Archive for February, 2015

The Brownie Quest

February 28, 2015



For years I have been on the quest to find the perfect brownie. I’ve tried and posted several recipes. I have even tried a few Nutella brownie recipes too, assuming the Nutella would make a perfect addition. But I have not been satisfied with my results yet. I recently made these Brownies from my decadent dessert go to gal, Ina Garten. I have to say her Outrageous Brownie Recipe came out really delicious but not quite perfect yet. They were very rich and very sweet but still didn’t have that box brownie texture I am trying to achieve. 

Cooks note: They have over a pound of butter in them so be prepared. I m not a fan of nuts in my brownies but I think these would have been better if I added nuts as the recipe instructed. Anyhow, chocolate is chocolate so I don’t discriminate. I made them to send to some sailors overseas and it made a whole huge sheet tray, about 50 brownies. I am not sure how Ina measures her portions but she said to cut them into 20 bars! Those would be massive. You could probably half the batch if you don’t need enough brownies to feed an army, no pun intended, ha! 

Outrageous Brownies

Ingredients
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

Caribbean Rum Cake

February 21, 2015

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Many years ago I went on a cruise with my favorite cousin and tasted rum cake for the first time. As a teen it was like the taste of sweet rebellion having a rum soaked cake. I had not thought of it until recently when a friend asked me to bring a sweet treat to a party. I asked for some ideas and one was rum cake. As my readers know, I love a challenge. I love making something new and having it turn out delish. So of course I went to my go to baking source -King Arthur Flour’s recipe site and viola! They had the perfect recipe, of course, they always do. Update: it turned out amazing. It was unbelievably moist and so fragrant. The rum definitely gave it a kick but wasn’t overwhelming. Everyone cleaned their plates!

Ingredients

rum cake base
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup pastry cream filling mix or instant vanilla pudding mix, dry
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup white or golden rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon butter rum flavor (optional but excellent)
1/4 cup pecan or almond flour, for dusting baking pan

rum soaking syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white or golden rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

directions
1) Preheat oven to 325°F. Spritz a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle on the pecan or almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly. Set aside.

2) Place all of the cake ingredients except the rum, vanilla and butter rum flavoring in the bowl of your stand mixer and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the bowl after one minute.

3) Add the rum, vanilla and flavor if using to the batter and blend for another minute. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread level with a spatula.

4) Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes. You may smell the nut flour toasting at first, especially those not covered in cake batter. When done, the cake will test clean on a cake tester. Bundt cakes are difficult to test properly with a short toothpick. Instead try a piece of dry uncooked spaghetti or linguine.

5) Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the soaking syrup.

6) In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

7) Pour about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

8) Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit out overnight to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert on to your serving plate.

9) Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent.

Yield: one large or two small bundt cakes. Cake freezes very well.