Showing posts with label brownies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brownies. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coconut Butter Brownies: I'm Officially Cuckoo for Coconut Oil!

I've heard a lot of good things about coconut oil, everything from the taste, to the health benefits, to how great it works as a baking ingredient. This week, I used coconut oil to make Coconut Butter Brownies! It was my first time ever using this ingredient. I found it at my local Trader Joe's store. And the only other time I'd encountered it was at my parents' house, because my dad makes a mean popcorn with coconut oil for movie nights at home.

Coconut oil, at least the kind Trader Joe's sells, is not as thin and liquidy as you might expect. It's much more of a grainy paste - very soft and spreadable, and very unlike olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola, and other common cooking oils. But, if you put coconut oil in the microwave and melt it down, it will become that thin liquid you're so familiar with for oil.

Anyways, the brownies came out GREAT. The fat called for in the recipe is half butter, half coconut oil. That ratio definitely gives it a distinct coconut taste that sets it apart from other brownie recipes, but to me, it seemed mild enough that picky eaters who wouldn't normally go for coconut desserts might still really enjoy this. My taste-tester friends, however, reported a very obvious coconut taste (and for most of them, that was a very good thing!), so I suppose if you're not so keen on coconut, this might not be the recipe for you.

The texture is moist but with some mealiness to it. The top gets that beautiful brownie crust, but the inside is soft and chewy and utter perfection. I'll be making these again! And if you tell yourself that coconut oil has all those health benefits, then hey, this recipe is good for you! I'm officially CUCKOO FOR COCONUT OIL!

Coconut Butter Brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Marcy Goldman on

1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, slightly melted and stirred (looks almost like a soft grainy paste - I get mine from Trader Joe's!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or spray the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively, line the pan with foil and spray the foil.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the melted butter and coconut oil with the white and brown sugars. Add the vanilla and eggs and blend on low until well incorporated. Remove bowl from the mixer.

In a separate medium-size bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients gently, just until incorporated. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl because you'll probably find some of the flour mixture still at the bottom!

Spread the batter evenly into the pan. The batter is really thick and won't slide around so you'll need to even it out with the back of a spoon or offset spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake. Err on the side of underbaking if you're not sure because a moist brownie is always better than a dry one! The center of the brownie should look set, not jiggling.

Cool the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve. Store in an airtight container. Feel free to serve with powdered sugar dusted on top at the last second before serving.

Makes 12-20 depending on size. I prefer smaller, bite-size brownie squares.

Step-by-Step in Pictures

This is the coconut oil I used. It looks like clear liquid when melted down from the white paste in the jar...

Beat the butter and coconut oil with the sugars...

Beat in the vanilla and eggs...

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl and then fold into the wet ingredients...

Spread the batter into the greased pan. The mixture will be thick...

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes...

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Board Certified Banana Fudge Brownies with Walnuts

I brought these to work and people went bananas! I've learned over years of bringing treats to parties, work, friends' houses, etc, that certain flavor combinations are definite hits with crowds. And the popular opinion whole-heartedly supports chocolate and banana together. These brownies are the real deal. They mean business. Monkey business. So so good!

I doubled the recipe and used 3 ripe bananas I had on hand. The recipe supposedly comes from the California Walnut Board. Did you know such an organization existed? That's some serious dedication to a nut! The "supposedly" above is because my mom sent me the recipe, which she had saved on a recipe card in a binder, and can't recall for sure, but thinks it's from that walnut board. I'm going to assume she's right. Because board certified brownies simply sound better. It's like they passed a test or something. And hey, based on the faces of the lucky recipients of the batch I made, they passed with flying colors.

If you happen to know for sure that these don't come from the California Walnut Board, or heck, that the board is a fantasy all together, please keep it to yourself. I purposely didn't check Google for accuracy because I like a little mystery now and then. And I can't bear the thought of these brownies not being board certified. It would ruin my day. ;)

Banana Fudge Brownies with Walnuts
Adapted from a recipe by the California Walnut Board (if memory serves my mom right...hehe)
Makes an 8-inch pan of brownies (recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch pan)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate (can use chocolate chips)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 small)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 8-inch square pan. I like to line my pan with foil and then grease the foil so it's easy to lift the entire tray of brownies out and slice on a cutting board.

In a saucepan, melt together the butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat and beat in the flour, sugar, mashed banana, vanilla, baking powder, salt, egg, and walnuts with a wooden spoon.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until center is set (do not overbake or the brownies will be dry). Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into 2-inch squares. Or smaller, bite-size squares, which is my preference.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the chocolate and butter together...

Remove from the heat and add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt...

Add the banana, egg, and vanilla...

Stir in the toasted walnuts...

Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F...

Cool, then slice and serve!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares Stuffed with Peanut Butter Cups

I was at the grocery store recently shopping for basics like milk, eggs, and bananas. I had no intention of veering off the path. And then I struck gold. I approached the Easter candy sale section and my eyeballs almost flew out of their sockets. First of all, I thought I had missed my chance to get Easter candy on sale because it was already several days after the holiday. In fact, I had already mourned that lost opportunity and moved on with my life. Second, giant bags could be mine for just $1.20 per bag. I gave in and put several bags in my cart - a few Cadbury mini eggs, Reese's, and some other stuff.

I wish I could tell you it was a tough decision and my brain was fighting my hand not to pick up any candy. But that's not how this experience played out. I don't think my hand-reaching could have been any speedier or more certain. There was no pause, no trembling, just one beautiful straight grab and it was over.

I don't view this at all as lack of will power. I view it as investment, because Reese's Peanut Butter Cups shaped in the form of Easter eggs are still just Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The ingredients are the same. I can buy these and use them in baking as if there were no difference. And I knew when I bought this giant bag of Reese's exactly what I was going to do with the eggs. They were going in brownies.

The only thing left to do was decide on a brownie recipe. I pulled out my family cookbook and found a recipe my aunt had submitted for Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares. Bessie was the housekeeper that many of my relatives on my mom's dad's side shared back in the 1950s and 60s in Youngstown, Ohio. The brownies are more on the cakey side than the fudgy side, and I'm more of a fudgy girl, but they work really well with a stuffing of peanut butter cups. I'm quite pleased with my $1.20 purchase.

Bessie's Chocolate Fudge Squares Stuffed with Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from a recipe by Bessie Anglun, a housekeeper that worked for my mom's paternal family in Youngstown, Ohio, that was submitted by my aunt Linda to our family cookbook

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 cup toasted nuts, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs or Cups

Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in flour, baking powder, nuts, and vanilla. Place in greased and floured (or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) 9-inch or 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-25 minutes.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the chocolate and butter...

Remove from heat and add the sugar...
Add the eggs, one at a time...
Add the dry ingredients...

Add the vanilla...
Spread about half the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan, then evenly distribute the Reese's Peanut Butter cups/Easter eggs on top...

Spread the remaining batter on top of the Reese's Peanut Butter cups...
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 25 minutes...

Cut into squares and serve...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Mom's Favorite Ooey Gooey Pecan Bars for Passover

I got to my parents' house Thursday night and the first thing my mom says to me (after the big bear hug, of course) is, "Marni, you have to try these pecan bars." She all but stuffed one into my mouth. It wasn't exactly hard to give in and try one, but it was noteworthy that she was so eager. I mean, I'd just stepped off a plane and all she could think about was feeding me this bar.

Her alacrity was justified. One bite, actually, one look at these bars, and I knew I'd be sleeping happy (and waking up and going to the gym - but it would be worth it).

Just when I thought there'd be no new baking revelations this Passover, my mom drops this on me. Kaboom! Kerpow! And now I am a changed woman. Forever. Can a Passover Pecan Bar do that to a person? Yes, and I can't wait for you to try this. In fact, I urge you to use your leftover Passover ingredients after Passover is over and make this to bring to a picnic, or a work party, or whatever. No one will know it has matzah meal in it, but if they ask what's in it, tell them the truth. It will shock them.

Unfortunately, because my mom had already made these by the time I arrived, I wasn't there to take step-by-step photos. So these few finished product photos will have to do. I think you'll survive!

Ooey Gooey Pecan Bars for Passover
Adapted from a recipe by Marcy Goldman in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking

1/2 cup matzah meal
1 cup matzah cake meal
1/2 cup ground toasted pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine
1 egg yolk

Gooey Pecan Filling
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup Passover maple table syrup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Passover vanilla sugar (or Passover vanilla extract)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking pan. My mom used a 9x13-inch and highly recommends it! You can also use an 8x11 (smaller pan) and the bars will be taller, even gooier, and more like the pecan pie you're used to around Thanksgiving.

For the crust, in a food processor or large bowl, stir together the matzah meal, cake meal, pecans, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse in the food processor or use a pastry blender to cut the butter up into small morsels so that the crust mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk and stir to incorporate. Use your fingers to squish the mixture together and then press it into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You'll know the crust is done when the edges are beginning to brown, but are not too dark. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Pour this filling onto the cooled crust and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, then place in the fridge to chill further so that the filling sets. Cut into squares. A little goes a long way because these are so gooey and indulgent, so even bite-size pieces would work well.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen heavenly bars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover Brownies That'll Fool Anyone: Mwahahahaha!

Abracadabra, hocus pocus, make me a Passover brownie that will fool anyone!

I chanted this spell as I put these Passover brownies in the oven, and apparently I'm quite a good witch. My magic worked! These brownies are, yes, technically kosher-for-Passover, but you would never ever know. I'd bet money on it in Vegas. Even the most discriminating palates and Michelin-rated chefs would have no idea. I am that confident I could fool anyone. There is 1/3 of a cup of matzah cake meal in place of 1/2 a cup of flour in an already certified, tested, heavenly brownie. And because they're so easy to make, it would be a shame, a tragedy, and at the very least, pretty lame, for you to make a Passover brownie mix instead. Please don't.

Bippity Boppity Boo!

Kosher-for-Passover Ice Bath Brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich in Cookies and Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon Passover vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup matzah cake meal
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces, toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8x8 metal pan with foil and drape extra foil over the edges so you can lift the brownies out later for cutting on a cutting board.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth. Be very careful not to burn the mixture. If you think you're not the careful type, use a double boiler or heatproof bowl set on top of a pan of gently simmering water. It's a lot harder to burn chocolate and butter when using a double boiler.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring in each until it is well incorporated. Beat in the matzah cake meal until the mixture comes away from the sides and looks smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour the brownie batter into the foil-lined pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. The surface of the brownies will look dry but a toothpick inserted in the center will still be quite gooey. That's a good thing!

While the brownies are baking, prepare the ice bath. Fill a roasting pan or large baking pan (a standard 9 x 13" pan works perfectly) with ice cubes and water about 3/4-inch deep.

When brownies are ready, take the pan out of the oven and immediately place in the ice bath. Careful not to splash water from the ice bath onto the brownies! Cool the brownies completely in the ice bath.

When cool, remove the pan from the ice bath and lift the foil edges up and out of the pan and place the foil on the cutting board. Cut the brownies into squares to serve.

Store in an airtight container. Because these are fudgy, they will taste delicious for at least 3 days, and if you're lucky, up to 5 days!

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan...

Remove from the heat and stir in sugar, salt, and vanilla until sugar is dissolved...

Add the two eggs, one at a time...

Add matzah cake meal...

Stir just until combined...

Stir in the nuts, if using...

Spread evenly into the prepared pan...

Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F...

When done baking, immediately place in an ice bath to cool...

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maple Walnut Brownies with Maple Glaze

I grew up loving the flavor of maple because my mom is addicted and fed us kids maple-infused foodstuffs regularly. I've made maple desserts before. Try the Northern Maple Nut Pie on Happy Go Marni. Heaven. Or the Maple Walnut Cookies. Delicious. And as I've preached before, don't you dare use Aunt Jemima as a substitute for real maple syrup in these recipes! Not only is it tragedy, it's illegal! I'm going to call the Maple Police if you do that.

This maple-walnut brownie has a third of a cup of maple syrup in the recipe. And that's only for an 8-inch square baking pan! The raw batter was super mapley. Mmmm. I could have eaten the entire batter without baking it.

If you see multiple maple syrups in the grocery store and you're not sure which to use when, go for Grade B for baking and Grade A for drizzling on your waffles and pancakes. The way I remember it is B is for Baking. Easy!

I often skip frostings and glazes in recipes because I'm either lazy or it cuts back on the calories and doesn't seem necessary. With these brownies, though, I highly recommend you go forward with the maple glaze. It adds so much, not only in flavor, but it moistens the brownie. And it's simple to make.

Hooray for another successful maple dessert! Mom is probably bursting with happy tears right now.

Maple Walnut Brownies with Maple Glaze
Adapted from a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website
Makes 16 two-inch brownies

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 1/4 ounces) maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon maple flavor (you can use maple extract or imitation maple flavor, too)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by lightly greasing the bottom and sides. If you want, line with foil and then grease. I did this so I could easily lift the bars out of the pan and cut on a cutting board (plus, it kept my pan nice and clean!).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a medium saucepan set over the stove or a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter and brown sugar together. As soon as the butter is melted, remove from the heat and stir to wet the brown sugar and make a smooth mixture. Stir in the maple syrup. Let the mixture stand about 20 minutes or until it cools to lukewarm.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir to combine well. Then stir in the maple flavor. Gently fold in the dry ingredients but don't overmix. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (it took me 21 minutes), just until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan. Don't overbake or the brownies will be dry. Err on the side of underbaking. :) Take the pan out of the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

Once completely cool, cut into squares and drizzle the glaze on top. I placed the individual squares on a sheet of wax paper and then drizzled the glaze so the glaze didn't make a huge mess everywhere. Transfer the glazed squares to a container and place in the fridge for 20 minutes so the glaze can set.

Maple Glaze
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

Place the confectioners' sugar in a small bowl or 4-cup measuring glass. Add the maple syrup and barely any milk or cream. Whisk together and determine if you should add more milk or cream. My glaze was liquidy enough for drizzling with only 1 tablespoon milk. You want the glaze to be able to pour easily but you don't want it so thin that it slides right off the brownie and into a puddle on the wax paper.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside...

In a saucepan, melt together the brown sugar and butter...

Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, then let cool to lukewarm...

Add the eggs, one at a time...

Add the maple flavor...

Fold in the dry ingredients...

Fold in the walnuts...

Pour into the prepared baking pan...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, then let cool completely...

To make the maple glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, and milk...

Stir until smooth and add more milk as necessary to make a pourable liquid...

Cut the brownies into squares and place on wax paper...

Drizzle the maple glaze on top and let set (you can place in the fridge to set more quickly)...

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