Saturday, October 10, 2015

Duck Egg Brownies Baked in the Woodburning Cookstove

I didn't have school a week ago Friday because we had had parent-teacher conferences during the week.  On Friday morning, I traveled to a farm between Elkhorn and Marne, Iowa, to purchase a flock of seven ducks.  It has been over a decade since I've had ducks here on the farm, and I've missed them.  They are so much fun to watch and listen to.

Our new ducks.  Hatched this spring, laying regularly, and only
$5 each, they were a steal!

Nancy and I occasionally purchase a duck to roast because we both prefer dark meat, and since all of the meat on a duck is dark meat, it's a win-win situation for both of us.  I'm hoping that these ducks will be our breeding stock to hatch several more ducklings next year, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying having duck eggs in the refrigerator again.

The Internet has all kinds of information on the nutritional content of duck eggs, and I encourage you to investigate it all for yourself.  In the days before the internet, though, we relied on what our elders told us, so what I will tell you is that Granny (my grandmother on my dad's side) always said that duck eggs were too rich to eat plain, but they made great baked goods. Furthermore, one of our elderly farmer neighbor ladies, who has always been a great poultry woman, says that all of the best bakeries in Europe use duck eggs.  What I know from experience is that I really like to bake with them.

When we first had ducks when I was young, Meme was still baking, and she would use our duck eggs when there were enough to share.  Even though duck eggs tend to be a little larger than chicken eggs, she would use them in an even 1:1 exchange, so that is always what I have done.  Sometimes I add a little more flour to make up for the extra moisture.  So far, the only thing that I have not been able to bake with duck eggs is a from-scratch angel food cake.  Both times I tried it, the cakes fell out of the pan while they were inverted to cool.  This is an unbelievably discouraging event, so I have never tried to bake an angel food cake out of duck eggs again.

One of my favorite recipes to use duck eggs is Meme's brownies.  As near as I can tell, Meme's recipe comes from Baker's Chocolate.  It was cut out of either a magazine or a food package, and she kept it on the underside of the lid for the jar in which she kept her squares of unsweetened chocolate.  If I remember correctly, the recipe originally called for twice the amount of chocolate that she always put in it, but this was Meme's way.  She was a notorious chocolate lover, but she halved the chocolate in nearly every recipe she baked.  I don't know whether this was from motives of economy or personal preference, but because everything that we had from her kitchen was baked in that way while I was growing up, that is now my personal preference. 

To make these brownies, here is what you do:

1. You'll need a moderate oven to bake these, so build your fire accordingly.

2. Grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking pan. 

3. Combine 1/3 cup butter (Meme always used Crisco, but I think butter gives a better flavor and is cheaper when we are milking) with one ounce of unsweetened chocolate in a small sauce pan.  Place this on the stove away from the fire to slowly melt.

Soapbox Moment: I really DO NOT LIKE the new packaging on the Baker's Chocolate bars.  I want the individually wrapped ounces back.  I cannot get the bar to break along the lines!

Butter and chocolate melting over the coolest part
of the Margin Gem's cooktop.
4. While the chocolate and butter are melting, combine 1 cup sugar and two eggs.  Stir together, but don't beat too much air into it.

The duck eggs waiting to be combined with the sugar.
Note that the yolks are slightly larger than a chicken egg,
and the whites are completely clear rather than tinted
slightly yellow

5. Add 1/2 tsp. baking powder, a pinch of salt (if desired), and about a tsp. of vanilla.  Again, stir to mix, but don't beat.

6. Pour melted butter and chocolate into egg and sugar mixture, being careful that the melted ingredients are not allowed to cook your eggs.

7. Add 2/3 cup unsifted flour.

8. Pour into prepared pan and bake in a moderate oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just about clean.  This can take anywhere from about twenty minutes to a half hour, depending on how hot your oven is.  Brownies are pretty forgiving of a slightly cooler oven, but if your oven is running hot, that can be more of a problem.  Remove from oven and cool.
The brownies in the oven of the Margin Gem.

You could stop here, of course, and Nancy wishes that I would.  However, Meme always frosted her brownies, and I am of the opinion that frosting makes the world go 'round.  More than once, I have gotten funny looks from people when I fall into a glucose-induced trance, wax poetic, and murmur "Frosting is the lubricant of the world!"

Meme always made regular powdered sugar frosting with a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa in it (again, not very chocolaty) and spread it over the brownies, and that is what I do too.

The first brownie out of the pan.  I accidentally put a little more cocoa in
the frosting than usual, but it was still tasty!

There are many, many recipes for brownies floating about, and I've used several different recipes for different occasions.  I would have to admit that I've run across very few that I didn't like, but I think these are my favorite.  The texture is especially rich and chewy when they've been made with duck eggs. 

More recipes to come!


  1. I've used duck eggs now a few times. They're just fine for "eating", whether as scrambled or in an egg sandwich, though the larger egg is very noticeable in such situations. For baking, in say cookies, or a cake where there's only one or two eggs called for, they substitute 1:1 fine. In baking where more eggs are called for (like my favorite popover recipe that calls for 4 eggs), doing a 1:1 is way to much egg every time I've tried it. I've not found a perfect percentage to substitute, but the larger the percentage of eggs in the recipe the less duck eggs you need. And I expect thats the problem with your Angel Food Cake recipe too, though thats one I've never tried.

    1. Good theory, Ruth, except that I measure the amount of egg whites rather than count them, so that can't be it. I wonder if it is because of the increased protein. I had suspected that there was fat in the white to begin with, but a nutritional breakdown that I found on the Internet showed that there is no fat in the white of a duck egg.

      I LOVE popovers, too. I'll have to try duck eggs in them. Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Could be!

      Enjoy the popovers! For my favorite recipe, mentioned above, I find 1 duck egg and 3 chicken eggs works perfectly, 2-2 is ok, 3-1 is not ok and 4-0 doesn't work. I haven't tried, yet, 3 duck eggs and 0 chicken eggs.....I started having weird reactions to eggs and had to cut back.