Sunday, August 8, 2010

Salted Fudge Brownies

I had planned to make cupcakes for bookclub, but a combination of procrastination & laziness changed the plan to brownies. One of the many great things about brownies is that you're likely to have everything in your pantry that you need to bake 'em.

There were no regrets about changing the plan today [from cupcake-making]--these were some of the best brownies I've ever had! If you've never had salted brownies, you must go to your kitchen and make up a batch immediately!

Here's the recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine.

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with foil, draping the foil over the edges. Lightly butter the foil.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Whisking them in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, add the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.
  • Bake the fudge brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.
  • Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate just until they are firm, about 1 hour. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel off the foil. Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Serve at room temperature.

According to the original instructions, these brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month. But chances are they'll be gone by the end of the first day! I recommend making a double-batch.

Unlike my usual self, I followed the recipe pretty accurately. For the chocolate, I used Endangered Species brand Intense Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, which has 75% cocoa content. The brownies are sweet, and not overly so. They are gooey and moist (fudey, if you will), with firmer crust & lovely saltiness in each bite.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hooray for Pizza Day

Homemade pizza is incredibly easy to make, yet pizza-focused restaurants are still a multi-billion dollar industry. While not everyone has 800 degree ovens at home, the pizza that comes out of a standard household kitchen is still a cut above the mass-produced variety.

Making pizza dough is pretty simple, especially with an upright mixer. What's even more simple is that to make a double batch every time--That means every other time you make pizza, all you have to do is remember to take a ball of dough out of the freezer to defrost in time for dinner! In our household, we've found homemade dough to be a lot tastier (not to mention cheaper!) than the crusts you can buy in the grocery store.

When you make your own pizza, your choices for toppings are unlimited! In college, when I would buy frozen pizza, I usually added my own toppings to plain cheese pie to customize to my own tastes. Homemade pizza is like having a blank canvas in front of you! It's easy to accommodate multiple tastes--pineapple and light cheese on one side, mushrooms only one slice... whatever combination/s you can think of can be created at home!

I also find that homemade pizza can be healthier than the store- or restaurant-bought varieties. It's no more difficult to make a whole wheat crust, you don't have to explain to a server that you only want half cheese, can buy better quality ingredients for less, and you can put as many veggies or other healthy toppings on top without the extra fees for each one. I'm not saying homemade pizza is like spa food, but it can certainly be lower in the bad stuff than the processed kind you may otherwise be consuming.

And since some of you were wondering, my homemade pizza pictured above had a base of (veggie) sausage in marinara sauce topped with a layer of sauteed spinach then several dollops of goat cheese and caramelized onions for the finishing touch.