Well between the heat/humidity and a rough few days on the job front, I've once again been neglecting the blog. I need some sleep so nothing too exciting tonight but I did want to get some pictures up. Tomorrow I'll post the accompanying recipes and reviews. Stop & Shop had blueberries on sale last week so I had picked up 4 pints and this weekend found a number of ways to put them all to use! :-)
I had seen these muffins a few times while looking through my google reader. I had starred them so I could make them sometime and tonight wound up being the night! They came together quickly and I had a lot of fun dipping them in the butter and the sugar :-) These looked way too good not to try one so I tested one out. While I typically like my doughnuts with chocolate frosting, I'm going to make an exception for these muffins. They're really good and they do in fact taste just like cinnamon sugar donuts! I definitely look forward to making these again soon!
from Genesis of a Cook
3 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar, plus 1/8 cup of sugar
1/2 tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter, more if needed
1 cups sugar
1 tbs. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a standard muffin pan with muffin cups.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Combine the vanilla, milk and heavy cream in a measuring cup.
With a spoon or rubber spatula, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture. Then add a third of the milk mixture to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix.
Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes.
To finish, melt the butter for the dipping mixture in a small bowl. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.
Makes 12 muffins
This week's recipe was chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life and is a mixed berry cobbler! This selection made me happy for two reasons. First, the recipe didn't look too complicated which meant it wouldn't take me an entire day to make it and I wouldn't have to spend a lot of money to buy ingredients that weren't already in my fridge or pantry. Also, as I think I've mentioned before, I love the simplicity of a fruit dessert. So, needless to say, I had high expectations for this recipe.
I don't want to say I was disappointed in the final product, but let's just say it wasn't my favorite and I probably won't make it again. First, I ran into a problem with the dough. I don't know what happened, but my dough just wouldn't come together. It was crumbly and messy. For that reason, I would up doing drop biscuits on top of the fruit instead of rolling the dough out into a nice circle. Also, some others had commented that the topping was bland. I added extra sugar to the dough as well as cinnamon and nutmeg but I still wasn't blown away.
I would up making my cobbler in several small ramekins. I'm not sure I could call my cobbler "mixed berry" as it was 95% blueberries. I'm not a huge blackberry fan and raspberries were pretty expensive so I went with all blueberries and a few strawberries. The fruit portion of the dessert was very good....I'll just have to work on the topping if I try it again!
Be sure to head over to TWD to see the other bakers cobblers. Every week I see the most amazing photos over there and I'm sure this week will be no exception!
I have a bad habit of buying strawberries at the grocery store every week and then not eating them. Inevitably, strawberries end up rotting before I can eat them. So when I saw this recipe on Annie's blog, I made a mental note to give these cupcakes a try the next time I had strawberries sitting around. This morning I had some free time and some strawberries and set out to give these a shot.
First, for the problems. The biggest problem I had was with the frosting. I don't know what I did wrong, but my frosting was more like glaze. There was no way I could pipe this frosting onto the cupcakes so I just wound up spreading it with a spatula. I also had an issue with some of my cupcakes deflating in the middle after they were baked. That's not a problem unique to this recipe as it seems to happen fairly often when I make cupcakes or muffins, but it's still frustrating.
And now for the good news...these were amazingly tasty!! They have great strawberry flavor. It's not too overwhelming and the chunks of strawberries in the cupcakes are such a great addition. I have a feeling it's going to be very tough not to eat all of these myself!
from Annie's Eats
For the cupcakes:
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries
For the frosting:
½ c. strawberries
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped strawberries. Fill cupcake wells ¾ full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the frosting, puree strawberries in food processor. Strain through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, and set aside. Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add lemon juice, vanilla and strawberry puree. Adjust the amount of puree to achieve your desired consistency. Frost cupcakes when completely cool.
Makes about 18 cupcakes.
Our DVR records every episode of America's Test Kitchen for me and I saw this recipe for chicken parm on that show a few weeks ago. I don't think I've ever made chicken parm at home but it's something I love to order in restaurants so I was excited to give this a try! The recipe is designed to be lighter than typical chicken parm because the chicken isn't fried. Instead, panko breadcrumbs are toasted and then the breaded chicken is baked after being coated with cooking spray.
I knew this recipe was probably going to take us a while so we saved it for a weekend and tried it on Saturday night. Between making the sauce and getting the chicken breaded and baked, it took us almost an hour and a half to get dinner on the table. This is FAR more time than we typically spend on dinner but I'm so glad we did! We both loved this chicken parm. I think we agreed that some of the key reasons we enjoyed it were that the breading stayed on the chicken and was also really crispy. The combination of panko and parmesan was yummy and I know we'll be going back to this recipe before too long!
Lighter Chicken Parm
from Cooks Illustrated
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
table salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
nonstick cooking spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets
3 ounces reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
For the Sauce:
Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside. Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until needed.
For the Chicken:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.
Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.
This is yet another recipe I decided to make after watching Everyday Baking on PBS. I think chocolate and mint are a great combination but it turns out, I'm in the minority on that view. I mentioned that I was making these to someone at work and she made it clear she wouldn't be having any if I brought them in. Instead, I let my mom bring them to work. She told me that they hadn't gone over as well as many of the other things I've made and that many people just don't like chocolate and mint together. Folks who do like mint did enjoy these though so I don't think the recipe is bad so much as people just aren't interested in the combination. I'll definitely make these again as I didn't try them and I would like to sometime. My final product didn't look as pretty as the ones on the show, but not bad overall.
Mint Chocolate Brownies
from Everyday Baking
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
25 small (1 1/2 inch) peppermint patties
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter foil. Set aside.
Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth; whisk in eggs. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder just until smooth (do not overmix).
Spread 1/3 of batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties on batter in a single layer, leaving a narrow border on all sides. Top with remaining batter, and smooth surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes.
Cool completely in pan. Use foil to lift from pan; peel off foil and discard. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).
Not too long ago the TWD bakers made madeleines. At the time, I didn't have a madeleine pan and wasn't able to participate. Once I saw everyone's posts and how cute the madeleines were, however, I had to run out and grab a pan to give these a try! I've never had a madeleine before so I was anxious to see if they tasted as good as they looked!
I love how simple the recipe is and how few ingredients there are. The only problem for me is that the dough needs to refrigerate for at least 3 hours before they can be baked and I'm not the most patient person in the world :-) I survived the wait, though, and my madeleines went in the oven. They turned out just as cute as I'd hoped they would and I looked forward to tasting them. As soon as they'd cooled some, I tried one that was just barely warm. I really liked it! They're very light with just the right texture to make me happy. I also loved the lemon flavor. It wasn't overpowering at all! I will say, however, that I ended up bringing these into work and they weren't incredibly well received. Generally when I bring things into work they disappear very quickly. The madeleines lingered on the counter for a while and I ended up having to throw the last two away after two days because they were getting fairly hard. Oh well, I guess you can't please everyone all the time! I still loved them and will definitely make them again!
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
Yesterday we had the dads over for a cookout to celebrate Father's Day! For dessert I made two different variations on oatmeal cookies - one to appeal to each of the dads. They each seemed to enjoy their cookies and I enjoyed making them!
Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
from Baking Illustrated, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula. Stir in the oats and raisins.
Working with a generous 2 tablespoons of dough each time, roll the dough into 2-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies with a wide metal spatula to a wire rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes.
Makes 18 large cookies.
Orange and Almond Oatmeal Cookies
Follow the recipe for Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, omitting the raisins and adding 2 tablespoons minced orange zest and 1 cup toasted chopped almonds (toast nuts in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes) along with the oats.
We eat a lot of ground turkey at our house and generally it ends up in some form of meatloaf. In an attempt to vary things up a little, we set out to make turkey burgers on Friday. I found this particular recipe on CooksIllustrated.com and decided to go with it because I had some ricotta in the fridge that was getting near its sell by date.
Well, we wound up having a few minor problems with these burgers. The biggest problem was that they didn't seem to want to stay together. You can definitely see that in the pictures. Of course, we didn't exactly follow the directions for putting the burgers together, so maybe it was our fault. The recipe called for forming the meat into a ball and then flattening into 1-inch thick patties. We tried to use our hamburger press instead. The press is great, but it definitely results in patties that are thinner than 1 inch and it's also not the most gentle tool. We'll definitely have to make these again and skip the press to see what happens.
Form problems aside, these burgers were great!! They were really tasty - much better than plain turkey burgers. Now we definitely have another option for all of that ground turkey in our freezer.
1 1/4 pounds 93 percent lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Transfer ground meat to medium bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, ricotta cheese and mustard until blended. Divide meat into 4 portions. Lightly toss one portion from hand to hand to form a ball, then lightly flatten with fingertips into 1-inch-thick patty. Repeat with remaining portions.
Grill burgers over medium-low fire until dark spotty brown on bottom side, 7 to 9 minutes. Turn burgers over; continue grilling 7 to 9 minutes longer or until bottom side is dark spotty brown and center is completely cooked or instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees.
I can't get enough of Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. I love their recipes and all of their tips. I always feel confident when I set out to make one of their recipes that it won't disappoint. So, tonight when I decided I needed to use up some sour cream in my fridge, I turned to Cooks Illustrated for this coffeecake muffin recipe. I loved that I got to use the food processor to pull this recipe together. I'm still enjoying that toy and don't use it nearly enough!
These came together without a problem and smelled so wonderful while they were baking. I could barely wait to try one. I can safely say that this is the best muffin I've ever had!! The texture is wonderful and the flavor is out of this world. They are a little messy with the streusel topping, but so worth it!
from Cooks Illustrated
1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. (I used liners instead of greasing the tins.)
Process nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in food processor until nuts are size of sesame seeds, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Return bowl and metal blade to food processor, add flour, granulated sugar, and salt and process until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Sprinkle butter evenly over flour mixture and process until butter is oat-sized, about eight 1-second pulses. Remove 1 cup of flour-butter mixture and stir with fork into reserved brown sugar mixture until combined to make streusel. Set aside 3/4 cup of streusel for muffin batter and remaining portion for topping muffins.
Add baking powder and baking soda to remaining flour mixture in food processor bowl and process until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Whisk together sour cream, egg, and vanilla; add to flour mixture. Process until batter is just moistened, about five 1-second pulses. Add 3/4 cup reserved streusel to flour mixture and process until streusel is just distributed throughout batter, about five 1-second pulses.
Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and sprinkle with streusel, pressing lightly so that streusel sinks slightly into batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with several crumbs clinging to it, about 18 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffin tin on wire rack for 2 minutes. Using tip of paring knife, loosen muffins and gently transfer from tin to wire rack; cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Marie of A Year from Oak Cottage and is La Palette's Strawberry Tart. I thought this was a great selection as it's almost summertime and strawberries really say summer to me!
The tart is really simple - it's just a sweet tart dough with strawberry jam spread over it and strawberries piled high. However, that's not to say I wasn't a bit intimidated by this tart. I'm always hesitant when the recipe calls for dough or crust to be pressed into the pan and up the sides. For some reason I can never seem to get the dough to climb the sides of the pans nicely. I always wind up with something that looks like a 4 year old made it...
I wound up using 2 4-inch springform pans instead of a tart pan. I have a 9-inch tart pan, but didn't want to make just one large tart and I don't have small tart pans. Using the springform pan certainly makes my "tart" look more rustic than the pretty ones I've seen from the bakers using tart pans but I'm ok with that. I think the springform is probably a little easier to press the crust into so that worked in my favor.
I am giving these tarts away so I didn't taste the finished product, but I will confess that I couldn't stop eating the extra tart dough after I made it! It was so incredibly tasty that I can't imagine these tarts are anything but amazing!
Be sure to check out the other blogs over at TWD!
I actually saw this recipe on Good Eats with Alton Brown the other day. I've had a box of puff pastry in my freezer for a while but didn't have a use for it until now! This treat looked so easy and I always enjoy apple desserts so I definitely wanted to try it.
For the most part, this recipe did come together as easily as expected. I ran into a little trouble working with the puff pastry, but I attribute that mostly to never having worked with it before. It's also possible that the 90+ degree temperatures weren't helping with keeping the puff pastry cool. In any event, it all worked out in the end! I did use strawberry jam to make my glaze as we don't have apricot jam. That accounts for the pinkish-red tint to the tart in the pictures. After tasting the tart, I was very pleased!! This is so good! The puff pastry is buttery and light and I really didn't distinctively taste the strawberry flavor of the jam. The jam just seemed to add a little sweetness (and obviously shine) to the tart. I'll definitely use this as a go-to dessert considering how tasty it is and how few ingredients it requires!
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Sugar, for dusting
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup water
Apricot jam (I used strawberry jam)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Crimp seams of puff pastry together with fingertips. Dust both sides of pastry with sugar. Using a rolling pin, roll pastry in each direction to close seams. Using a sharp pizza cutter (and tracing a small plate) cut out 2 circles of pastry. Place pastry circles on a chilled sheet pan and let cool in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Using a vegetable peeler cut wafer thin apple slices. Put apple slices in lemon-juice-spiked water. (I found it impossible to use the peeler to cut the apple slices and just went with my chef's knife.)
Flip pastry circles over on the sheet pans and poke them with a fork (but not along the edges) to provide an outlet for steam. Put parchment paper on the pan underneath the pastry circles. Sprinkle pastry with sugar and arrange apple slices on top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Poke the crust; if it feels soft it needs more time in the oven.
Microwave some apricot jam for 30 seconds. Dab (don't brush) the jam on the tarts. Cool tarts at least 4 hours and seal in a resealable plastic bag. Serve at room temperature or heat in the microwave and top with ice cream.
These last few weeks have been really tough for blogging. As alluded to before, I was sick for almost 2 weeks (my immune system really let me down!) and didn't really bake at all during that time. Now I am finally better but the temperatures around here have been over 90 and frankly, the last thing I want to do is run the oven in those temperatures! Plus, this weekend Shane and I spent 2 days in Boston watching the Visa Championships for women's gymnastics! It was amazing - we had such a good time! Well, I guess I had a better time than Shane as it's really my thing, but I think he enjoyed it too. We saw some great gymnastics and got to spend some good quality time together. We took Thursday and Friday off to attend, and it reinforced my opinion that every weekend should be at least 3 days long!
I hope the temperatures come down soon so I can get back to cooking/baking...I've got a huge backlog of recipes I want to try!
This week's TWD was chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook - French Chocolate Brownies! We love brownies at our house so we were definitely excited about this selection!
I did have one concern about this recipe, however. I have to confess that I've never flambed anything and the thought of trying it still intimidates me. I've improved my skills in many areas, but I'm just not quite ready to play with fire yet. Fortunately, Shane won't touch raisins and I prefer not to mix my raisins with chocolate (unless we're talking about Raisinets). So, alas, these brownies are fruit-free!
A lot of the other TWD bakers mentioned having problems with the top or crust of these brownies. It seems that many ran into a problem with a really hard crust forming on the top of their brownies - so much so, in fact, that the crust was completely breaking up when the brownies were cut into. I didn't run into that problem with my brownies luckily. The top did puff up incredibly while they were baking, but it collapsed back down as it cooled. These came together easily and were fun to make.
The verdict: I thought these brownies were delightful! They were lighter than most other brownie recipes I've tried and also very moist. I think if I make them again I'll substitute semi-sweet chocolate for the bittersweet as these definitely had a bit too much of that dark chocolate flavor for me.
French Chocolate Brownies
From Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
One of my new favorite cooking shows to watch is Everyday Baking on PBS. All of the recipes are from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, though Martha is not actually on the show. I think the reason I like the show is because they tend to make everything look so easy. It makes me believe that I too could create the most perfect apple pie. Anyway, on one of the recent episodes I watched with Shane they made cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. They reminded both of us of Hostess cupcakes and I knew I wanted to try them. The other day when I made the chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, I saved a few of the cupcakes to fill. The frosting couldn't be easier to make, and Shane really liked the filled cupcakes! I had made these cupcakes in my jumbo muffin pan so they were huge and I probably could have filled them with more frosting to make them even better. That just gives me a reason to make them again sometime...
Marshmallow Cream Filling
from Everyday Baking
1½ cups marshmallow cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk marshmallow cream and butter until smooth. Chill until slightly firm, 15 to 30 minutes. Transfer mixture to a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, and seal; cut off one corner of the bag to make a 1/8-inch opening.
Using a small melon baller, scoop out center of each cupcake from the bottom, and reserve (you will use this to plug cupcake after filling). Hallow out each cupcake a bit more, discarding crumbs. Insert tip of plastic bag into each cavity, and squeeze to fill; replace plugs. Using remaining filling in plastic bag, decorate top of cupcakes.