THE Brownies!

I was ten years old when I started baking.  My favorite?  Peanut Butter Cookies.  My siblings’ and mom’s favorite?  Brownies.  My mom liked a particular kind of brownies so much that we (although it really means just me) experimented for several years to get it the way we (she) liked it.

And this is IT.

A not-too-sweet, dense, fudge-y, deeply chocolate-y brownie, with a thin, crispy top layer.

Everybody liked it.  I even made tons of it (figuratively) to sell at Christmastime.  I had determined that my last baking day was the 22nd, but I kept getting orders all the way up to New Year’s!

We were always getting requests for the recipe.  My mom wouldn’t give it (even now she refuses to share her recipes!) except for very close relatives.

How is it relevant today?

Well, basically it is because my mother and I have a complicated relationship.  But we found a common ground in cooking/baking.  From there, we developed a workable relationship.  Even today, when we have misunderstandings and breaks in our relationship, we usually reconnect over matters involving cooking and baking.

So, these brownies…

(Sorry I don’t have permission to share the recipe)

it’s special because it was the beginning…

 

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes is the one by Nestle.  It is a classic after all and it is said that it is the original chocolate chip cookie.

We shouldn’t mess with something that has proven, right?  But I have read online that browning butter in recipes make the end product even better.  So I decided to brown the butter.  The results were fantastic!!!

(Note –  I halved the recipe because 4 to 5 dozen cookies are too much for us)

1/2 cup browned, melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

(To get 1/2 cup browned butter, start with 3/4 cup butter.  Melt until it is browned.  Pour into a glass liquid measuring cup with the lovely browned bits up to the 1/2 level.  There may be some melted butter left depending on the butter used.  Leave to cool before using.)

Beat the browned butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add the combined dry ingredients in 3 additions.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop or scoop onto paper-lined cookie sheets.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

If you want a fast and easy dessert to cool you down, this is it.  This is as easy as… well, pie!

Buy a chocolate cookie crumb crust from the supermarket.  While you’re there, grab a tub of your favorite chocolate ice cream.  Before heading to the check out counter, drop by the aisle where they keep the chocolate syrup.

Upon reaching home, let the ice cream soften a little, then scoop into the cookie crumb crust.  Freeze until solid, then top with with the chocolate syrup!

Done!

(The easy version is always the sweeter version.)

Of course, if you want to do it the hard way…

For the crust – Mix 2 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs with 6 to 7 tablespoons of melted butter.  Press evenly into a 9-inch pie plate and bake at 350F for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

(I don’t add sugar anymore since I feel the cookies are sweet enough especially if whole Oreo cookies are used.  But, if you like a sweeter crust, by all means, add sugar as you prefer, but don’t go over a third of a cup or it will be too much.)

For the chocolate ice cream –

1 cup full cream milk
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
100 grams at least 62% bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1 cup condensed milk
60 grams cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place the full cream milk in a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the “caviar” into the milk; throw in the pod too. Stir in the cocoa and salt. Heat over low-medium fire until the cocoa is dissolved and the mixture is almost boiling. Stir constantly.

Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and mixed in. Stir in condensed milk. Cool in the fridge.

When the chocolate mixture is fully cool, whip the cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add the cream in fourths and whip until soft peaks. Fold in the the chocolate mixture.

Churn in an ice cream maker, according to machine instructions, or freeze for 6 hours or so, stirring the mixture every hour to minimize formation of ice crystals.

Scoop the chocolate ice cream into the chocolate cookie crust and freeze until solid.

Finally for the topping – Heat 120 grams whipping cream until almost boiling (but do not boil). Stir in 60 grams (at least 62%) bittersweet chocolate (chopped) and mix util chocolate is melted. Cool. Then pour onto the ice cream pie. Freeze until ready to serve.

Fudgy Brownies from Bravetart

It is very very fudgy and super chocolate-y, but I wonder why it doesn’t have the crispy crust on top?  Maybe because I used a glass baking dish instead of an anodized baking pan?

Well, I guess that’s it, especially after I read this article.  So now I am on a mad search for an anodized baking pan (or maybe a set…)

Anyway, I bought the book!  Which is rare these days.  I used to collect cookbooks and have hundreds but lately I only buy a book when I really really like it and even then I usually buy the digital version – there is something about being able to bring hundreds or thousands of cookbooks with you all the time.  I like that I can just open my tablet or Kindle and read anywhere, anytime!  Then again, I still like the feel of pages… so…

I bought the book!  I know I could have relied on the recipes that could be found online but after reading all the reviews and hearing all good things about the book… I resisted no further and clicked the “buy” button.

The recipe for brownies was the first I tried.  It’s rather complicated compared to my own brownie recipe (which doesn’t require a mixer even) but still worth it because it is delicious!  Of course hubby declares this brownie (and all others too) as “never as good as” mine but then again, he is my number 1 fan and a super loyalist! (hahaha)

The recipe can be found here.

(Now, where the heck can I find anodized pans????)

Variations…

Variations of the same theme – black chocolate cake, strawberry frosting…

It all began when I had a lot of strawberry frosting left over.  I forgot that my recipe was for a 2-layer, 9-inch cake, and I had made a really small one for the little girl…

I stored the leftover frosting in the fridge.

The next day, early evening, hubby suddenly announces that we’re going somewhere later that evening and it would be nice if I brought something like something I baked.

Problem?  I had an hour to make something!

Solution?  Something that would mix in a flash, bake in a hurry, and cool almost instantly… mini cupcakes.  And I didn’t have to worry about the frosting since I already had the strawberry frosting in the fridge!

The batter mixed in 5 minutes.  The mini cupcakes were done in another 10 minutes.  I shoved them in the fridge to cool them.

Meanwhile I started re-whipping the frosting.  Except that I ended up with a curdled mess.  Then I started panicking.

Of course I went to trusty ol’ google, and there were lots of suggestions but I had no time!  Then, I decided to get in touch with an old cooking/baking “buddy”, crossing my fingers that she was online.

She was and she had a solution.  But I had to be content  with transforming my strawberry frosting into strawberry buttercream…

She had me pour hot water into a bowl that could fit a plate of butter cubes about 75 grams.  Throw the hot water out and wipe the damp inside of the bowl – cover the plate of butter cubes.  Trick worked!  Butter was soft in less than a minute!

Beat the butter until light and fluffy and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Beat some more.  Then gradually add the broken frosting – a tablespoon at a time… Voila!  Strawberry Buttercream!  A tad sweet than I preferred but it still works so –

And I still had a little strawberry buttercream left over!

The day after, hubby told me that it was the birthday of a friend and he requested a small cake to celebrate.

I baked another small chocolate cake – frosted it with truffle frosting and garnished it with what was left of the strawberry buttercream..

Until next year, when the little girl will surely ask for her favorite cake!

My next baking experiment?  Prune Chiffon Cake Roll (half roll, I mean).

B’s Special Cake

When we ask the little girl what cake she wants, she always gives the same answer –

BLACK CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FROSTING

She is very particular too, she wants REAL strawberry frosting!

So, even if my right arm will hurt like *#&& the day after, I willingly suffer because it is what she wants on her special day.

The recipe for the black chocolate cake is a family secret – as it took me several months to get it just right!

The strawberry frosting is made with 450 grams of strawberries!!!  I experimented with the recipe for a long time, playing with the proportions until the little girl was satisfied.  She has a discriminating taste!

This year though I decided to make a few improvements…

Firstly, I made a smaller cake, a 7-inch, 3-layer round cake instead of the usual 9-inch, 2-layer round cake.  Then I added a special filling – dark choco-caramel filling.  Lastly, the finishing touch – the “My Little Pony” theme!

The finished cake was declared BEE-YOO-TEE-FOOOOL by the little girl.  And I am happy even if my arm is still and achy!

And the taste?  Whooooohooooo!  Everyone says it is sinfully delicious!

(happy, happy, happy me!)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I first made this about 5 years ago, during the Christmas season.  That time, one recipe made 2 5.5-inch cookie cakes that I gave away as Christmas gifts, or I make for friends who gave them away.  That time also, I would drizzle chocolate on top – it looked so much nicer.

But this time, I made a larger 8-inch cake and served it plain, without drizzled chocolate.  But I put in way more chocolate chips!!!

The recipe I based this cake on is the world famous Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

BUT…

(1.) I halved the recipe… AND reduced the sugar a tiny bit because –

(2.) I used 1-1/2 cups of bittersweet chips for half a recipe (instead of just 1 cup)

(3.)  I spread the cookie dough in a buttered, then papered, then buttered again 8-inch round layer pan.

(4.) I baked it at 325*F for about 22-25 minutes (might have been a bit longer because I wanted a browned top.)

The cookie cake was for hubby’s friend, whose birthday was last December.  We only celebrate now due to the hectic Christmas season giving us no time to do so…

Despite being delayed, hubby’s friends loved it!

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Liqueur

A couple of years ago, someone gave me Cacao Liqueur as a Christmas gift.  It was so delicious that I wanted to learn to make it.

Fast forward to the present and I think I have the liqueur that I adoringly love!  I’d been experimenting and, in fact, last Christmas, I made a batch and gave them away as gifts.  The liqueur was made with cocoa powder and they were delicious (as the recipients attest) but it was not (yet) perfect for me.

I wanted a rich, dark, deep chocolate-y flavor and a thick, creamy texture.

This time I think I got it after a few experiments.

My secret?  No cocoa, but bittersweet chocolate, thinned with milk!

(I re-used the nice decorative bottle of the Cacao Liqueur.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Liqueur

The first batch I made was technically what they call “Nutellino“, which is essentially Nutella liqueur.  It was fast and easy to make and the recepients (friend S and brother E) proclaimed the drink “super yummy”.

But I suppose I wanted a bit of a challenge, so I went on to look for a “from-scratch” recipe… and this is what i found.  It was not exactly what I had in mind – I was looking for something creamy… a consistency similar to Irish cream… so I started to experiment a little.

First I did away with using cocoa powder.  I melted bittersweet chocolate (62%) with milk and a bit of cream.  After cooling, I added toasted hazelnuts and vodka and steeped everything for a month, after which I strained the mixture and used a decorative bottle.

I loved the texture – it was creamy, sweet, nutty, chocolate-y!

The picture shows the third batch I made, which was intended for hubby’s friends.  The bottle is actually a plastic water bottle which hubby preferred to a decorative glass bottle, saying that after drinking the liqueur, the water bottle can be reused as a carry-on water bottle by his friends!

 

 

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!