Brownies

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it makes extremely delicious brownies.

One of my nutritional goals is to make as much as possible at home, and to buy as little in boxes as possible. Instead, I have adapted to keeping a pantry with basic ingredients that can combine to make anything. Instead of 8 boxes for different purposes, I have one bag of flour and 1 container of salt. Baking soda. Sugar. Vanilla. Elemental ingredients are much more versatile than pre-made mixes for specific things-they can be utilized for anything.

Baking is interesting because it feels much more like a chemistry experiment than regular cooking. An improvisational style isn’t welcome with baked goods unless you’ve already mastered ratios, and have a full & complete understanding of what exactly happens to each ingredient when combined. If you mix things in a different order, you will get a different result. The eggs need to be whipped a certain way, flour must not be over-mixed, and sugar is considered a liquid ingredient. It’s quite exciting to end up with a perfectly textured, delicious result, but things can go awry all too easily. The important thing to remember when baking is that, as a beginner, you are more of a chemist than an artist. The flair and flourishes come later.

These brownies are the first I tried to make on my own and they are everything a brownie should be. Easy to make and extremely easy to eat. I found the recipe looking for a new raspberry dessert recipe, and found Sally’s Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies. Those are probably the greatest things on the planet, but I’ve only worked with plain chocolate thus far…

brownies

Brownies
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 6 – 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
• 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• Optional: 1 tsp fresh coffee grounds
• Optional: walnuts

1. Chop chocolate. It is okay to cut semi-sweet chocolate with unsweetened chocolate. This goes against the chemistry thoughts earlier, but a couple ounces of unsweetened chocolate with a 4 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate comes out okay. I tossed in about an extra tablespoon of sugar for this.
2. Add to bain-marie with butter, mixing constantly over medium heat until liquified. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Stir sugar into butter & chocolate mixture until combined.
4. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition
5. Fold in flour and salt. If you are adding coffee, walnuts, or whatever other tasty objects you have in mind, sprinkle into mix at this step.
6. Butter and flour a square baking dish. Pour batter in and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven. If they are still not finished but seem to be getting dry around the edges, cover with foil until finished.

Tiramisu

tiramisu

 

Cake:

• 1 cup flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup (almond) milk
• 2 T butter
• 1 tsp baking powder

1. Whisk(by hand or with electric mixer) eggs for 3 or 4 minutes until they are thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until light.

2. Add flour and baking powder all at once and mix just until combined.

3. Heat milk and butter over medium heat until butter melts.

4. Add to batter and whisk until totally combined and creamy.

5. Pour into greased and floured pan. I used a square pan, but round, rectangular, cupcake, small rectangular–any pan can be used depending on what you’re envisioning as your end result. Bake 20 – 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Syrup:

• 1 cup strong coffee or espresso
• 2 – 3 T rum or Kahlua
• 1 T sugar

1. When coffee is cool, mix.

Filling:
• 1 egg white
• 8 oz (1 cup) mascarpone or cream cheese (room temperature)
• 1 cup whipped cream (frozen)
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 T powdered sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In an electric mixer, whip egg white with a pinch of sugar until frothy and light. Add rest of sugar and continue to whip.

2. Add cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar, and whipped cream. Whip for 5 – 10 minutes on medium high speed until it reaches desired consistency.

Filling based on Jacques Pépin’s recipe, which uses sour cream instead of whipped cream and omits egg*

Tiramisu:

1. Remove cake from pan. Slice horizontally in half and separate.

2. Assemble three components as desired. Place bottom half back into pan used for baking, onto serving tray, or into presentational dish. A trifle bowl or clear glass can make a very elegant presentation. I used small glasses to make verrines: I stamped the top of the glass onto the cake, then pushed it down for each layer.

3. Spoon or slowly pour coffee syrup onto cake. Allow to absorb then spoon a bit more until it is moistened but not completely saturated. The cake can also be dipped or soaked in the syrup, but I found soaking made the cake difficult to manipulate/move to a serving dish.

3. Add a filling layer, spreading or shaping with a rubber spatula. You can also pipe the filling for nice presentation.

3. Repeat layers as many times as you see fit, ending with a filling layer. Spoon cocoa powder into a strainer and shake to completely cover the top. Garnish with chocolate shavings or a raspberry if desired.

Tiramisu will keep comfortably until the next day, but it is advisable to make only what will be consumed immediately, storing the filling, cake, and syrup separately. This is especially convenient if you do not have many people to feed; I used half this cake for 4 single-serving tiramisu, then used the other half for petits fours.

Poppyseed Roll

The dough in this recipe can also be used for virtually any other filling. It is a vaguely sweet, heavy, and dry dough that pairs nicely with bright tasting fruit or a heavier texture like chocolate or nuts. My family makes poppyseed rolls each Christmas, but when Grandma was around she would make walnut rolls as well.

We tend to half the recipe, which makes anywhere from 5 – 10 rolls depending on size. It is more than enough, but the full recipe is included [in brackets] for posterity. If using the full recipe, it is a good idea to use multiple fillings then freeze the remaining (whole) rolls.

poppyseed

• 1 packet or cake of yeast [2 cakes]
• 1/4 cup warm water [1/2c]
• 4 cups flour [8]
• 1 egg and 2 1/2 yolks (crack 1 yolk into liquid measuring cup, mix, and half)[2 whole, 5 yolks]
• 1/4 cup butter [1/2c]
• 1/4 cup shortening [1/2c oleo]
• under 1/2 cup sugar [3/4c]
• 1/2 pint (8 oz, according the internet) sour cream [1 pint]
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 – 3 standard or 1 large can of poppyseed filling

1. Pour warm water into liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. In bowl of electric mixer, whip eggs a few minutes, then add sugar and continue to whip until slightly frothy. Then add butter, whip for a few minutes, then sour cream, yeast mixture, salt, and vanilla. After a moment, add flour and stop as soon as combined.

3. Knead for about 15 minutes. Make a ball, then elongate into a log. With a knife, cut dough into softball-sized portions for rolls that will be about a foot long. You can make larger, smaller, or even mini rolls, so cut according to what you will be making.

4. Cover with towel and allow to rise for 2 – 3 hours.

5. Roll with rolling pin and spread filling (as thick as you’d like-more is more delicious, but as I didn’t have enough the pictured roll has about 1 cm filling) from end to end. It is not necessary to leave space for wrapping as it will be cooked with the fold on the bottom.

6. Roll tightly and cover with towel. Rise 2 – 3 more hours.

7. Coat a heavy baking sheet completely with butter, rubbing with wax paper or just holding the stick and fully covering the pan. Sprinkle flour, then hit and shake the pan to coat completely. Place rolls onto baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle sugar on top and allow to set for 10 minutes.

8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Allow to cool before eating.

Walnut Filling
• 1 tsp vanilla [2]
• 3/4 cup heavy cream [1 1/2c]
• 1 T crushed walnuts [2]
• under a half cup brown sugar [3/4c]

1. Combine ingredients and use instead of poppyseed filling.

Meyer Lemon Tart

lemon tart

Tart Crust
•  1 c flour
•  2 T sugar
•  1/2 t salt
•  1/2 t Meyer lemon zest
•  1 stick cold butter
•  1/2 t vanilla extract

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.

2. Cut in thick slices of butter with fork until dough roughly holds together.

3. Stir in water and vanilla. Shape into disk and refrigerate in plastic wrap for a half hour.

4. Press dough into tart pan, then bake at 375 degrees until golden for 25 minutes.

5. Remove tart from oven, then increase temperature to 400 degrees.

Lemon Curd Filling

•  2 large eggs
•  3 large egg yolks
•  1/4 c and 2 T sugar
•  1/4 t cornstarch
•  3T Meyer lemon zest
•  1/3c Meyer lemon juice
•  6 T butter, cut into pieces

1. While tart crust is in the oven, whisk eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch

2. Whisk in lemon zest & juice

3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thick (5-10m)

4. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time

5. Pour into tart shell and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees until slightly brown and/or set

5b. Midway through baking, check and deflate puffiness- I lined the outer edges of my tart with lemon slices, leaving the inside clean. It puffed up very slightly, requiring a knife poke

5c. If you cover or decorate the tart with lemons, its a good idea to coat the lemons with brown sugar beforehand-perhaps dip them in sugar to coat both sides. They retain tartness after baking, which is delicious/interesting but not for all palates.

6. Decorate with dried lemon verbena and serve warm or chilled

via Martha Stewart

Raspberry Clafouti

This is from Eric Ripert’s Get Toasted podcast, a quick recipe tailored for your toaster oven. I don’t have a toaster oven, but the recipes are perfect for one or two people, and can all be made quicky in a regular oven. His recipes included in this series are all really elegant, and his show Avec Eric was instrumental in inspiring me to learn more about cooking.

Clafouti

• 1T room temperature butter
• 1/4c sugar, with extra for the dish
• 1 egg
•  3T flour
• 6T (almond) milk
• 1tsp vanilla extract
•  Raspberries

1. Whisk egg, then add sugar, milk, and vanilla.
2. Add flour and mix until combined so as to not overwork.
3. Butter small casserole or gratin dishes (I made 3) with a brush. Coat with sugar, shaking bowl around for full coverage.
4. Place raspberries flat-side down in dishes and slowly pour mixture between, allowing them to poke out a bit.
5. Broil until the mixture is solid, which will take 8-10 minutes on high, or 15-20 on low.

Video of Eric making this recipe here

Custard Filling & Fruit Tarts

Tartsfig

Custard Filling
•2c (vanilla almond) milk
•2 beaten eggs
•2/3c sugar
•1/2c flour
•pinch salt
•1t vanilla
•1TB butter

1. Warm milk on medium heat
2. In separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add eggs and combine, beating well
3. Add slowly to milk, stirring with whisk.
4. If needed, add more flour- I added an extra half cup. You can also add flavors like extracts, cocoa, or citrus zest
5. Stir, cool, eat some, then fill desserts

Above tarts were made with boxed pie crust and custard leftover from cream puffs.

  • The fruit tarts have a raspberry jam glaze as I was out of apricot (just microwave for a few seconds then paint on).
  • Fig tarts: top custard with roasted figs, which are sliced in half, coated with a thin layer of brown sugar and rosemary leaves, then baked at 400/450 degrees until the sugar has caramelized.
  • Mini Apple Pies: mix diced apple, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, then paint with milk and sprinkled with sugar.