November 7, 2010 § 23 Comments
It seems like every baker has that one perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies, that they’re so confident in that they need never try another. I’m not generally capable of doing that, since I have a neurotic need to test a bazillion recipes – what if the next one is better? The world could end without me tasting the best possible cookie! When it comes to brownies, however, I have my winner. I guess that someone as serious about chocolate as I am would have to have identified its most perfect vehicle.
This recipe hits all my brownie requirements: dense and fudgy, but not because the batter is underbaked and gooey. They’re intensely chocolatey, so although I don’t actually expect other people to throw away money on fancy chocolate, it should be at least decent quality. The recipe also insists that you let them sit overnight before cutting into them. This is indeed tasty, but honestly who has the willpower? I promise they’re still incredible the day you bake them and absolve you of any guilt over premature brownie-eating.
So here are my favourite brownies: not compared against all other possible recipes, because once I found them, I made them exactly again and again. I’m not saying I’ll never try another recipe, but I haven’t yet.
Supernatural Brownies – adapted from Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, plus more for buttering pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I use around 65-70%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper or foil. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Gently melt butter and chocolate together in microwave, or on top of double boiler. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
Whisk in melted chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack. If you can stand the wait, cover the cooled brownies tightly with foil and store at room temperature overnight before cutting.
December 26, 2009 § 7 Comments
Despite the obvious fact that eggnog is yucky, one of my roommates decided to host an eggnog party at our house before Christmas. Turns out that other people also like eggnog! Who knows what terrible event they suffered as children to develop such perverse tastes. But eggnog or not, a holiday party calls for holiday cookies, so I stepped up to the plate with sugar cookies and gingerbread squares.
I sort of figured that my baking skills would translate into cookie-decorating skills. Turns out, not so much. But to my surprise, decorating cookies seems to be a big hit with my guy friends, as may be evident from how they turned out: the artistry included several brains, a man with X’s for eyes, and a goat. Me and my unoriginal ways were responsible for the two identical candycanes. The resulting assortment was, um, unique!
I don’t know if the recipe was a little off, or if I just don’t really like sugar cookies, but I thought they were just okay. The gingerbread bars, however, were something else. Quite a change from the usual sweet Christmas fare, these were dense and warmly spiced. They’re drizzled with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and went over quite well with the eggnog-soaked crowd. I shouldn’t have baked them quite so long though, so don’t take the instructions too literally – always check for doneness as ovens vary considerably. Also, the recipe I used for the icing was not great, and I doctored it heavily before using, so I’d just refer you back to my more trusted icing on that front. With those tweaks, I’d say this recipe is quite tasty indeed, even once the eggnog wears off.
Gingerbread Bars – from Dunk Twice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
- White chocolate cream cheese frosting (scroll down the link)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and butter the foil.
In a medium bowl, add flour. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of flour and place in separate bowl to reserve for topping.
Into the flour (not reserved flour), whisk in ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, cream together butter and 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating just to combine after each addition. Mix in vanilla and molasses. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in white chocolate chips if using.
Scoop batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle the top with reserved flour, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
Bake until bars are golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached, about 20-24 minutes. Remove and cool completely on rack before cutting.
When bars are cooled, lift the bars out of the pan using the foil. Using a ziploc or pastry bag with a small hole cut at the tip, drizzle white chocolate icing over gingerbread, then cut into bars. You will probably have leftover icing, and you’ll just have to figure out for yourself what to do with it.
August 4, 2009 § Leave a comment
These were wonderful.
They were also kind of ugly. They don’t make for spectacular presentation, as can be seen in the photo. I think blondies are sort of inherently unattractive, because a yellow block with dark chunks just isn’t going to look super appetizing.
I had never made blondies before, having tasted one a couple years ago and written them off as dry and boring. But I’m moving soon, and I wanted to use up my various types of chocolate chips. Ignoring the fact that I would have to buy even more ingredients to bake these, I settled on this blondies recipe that includes them both!
Anyhow, if you like gooey, buttery desserts (this is obviously rhetorical), then these are the absolute perfect things to make. I loved them and couldn’t stop eating them and had to rapidly give them all away. They turn out as slabs of what is basically melty butter cookie, studded with pecans and white and semisweet chocolate chips.
As for the recipe, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, I’m terrified to mess with something so delicious. My only notes are that the edges have a bit of a gummy texture, so I cut them off before slicing into squares (and then devoured all said edges! MWAHAHA!). I also think that toasting the nuts makes a real difference – I never used to, because I’m lazy, but it turns out it’s super easy and very much worth it.
Blondies – from The New Best Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 scant teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks salted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with 2 pieces of foil or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
Fold in the semisweet and white chocolate chips and the nuts, and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. (Don’t overbake!) Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely, then cut into squares (discarding edges if desired).