Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dark Chocolate Brownies

I will let myself eat these... oh, maybe twice a year. And, since I made two batches of these heavenly brownies in one week, I'm done for 2009 and a good portion of 2010.

Dark Chocolate Brownies
from Craving Chronicles

½ c unsalted butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cups 100% dark cocoa
½ t salt
½ t baking powder
½ T vanilla extract
¾ c all-purpose flour
1 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 8″ x 8″ pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add the sugar, stirring to combine. Return the butter mixture to the heat briefly, just until it’s hot, but not bubbling.

In a smaller bowl, crack 2 eggs and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until smooth.

Stir the hot butter mixture into the egg mixture until smooth.

Stir in the flour until just combined. Let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips. Allowing the batter to cool keeps the chips intact instead of melting into the batter.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8″ x 8″ pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean, with some moist crumbs but no loose batter. Cool on a rack before serving.

I served mine with a melon-baller scoop of coconut frozen custard.

These are the best brownies I have ever eaten. The are extremely satisfying. I cut them into small squares and I could easily stop eating after only one brownie. I didn't... But I could.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Cake with Orange Frosting and Candied Cranberries

I will make this cake every year for Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other Fall/Winter occasion I can think of. It is showstopping in its beauty and taste. It is easy to make and easily altered for slight variations. Please, please, please make this cake. I know you'll love it, too.

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Cake with Orange Frosting and Candied Cranberries

1 box spice cake mix
3 eggs, beaten
1 can pumpkin puree
1/3 c milk or water
1 bag of cranberries
2 c water
2 c + 1 c sugar
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
zest of one large orange
2 t vanilla extract
2 c powdered sugar

Empty the boxed spice cake mix into a large mixing bowl and add three beaten eggs, one can of pumpkin puree, and 1/3 cup of milk (or water). Blend together thoroughly. Empty a bag of cranberries into a colander, rinse and toss out the soft or spoiled berries. Drop 1/4 of the berries in the batter whole, halve another 1/4 of the remaining berries and add them to the batter, as well. Reserve the remaining 1/2 bag of berries to be candied. Stir to combine and divide evenly into two 8 or 9" cake rounds. Bake as directed on the box. What you've got is Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Cake.

For the frosting take two of the 8oz packages of cream cheese and two sticks of unsalted butter, soften and blend together with the zest of a big orange, 2 t of vanilla and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of powdered sugar, adding the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Once the cakes are completely cooled, frost with your delicious orange frosting.

For the candied berries dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a minute. Drop a cranberry in the syrup. If after 30 seconds or so the berry does not burst, then the solution is cool enough. Drop all the remaining berries, about half of a bag, in the sugar water. Then cover them with a plate or bowl that is almost the same size as the pan. It should just act like a weight to hold the berries underwater. If one or two pop up over the bowl, don't worry about it. Now let the berries absorb the sugar until the whole shebang is completely cool or overnight. Once cool, remove the berries with a slotted spoon and place them on a some wax paper or foil. Quickly, while they are still wet, sprinkle them with remaining cup of sugar. Once they are dry put them on your cake. PuhPow! Candied Cranberries.

The cake I made for Thanksgiving was a delicious variation of this cake. It started with a boxed white cake mix. I added the three beaten eggs, replaced the water called for on the back of the box with whole milk, and replaced the oil with melted butter. The batter was thick. I added the berries, baked and decorated as in the recipe above. It was perfect.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do!