Fudgy, super-thick, decadent brownies.
4 easy variations to the batter base to suit every craving + mood.
There are days when only baking (and more truthfully, devouring) a slab of warm, chocolatey goodness will set things right again.
Combined with a fit of mercurial indecision and a wild burst of energy, these days yield FOUR pans of brownies (and very happy neighbors).
18 oz (3 cups) chocolate chunks, divided
2 sticks butter
1-1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Melt the butter and pour over 2 cups of the chocolate chunks, the white sugar, and the brown sugar. Mix until combined.
Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, mixing after each addition.
Add the vanilla.
Mix together the dry ingredients separately, then add to wet mixture. Don’t over mix!
Incorporate the remaining chocolate chunks (1 cup).
Spread into a buttered 9×13 pan. Top with additions if desired (see notes below).
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set. Do not use the toothpick test – it will result in overdone, dry brownies!
1 (8 oz) pack cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
Mix cheesecake batter from ingredients above. Swirl into the brownie batter in the pan, dragging a knife through the mixture for a marbled design. Bake.
Salted Caramel Brownies
1 cup sugar
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
Heat sugar on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. Boil until a nice golden color is achieved, but be careful not to burn. Slowly add the butter, then drizzle in the heavy cream- slowly because the mixture can splatter like hot oil. Remove the sauce from the heat and mix in the salt. Either top the raw brownie batter with the sauce then bake, or drizzle on brownies afterwards. The former will yield brownies with a baked in caramel flavor; the latter are messier but will retain the consistency of the sauce on top.
1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers
2 cups marshmallows
Sprinkle marshmallows and graham cracker pieces over brownies halfway through baking time (after about 15 minutes), returning to oven for remainder of baking time.
Alternately, spread half of batter in pan, top with graham crackers and marshmallows, then remaining brownie batter. Bake as normal.
This lightly citrusy cheesecake is tall and decadent, creamy without being too heavy, and absolutely sure to impress. Both people who swore they hated cheesecake and those that hated lemons (who hates lemons?!) sang this cake praises.
It’s not difficult to make, but keep in mind that it does need to be made a day ahead of serving in order to chill.
2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs
3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon twists (garnish) – I used this recipe by blogger HomemadeToast
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir the cookie crumbs and the butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan. Use a tall pan (at least 3 inches) because this recipe makes a very tall cheesecake. Also, I like to line the bottom of cheesecake pan with parchment. Bake the crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the salt. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the pan.
Place the wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake until the filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove the cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 2 hours. Then chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
Run a knife around the sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on the pan bottom, unless you’ve lined the pan with parchment) on a platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.
I’m just beginning to feel winter in the air, but I’m already longing for hot summer days. Here’s a throwback to a job I did a couple months ago illustrating the step-by-step process of making ice cream sandwiches.
Side effect: I lived a Hamantaschen-deprived life.
Hamantachen are cakey sugar dough cookies with a filling, most traditionally poppy seeds or prune butter made & eaten to celebrate Purim. Purim is a holiday similar to Mardi Gras in that it is celebrated with lots of heavy drinking and masquerading. It celebrates the story of Esther, whose bravery saved the Persian Jews 2,500 years ago.
The hamantaschen recipe below is my friend Jill’s, by way of her Jewish boyfriend’s grandmother. Those are her hands in the photos, too!
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups all-purpose flour
Filling (see recipes below) + Finishing
Choice of filling: poppy seed filling (most traditional), prune butter, apricot butter, apricot jam, strawberry jam or even chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover 2 baking sheets w/parchment or foil.
Either by hand or with a mixer, combine the oil, eggs, vanilla, water, sugar, baking powder and flour and knead until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough out into a very thin layer. Dip the rim of a 3 or 4 inch cup or glass in flour and use like a cookie cutter to cut the circles. Re-roll the scraps of dough and reuse.
In the center of each circle drop a teaspoon of your filling. Shape into a triangle by folding 2 sides of the circle to the center, and pinch together at the corners. Make sure corners are tightly pinched so they don’t open during baking.
Place hamantaschen 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar.
Bake 20 minutes.
Makes 4 dozen. Hamantaschen freeze well.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 lb. poppy seeds
Pour boiling water on poppy seeds and drain.
After poppy seeds have settled to bottom, chop up fine.
Add egg and sugar, stirring well.
Prune Filling (Lekvar)
2 cups dried prunes
1 cup water
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 dash clove
1 dash cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
Combine everything into a saucepan (except brown sugar) and cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes. Heat to boiling.
Lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Mix in the brown sugar. Cook, reducing the liquid and stirring every few minutes being careful not to scorch the mixture. Mash with a wooden spoon until the prunes are soft and broken up and mixture is about the consistency of oatmeal (about 20 more minutes). It will thicken more when cooled.
Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and also freezes well.
1 bulb fresh garlic
1 red cabbage
1 white onion
1 red onion
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch green basil
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch carrots
2 Italian eggplants
2 green zucchini
6 pasture raised eggs
Sautéed Swiss Chard
To a sliced onion in some olive oil in a skillet, I added minced garlic, the chopped chard and salt & pepper. The final incarnation of this dish was damn good quesadilla filling.
Roasted Red Cabbage
I put the quartered cabbage, drizzled with some olive oil and salt & pepper, in a 400° oven until it started to brown on the edges.
I charred eggplant on my gas range, then puréed the flesh with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. This dish was nearly a complete fail: it is spreadable burnt. Next time I’ll roast the eggplant in the oven.
I’ve been relying on frittatas nearly every week to use up my eggs; this week I incorporated the zucchini, basil, some of the garlic and onion. Michael Chiarello’s recipe is very close to this version.
Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Carrot Green Chimichurri
My sister has never been one to follow any directions closely. Including Bisquik pancakes and Betty Crocker brownies, she estimates accurately following recipes perhaps a dozen times . . . in her entire life.
Despite all that, she fearlessly took charge of Christmas Eve Dinner. And in so doing, she illustrated what I love most about my family: unconventional, unpretentious, and bucking any but the bits of tradition that truly hold value.
Her inspiration was this recipe, given to her by a coworker (a dietitian). The original garnishes the soup with pumpkin seeds, but true to form, she took a vegan recipe and topped it with ham. The seeds would have added texture and crunch, but the spicy sausage was undeniably awesome.
Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup
4 1/2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 cups dried split peas
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb spicy sausage
salt & pepper, to taste
Bring 1/2 cup chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding more broth, butter, or olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining broth and water, peas and sweet potato cubes, and additional seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Uncover and purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor until smooth. Taste for sea and garnish with pan-fried sausage cubes.
3 cloves garlic, or to taste (oh, go ahead and do the entire head, you will find a use for the extra)
1/2 stick butter, warmed to room temperature
Wrap cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at ~350° for ~20 minutes. Unwrap, peal, and mash garlic cloves. Mix with softened butter.
Heather, a self-proclaimed descendant of “pot-pie-people,” explained that this soup evolved from her foray into learning to be a grown-up. The recipe evolved from one she found in a French cookbook checked out of her college library, after moving into her first apartment. The book was a bold choice for a beginning cook and this recipe was initially chosen as the modest option out of many with extravagant ingredients and techniques. Simplified by skipping the work of puréeing the final product, this ‘remixed’ version is far from the fussy original.
SOUP, FRENCH STYLE
Consommés: clear soup made from stock that has been clarified with a process using egg whites to remove fat
Potages: thick soups of meat and vegetables boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush
Bisques: smooth, creamy soup based on a strained seafood broth
Soupes: served atop slices of bread
Bouillabaisse: a traditional Provençal fish stew
Soupe Moulinée: coarsely-puréed soup
Veloutés: finely puréed creamy soup with a roux base
The essential oil derived from thyme (thymol) is an antiseptic and is the main active ingredient in Listerine.
HEATHER’S THYME SOUP (EXTENDED REMIX)
1 cup macaroni
1 small onion
1 stalk celery
1 large carrot
1 cup corn
3 tbsps olive oil
20 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 qts water
12 large cloves garlic
1 cup light cream
1 medium leek
Chop onion, leek, celery, carrot.
Toss in pot bottom with oil and corn.
Stir 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
Add water and macaroni.
Place strainer in pot.
Let simmer while counting thyme.
Toss thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns [in the strainer].
In between cramming cardboard boxes full of my belongings, I made a big pot of chili and a double batch of pico de gallo the day before moving. After the long day that followed, I threw a housewarming party that featured a homemade meal. Hearty, satisfying, and personal, it was the perfect way to feed my the friends who volunteered to help and introduce myself to my new roommates. And it doesn’t get more PRACTICAL: easy to make, the flavor only improves after a night in the fridge, economical, vegetarian, gluten-free, and interactive (bowls of mix-ins like cheese, sour cream, and bacon pieces allow every palate to be satisfied). Another bit of gold: mix pico de gallo into some mashed avocado and presto, fresh guacamole.