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Your Test Kitchen questions, asked and answered

January 6, 2009 |  8:03 am


We're glad so many of you enjoyed the list of our favorite L.A. Times recipes for 2008 — thanks for taking the time to write us. We also received two recipe questions that might be of interest to more than just the folks asking, so here goes.

Bob e-mailed to say:

In your recently published recipe for midnight chocolate brownie bites, should one use light or dark brown sugar and should one use salted or unsalted butter?

Thanks for your e-mail, Bob. The recipe calls for "3/4 cup packed brown sugar," so your question is a good one. Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter — who tests and perfects all our recipes before they go into print — says you can use either. Noelle also said the "default" for all our recipes is unsalted butter — so always assume the recipe calls for unsalted butter unless it specifically says otherwise.

Rimona e-mailed to say:

You have featured Panforte receipe in your Best of 2008 Food section. I just wanted to let you know, that even though it's featured as Italian, I am not, I'm a French, Sephardic Jew, and my mother made  Panforte every year for Passover. The point of this email, is that I have never been able to find any Quince fruit in Los Angeles, (I'm moved 24 years ago)...WHERE CAN I FIND IT??? My birthday is coming along and I wanted to treat myself and make it. Can you help me find it???? Thank you and please keep up the good work by feeding us with unusual dishes.

Happy birthday, Rimona; thanks for your e-mail.

Quince looks something like a cross between a pear and an apple. You can often find it at specialty supermarkets such as Bristol Farms, and at farmers markets, though the season for it is nearing the end. Failing that, look for candied quince at Mexican markets, where it's called membrillo. Or you can just increase the amounts of the other fruit called for in the recipe to make up the difference.

— Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times