Sunday, July 18, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Walnut Brownies

First off, I must admit I was somewhat distracted this week by something even better than brownies. "What", you say, "could possibly be better than brownies?" My adorable, super-cute, 4 day old nephew! He is the squishiest, most cuddly baby ever! So, instead of stressing about this post and getting it done early, I procrastinated and cuddled instead.
That being said, it is funny how nervous I was for my week to host. I don't know how everyone else feels when their time comes but, for me, so much thought gets put into the whole process. I wanted to pick a "good" recipe and I wanted to make it enough times that I would have really cool tips or tricks to share. Alas, I have no tips or tricks. Luckily, I found the recipe to be pretty straightforward and in my opinion, it makes a really good brownie. Now I do realize what makes a good brownie seems to be a really individualized thing. Some like fudgy, some like cakey, etc. I don't like mine to taste undercooked. These were just about perfect for me. They were moist but still tasted cooked all the way through. I also found this recipe to be pretty customizable. I added mint chips to one batch and they were just great.Instead of using cocoa in this recipe, you use unsweetened chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. ( I just used a metal bowl over a pot.)
Next, you mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla, until the batter is a pale yellow.Incorporate the chocolate into batter. Now is the time to get creative and throw in any add-ins that you have a hankering for, in this case, walnuts.Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 5o minutes. Then comes the best part-Cut and eat.

Before I post the recipe, I just want to say thanks to the great women in this group. I am inspired every time I check one of your blogs! Be sure to check out the amazing bakers who joined me this week.
You can find this week's recipe on pages 82-83 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, or posted below.
Chocolate Walnut Brownies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 sup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 x 9 x 2-inch square cake pan.

  1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until pale yellow in color, about 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 3 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the nuts by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until sides begin to pull away from the pan and center is moist but not runny and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
  6. When cool, loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and invert the brownies onto the cutting board. Cut into 12 brownies, measuring 3 inches by 2 1/4 inches, or serve straight from the pan.
The brownies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SMS: Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti

It has been a while since I have posted anything but I have actually been doing quite a bit of cooking and baking. We have just been busy enough the last couple weeks that I have had trouble finding time to sit down and make a record of the culinary adventures I have been having. Okay it probably hasn't been exciting enough to apply the word "adventure" but I did make freezer jam on my own, which was a first :) I also made last weeks sms recipe but I just haven't gotten around to posting it either. Maybe a little later today...Anyway, on to this weeks recipe. I have never made biscotti before and I was so pleasantly surprised that mine turned out. I kept thinking throughout the process that I couldn't see how this was going to come out looking like the biscotti my grandparents make but in the end it all came together just fine. Although it took a little time, most of that was baking or sitting in the fridge, and it was actually really easy to make. My husband preferred it after the first baking. He liked that it was more like a cookie then, so maybe I will make these again for him without baking twice.Thanks to Tracey for hosting this week, what a great pick! Check out her blog for the recipe and a really nice picture tutorial (wish I would have had that to look at while making mine). Also take a look at how the other SMS bakers did.