Tag Archives: brownies

Baking therapy

Let me tell you little bit about myself. There are times in my life when I am a complete stressball. This week was one of those times. It’s absurd because the causes of my stress are good things: my science is really cool and I am spending the weekend in Washington. I hold high expectations of myself and what I can accomplish and when things are going well, the expectations get pushed higher and higher. Add a weekend out of town and the desire to tie up loose ends and the pressure mounts. Throw in an unexpected deadline for silly, but necessary, paperwork and that’s how I became a complete stressball.

I was like the cartoon tasmanian devil on Wednesday. Whirling around the lab and the office leaving a wake of destruction. I don’t hide my surface emotions well. I don’t even try. When I am excited you know about it. When I am frustrated you know about it. When I am stressed you know about it. And I was stressed out.

So, as thank-you to my labmates for allowing me to be me, stressball and all, I made a little something to brighten their Thursday. No wack-a-doodle flavor combination here – just straight up chocolate and hazelnut brownies. I had spied this recipe in a recent issue of Food and Wine and had tucked it away for just such an occasion. These brownies are decadent (as you can see by the amounts of butter, sugar and chocolate in them) and must be shared. It will make your friends and co-workers love you, faults and all.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies
adjusted for size from Food and Wine
makes 16 LARGE brownies
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4.5 ounces toasted and peeled hazelnuts
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5/8 teaspoon salt
470 g (~2 cups) granulated sugar
2 sticks + 6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
**********

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with alumininum foil.

Combine hazelnuts, cocoa powder, salt and 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar in a food processer and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until it is brown and smells wonderfully of nutty caramel, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Take off heat and add chocolate. Let sit undisturbed for two minutes and then whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly.

Using a stand mixer, beat remaining sugar, eggs and coffee until very light, fluffy and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Blend in chocolate butter mixture. Add hazelnut cocoa mixture and stir until combined.

Bake for about an hour, or until tester comes out clean.

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Turtle Brownies

Do you know what I love more than baking?

Baking for somebody other than myself.

I was in Florida for a couple of days. Which meant Scott bore the brunt of my baking addiction. I try to be thoughtful and make things that appeal to him.

Like these turtle brownies.

Chocolate. Caramel. Pecans. Even if they were a flop, I am pretty sure they would be a delicious pile of goo. A timeless combination, which makes it appropriate for Florida, as the weather here has been somewhat undefinable, in terms of seasons.

These are intense. I have no other words. Not a quick and simple brownie by any means, but well worth the commitment. And let’s face it, Scott is worth it.

Turtle Brownies

adapted slightly from Gourmet
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Brownie batter
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 60% cocoa chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Caramel sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
 
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/3 cup chocolate chips
**********

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans for about 15-20 minutes. Leave oven on and line an 8-inch square glass baking dish with aluminum foil.

Make brownie layer:
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until mixture is glossy and smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour batter evenly in baking dish and bake for 30. Cool completely in pan on a rack.

Make caramel-pecan layer:
Bring sugar, water, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until mixture turns a golden caramel color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add cream and vanilla (mixture will bubble and steam). Pour over brownie layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle pecans over the caramel layer. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Prepare garnish:
Melt remaining chocolate chips in the microwave (heat for 30 seconds, stir and heat for 30 seconds more). Drizzle melted chocolate decoratively over brownies.

Chill brownies, loosely covered, until caramel and chocolate are firm, at least 4 hours.

Thank-you-for-looking-for-my-lost-cat-brownies

How do you say thank you to somebody who was critical in reuniting me with Puck? My downstairs neighbor went above and beyond her neighborly duty to help me out when the Puckster went missing. She was the one to suggest posting an ad on Craigslist and checked in on me throughout the day to see how things were going. I cannot thank her enough for all of her help.

It probably comes as no surprise that I decided to express my gratitude through food. For this occasion I made a batch of brownies. Mexican chocolate brownies topped with a brown sugar glaze and sliced almonds. I am pretty sure that nothing says Thank You like something featuring chocolate.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Brown Sugar Glaze

From Bon Appetit

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Mexican Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
 
Brown Sugar Glaze
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sliced almonds
**********

Melt butter in a pan over low heat.

Chop the unsweetened chocolate.

And melt it with the butter.

Whisk until smooth.

Take off heat, cool for 5 minutes. Continue to whisk in:

Brown sugar

Cinnamon

Salt

Eggs, one at a time

Followed by the vanilla. Whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Stir in flour, mixing until just blended.

Fold in milk chocolate chips.

Pour into a aluminum foil lined 8 x 8 square baking dish.

Bake at 325º for 35 minutes.

For the brown sugar glaze, bring the whipping cream, brown sugar and butter to a boil over low heat.

Once boiling, take off heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Spread over cooled brownies and top with sliced almonds.

Let sit for at least an hour.

Note: I love the aluminum foil trick. I was able to life the brownies right out of the pan. Not only did it save me one more dish to wash, it made cutting apart the brownies about a hundred times easier.

So thank you, dear neighbor for your help in finding Puck.

One good turn deserves another.