Archive for Brownies

Bittman’s Brownies

Ni hao, friends!! I’m back from China, jet-lag free and super excited for the coming weeks filled with graduation festivities, friends, family (all coming in for my graduation party), and even more fun.

Whirlwind recap of China: Extremely tiring since every day there was something else exciting to see but definitely a lot of fun. Highlights include Shanghai (what a lovely city!), the Great Wall (picture below), a friend’s wedding, and literally spending every last penny of ours on food. It was two weeks with one of my favorite people in the world, our first trip longer than an extended weekend, and it was wonderful.

Now for the baking. Towards the end of our trip I was constantly complaining that I wanted some serious chocolate cake or brownie action. If you’ve eaten Asian food, you’ve realized that they’re not big on chocolate and their cakes are not the rich, dense versions you’ll find in any Western bakery, but rather light, fluffy sponge cakes with a barely detectable flavor. For this girl, whose refrigerator is never without butter and heavy cream and whose pantry is constantly stocked with dark chocolate, satisfaction with Eastern desserts could only last so long. So while I enjoyed my time in China I was looking forward to getting back into my own kitchen and whipping up some serious brownies.

These are serious brownies. They were not as chewy as I like my favorite brownies but they sure satisfied that gnawing in my stomach from a lack of a really good chocolate dessert.

Bittman’s Brownies
adapted from Eats Well With Others

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8×8″ baking pan with aluminum foil. Melt chocolate and butter together in a medium-sized bowl over gently simmering water. Once almost melted, take off heat and continue stirring until completely melted. Stir in sugar with a wooden spoon followed by the eggs one at a time, salt, and vanilla extract. With a spatula, fold in flour until it just disappears. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Eat with a spoon as soon as they come out of the oven.

Yeahhhhh spoon!!

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies

Let me tell you about these brownies.

They taste like olive oil.

Now, many recipes tout ingredients in their titles that don’t always play a huge role in the flavor category. This one doesn’t. These actually taste like olive oil with some surrounding chocolate and a helping of coconut. So if you don’t like any of those ingredients, I’m sorry but these are probably not the brownies for you.

However, if you do like any (or all) of the above ingredients, you’re going to love these! I happen to be one of those people who could (did? I’m not telling!) eat these in spoonfuls out of the pan, who finds the flavor combination both sublime and addicting. The only real problem for me is that they’re not super awesome washed down with a glass of cold milk. Milk and olive oil? Not the best duo. But olive oil and chocolate and coconut with a few grains of salt? Oh baby, come to mama!

This Week I Ate..

  • Eats Well With Others’ Chicken Enchiladas with Mashed Plantains. After a slightly panicked text message, I was reassured in replacing the red chiles with 3 chipotle peppers (with accompanying adobo sauce) and Boy and I could not love this dish any more. It was the perfect amount of spicy and the queso fresco on top completely won us over. (I used an entire 12 oz block). I wish I still had leftovers.

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
adapted from NY Times

Makes 16-25 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c + 1 tbsp water, boiling
  • 1 oz unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 c shredded sweetened coconut
  • extra kosher salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil and grease lightly with extra olive oil. Set aside.

Whisk together cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth. Add 1 oz unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in olive oil. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add in sugar and whisk until completely incorporated. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle half the coconut over the batter. Then, in big spoonfuls, plop the rest of the batter over top the coconut and smooth over (it’s okay if it’s not perfect). Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and a good dose of sprinkling salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Disregard the tester in this case because it won’t come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

This has been submitted to Sweets for a Saturday!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

If your sweet tooth is going through withdrawal after the onslaught of Valentine’s Day, I have a treat for you.

Red velvet.

But not cake.

Huh?

I know.

I’ve been known from time to time to just browse through recipe websites looking for inspiration and this week it was the Food Network. Sunny Anderson, you’re my hero.

I found that I had most of the ingredients already stocked in my pantry with the exception of the red food coloring. A quick trip to the grocery store remedied that situation and in seemingly no time, these were on my table last night.

These are a bit oily from the cream cheese layer, but absolutely delicious. It’s your favorite red velvet + cream cheese combination in the form of a brownie (or a reddie?) and I can’t help but love it. The red layer is dense and tastes just like red velvet, complemented well by the lighter cream cheese layer on top. And who can resist a beautiful swirl? Not I.

Perhaps a bit mistimed, should these have been our Valentine’s Day treats? But the timing can’t take away from the yum. These were well received by all.

This Week I Ate.. Valentine’s edition!

  • Pioneer Woman’s Roasted Beef Tenderloin from her cookbook. OH MY WORD this was phenomenal. So juice and tender. We had to cook it a little bit more than she recommended because the thing was basically mooing coming out of the oven but no matter. Still wonderful.
  • Mashed potatoes. I make them with Russet potatoes, boil until fork tender, drain, then return to the pot over a low flame to take off some excess steam. This time I added some butter, some cream cheese, some whole milk (leftovers), and added salt and pepper. One of my best batches yet!
  • Spinach. We just wilted up the spinach with some olive oil and garlic. Perfect combination.

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies
adapted from Food Network’s Sunny Anderson

Makes 1 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

For red velvet layer:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour

For cream cheese layer:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 8×8″ baking pan with foil or by coating with butter.

For red velvet layer, melt butter in a saucepan on the stove. Pour into a large bowl and add in sugar, extract, cocoa, salt, coloring, and vinegar one at a time, mixing after each addition with a wooden spoon. Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl and add to batter. Fold in flour until just disappeared and pour into prepared pan, reserving 1/4 cup of batter.

For cream cheese layer, using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, and extract until well mixed. Carefully pour over brownie layer in the pan.

Dollop the remaining red batter over the top of the cream cheese layer and swirl using the tip of a knife. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool before cutting (with a plastic knife!) and serving.

Have you thought out of the box lately?

DB – Entremet

Dear Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be,

This challenge was not my challenge. For the first time I really really tried twice. TWICE! And twice, it got this funktastic uneven cooking leading to brownish swirls all over the joconde imprime. The first time I chalked it up to overcooking, the second time I just figured it was my oven. Even so, next time I’ll definitely be making the sponge cocoa to mask the effect.

Also, filling the actual entremet was quite the challenge. There are so many options! Cake/cookie/brownie layers, mousse, pudding, cream.. Possibilities seemed endless and I’m quite an indecisive person so that was a bit rough.

We should also mention the fact that I have no idea how to judge depth and how much filling will I need to make to fill this big mold?

I get anxious when I don’t have complete control. And I had absolutely no control over this baby.

But in the end, fears gone and caution thrown to the wind, this was a winner. The presentation was quite beautiful despite the outer joconde imprime separating at the seams and raspberry mousse leaking out. And all the work was worth it. Each bite was savored by everyone at the party I brought it to. The rich brownie layer along with the light raspberry and vanilla mousses created this perfect balance of textures and flavors.

So Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be, you did a great job this time, pulling me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to try something new. It was a challenge but I’m glad I came out the other side still alive with a belly full of entremet.

Till February,

Me

ps. Can you take it a little easier next month? I used a ridiculous number of eggs this month. As in over 18. I lost count. Thanks for your consideration.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

For the Biscuit Joconde Imprime recipe and technique, check out accro! My layers basically consisted of a brownie base, a raspberry mousse, a round of leftover sponge from the joconde imprime, and all topped with extra vanilla bean mousse.

Chewy Brownies (bottom layer)
adapted from use real butter, originally from Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil). For the entremet, I baked mine in a round pan to fit my mold. In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended. (I used a wooden spoon for this entire recipe because I didn’t feel like breaking out the big guns.) Add in the flour and cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool, cut, and eat! (Or stick it into your entremet.)

Raspberry Mousse (middle layer)
adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen raspberries, thawed (or 5 c fresh)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 c heavy cream, chilled

Instructions
Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a microwaveable bowl and let stand approximately 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, puree approximately 4 c raspberries with 1/2 c sugar. Strain into a bowl. Microwave the gelatin for 10 seconds then whisk it into the strained puree.

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 c sugar until warm to the touch. Remove from heat and using a hand-held mixer, beat the whites until stiff and glossy. Fold into puree.

Using the same bowl, beat chilled heavy cream until firm. Fold into puree.

Mash remaining 1 c raspberries and fold into mousse. Pour into bowls or other serving vehicle and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set.

Happy Friday, dear readers!

Godiva Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Nothing says “thank you” like homemade baked goods in my opinion.

Thanks for having me over for dinner!

Thanks for writing me a letter of recommendation!

Thank you for being a friend.

Golden girls, anyone?

I’m sure many of you think along the same lines and if so have I got a recipe for you!

(If not, this is still a great recipe and I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to make this.)

In other news, I am busily preparing for Boy’s birthday in 2 days. It’s going to be an Asian extravaganza of sorts and I’m quite stressed out about it. I think I’ve gone all out and I’m pushing myself to make things that I’ve never made before and require time, time, and more time (which I never seem to have but I have off for the next couple of days to study for my exam.. and I guess I’ll be cooking instead of studying). Since I know he doesn’t read this on a daily basis, I’ll let you in on the meal.

Momofuku Pork Belly Buns

Braised Short Ribs with Watercress and Jasmine Rice

and finally

Lychee Coconut Sorbet with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge and Fried Vermicelli Noodle Tangles (for garnish)

Does that sound like a delicious meal for a wonderful Boy’s birthday?

Wish me luck! These brownies will be with me every step of the way unless I eat all of them at the first step and then I’ll be lost.

Godiva Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
adapted from Godiva

Original cut in half for an 8×8″ pan of brownies.

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with foil and allow edges to hang off as handles of sorts. Coat bottom and sides with nonstick spray (although I’m not sure it’s needed).

Heat chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and 3 tbsp sugar until smooth. Add in 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat butter and remaining sugar until combined. Add the other egg and mix then add in melted chocolate and remaining 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in flour and salt until just combined on low speed. Set aside 1/2 c of this batter and pour the remainder into the prepared pan.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the chocolate batter. Then spoon the reserved 1/2 of chocolate batter over the cream cheese and pull a knife or skewer through the banner to create the swirl.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool before cutting into squares, pulling brownies out of the pan using the foil handles.

What do you like to munch on while you cook/bake?

Cocoa Brownies

Med school is hard.

I don’t mean in a study-all-the-time-and-sleep-for-4-hours-if-you-want-to-not-get-yelled-at-the-next-day-for-not-knowing-the-answer-to-the-question-you-didn’t-know-existed-because-it-wasn’t-in-the-book-you-read kind of way. I don’t even mean in a four-years-of-misery-to-graduate-100,000-dollars-in-debt-and-an-M.D.-after-your-name-that-means-nothing-if-you-don’t-submit-yourself-to-cheap-labor-in-the-form-of-residency kind of way. Not an everyone-else-my-age-is-vacationing-with-spending-money-to-boot-and-possibly-getting-engaged-and-having-babies-before-the-risk-of-conceiving-difficulties-and-congenital-abnormalities-skyrockets-at-age-35 kind of way either.

I mean in a I-have-no-social-life-and-therefore-bake-solely-for-my-lonesome-self-and-sometimes-Boy-except-he-has-3-of-something-max-because-he’s-health-conscious-and-I-have-to-eat-the-rest kind of waybecause-I’m-the-chub-chub way.

Here’s the thing. I read blogs. Blogs of women who are married, who have families, who have jobs with coworkers, who have neighbors/friends who throw get-togethers or have birthdays. I? Am not one of those people.

Marriage/families? P’shaw! I have apparently chosen the life of a career-driven human being who may or may not be thought of as a workaholic except it’s not really by choice anymore. Coworkers? Not likely! While I would love to give residents and attendings some baked treats, it isn’t appropriate in terms of grading. And besides, you can’t bring treats for some without bringing for the whole class, can you? Where would it end? Residents? Attendings? Nurses? And neighbors? Haven’t spoken to a single one. Mostly because I’m holed up in my cocoon of staring at books and doing questions at all times. Also because one of them tends to yell and scream and an FBI agent came by once asking if I knew anything about her (true story that I’ll save for later). Friends? Yes, I have those. But we’re all so busy nowadays and have such varied schedules that we don’t even always celebrate birthdays anymore.

So I’m stuck with me, Boy, and sometimes my family. Except right now. Because my mom won’t eat chocolate during Lent. And all I seem to want to bake is chocolate things. Oh, the irony. Buuuuuut, I don’t really mind eating an entire batch of brownies by myself. So, GO LENT!

These brownies are quite possibly my quintessential brownie. No solid chocolate whatsoever because no fat added from cocoa butter in the chocolate bars means you control the fat content completely. The top was hard and chewy and the inside literally melted in my mouth and lingered on my tongue. It’s one of those things that you can eat over an extended period of time, little morsel by little morsel, because it’s so good you don’t want to waste any tiny bit of it on a hastily scarfed down bite.

I’m already craving another one just thinking about it. Except I already ate them all.

Best Cocoa Brownies
adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet

Makes 16.

Ingredients
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, cold
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c walnut or pecan pieces (optional) [I dislike nuts in my brownies.]

Instructions
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside until the mixture is warm to the touch.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts, if using [ewww]. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until toothpick comes out slightly moist with batter, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. [Or if you can’t wait, just dig in. That’s what I do. Brownies are best warm and still oven-gooey in my humble opinion.]

[Helpful hint: It’s MUCH easier to get a cleaner cut in brownies if you use a plastic knife. You’ll thank me later.]

MMMMMMMM-mmmmm good!!

– Sharlene