After the spice explosion of Thanksgiving (cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves, oh my!), all I could think about on Monday was something rich and chocolatey. Searching through my pantry, I was dissapointed to find nothing but a tiny bit of cocoa powder and some chocolate syrup. I was quite close to giving up and baking something else when I came across a recipe in an old christmas cookie magazine for brownies using chocolate syrup instead of regular melted chocolate. Hoorah! I was saved.
The original recipe for these used a combination of chocolate and peppermint flavoring, but halfway through making them, I sadly found that I had no more mint extract. Instead, I mixed in some caramel extract into the cream mixture, which seemed to turn out just fine. I am sure a lot of different extracts and flavorings would work nicely: cherry extract, Kahlua, Amaretto, coconut flavoring, etcetera.
Be on the lookout though. The spices will be back shortly. It's holiday time!
Layered Brownies: recipe altered from a BH&G christmas cookie magazine
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate-flavor syrup
1/2 cup butter or magarine, softened
For cream topping:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon mint extact, or extract/flavoring of your choice
3 drops food coloring, if desired
For chocolate topping:
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
For the brownies: Combine flour, sugar, chocolate-flavor syrup, eggs, and 1/2 cup butter or margarine in a mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat 1 minute on medium speed. Turn batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes or till top springs back when lightly touched (Top may still appear wet.) Let cool in pan on wire rack.
Make the cream topping: Combine the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, water, extract, and optional food coloring. Beat well with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread over the cooled brownies.
Make the chocolate topping: Combine chocolate pieces and the 6 tablespoons butter or margarine in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat till chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Or, microwave in a small microwave-safe bowl for 1 to 1/2 minutes or till chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread over the cream layer.
Cover and chill brownies for at least 1 hour. Cut into bars. Top with cocoa powder or chocolate candy curls, if desired. Store in the refrigerator.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
My dear friend and co-blogger Alice is known (at least to me) for her love of cute baked goods. When asked for advice on what I should bake, her typical response is something along the lines of, "we should bake something adorable!", a line that occurred once again this afternoon. While I am usually one to bake something messier and generally "home-cooked looking," I do enjoy finding a nice balance between super-cute and quaintly homemade. And so, after examining what I had on hand and searching through a pile of cookbooks, we settled on these sweet lemon-lime bars.
After I started the crust, Alice turned around and noticed one of my tiny ceramic baking dishes, a special one to me hand-picked by my son (because "Mum likes kitchen things!"). Due to its fortunate yellow shade, she decided that it would be perfect to bake this yellow-colored dessert in. Yes, I must say that it, along with the thinly-sliced lemon and lime slices scattered on top, added majorly to the adorable factor.
And the bars? I'll admit that I have never been a huge fan of citrus desserts, but goodness. They really hit the spot. Buttery crust with flecks of lemon and a beautiful sweet custard topping topped with a bit of coconut and powdered sugar. How can that be bad?
Lemon-Lime Squares: adapted slightly from the best bake sale ever cookbook
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
confectioners' sugar for dusting
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and lemon zest. Cut in the butter to make a dough the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Or make the dough in a food processor, mixing the dry ingredients, then pulsing in the butter. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake the crust in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until it is just beginning to turn golden around the edges.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and lemon and lime juices until light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the flour and beat just until combines. Pour the filling over the hot baked crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Using a small sharp knife, cut into squares. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and, if desired, sprinkle with coconut.
As seen above, fall has hit my backyard hard.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
As much as I love cupcakes, pies, cookies, and other delicious confections, when it comes to sweets I am completely infatuated with brownies. They are one of the few desserts that have a high chance of completely vanishing within twenty-four hours after baking them. Being a complete chocoholic, they just always seem to hit the spot.
When I was vegan a couple of years ago, I made it my goal to create desserts that tasted the same (if not sometimes better) than their non-vegan counterparts. I was constantly in the kitchen experimenting, discovering new methods, and trying out dozens of egg/dairy-free recipes from a variety of sources. For some reason, though, I could never find a brownie recipe that really had the chewiness and fudginess of the traditional one. That is until I found this one, which has never failed to produce a sinfully rich and chewy brownie. Enjoy.
The Best Vegan Brownies Ever
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11 x 17" or 9 x 13" pan.
Boil water and 1/2 cup of the flour in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches the consistency of a gluey paste. Remove from heat and let cool.
Mix sugars, salt, vanilla, cocoa and oil. Then add the rest of the flour-water mixture and mix well. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and baking powder, mix well, and then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if you're using them). The end mixture will be rather thick.
Spread the mixture into your baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. These are much better when completely cooled.