Monday, August 27, 2012

Hurricane Survival Brownies

You may have heard there's a storm a-brewn' out in the Gulf of Mexico. I live in the Southeast corner of Alabama, just over an hour from the Florida coast. Hurricanes are pretty much a fact of life around here. We track them, keep a stash of batteries and bottled water on hand, and reminisce about Camille, Opal, and Katrina every time a hurricane starts making it's way toward us. The only good thing about a hurricane headed your way, (if there is such a thing) is that you get plenty of warning that it's coming. This gives us time to batten down the hatches and make plans to make due with possible power outages, road closings, etc for a period of time. I've shared with you here how my mother always whips up a batch of emergency cookies/brownies whenever a hurricane is headed our way. This morning I decided I needed to make some brownies, "just in case". In case of what, I'm not sure. Possible baked good deprivation, I guess! I called my mom to make sure they were prepared to ride out the weather and mentioned that I'd just made a batch of brownies. She informed me that she had just pulled a batch of brownies out of the oven as well and had them cooling on the counter. So yes, we're all prepared for Isaac.
This is probably my favorite brownie recipe. It's rich and fudge-like. Topped with the peanut butter frosting they are down right addictive! These brownies are fantastic whether or not a hurricane is headed your way. So don't wait for emergency weather to whip up a batch.

I've got my hurricane survival kit all ready to go!

Best Cocoa Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Printable Recipe

Source: Epicurious  | November 2003
Alice Medrich (adapted)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until incorporated, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the chocolate chips, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Spread peanut butter icing over the top of the brownies.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. squares.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter
3 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar

In a mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, cream cheese,a and butter together until smooth. Mix in confections sugar, milk, and vanilla. Mix until smooth adding more milk  if necessary.

If I have to evacuate, I'm taking the brownies!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lemon-less Brazilian Lemonade

A few years ago hubs and I took a vacation to Barbados. During one particularly hot day of sightseeing, we came across a street vendor selling shaved ice type drinks. I ordered a lemon ice and was shocked when he pulled out a can of sweetened condensed milk and poured it all over the top of the ice along with the lemon syrup. This was not at all what I expected when I ordered the shaved ice. I was pretty sure that there was no way this shaved ice was going to be refreshing and probably not taste very good either. Happily, I was wrong and the shaved ice was both tasty and refreshing. I'd thought about trying to recreate it when we got home from Barbados, but since shaved ice isn't something that can really be done at home, I never did. Recently I found this recipe  for Brazilian lemonade. It was made up of the same basic components as the shaved iced so I knew it would be similar to what we'd had in Barbados and I couldn't wait to try it. I think it's even better than the shaved ice. Tart and creamy, kind of like a liquid key lime pie. The perfect party drink for a Labor Day cookout. 
As you can see from the recipe and may have gathered from the title of this post, there are no lemons in this lemonade. You may find that as shocking as the addition of the condensed milk. I guess in Portuguese lemons and limes have the same name? I'm not sure about the origins of the name but who cares what it's called when it tastes this good!

Brazilian Lemonade

2 limes
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
3 cups water
Be sure to buy limes that are very ripe and have thin skins. Limes with thick skins will make the drink very bitter. Wash limes thoroughly. Cut off the ends and slice into eight wedges. Place limes in a blender with the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, water, and ice. I used a couple of glasses full of ice.
Blend in an electric blender, pulsing several times. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove rinds. Serve over ice.
Call it lemonade or limeade...I call it delicious!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Molten Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies


I clearly remember my first experience with a molten chocolate cake. It was at a high-end restaurant in the 90's. I had to order it when I placed my dinner order if I wanted it for dessert. The waiter waxed poetic about it at length and of course I ordered one. When it came to the table I thought it looked nice but rather ordinary, then I cut into the center. Oh my, I think I heard angels sing! It was divine. The cake seemed somehow to be more than the sum of it's parts. There's something pretty wonderful about cutting into your dessert and having a warm chocolaty center ooze out.

Hot from the oven homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorite things in the world. They are definitely near the top of my all-time favorite desserts. Possibly the only way to improve on a chocolate chip cookie is for a them to have a warm oozy chocolaty center.

These cookies are as easy to make as regular chocolate chip cookies. They are just baked in a ramekin instead of on a cookie sheet. The recipe for the cookies is the one I always use for my chocolate chip cookies. It's a pretty standard recipe, I got it from the back of the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips bag. Just place a square of chocolate candy between two layers of cookie dough, bake, and I'll bet you'll be hearing angels sing too!

Molten Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Kosher by Design - Teens and 20-Somethings, by Susie Fishbein

2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1-12ounce bag chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 (4-ounce) good-quality semisweet or milk chocolate bar, broken into pieces along score lines. ( I used ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, at medium-low speed, mix the butter with the sugar and brown sugar. Raise the speed to medium-high and mix until creamy, light, and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs. Mix together until incorporated.
Add half of the four mixture. Mix until just combined, scrape down the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spray 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.
Fill each ramekin a quarter of the way with a large, golf-ball-size ball of cookie dough. Flatten to cover the bottom. Add 1 or 2, (depends on the size of the chocolate squares in the chocolate bar you use) chocolate squares in the center of the cookie dough. Cover with a second walnut-sized ball of cookie dough, flattening it to completely cover the chocolate.

Place onto a cookie sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown. Do not overbake or the end result will not be gooey. The baking time will vary from 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the  ramekin and the amount of dough you used. You can serve the cookies in the ramekins or flip them out onto individual plates. Serve warm.
Yields: about 8 6-ounce ramekins. Leftover cookie dough can be baked into regular chocolate chip cookies.

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