The BAKED Brownie

Oh boy oh, is summer upon us! It was in the high 80s today and it’s supposed to get into the 90s tomorrow. Not that I don’t love the heat, I do, but it gets to a point where it’s just too hot. And with the humidtiy, I’m done for. I guess I can’t really complain though, since there’s nothing I can do about it. I do plan on getting to the pool/beach as soon as possible. I don’t understand why everything waits until Memorial Day to open, even though it’s clearly hot before then.

Anyway, as I’ve written many times, I’m much more of a cookie person than a brownie person. I think it’s easier to adjust baking times and ingredients with cookies whereas with brownies you have to bit a more careful. Than being said, I decided to make some the other night from the BAKED cookbook. Now these guys pride themselves on their famous brownie, so I had some high hopes. Obviously I should have read the recipe beforehand because as I was about half way through mixing up the ingredients I realized I didn’t have enough eggs – more like I broke two so was only left with four. But the ones I was left with were extra large so I figured it would be okay. My second gaffe was that I didn’t have the right size pan, but I procedeed anyway with a smaller and it actually made them even better in my opionion.

These are not your usual cakey sweet brownies. They are deep and rich with a hint of coffee and given my small pan, they were very fudgy. I upped the baking time a little because I knew they were a little thicker than the recipe called for, but not by too much because I still wanted them to be fudgy and chewy on the inside. It’s really essential to cut these into small squares because they are just so rich in any one bite. This will definelty bump to the top of list whenever I need to make brownies again, although I might try and find the right size pan next time.

The BAKED Brownie

(Adapted from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3) Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4) Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5) Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

7) Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Strawberry Shortcake

What a week! I had work everyday, saw a show with my roommate, made some amazing dinners and went upstate yesterday for my cousins birthday party. I was so excited to get out of the city for a day. As much as I love NYC, it is always nice to get out of the city for a little bit, even if only for the day. Ten kids went up in the morning and ran themselves ragged playing kickball, swimming, eating food, and smashing a piñata to smithereens. I mostly hung out in the kitchen and manning the barbeque. I also took a quick bike ride down the mountain with my uncle, which once again proved that I need to get my butt into shape.

Not only was it my cousin’s birthday (it’s actually tomorrow but we celebrated a little early) but it was also my aunt’s birthday. Since we were getting a Crumbs birthday cake for my cousin, I decided to make a strawberry shortcake for my aunt because she told me how much she loves fresh berries and May is certainly the month for strawberries. I made the shortcake Friday evening in the city and then cut up fresh strawberries and made whipped cream when I got to their house on Saturday morning.

I’ve never made a strawberry shortcake before, but after looking at the recipe, I realized it was quite similar to making scones, which are one of my favorite things to make, so I was quite excited. I usually think of strawberry shortcake as being made with angel food cake, but this is much more dense – just like a scone. I’m not sure I liked it so dense, so if I make it again, I will probably head the angel food cake route. I was planning on cutting the cake in half to put the whipped cream in the center, but given how little the cake had risen I was worried I wouldn’t have enough cake to cut. I realized soon after I bit into it that I should have cut it in half to soak in more of the juices, but it was too late, so oh well.  This is certainly a quick and easy dessert to whip up, especially if you get your hands on some fresh strawberries and whipped cream 🙂

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups whipped heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

1) Slice the strawberries and toss them with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Set aside

2) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour one 8 inch round cake pan.

3) In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt.

4) With a pastry blender cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined.

5) Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

6) Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. (I didn’t do this part, but I recommend it)

7) Place half of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream.

BAKED

This past weekend, one of my best friends from North Carolina came to visit me in New York City. It was so much fun. I do not think I have covered so much territory in New York in one weekend ever. We went to Chelsea Market, saw Promises Promises – which was amazing! and we saw Kristen Chenoweth after the show – we walked all around Brooklyn, went to a street fair, a few flea markets, and just had a great time all around. Included in the weekend of festivites, we obviously ate a whole bunch of food. We went to Cafe Lalo for brunch on Sunday, which was delicious as usual, had lemonade at the street fair and even made our very own burritos at home on Thursday evening. It was a great trip and am looking forward to more friends visiting over the summer so that I’ll have an excuse to do all these fun things once again!

Now I have been dying to go to BAKED in Brooklyn for ages and ages. I had the granola they make and sell at supermarkets at a friends house a few years ago and fell in love. It is by far some of the best (and most expensive ;-)) granolas ever, but so worth it. After trying the granola, I looked them up online and saw that they had both a store in Brooklyn and in Charleston, South Carolina. I always had a sneaking desire to go but never actually took the prerogative to hike out to Red Hook in Brooklyn, but last Chaunkah my uncle gave me their cookbook and of course I wanted to go 10 thousand times more. How I’d never gone before makes no sense now that I’ve been, but we decided to finally go this past weekend and it definielty lived up to all my expectations.

First off, BAKED is in Red Hook, which is not the easiest place to get to. So after spending the morning at the Brooklyn flea market and then getting on and off about ten different subways and buses because nothing ever works on the weekend, we finally made it. We were all famished, but with my sweet tooth, I settled on a huge chunk of Sweet  & Salty cake to ease my hunger instead of something a little more well rounded like quiche or a sandwich. I think I made a good choice though because it was so good! One of my favorite things is flakes of salt sifted atop a cake or cookie and this didn’t fail to please me. The cake was an intense dark and rich chocolate cake with a light and fluffy whipped chocolate caramel frosting that complemeted each other perfectly. The flakes of salt were sprinkled on top of the cake, so although you didn’t get a salty taste each forkful, it was okay. Given how rich the cake is, with the caramel infused into it, one slice could easily be shared. Given how hungry I was, I thought I would be able to finish the whole piece on my own, but alas, I let the others at the table have their fair share and there was still even some left on the plate as we left.

I was so excited to go to BAKED after having been waiting to go all year and now I can finally say I’ve been. As far as it might be from my apartment now, I’m sure I’ll make the sojourn again soon, but while I’m waiting I guess I’ll just have to keep making some yummy yummy recipes from their cookbook.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

It has been far too long since my last post – I apologize! I’ve just been really really busy with the end of school, finals, moving out, etc… But now I’m all done and ready to start baking all summer long! Once again, I’m living uptown at my uncle’s apartment while I work and volunteer in the city over the summer.  New York City in the summer is so much fun. There is always stuff going on – like free concerts and movies and amazing fairs and festivals. I plan on getting to the beach often as well to work on my tan and to start running again, which I’ve completely stopped doing. ahhhh!!!

Anyway, last week, for our final suite meal of the semester, I obviously decided to make a dessert. I settled upon oreo cheesecake cupcakes because a) they seemed delicious and b) they didn’t require many ingredients that I didn’t already have. Cheesecake has definitely become my new favorite thing because it’s just so easy to make. Basically, you dump all the stuff into the bowl of your mixmaster, turn on and wait for beautiful, airy, light, cheesecake to ensure. Obvisouly it takes a bit more work than that simple description but it’s close. It was a wonderful meal and a nice way to start the goodbye process to all my suite-mates. Three are headed back to California, one to Connecticut and my own roommate is staying in NYC with me!

I used my old valentines and halloween cupcake liners that I had laying around. After cleaning my dorm room for the move, I found all sorts of goodies – such as meringue powder, missing parts to my cake decorating set, and my long lost lemon zester that had fallen behind my bed. I think it’s safe to say that I had far too much baking stuff for my tiny little kitchen.

OREO CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 42 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2) With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3) Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4) Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.