Bourbon Brownie Birthday Cake

Hubby’s request was for a dark chocolate cake.

I had visions of a grand 2 or 3 layer cake, surrounded by bars of chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  The vision would not become a reality.  An accidental fall (not too serious, but serious enough that my ankle and elbow are stiff) prevented me from baking and frosting an elaborate cake.  So what to do?  Hubby cannot miss out on his birthday wish??!!!!!!

Enter these deep, dark, bitter chocolate brownies laced with bourbon!  Instead of baking the brownies in an 8-in square pan, I baked them in a 7-in round, which gave them a bit of height.  The brownie could not be plain ‘ole brownies so in went a quarter cup of bourbon.

(This particular bourbon is sentimental to me – it was one of the few bottles I took from my late father’s liquor cabinet before it went up in smoke)

The ganache used to garnish the cake was also laced with bourbon, but only about half a tablespoon.

Hubby loved it!

It was especially divine with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

 

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Oreo Brownies

The kid had invited a playmate for a playdate.  As usual, she asked me to make snacks.  This particular instance, she asked for brownies with Oreo cookies.  When I asked why, she replied that it was because she wanted brownies and her playmate wanted Oreo cookies.  Win-win, right?

Well, as may be seen from the picture, it turns out that I had underestimated the number of cookies that the pack contained!  I was sure that it was enough, I had even thought that there would be leftover cookies!

Anyway, it was easy to make – just pick your favorite brownie recipe (here is mine) and skip all the mix-ins.  After pouring the batter into the pan, press Oreo cookies on top of the brownie batter (just make sure you have enough cookies to  cover the whole top, I promise it will look waaaayyyy better than this one that I made)

As always, the best of cooking and baking for the kid, she always gushes that her “mommy makes the BEST stuff”!

(big, big grin!)

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…

 

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????)

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!

Healthy Brownies

I don’t remember anymore who gave me the recipe but it had been languishing in my “box of recipes that i plan to make”. Finally, finally, i made them… in my little electric oven, too!

1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

The procedure is easy too! Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the yogurt and egss. Mix well. Stir in the chips. Put the batter in a lined 8-inch square pan, then bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 25 minutes or so. Do not over bake.

Done.

Valentine Brownies!

Truth be told, these brownies were plain old brownies… you could even make the boxed variety… as long as you have a heart-shaped cutter… VOILA!  Heart-shaped Valentine Brownies!

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I did discover that it is easier to cut the brownies without them crumbling if they are well chilled… even a bit frozen even.

These were such a hit with the hubby and the kid!

 

Midnight B

When I meet people I know from my teenage days, they always tell me that they remember my brownies and how good they are.  And I was quite proud of those brownies – I can never forget how I stayed up night after night, making one batch of brownies after another.  My initial goal was a fast and easy recipe without sacrificing taste and quality.  I never did reach that goal because while the recipe was relatively simple, it was not fast… the process was rather delicate and a mis-step meant getting a different texture.

But these days, I have a slightly different goal for my baked goods.  While texture still ranks high up, what has become more important to me is producing a (slightly) healthier version.  Of course I cannot eliminate butter or sugar completely but at least I can try as much as possible to reduce them.

So, while I no longer stay up night after night, I still bake batch after batch (with long pauses in between) to experiment and tweak my brownie recipe to perfection!  Yesterday’s experiment turns out to be the best one so far…

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Unoriginal as I am, I initially named this Black Brownies.  This morning, though, I thought it better to call it Midnight B.

It is essentially the same recipe from 30-odd years ago except that I no longer use granulated (highly processed) sugar, instead I use raw sugar or one that has minimal processing (as best as I could find, that is).  I also substituted part of the chocolate with black cocoa because I wanted a super dark brownie (and got a dark-as-midnight color!)… and (!) I added a secret ingredient (which hubby instantly recognized, but not quite on the mark (?????)

Overall, I just looooooooove these!

As for hubby, this is what he had to say…

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(I still have one final experiment to do… if my theory is correct then I will have the ultimate, as well as perfect, brownies!

 

Ovenette Brownies (!)

Ever since we got the small electric oven, I have been obsessed with finding a brownie recipe that was no fuss, fudgy, and “small” enough to fit into the oven… you see, the largest pan that can fit the oven is about 7 inches deep and 9 inches wide… and that’s cutting it close since there is barely enough space on the side for the air to circulate…

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Most brownie recipe is for an 8-inch square, or an 11×7-inch pan, or the bigger 13×9-inch!  None will fit my tiny oven…  but today I think I may have it!

I have a 6×9-inch pan, which is not standard but I am ecstatic to say fits the oven perfectly!  After a couple of experiments, I may just have the recipe for the pan and oven!

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1/3 cup butter-margarine blend
150 grams 60-70% bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup vanilla sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter-margarine blend and chocolate in a double boiler.  Cool slightly.  Meanwhile, sift together flour, cocoa and salt; set aside.  Line a 6×9-inch pan with greaseproof paper and leave an overhand of at least 1 inch all around; set aside.

Add sugar to the chocolate mixture and beat until sugar is incorporated.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.

Stir in the flour-cocoa mixture.  Do not overbeat.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Place the pan in the center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake for 10 minutes then rotate the pan.  Bake another 10 to 12 minutes.

(Notes:  There simply is no place to put an oven thermometer so I just rely on the oven setting for cupcakes.  Also, it is important to put the pan in the center rack with only the bottom heating element on; I have discovered that with both top and bottom heating on, the brownies come out weird… and if the pan is placed on the bottom level, the bottom gets dried out FAST.)

Check for doneness with the toothpick test.  Toothpick should come out with a few crumbs sticking to it.  If the toothpick is clean, the brownies are overdone!

Cool completely before cutting.

I got 24 pieces, roughly 1-1/2-inch squares.

 

“The Baked Brownie”

Yes, that is the title of the recipe in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s book “Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking”.  I’d been reading a lot about their brownies and how it is THE brownie even connoisseurs like.

The recipe had been on my list for a while but for some reason or another, it was only today that I finally decided to try it once and for all!

Ok, obviously I did not follow the recipe to the letter, but my deviation is only as to form and not substance.

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I used a silicone “fairy cake” pan (shallow round cavities) to make brownie rounds.

And I added some peanut butter chips to some of the rounds (because I looove peanut butter…)

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I discovered something else, too!  The brownie rounds were absolutely heavenly straight out of the freezer!

How did I find this out?  Well, I tried to get the brownie rounds out of the silicone pan after they cooled.  But it was tough to get out (even if the pan was made of silicone, hence non-stick), and bits of brownie were sticking!  So I thought of freezing the pans a while; after that the brownie rounds popped right out.  And because I couldn’t wait, I ate one.  And realized that the frozen brownies were just fantastic!

(so now they are stored in the freezer.)

The recipe is all over the internet (I have the book, though!) and there’s even a spicy version of it (will try that one next time, because hubby loves spicy foods).