Fudge Brownies – aka dry chocolate cake

brownie aka chocolate cake

I’ve got brownies on the brain. Needed to get it out of the system. Hence this post. Not that I need an excuse to make brownies, but that’s how it is. I do have a theory though, to this brownie obsession. I dyed my hair last week – from blonde to brown. So now, my boyfriend refers to me as brownie, instead of blondie. And hearing the word brownie a couple of times during the day, well, it gets to you one way or another! So unconciously this brownie-craving has been building up, and now it was about time to do something about it. And what better day than today to celebrate my new haircolour with brownies! I seriously needed to do something else than reading chemistry for a change, so I decided to take a day off reading and spend some quality time in the kitchen, followed by some quality time in front of the TV with baked goods, instead.

It’s with slight disappointment that I’m writing this, because I just took them out of the oven, and worst case scenario occured. I overbaked them! Arrgghhh! I hate when that happens, when all you want is gooey fudgy brownieness and what you get is simply chocolate cake. And it’s not the same when your mind is set on brownies. (Breathe in, breath out. It’s gonna be ok, it’s just overbaked brownies.) It was a good chocolate cake though. And with a little frosting it wasn’t so bad after all. I’m still posting about it and sharing the recipe, because I believe this was my mistake, and that these brownies can really be great. Just take a look here where I found the recipe! Now that’s what I call brownies. I have yet to make a truly succesful batch of brownies, but I will try this recipe again, closely watching the oven.. So give it a try and tell me how it turns out!

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour (4 dl)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter (225 g)
2 cups sugar (4,5 dl)
1/4 cup water (0,5 dl)
11 oz semisweet chocolate (300 g)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate (50 g)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup pecans (2,3 dl)

Preheat oven to 325 F (200 C) and line a 9″x13″ baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to overhang the ends of the pan by a couple inches. Grease the foil with nonstick spray.

In a large saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, and water just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring.
Remove from the heat. Stir the chocolates into the sugar mixture until completely melted. Let cool to warm so that the eggs won’t curdle.

Stir the vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Then add the eggs, and mix thoroughly.
Stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture just until the batter is evenly blended. Less mixing = more tender brownies. (Ooops, I didn’t read that until now… no wonder they came out the way they did. When will I learn to read through recipes before starting?)
Stir in the nuts.Turn out the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly to the edges.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the center is barely firm when tapped. (Keep an eye on them, as every oven is different! 25 minutes was way overdue for me)Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to warm, about 20 minutes. Or not! Just dig in and get warm hopefully fudgy brownies all over!

Do I dare…. French macarons

chocolate macarons

THE DARING COOKS OCTOBER 2009 CHALLENGE: MACAROONS

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

When I got to know this month’s challenge was french macaroons my first thought was YES! I love macaroons. I fell instantly in love with these wonderful creatures when I was in Paris a few years back. I was wandering down Champs Elysées, and spotted a bakery that I had to enter. There were lots of things to choose from obviously, but the macaroons stacked on the shelves immediately caught my eye. They were so cute, looking like sweet mini-hamburgers, I knew I had to try them. They had all kinds of flavours and colours, but I safed it, and chose the chocolate macaroon. One for me and one for my boyfriend. We went outside and sat down on a bench, and took these mysterious things out of the paper bag. (At this time I had never heard of macaroons, and didn’t know what to expect.) I took a bite – looked at my boyfriend who just did the same – we both smiled and started to giggle. It was sooo good! I didn’t know what to say but smile at this. That crisp shell sandwiched together with a thick layer of tasty chocolate ganache was probably one of the tastiest chocolate-things I had ever eaten. From that day, I was a dedicated macaroon lover.

macarons ready to be sandwiched

I dreamt about it, and started exploring the net looking for recipes, just to realize this was a big thing in the baking world. Big, because of its delicioius taste, its super cute look, the varieties in taste, filling or colour, but also, if not mostly because making macaroons is an art. It takes time. It takes practice. And there are a gazillion ways on how to supposedly get the best result, and I have a long looong way to go when it comes to making perfect macarons. So, after my first thought, I started to move from Yes! to oh-oh, No….. My two previous tries didn’t turn out too well. Not too bad either, but I didn’t get those characteristic feet around the edges. And they were a little uneven in size and shapes. The taste was good, but they were quite flat, and not very impressive looking. Not like the mini-hamburger I had in mind. More like a crèpe, I’m afraid. But third thimes a charm, right?

So, I rolled up my sleeves, put on my apron, and started to bake with great confidence. A little too confident maybe. I had read about what to do to ensure the feet. Letting the piped shells rest for some time before popping them in the oven, stacking them on several baking trays and not over-folding the batter. I tried it all. Though I think I failed at the last one. My bowl was a little too small, and it was hard to fold the batter properly, and it sunk together too much at the end. And my piper was not acting very cooperative, so the batter turned more and more runny as my kitchen got more and more messy.

my macaron shells

I eventually gave up and spooned the batter onto the tray instead, and popped them in the oven. And to my disappointment, no sign of feet. I still had a slight hope maybe one of my 3 trays would grow some feet, but no, not this time either. Arrgh. My kitchen turned against me today, ever had a one of those days? First I managed to continue whisking above the eggwhites, in the air, leaving eggwhites all over my kitchen bench. Then, my piping-instrument was just acting just evil, also leaving a great mess, only this time brown and chocolate flavoured. I had a real yin yang thing going on there… Then, I dropped my bowl of grinded almonds on the floor…. And then, no feet! I think I deserved some feet today. But the taste was good, though. I made all the shells with cocoa powder and decided to be more creative with the filling. I had plain chocolate ganache of course, and used that as a base. I also made some with coffee flavour and some snickers-macaroons, with peanut butter and ganache. Not overly creative, but what can I say – I’m a chocolate lover!

peanut butter and ganache

chocolate ganache

They were all quite good, despite their sad apperance. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I didn’t have too great expectations. So somewhat surprised, I found them really good! They had a crispy edge, with a softer chewy texture, and with a heavenly thick layer of chocolate gancache in between, the missing feet were almost forgotten. The peanut butter-chocolate ones, aka snickers macaroons were delicious too. You gotta love that peanut-chocolate combo! I can’t really say I feel any closer to mastering the art of French macarons yet, but after all, I am an amateur. It was a fun challenge though! And a tasty one! Here’s the recipe!

snickers-macarons

Noodles and veggies

noodles and veggies

I’ve had serious noodle-cravings lately. I love noodles, always have and always will, but I don’t eat it that much longer. When I was younger, and discovered noodles for the first time, I made myself a bowl for supper several times a week. I loved that hot soup and the noodles together, and my personal touch, a few slices of cheese that meltet into the noodles…. yum. So every now and then I remember the noodle-days, and start dreaming about some noodle dish. Like today. My body was also craving vegetables after a rough weekend. And you might think I had too much to drink. Nope. Not alcohol-related rough, but rough in the matter of food. There were burgers, pizza, cookies, chocolate and sushi – all meat, cheese, sugar and wheat and hardly anything green. And I do need my veggies. My body doesn’t handle all that meat that well, and no one shouldn’t eat too much meat anyway. So today noodles and veggies were on the menu!

I had bought some eggnoodles and broccoli, and decided to leave the rest to whatever my fridge contained. It was like always packed with stuff, but I somehow managed to pull out some mushroom, spring leek and cabbage in addition to the broccoli. I chopped, boiled and stir fried, and that was that, and pretty good too!

Ingredients (2 people)
200 g eggnoodles
1/3 broccoli
2-3 champingons
2-3 spring leeks
2 handfuls chopped cabbage
Garlic and chili

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the noodles, cook for a couple of minutes til it’s al dente, then remove from heat and drain. Chop the vegetables in more or less equally sized bites. Heat some oil (sunflower or corn) in a wok, and add the broccoli and mushrooms. Stir fry for a few minutes til it starts to soften and colour, then add the rest of the veggies. At the end stir in finely chopped garlic and chili.

Seasoning
1 teaspoon honey/brown sugar
1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon maizena
water

Mix everything together, and add water until it reaches desired consistency. You want it to be like a sauce, runny, yet a little syrupy and thicker. I didn’t really measure up the spices, so taste to see if it needs more of anything! When you have your tasty seasoning sauce ready, pour it over the noodles, and serve! Yumyum on a plate!

Dorie’s chocolate chip cookies

cookies

Now that autumn is here, there’s something in the air. Something besides leaves and water. Something that makes you crave things, like baked desserts, apple pies and to me also cookies! Chocolate chip cookies, to be exact. It might have something to do with the post where I found this recipe as well. Maybe. But still, I’ve had cookies on my mind for some time now, so it was time to put thoughts into action. Like every other baker, I’m on an everlasting search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Though, I’m not sure if I really want to find the perfect recipe, I mean, the fun is searching and trying, right? Anyway, when I stumbled upon this recipe at slowlikehoney, especially with those mouthwatering photos, I knew I had to give it a try. The fact that the recipe was from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, from my home to yours, gave me even more faith in it. I don’t have the book, but I think I have to purchase it on Ebay or something, because I’ve come across so many delicious things from that book, and everybody says it’s great. So, definitely on my wish list!

I remember when I started baking, my favourite thing to make was probable chocolate chip cookies. Only, we didn’t call them that. My mom has a recipe from her mother, and there, they’re called Old Virgins. Or Gamle Jomfruer, in Norwegian. A kinda strange name for a cookie, indeed, but despite the name, I loved baking and eating them. I remember them as crunchier than a regular ccc, but just as good! And back then, (jeez, it sounds as if I’m waaay old) I hadn’t tasted another ccc, so to me, it was the best. But now, with all my cookbooks, and all the recipes on the internet that are available, I felt that my mom’s old virgins could not possibly be the best. I mean what are the chances? But now, many recipes later, I think maybe they’re not so bad after all. They never were bad, but maybe they were actually better than I imagined. I know for sure I’ve made my batches with not-even-close-to-perfect-chocolate-chip-cookies. And wouldn’t it be nice if I came back to that recipe, after all that searching? Like closing the sircle. Hmm, interesting thought. I’ll have to make them again soon to taste what they were really like.

But that was a degression and really has nothing to do with these cookies, because they were, I think, pretty close to perfection! Even though I overbaked them slightly, they still had a chewy center and crispy edges, and large chunks of chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. Just the way I like it. And they even remained chewy, or soft, after cooling, which is not always the case. Hmm, I wonder if this could be it? When do you know, really? I mean I can’t really omit that there is a better recipe out there. But maybe I’ll never get my hands on that one, so for now, I think this is as good as it gets. Chocolate chip cookie heaven.

chocolate chip cookies

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie?
Origin: “Baking: From My Home To Yours” by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:
● 2 cups/ 4,5 dl flour
● 1 tsp. salt
● 3/4 tsp. baking soda
● 230 grams/ 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
● 2,3 dl/ 1 cup sugar
● 150 grams / 2/3 cup light brown sugar
● 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 2 large eggs
● 300 grams 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I didn’t use all that chocolate, half of it was enough for me)
● 2,3 dl/ 1 cup chopped walnuts (I used hazelnuts instead)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven 190 C degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together.

3. Beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth (you can use a stand mixer, but I don’t have one so I used a hand mixer). Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. By hand with a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate and nuts. The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. (Normally, I put it in the fridge for just a half an hour just to firm it up but this time I couldn’t wait. )

4. Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.

5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point- for 10 or 12 minutes, or until they brown at the edges and are golden in the center. Pull sheet from oven and allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool to room temperature.

Serve while hot with a large glass of cold milk. Ahh, the sweet smell and taste of home. Try this recipe today, you won’t be sorry.