let you know. Maybe we can pay you a visit in Ipoh since it's not that far away from KK. Btw, lemme know if Jo loves the brownies.

@Angie & Tuty: You guys are never late! Don't ever say sorry to me, K? There's no reason to apologize. =) ... Thank you for the encouraging words, really! I'd like to wish the same to you guys, too! =D

Food For Tots said...

Happy Birthday Pei-lin! Judging from your writing, you're a very determined and patient lady. I'm sure you're tough enough to face any rocky road in your future journey. ;)

petite nyonya said...

happy birthday gal! you have a great future ahead, and seize it, just like how you've done it with this absolutely inviting & rich brownie.

Zoe said...

Happy Belated birthday. Loves your childhood photo and your rocky brownies :D

Siukwan said...

Happy belated birthday Pei-lin! I just found that your birthday is the same day as my hubby, what's a coincidence! Wish you all the happiness!!!

Elin said...

Pei-Lin ,
Jo will be flying back on 31st October. Sure, I will take you and Swee San out for lunch if you are passing by Ipoh. Hopefully not on a Sunday coz I will be in church with the service and sunday school. Saturday will be great :)

Let me a day before hand ya, then we can meet up for lunch :)

The Experimental Cook said...

Big things are made up of many small things. I look back at the little I had 23 years and am amazed how things have turned out. You never know.

Lovely pics of the Rocky Road bars. Makes me want to try and bake some...

babe_kl said...

Aww sorry to wish you this late. Happy belated birthday.

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