World peace cookies

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If you´re well known in the cookie buisness, you might have heard of these. If not, let me introduce you. These cookies come from Dorie Greenspan´s “Baking – from my home to yours”. When I finally got my hands on this book, I was kind of overwhelmed. First of all by its size and weight (it was a gift) – it was enormous! And secondly, and maybe most importantly, by the number of recipes. (I guess I should have predicted that, given its size, but – well, what can I say…) The book doesn´t waste a lot of space or pages on pictures – which I normally don´t think is a waste – on the contrary, it´s what makes me want a cookbook, and what makes me purchase it. But here, I´m thankful the pictures are left out to make room for more recipes. After all, it was a struggle to get that book, as you can read here

But, when I was going to start baking, I had no idea where to start. I mean, where does one start with over 300 recipes? And almost without any pictures to tempt me? Hmm. One starts at google, of course! I searched for “best, or favourite recipes”, and after a little googling, there were a few recipes that seemed more popular than others. One of them were something called world peace cookies. (Another was Swedish visiting cake, so that´s next on my list!) A cocoa-cookie with sea salt and chocolate chunks. Well, that didn´t exactly put me off! Though, normally I like my cookies non-chocolate. That is, without cocoa in the batter. But not completely without chocolate! Hell no! Bring on the chocolate chunks! But, I decided to have an open mind. So many people can´t be wrong. And it´s not like I dislike chocolate cookies, they´re just not my favourite. Until now.

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I made these for the first time a while ago, but they turned out butt ugly, delicious though, but not to be broadcast worldwide. Sorry guys, I´m shallow. These turned out better. And I know what you´re thinking: They´re not that good looking. And seriously, can they be that good? Isn´t it just another cookie?
No – it´s not. It´s a cookie, yes, but it´s a really, really good one.

The taste is rich and very chocolatey. It´s enhanced by the addition of sea salt. Oh chocolate and sea salt. How I love you two together. And my photos don´t really do them any justice, and that´s not just because of my lack of photo-skills, it´s because any photos of these cookies can´t show how yummy-tasty they are! Appearantly these cookies got their name, by Dorie’s neighbour who thought that a daily dose of these cookies would be enough to instigate world peace. Well, I don´t know about that. I see his point, but on the other hand, these cookies might as well start a world war. You get the point: They´re good.

World Peace cookies

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons or 150 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (120 grams) (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chipsWhisk flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat gently just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment. Form each piece into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each tightly and chill until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: this can be done in advance – logs can be stored in the fridge up to three days before slicing and baking).

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Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space cookies 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), exactly 12 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool before enjoying with a large glass of milk.

Makes 20-22 cookies.

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Brownies with walnuts and browned butter

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I´m home on holiday – again! I know!!! That´s the advantage of having my exam after Christmas – getting an extra vacation! So, that´s pretty nice… I came home last weekend to Celebrate my boyfriend´s mother´s birthday, cause she was turning 60, and having a big celebration. And the plan was to fly back on Sunday for my exam the following monday. But, it turned out, that after my exam there weren´t any lectures until February! And as the exam was a home-exam, well, why not stay at home in Norway writing it? After all, that is my primary home! So I did! And now I have a good week at home to do – well – bake? It´s not like I have anything else scheduled! Well, other than seeing family and friends, of course. But those things are very well combined. Last night, I had a friend over while my boyfriend was at football practice. Our initial plan was meeting at a café and then going to the cinema, but poor as we are, we decided on a night at home instead.

I promised her some baked goods, and had my mind on brownies. She´s pretty much a chocoholic (yeah – blame her…) and, well, ok, I was having massive chocolate cravings, so brownies seemed just right. And easy enough to gobble on when you´re deep down in the sofa, under the blanket, watching tv. Important. So, the one thing I was going to do that day, was baking a batch of brownies before her arrival. But did I manage? Nooo. I spent too much time gazing out the window. Facebooking. Warming my hands above the oven. Staring out the window again. And searching for recipes – brownie recipes. I had borrowed the Hummingbird bakery cookbook from my mother, and was planning to make the basic brownie recipe from that book. But then I had some extra time on my hands, and starting searching online for recipes…

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And then I found these. They looked insanenly good. I was a little surprised to see that the brownies were made of cocoa, not chocolate, I mean, being a brownie, and all! And still – they looked so chocolatey! But, than again, I do recall a super-moist chocolate cake made from cocoa, so that didn´t put me off! I was a little afraid that the basic Hummingbird brownies weren´t gooey enough, or fudgy enough to my like, cause I couldn´t really judge by the photos. And to me, that´s what brownies are all about. Fudge and goo – yes please! I realized that the ingredients and measures in the cocoa brownies were the same as another Hummingbird-recipe, the frosted one, though without the frosting… So, I decided on that one, and got to use the book after all! I just tweaked the methods, to go with Alice Medrich´s approach. And also with her addition of browned butter…..mmm.

So, I never managed to bake the brownies before my friend arrived. But what´s good, is that these brownies come together in no time! Cause we were gonna have brownies, that was for sure! I just whipped them together in a hurry after dinner, and within an hour, they were served! And maybe it was just as good I didn´t bake them in advance, because what´s better than warm, fudgy brownies, straight from the oven?It was the perfect accompaniement to Bridesmades, a glass of milk and good company!

Verdict: Fudgy? Check! Chocolatey enough? Check! Good? Hell yeah!
So yes, the brownies lived up to their expectation, and to the photos – Luckily!

Bake away!

brownie

Cocoa Brownies
(Adapted from Alice Medrich)

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 170°/ 325°F. Line the bottom and all 4 sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick vegetable spray

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and continue to cook, whisking gently, until it is golden brown and the milk particles suspended in it are reddish brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stop the cooking by immediately adding the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir to blend. Let cool for 5 minutes; the mixture will still be fairly hot. (Well, I didn´t have time for that – instant chocolate cravings! And they still turned out beautifully!)

Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula after adding each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add all of the flour and stir until you no longer see streaks of flour, then beat vigorously for 50 to 60 strokes with the wooden spoon or the spatula. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the batter in the lined pan, swirling the surface if you like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges almost clean (the brownies will still be soft and gooey even if the toothpick looks clean). Cool in the pan on a rack.

Lift the edges of the foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Slide a metal spatula under the brownies to detach them from the foil (or invert the brownies and peel off the foil, then turn the brownies right side up again). Cut into 16 or 25 squares. The brownies keep stored airtight, for 2 to 3 days.

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Agnes Cupcakes – Sea salt chocolate

FINALLY, the day for collecting our cupcakes arrived yesterday. You see, my friend and I bought these coupons where you got 6 cupcakes for the price of three sometime back in the autumn. We were planning on collecting them when my friend finally settled in her new appartment, but things got complicated, so that was delayed. We then decided to go get them some time before the holidays for a little pre-Christmas celebration. That never happened. So we decided on collecting them when our exams were done in january. That never happened either! But yesterday at school when it started to snow, we figured we definetely needed those cupcakes to survive spending the day at the library. Ohh, and am I glad we did! I bought apple, banana and sea salt chocolate, but I only tasted the last one. It was quite rich, but really, really good. Especially the frosting. So judging by that one flavour, I can higly recommend Agnes Cupcakes. And I’ve only heard other people rave about it. But cupcakes and studies go well together I can tell you! Or, actually not. We didn’t get much done, but we had a lot of fun, though. We had our little oasis in between all the dusty old books with colourful cupcakes and fresh coffee! Lovely! It certainly raised the bar for studying a bit…

Old fashioned chocolate cake

Another birthday, another cake. Usually I’m thrilled about birthdays solely because of this fact. The fact that there will be cake. To be made and to be eaten. I often volunteer to bake, since it’s a nice opportunity to try out new recipes. And this birthday was no different. My little sister turned 24, and I volunteered to bake, knowing that she’d request a classic simple chocolate cake. Unlike me, she’s not much of a cake person, exept for chocolate cake. I baked, we ate, the cake was tasty. She was happy, I was happy. But now, I quite frankly feel I’ve had my share of cake for a while. Like, a few days. No, seriously. July has been nothing but a baking cake-eating birthday marathon. It started on the very first day of the month, with my birthday. Then my niese, then a collague, then a friend, then my boyfriend’s aunt, my sister, and to top it off, I’m having a late celebration with a friend this weekend too! And that probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but in my family, we don’t like to be short on cake, whichs means there’s always leftovers. Meaning after every birthday there’s been a few days binging on leftovers. So, you’re getting the picture… But I’m guessing after a few days I’m ready for some more. This is probably the “I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that-last-piece-right-before-bed-just-to-make-room-in-the-fridge” part of me speaking. Cause the cake was good, already!

The cake and the recipe comes from my eternal flame….eh, source of inspiration; Nigella Lawson.
From her book Feast. It has an entire chapter of chocolate cakes, and embarresingly enough, I haven’t made any of them until now. I did try one, but failed. So bad. Soo bad. But it was time to move on!
And as she suggests in her book, I started with this one. (Maybe that’s where it went wrong, I started with another one…) I was very in doubt whether to make this or not, cause I’ve heard so many different opinions. And most of them were either loving it or hating it. I decided to make it after reading a review from someone loving it, saying that some people just can’t bake. And I think I can bake. So I challenged myself. The ultimate proof. Luckily it came out well. Phew! That beeing said, I have the best choclate sheet cake recipe, and ever since that came into my life, everything is compared to that. And nothing beats it. It’s so unbelievable moist. I have to get back to that in another post. So this was one of the first times I baked another chocolate cake than that for a very long time, and I feared dryness. But it wasn’t dry. It was quite tall (maybe not after US standards) so if it wasn’t for the icing in the middle it could have been. So don’t skip that part folks! The extra icing is essential.


Old fashioned chocolate cake
(recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast)

FOR THE CAKE:
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g best-quality cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

FOR THE ICING:
75g unsalted butter
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
sugar flowers, optional
Serving Size : Makes about 8 slices

1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.
3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor
4. and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.
5. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
6. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.
7. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
8. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.
9. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.
10. When you’ve done, you may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.
11. Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.
12. Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.
13. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

The Cookie? really?

I’m not dead! BUT – my computer died on me, and I’ve been busy reading for my exams, so my blogging activity has been pretty lame. But that’s all in the past, now, right?

Because today I have cookies.
Some cookies I have been pr-e-tty exited about to be honest.
For various reasons:

1: I finally got to crack open my giant chocolate bar I bought at the airport in barcelona.
1 kg of pure dark 70% chocolate. Yes, 1 kg! I couldn’t resist that thing, it was coming home with me. Oh, how I love big food. It kinda turns me on…

2: Browned butter. I’ve heard this stuff transforms ordinar cookies into something quite out of the ordinary – and that’s what my eternal cookie quest is all about! Extraordinary cookies!

3: Chilling the dough. I always skip chilling parts in recipes, and I’ve never ever had the willpower or patience to chill (and not eat) the dough. And not having cookies either. But I believe in this. All good food gets better with time – or not all, but a lot of food gets better if you give it time to develope the flavours.

I mean, how can this possibly fail?
I searched the internet widely before finally deciding on the recipe. But these three steps were mentioned in so many “best chocolate chip cookies”-recipes, there had to be some truth to it. Quality chocolate – check! Chilling the dough – Check! And browned butter – Check! I even caramelized and roasted the nuts. Jeez. Those cookies better be good I tell you!

It was a tough battle between recipes, it came down to three, but I finally chose this one from SugarPlum.

Yield: 50 cookies
(Do feel free to half the recipe – how can anyone have 50 cookies around? Not me! And I also replaced walnuts with hazelnuts. I love hazelnuts and chocolate. That’s me.)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

1 cup unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground sea salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Directions:
Preheat oven to 200 C/375 F.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Boil 1-2 minutes, whisking frequently, until golden brown; stir in walnuts until well coated. Place on a sheet pan, and bake for 5 minutes or until well toasted; cool.

Melt 1 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; continue to cook the butter, whisking frequently, until it starts to brown and foam, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking soda; stir in 2 teaspoons salt until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat 1/2 cup softened butter, brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar until well combined and grainy, about 1 minute; beat in browned butter for 1 additional minute. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined; stir in chocolate and walnuts with a wooden spoon until combined. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (You could speed up this process by placing the dough in the freezer for about 45 minutes.)

Drop 1/4 cup measures of dough onto cookie sheet, forming into large mounds, and flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Cool 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

So….the result. The verdict. The bottom line. The reward for beeing able to let the dough chill in the fridge for several days. (Though some of it strangely may have found its way into my mouth.)
Well, actually I’m a little bit disappointed. Not because the cookies were bad or anything, I just didn’t really notice the big-O-difference. With the browned butter, chilled dough and all. Maybe I didn’t brown it thoroughly enough. Maybe I overchilled the dough? But I thought letting it rest for long was a good thing. Or maybe my expectations simply were too high. They tasted delicious either way. A real crunchy outer crust and a chewy center – packed with chunky pieces of dark quality chocolate. I mean, that’s never wrong. Not in my book. But I’m left with a feeling I did something wrong, or missed out on something. I just don’t know what. I guess I just have to work on it. Practise my browning butter skills. Bake another sheet of cookies for a shorter time. I can start that rightaway, cause I froze most of the dough, so I can have fresh cookies at any time. Ahh, Bree van De Kamp would be so proud. My idol. But still. So many people can’t be mistaking and raving about this cookie for nothing, right? Any experiences out there? I want to get this right! Better roll oup the sleeves again, I guess! This cookie buisness is rough.

Valentine chocolate lava cakes

Don’t you just love any excuse to have cake?
I know I do.
Legally cake, how can you resist? I tend to find reasons to celebrate with a cake a bit too often, any reason to whip up something sugary and sweet is a good reason. So needless to say – Valentines is cake day. This year it turned out to be the same day as mother’s day and lent. Puh! I couldn’t get around to do all the required things like buying my mother flowers, making her cake, making traditional fastelavnsboller, spending some quality time and food with my man in one day alone. I don’t multitask very well. Priorities had to be made.

I spent the saturday in my sister’s house, and my parents came over for breakfast on Sunday. So I got to see my mum. Check! Later when we got home I did some reading and we went for a walk. We passed the bakery and thought of buying fastelavnsboller, or just plain buns and put them together with cream and jam at home. After all it was lent. But we decided to make buns next weekend instead. So again, check! Mother’s day and Lent was taken care of, only V-day to go. Foodwise or any-wise, actually, we didn’t really have any plans for the day. But suddenly hunger hit us and we had to go out. Neither of us was really in the mood for cooking, and I got a sudden craving for mexican food, so we went out and I had a delicious veggie quesadilla. Ok, I’m blabbing, and this seems to be going nowhere, but the thing is, on our way home I suggested to make chocolate fondant for us. What better day to put my cute heart shaped ramekins to use! My boyfriend, not to say myself, loves anything chocolate, especially lava cakes. To say this was a special Valentine treat for him or us – well, it would be a lie. I make this a little more often than I like to admit. Not every single weekend, but at least once a month. But it’s soo good! And it’s soo fast! And it looks quite impressive with very little effort, that’s always a plus! I never get tired of it. Hot chocolate goo oozing out of a baked chocolate exterior? I rest my case.

Chocolate lava cakes (Paula Deen’s Home Cooking)

Ingredients
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
8 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips (any type of chocolate chips will work but I recommend semi-sweet or a combination of bitter and semi-sweet)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
OPTIONAL : 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (Kahlua) OR 1 tsp. instant coffee powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/ 200 C. Spray 6 -6 ounce ramekins or cupcake tin. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments until smooth (about 1.5-2 minutes total). Add flour and sugar to chocolate/butter sauce. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur/instant coffee and mix everything until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the each cups. Place cups on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates or you can serve each molten lava cake still in the cup.

Normally I just eat it straight from the cup, but then again, I make this a LOT. There’s usually no occasion other than a chocolate craving. But sprinkled with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream added or some red berries, this is a sure way to anyone’s heart. Valentines day or not.

Chocolate pistachio fudge

Christmas is here and I’m all wrapped up in gingerbread, presents and ornaments. To me, as to so many others, Christmas and advent is so much about the food. Gingerbread, cookies, breads, sweets and other things that will fill the house with that lovely Christmas smell. Somethings are already baked: The gingerbread house me and my boyfriend constructed, still stands (hurray!), looks good, but smells even better. That’s my number one reason to make gingerbread – instant Christmas smell! I also like to give away edible presents, so I preserved some plums when they were in season and some pears as well. And last week, I had my girlfriends over for a little workshop, and we made different kinds of sweets. Homemade sweets for Christmas is both fun to give and receive. I had seen this recipe on Nigella Express, and it looked so good, I had to try it. And quite easy to, which we all like in this busy time of the year.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
350g chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids, chopped
1 can condensed milk (397 g)
30g butter
pinch salt
150g unsalted pistachios, shells removed

Place everything apart from the nuts in a heavy-based pan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined. Place the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into some large and some small pieces. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into a 23cm square tray, smoothing the top with a wet palette knife.
Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate until set. Cut into small pieces.
Once cut, the fudge can be kept in the freezer – there’s no need to thaw, just eat straight away. Or give some away!

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

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.