Friday, July 17, 2009

Double Chocolate Brownies

Recently our nephew came to stay the weekend. This only happens once a year because he lives in Orlando. 🙁 I asked him if he wanted to make some cookies, and he suggested brownies! I have a lighter brownie recipe, and a brownie with peanut butter chips in my blog already, but I knew I wanted to try something new. With just a quick look in my Martha Stewart Cookies book, I found the perfect recipe.

These brownies are everything a brownie should be, chocolatey, rich, moist, and delicious. When The Boy got home from work and we offered him a brownie, the first thing he asked was “Is it cakey or fudgey?”. The Boy and I are both fans of the fudgy brownie variation. These aren’t the fudgiest of all brownies but they’re definitely not cakey, they lie in the middle between cakey & fudgy. So if you’re looking to appeal to brownie lovers of all kinds, this is the recipe for you. They are still soft & melt in your mouth, but stand up well. If you don’t have a handy little helper like I did to help whip these up, don’t worry, they are still quick and easy to make!

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Double Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces coarsely chopped good-quality semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.

Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Olive Oil Granola with Pistachios & Cherries


I am the procrastinator of all procrastinators. I keep thinking how much I’d love to make homemade granola. Once, I even wrote a list of “Things to Do Over The Weekend“, in which I included “make homemade granola“. But, in true procrastination, I never have. I guess one of the reasons I’ve yet to make granola is, while a lot of recipes appealed to me, none really SPOKE to me…until now.

I like to read the NYTimes Dining & Wine guide on my iPhone while laying in bed, before falling asleep. So when I saw the recipe for this granola made with olive oil, touted as being a sweet & salty snack, I knew immediately, the procrastination must cease! I love olive oil, and I do 95% of my cooking with it. It’s heart healthy, and I’ve grown to love the flavor.

Luckily I had enough ingredients on hand to customize this granola to my liking. I didn’t have much maple syrup, so I added in some honey, and I only had about 2 cups of oats, so I scaled down the recipe from the original. That’s an advantage of granola, you can add the ingredients and amounts YOU choose to suit your liking. This was very quick and simple to prepare, once I hulled the pistachios. I can’t wait to go to the grocery to restock my oatmeal & maple syrup, because I am sure I’ll be making more of this addictive snack very soon!

PS. Katie, my Louisville-Lady, YOU MUST TRY THIS. NOW. You would love it!

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Olive Oil Granola with Pistachios, Sunflower Seeds, & Dried Cherries

adapted from The New York Times

Ingredients:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cups raw pistachios, hulled & coarsely chopped
1/2 raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (freshly ground is amazing)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries and/or raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, maple syrup, honey, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried cherries/raisins, tossing to combine. Serve atop greek yogurt, fresh ricotta, or anything you'd like.

Admit it. You want to lick the screen and see if any granola sticks to it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Zucchini Spice Cupcakes


After our giveaway, I was intrigued about Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. Since I rarely buy things for myself, I didn’t think twice about picking up a copy when I saw a great deal on them at Sam’s Club.

I pretty much made myself carsick the whole way home reading over all the recipes, flavor combos, and decorating ideas. (Thank you Boo for driving!) It wasn’t long before I knew which recipe I would try first. My friend Beth, gave me a BIG FAT zucchini. (Seriously, it was bigger than my forearm.) This recipe seemed like perfect excuse to bake a great way to use this healthy summer vegetable.

I love that these cupcakes are different from your average zucchini bread or muffins. They are most definitely cupcakes. Light, moist, fluffy, and frosted! And, did I mention, delicious? Because they are. So if you’re seeking an alternative for zucchini in baked goods, try these cupcakes!

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Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Yields: 24 cupcakes (I got 18 regular cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes, with some batter left over)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
3 cups all purpose flour (I subbed 3/4 of this with whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups packed light brown suga
3 cups packed grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped

FROSTING:
(note: this yielded MUCH more frosting than I needed for the cupcakes. You could reduce it by 1/2 if you're a conservative froster, or by 1/3 if you're a generous froster and want some leftover)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla, and zest until well blended; whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Stir in zucchini, then add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use an offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

FROSTING:
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

PS. Check out my friend Beth’s blog to see what she did with some of the zucchini she didn’t give me!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Painted Cupcake

**We interrupt to bring you this news bulletin**

CUPCAKES!!!!!!

That’s right boys & girls. Downtown Nashville just got a lot cuter. I was walking with a coworker to the Arcade to go to the Post Office (Dear USPS, please do not close this location), and we about stopped in our tracks when we saw this.

After getting done with my errand at the Post Office, I quickly ran walked at a totally normal pace, into the shop.

I was immediately greeted by the most WONDERFUL smell. Freshly baked cupcakes! I purchased two for sharing with my buddies.

One was Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, the other was Chocolate with Caramel Hazelnut Frosting.

Both were divine.

If you live or work downtown Nashville (or are a tourist) definitely check out Painted Cupcake. They were reasonably priced, some are $2.65 and some $2.95. And we all agreed it was the perfect amount of frosting, atop a moist & delicious cake.

*Sorry for the crappy photos. They were taken with my iPhone.*