Yes, there’s such a thing as “emergency brownies.” I’ve probably talked about them before, now that I think about it. They’re the super-rich-chocolatey-goodness you need this instant without doing any work. Or else you might just expire on the spot from unfulfilled desire for warm chocolate lovin’. I wish I were kidding, but this happens to me regularly, so I know what I’m talking about. You know what I’m talking about?
I “grew” this recipe from something else we made at Le Cordon Bleu…something completely unrelated to brownies, because they don’t teach you how to make brownies there, trust me. But they teach you good ideas, and this was one of them that had been gnawing at me ever since we made the French version in the kitchen and devoured it all.
It’s a super simple recipe, made with staples you should have in your fridge and pantry. Try it!
Quick and Simple Brownies – serves 1, maybe…
- 50g dark chocolate (preferably good quality, at least 60% cacao, but a craving is a craving, so go ahead and bust out that Baker’s Chocolate if you need to.)
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g sugar
- 1 large egg (50g)
- 15g (1 Tbsp) flour
- 15g (1 Tbsp) ground almonds or ground hazelnuts, or just flour if you don’t have either
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)
- Mix-in’s: chopped nuts, a handful of chocolate chips, chopped pretzel pieces – all optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 170 Celsius.
- Get out your muffin tin and line 6 cups with your cupcake liner.
- Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave or in a double boiler.
- Whisk egg and sugar together with a hand whisk. Add in vanilla, salt, and coffee granules and whisk well.
- Add in the melted chocolate and butter, mix together just until it’s homogenous.
- Fold in flour and ground almonds/hazelnuts if you’re using, until there’s no trace of flour left. Stir in mix-in’s if you’re using them.
- Split the mixture evenly in the 6 cupcake liners you’ve got. You should be able to fill just under 1 inch in each tin – think brownie height, not muffin height.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is crackly and slightly firm to the touch. You don’t want it to be too gooey, and these brownies can’t really over-bake.
- Remove from oven and let cool in tins until the brownies aren’t too hot to the touch, then move to cooling rack to cool completely.
These brownies are not exactly chewy, which I think doesn’t really quality them as brownies, but they definitely hit the spot with their rich chocolate taste. They feel like a flourless chocolate cake done well, but of course they are not flourless. The crackly top is my favourite part – just what I’d expect from any good brownie. The unadulterated chocolate taste and the texture of this brownie also make this a perfect vessel to serve with ice cream and caramel sauce (or fruit coulis?) for a decadent dessert that’s sure to wow your guests. The best part? I’ve also discovered that they freeze exceptionally well – and dare I say they taste even better when frozen?
Give them a try the next time your cravings hit!
When I was in high school, my family lived on a street where landscaping was a bit of a competition. I have not-so-fond memories of spending spring break carting yards and yards of dirt from the driveway into our newly dug up flower beds. Our next door neighbours were especially good at landscaping, and the lady next door was often seen in her garden on sunny days.
The family next door not only inspired everyone on the street to keep beautiful lawns and gardens, but they also served wonderful snacks whenever we went over for tea and coffee. The lady of the house, Pat, was generous and often copied the recipes down for my mom and me to try at home, and to this day my mom still has a folder with recipes handwritten by Pat on pretty paper. The last time I was home, I got them all down on my computer and have been meaning to recreate some of them.
Since I recently came across a really delicious jar of peanut butter, I thought I’d start with the Peanut Butter Cups. You can also make these into bars – just the peanut butter layer on the bottom, with chocolate on top – to make life easier.
Peanut Filling (makes enough for 48 cups, or a 8×8″ pan)
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 and 1/4 cups icing sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup melted butter
You’ll also need
- Chocolate chips, melted, for coating…or chocolate wafers. Don’t be quick to judge, there are better tasting wafers available these days! I’ve recently seen Ghiradelli candy coating, and the ones I buy are “Belgium premium chocolate wafers” from Bulk Barn. Alternatively, you could temper real chocolate. You’ll need about 3/4 cup for the Pan Method, or about 1 pound of chocolate wafers for the peanut butter cups.
- A peanut butter cup chocolate mould or a 8×8″ square pan, lined with parchment.
- Mix all the ingredients for the peanut butter filling together thoroughly, and let chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes just until it gets firmer.
- Roll into small balls about the size of table grapes, and press down slightly so it’s about the size of a quarter, just thicker. Or, if you’re making this in a pan, press all of the peanut butter filling firmly on the bottom.
- Fill a peanut butter cup chocolate mould with a thin layer of chocolate. Tap the sides to get the chocolate to spread flatly, and put into fridge to set for a few minutes. Pan method – spread the melted chocolate evenly across the top of the peanut butter filling, and let set in fridge.
- Put the flattened peanut butter in the middle of the chocolate cup, and drizzle melted chocolate on top, again tapping to ensure everything flattens out. Pan method – you may want to score the bars with a sharp knife halfway through setting to ensure you can cut through the chocolate easily once it’s set.
- Return to fridge to set, about 15-20 minutes, before inverting the mould onto a clean work surface and extracting the cups one by one.
I feel like it’s taken forever to get to July, and we’ve had so much good weather already that I am excited about how much more summer we have left. However, the weekends for July and August are filling up so quickly that I’m afraid it’ll all pass by before I know it.
Starting from last weekend, we had the best visitors in town for the 4th of July long weekend, and I have much to post about that. This weekend has officially started with lots of errands, since we’re moving at the end of the month. But…we also have lots of fun things kicking off. Tomorrow’s our first rowing league practice, which I’m excited about, and also a little scared (remember, I don’t swim…at least, not well). I also did some prep work for something else happening tomorrow, and here’s a sneak peek!!
I was also feeling quite decadent today in my flurry of kitchen prep, that I made the ice cream cones covered in sprinkles. A coworker and I were lamenting that as little kids, our parents never really let us get the waffle cones with chocolate and sprinkles. So I made them. I have quite a few issues with things I wasn’t allowed to have as a kid, and that might also be the reason why my mom ended up with three Easy-Bake ovens to give away when my sister and I moved away.
To make these, it’s quite simple:
- Melt semi-sweet chocolate wafers in the microwave, and stir until smooth
- Brush onto inside of a store-bought waffle cone (sorry, I cheated) with a small heat-proof spatula. Chill in freezer as you continue with the other cones.
- Take out of freezer. Brush the outside rim with the chocolate, making sure not to put too thick of a coat on, and also not too deep (the sprinkles will add quite a bit of weight if you do too much chocolate).
- Dab in a shallow pan covered in sprinkles, until the edges are all covered.
- Chill again in freezer while you work on the others. Once you’re finished, give them a few more minutes in the freezer, then take out and wrap individually in parchment or wax paper. Store in a place where things won’t be squished.
Stay tuned for what all these fun things are for!!
This is one of my favourite Barefoot Contessa Recipes, adapted to a personal pan size for those “emergency brownie days”. Emergency brownie days in my books are usually also accompanied by vodka, if it happens to be available in the fridge. That’s how I concluded brownies were probably, most likely, created by stressed out women everywhere. Women who have been pushed to decide that just chocolate simply wouldn’t do; chocolate and butter and sugar together would be soooooo much better.
Extremely Chocolate-y Brownies
adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
- 2.5 oz. unsalted butter, melted
- 3.5 oz. semi-sweet/bitter-sweet chocolate chips, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tbsp. instant coffee granules
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a small pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Line a small brownie pan, 6″ cake pan, or loaf pan with butter and flour, and put parchment paper on the bottom – since this is a “personal pan” brownie recipe, you don’t need a regular brownie pan.
- Combine butter, chocolate, egg, instant coffee, and vanilla together in a bowl. Whisk together until mixed well.
- Add in the dry ingredients, and whisk until everything is incorporated.
- At this point, you can chop in nuts or extra chocolate chips. If you do, toss them together with a tbsp. of flour first so they don’t all sink in the batter.
- Pour batter into pan and bake until the top starts to crack and a tester comes out clean.
- Forget about cooling. Grab a spoon and dig in. Have vodka ready if necessary and available.
After reading Alexis Stewart’s post on making this Heaven and Hell Cake from Saveur.com, I wanted to give it a whirl, too. Since then, I’ve whirled at least three times to get it right. Today, I can finally share something.
The reason why it’s called Heaven and Hell Cake is because the cake layers are alternating Angel Food Cake and Devil’s Food Cake. The filling is a light peanut butter mousse, and the whole thing is finished off with chocolate ganache. First of all, whatever you do, do not follow the Saveur.com recipe blindly, especially on the peanut butter mousse. I learned the hard way that my KichenAid isn’t even big enough to handle all the ingredients.
Anyway, long story short, I re-made it and re-made it again. I got the peanut butter mousse after toying with some recipes I found online, and finally got the Angel Food Cake, too, thanks to a handy-dandy book of mine.
The recipe yields enough for a 6″ cake, and the whole process will take a lot of work because of the different layers that go into the final product…this isn’t meant to be an everyday cake, but a fancy once-in-a-while thing.
Angel Food Cake
- 3 oz. egg whites (I buy cartons of egg whites rather than ending up with a bunch of yolks)
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 oz. sugar, divided into 2 equal portions
- 1 oz. cake and pastry flour
Devil Food Cake
- 5 oz. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 oz. softened unsalted butter
- 4.5 oz. brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 oz. melted unsweetened choclate
- 2/3 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Mousse
- 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
- 2 oz. (1/4 package) cream cheese
- 2.25 oz. icing sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- For the Angel Food Cake, set the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Line the cake pan with parchment paper everywhere – the edges and the bottom. Angel Food Cake tends to do better with parchment than the regular old butter-and-flour set-up. Sift the flour and 3 oz. of the sugar together. Set aside. Whip the egg whites in an electric mixer on medium speed with a wire whisk, until bubbly. Add in the salt and cream of tartar, and continue whipping on medium speed until the volume starts to double and the mixture is turning white. Drizzle in 3 oz. of the sugar and continue whipping until very soft peaks begin to form. The worst thing to do with Angel Food Cake is to over-mix the egg whites, which in turn makes the cake non-airy. Add in sifted flour and sugar and fold gently into the almost-meringue mixture. Pour into the ready pan, and put into the oven right away. Bake for about 30 minutes just until the top is nice and golden, and a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, chill on a rack in the pan until it settles, and then cool on the rack upside down for at least an hour before removing.
- For the Devil’s Food Cake, butter and flour the pan, and line the bottom with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cream the butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, then add in the brown sugar and beat on medium until lighter in colour. Add in egg and mix on medium for three minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Then alternately mix in dry ingredients and milk + vanilla until it’s all incorporated. Pour into the pan and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes. Remove from pan when it’s set and just starting to pull away from the edges, and cool in pan for a few minutes before removing and cooling on the rack.
- For the peanut butter mouse, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Put in refrigerator. Cream the cream cheese in a electric mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add in icing sugar and salt and cream together until smooth. Add in peanut butter and mix until smooth (will feel slightly dry and lumpy, just keep going at a lower speed). Fold in the whipped cream by hand until well mixed, and put back on the mixer and whip at medium-low speed for another 30 seconds. Yum!
- Slice the cake layers in half, so that you have 4 cake layers in total. Start with a Devil’s Food Cake, top with a layer of peanut butter mousse, then a layer of Angel Food Cake, and then another peanut butter mousse layer. You should finish at the last layer of Angel Food Cake. Don’t add peanut butter mousse on top, but finish off the edges with any leftover mousse – “masking the cake”, if you will – so that the edges are even and smooth. Put in the fridge while you do the chocolate ganache.
- Melt 8 oz. chocolate chips and 1/4 cup whipping cream, and pour over the top of the cake when it’s cooled off a bit but is still liquid.
- Use any leftover peanut butter mousse to pipe fancy decorations on top of the cake if you have any desire to continue with the cake at this point. Voila!
Ever since Deb at smitten kitchen posted her recipe for cheesecake marbled chocolate brownies, I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to make them myself.
Then when the Ali P & mango bake fest was drawing to an end on Friday night, we desperately sought excuses to keep the sugar high going, and I was delighted when she mumbled, “I’ve always wanted to try a good cheesecake swirl brownie recipe”. Well, look at that, I just happen to have a recipe!
Recipe adapted from the original smittenkitchen.com post, which was from Gourmet in 2007.
You will need
- 4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped coarsely – I used extra-bitter Lindt couvertures because I really didn’t want the chocolate taste to be too sweet
- 5 oz. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp. instant coffee granules
- 1 oz. cocoa powder
- 3.5 oz. all-purpose flour
- 8 oz. (1 pkg) cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 oz. sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Putting it together
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 8″ pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper
- Melt the butter and the chocolate carefully together in a microwave, or over a double boiler. Add in the coffee granules when it is warm
- Whisk in sugar, vanilla, eggs, cocoa powder, and flour one at a time, until everything is well combined
- Pour brownie mixture into the prepared pan, smooth out the top slightly, and set aside
- In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, mix together all of the ingredients for the cheesecake, beating until it is smooth and the sugar’s fully incorporated and the mixture feels light and fluffy when scraping down with a spatula
- Drop the cheesecake batter in dollops on top of the brownie batter. Use a small paring knife or spatula, swirl in the cheesecake batter
- Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is set enough that when you remove it, nothing jiggles like Jell-O
- Cool in tray. I put it in the fridge overnight, loosely covered, before slicing into squares.
The brownies are dense, chocolate-y, and chewy, and the cheesecake is just the right sweetness that it doesn’t overpower the brownies. We made quite a few adjustments to the brownies (they’re not the typical Ali P recipe), because the original recipe was just a little too sweet for me. I wanted something more like a dark chocolate brownie on the bottom, so the sugars were called down and I also intensified the chocolate flavour with a dash of coffee and some cocoa powder for good measure. Enjoy!