Archive for March, 2009

Individual Brownie Baked Alaskas

Brownie Baked Alaska - In this version, a brownie base is covered with lemon gelato, then topped with meringue.

Brownie Baked Alaska - In this version, a brownie base is covered with lemon gelato, then topped with meringue.

Baked Alaska! Now there’s an oxymoron.

This hot and cold dessert is made by placing a scoop of frozen ice cream (or sherbet, gelato or frozen yogurt) over cake (in this case, brownies!) and covering both with meringue (egg whites that have been sweetened and beaten until stiff). The dessert goes into a very hot oven for a few minutes, just until the tips of meringue turn golden brown.

Why doesn’t the ice cream melt? The meringue insulates the ice cream from the heat of the oven. For complete success, the meringue must completely cover the dessert, right down to the baking pan, or you might get some melting ice cream!

You can use any kind of cake as the base (e.g. angel food, chocolate cake, pound cake, jelly roll), but brownies are my favorite choice.

The contrast between the soft meringue, cold hard ice cream and fudgy brownie make for a delightfully easy-to-make but impressive dessert.

Individual Brownie Baked Alaskas

(Makes 6 servings)

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp (.5 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
salt
6 brownies, each about 2″ (5 cm) square
6 scoops frozen ice cream, flavour of your choice (see Tips)

To make meringue: In a bowl, beat egg whites and salt with electric mixer until soft peaks form (peaks droop over). Gradually add sugar, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time, and continue beating until mixture is stiff and glossy.

Place brownie pieces on an ungreased baking sheet. Top each with a scoop of ice cream. Working quickly, cover ice cream and brownies with meringue, sealing edges completely. Swirl meringue into peaks with the back of a spoon. Freeze for at least 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 475F (240C) oven until meringue peaks are lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve at once.

Tips:
* Unbaked Baked Alaskas can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Place carefully in a covered container so they are not touching each other.
* For the most dramatic presentation, choose ice cream, sherbet, gelato or frozen yogurt that contrasts in colour with the brownies (e.g. vanilla, caramel or strawberry ice cream; orange or lime sherbet; lemon or raspberry gelato).

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies

If you need to avoid gluten, the protein found in certain grains (wheat, barley, rye, triticale and most oats), because you have a gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease, the following brownie recipe is perfect for a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies

(Make an 8-inch (2 L) pan of brownies)

4 oz (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/3 cup (75 mL) ground almonds
1/3 cup (75 mL) gluten-free baking flour (e.g. Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped toasted almonds

In a heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate with butter; let cool. Stir in sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ground almonds, gluten-free baking flour, baking powder and salt; stir into chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds. Spread in a parchment paper-lined 8-inch (2 L) square cake pan.

Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until cake tester or toothpick inserted in centre comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Recipe Source: Canadian Living magazine, February 2009

Turtle Brownies

Turtle Brownies

Turtle Brownies

This recipe is adapted from the Sensational Turtle Brownies recipe in Rose Murray’s Comfortable Kitchen Cookbook (McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1991). Rose is a food writer and the author of many wonderful cookbooks; I think I have most of them in my personal library. Her latest, A Taste of Canada: A Culinary Journey (Whitecap Books, 2008), was published last fall and is a great read abut food in Canada as well as a source of culinary inspiration.

This recipe for Turtle Brownies is not a cloyingly sweet brownie recipe, as some tend to be. (That might be hard to believe given the 1-3/4 cups sugar in the base of the brownies and 1/2 cup brown sugar in the caramel sauce!) Its flavour is more ‘chocolate’ than ‘sweet’. This suits my taste preferences!

Speaking of preferences, I like to use the larger amount of pecan halves (2 cups or 500 mL or about 200 g), which I chop medium fine for a nice even topping of nuts. I like the taste and crunch of pecans in every brownie bite! And if the pieces of pecan aren’t too large, the brownies are easier to cut neatly.

When the melted chocolate chips are spread over the top of the brownies, they can be thoroughly blended with the caramel sauce and pecans (as above), or lightly spread so some of the caramel sauce and pecans poke through. As you wish.

Enjoy!

Turtle Brownies

(Makes a 13 x 9-inch/3.5 L pan of brownies)

1 cup (250 mL) butter, cut in pieces
4 oz (125 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) granulated sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt

Topping:

1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping cream
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
1-1/2 to 2 cups (375 to 500 mL) pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips

In a double boiler or a medium saucepan over medium heat, gently melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently to combine. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar until well combined. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt, stirring well after each addition.

Pour batter into a greased or baking paper or foil-lined 13 x 9-inch (3.5 L) baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 10 minutes. (Batter will not be completely cooked but will be set enough to add topping.)

Meanwhile, prepare topping. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat brown sugar, cream and butter, stirring occasionally to combine; bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes.

When brownie base is removed from the oven, sprinkle pecans over top; drizzle caramel syrup evenly over the top. Return to the oven and bake until golden but not browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven; sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let melt slightly for 1 or 2 minutes, then swirl with a knife or back of a spoon so some caramel and nuts show through. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or bars to serve.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Rose Murray’s Comfortable Kitchen by Rose Murray (McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1991).

Chocolate Bar Brownies

On a recent trip to the U.S., I finally found the chocolate bar brownie pan I’ve been pining after. The Williams-Sonoma in Pittsburgh (Shadyside) had them in stock so I picked up a couple: one for me and one for a gift for my niece who is studying clarinet at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. (We’d gone down to hear her grad recital.)

Williams Sonoma's Chocolate Bar Brownie Pan

Williams-Sonoma's Chocolate Bar Brownie Pan ($29.95 U.S.)

The chocolate bar brownie pan bakes brownies in the shape of a chocolate bar and imprints the word “chocolate” onto each of the 12 rectangular pieces that form the bar.

bottom-of-chocolate-brownie-pan

Bottom of pan

inside-of-chocolate-brownie-pan

Inside of pan

There was a brownie recipe on the pan’s packaging so I figured it would be a good one to test how well the pan worked. Before using the pan for the first time, I washed it thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Then I sprayed it well with cooking spray, using a pastry brush to be sure the oil reached all the crannies and crevices in the pan, and up the insides of the pan.

Here’s the recipe on the packaging. I didn’t have enough bittersweet chocolate so I used a combination of bittersweet and semisweet. I found it didn’t take 1-1/2 minutes to melt the chocolate and butter on High power in my 1000 watt microwave. I stirred the mixture after about 45 seconds and then again at 1 minute and 25 seconds at which point the last pieces of chocolate melted into the warm mixture.

Chocolate Bar Brownies
(Serves 12)

5 oz (155 g) bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 g) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups (315 g) sugar
3 eggs
1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Grease the Chocolate Bar Brownie Pan.

Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and microwave until melted, about 1-1/2 minutes, stirring once. (Alternately, put chocolate in a heatproof bowl and stir over but not touching barely simmering water in a saucepan. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in butter, a few pieces at a time, until blended. Let chocolate mixture cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in flour mixture until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake until the top is shiny and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the brownies onto a cutting board and cut or break in 12 pieces.

Recipe Source: Williams-Sonoma

baked-brownies-in-chocolate-brownie-pan

I was worried the batter might spill over the sides of the pan when I checked the brownies part way through baking, but it didn't. The shiny surface and few crumbs clinging to a toothpick poked into these brownies indicated they were done. The baked brownies cooled on a wire rack before being inverted onto a cutting board.

baked-brownies-from-bottom

The baked brownies are easily removed from the well-greased baking pan onto a cutting board.

baked-brownie-closeup

corner-of-baked-brownies

The edges of the brownies can be neatly trimmed.

empty-chocolate-bar-brownie-pan

Clean up shouldn't be hard!

Chatelaine magazine’s Best-ever Brownies

Chatelaine magazine tested dozens of brownie recipes to find the best one ever. In the February issue, this recipe appeared as the test-kitchen’s top choice. You can watch associate food editor Victoria Walsh make these brownies on Chatelaine’s website.

Best-ever Brownies

(Makes an 8-inch/2 L pan of brownies)

1 cup (250 mL) whole hazelnuts, skin-on, or blanched whole almonds (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
6 oz (168 g) semi-sweet chocolate (6 squares)
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Spread nuts on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Leave oven on. If using hazelnuts, wrap in a kitchen towel and let steam for 1 minute. Then rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skins. When nuts are completely cool, coarsely chop.

Coat or spray an 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish with oil. In a small bowl, using a fork, stir flour with cocoa and salt. Using a serrated knife, coarsely chop chocolate. Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl.

Microwave chocolate and butter on Medium (50% power) until almost melted, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to stir chocolate halfway through microwaving. Stir until smooth. (Or place chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and set over low heat. Stir constantly until melted.) Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then sugar and vanilla. Using a spatula, scrape in cooled chocolate mixture, then stir until evenly mixed. Gradually stir in flour mixture, just until mixed. (Overmixing toughens brownies.) Stir in nuts until evenly distributed. Spread batter in baking dish. Smooth top.

Bake until edges are firm and middle is set, 35 to 45 minutes. Don’t overbake. (A toothpick inserted in the centre may have chocolatey crumbs clinging to it.) Remove pan to a rack and cool. Cut into squares. Brownies will keep well, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Tips:

  • Create a richer, less-sweet flavour by using bittersweet instead of semi-sweet chocolate.
  • Spice up these brownies by adding generous pinches of ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cayenne. Stir seasoning into the flour before adding to the egg mixture.
  • Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped Skor bars, toffee bits or dried cranberries to the batter along with the nuts.

Recipe Source: Chatelaine magazine, February 2009

Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Recipes for Young Adults is a small cookbook published by the Manitoba Sugar Company in 1959. It was reprinted many times. The 17th printing of the book in 1980 was a metric edition. This is the one I have.

I’m not sure where I picked up this little gem. The cookbook contains recipes for favourite dishes like rice pudding, biscuits, meatloaf…..and the following recipe for brownies and chocolate icing.

I’ve tweaked the directions a little and added imperial measurements.

brownies-from-recipes-for-young-adults

Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Icing
(Makes an 8-inch/2 L pan of brownies)

Sifting the cocoa powder through a fine sieve before mixing it with margarine or butter (to make the brownies or the icing) will help to remove any clumps and make for a smoother mixture.

1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125 mL) margarine or butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (125 mL) cake and pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, whisk cocoa powder and margarine. With electric mixer, beat in eggs, then brown sugar; beat until mixture is well blended. Stir in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the first mixture; stir well to combine. Stir in nuts.

Spread in a lightly greased or foil- or baking paper-lined 8″ square (2 L) baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until firm around the edges but slightly soft in the centre, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool. Then frost with Chocolate Buttercream Icing. Cut in squares or bars to serve.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
(Makes enough to frost an 8″ square/2 L cake)

2 tablespoons (30 mL) softened butter
2 tablespoons (30 mL) cocoa powder
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) vanilla
2 tablespoons (30 mL) milk

With electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add cocoa powder and icing sugar; beat until blended. Add vanilla and milk; beat until blended.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Recipes for Young Adults published by Manitoba Sugar Company, 1980


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