Monday, May 26, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Chip Brownies

I knew I wanted to bake something today, but I wasn't sure what that should be.  This morning I poured over several cookbooks and some food blogs, and I decided it was as good a time as any to continue on my quest to find the perfect brownie.  I am one of those people who prefer the fudgy brownie to the cakey brownie.  I have to say, this one is pretty darn good.  The recipe calls for browned butter, but I really couldn't taste the nutty flavor imparted by browning in the final product.  I think if you wanted to cut down on prep time you could definitely make these with plain old melted butter.  The final product is chocolatey, chewy, and worth every single calorie.

Adapted from Cookie and Kate


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
2 cold large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with two criss-crossed pieces of parchment paper, making sure that the paper is long enough to go up the sides a couple of inches. Alternatively, line the pan with Reynolds pan-lining paper.

2. Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, while whisking constantly, until it’s a pale golden brown and the particles suspended in it are reddish brown. This usually takes about 10 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the butter!

3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula after each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the vanilla extract and the flour. Stir until you no longer see streaks of flour. Then beat vigorously for 50 strokes with the wooden spoon or spatula.

5. At this point, the mixture should be no more than slightly warm (if not, let it cool for a few more minutes). Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips - if the batter is too warm you will melt your chips and that would be sad.

6. Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool the brownies in the pan on a baking rack.

7. Once the brownies are completely cool, lift the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the brownies into 16 or 25 squares.

Friday, May 2, 2014

RumChata Cupcakes

I was a little late to the party, but I have finally discovered RumChata.  I've heard it described as liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and it is basically a creamy, sweet, cinnamon-flavored liqueur.  While RumChata is fabulous on its own, I really love the flavor it gives to both the cake and frosting.  The frosting is pretty sweet, but sometimes you just have to live a little bit!  Also, you may just want to add the sugar slowly and adjust the amount according to your tastes.  These cupcakes are for adults only and would be perfect for a girls night.

Cake adapted from Annie's Eats 
Frosting adapted from & creative things.

YIELD - Approximately 30 cupcakes

3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups RumChata, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
5 tablespoons RumChata
1 2-pound package powdered sugar

1. For the cupcakes - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color, occasionally scraping down the sides.

2. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the RumChata and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.

3. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells).  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.  Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired.

4. For the frosting - In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add salt and vanilla extract and beat to combine.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and then begin to add the RumChata.  Depending on how think you like your frosting (or whether or not you use all of the powdered sugar) you may need to add more or less RumChata.  Once all the RumChata and powdered sugar have been added, continue mixing until light and fluffy.  Fill a piping bag or spread on the cooled cupcakes.