Friday, December 31, 2010

A Fat Witch Brownie.......

Picture by Bake or Break

When I lived in DC, every so often my friends and I would venture to Georgetown and take in the sights. There were always great places to eat in Georgetown and fabulous stores to visit. I remember the first time I went to Dean & Deluca, I was mesmerized by it. It is a gourmet foods store fool of the finest of all foods and treats. They had cheeses of every kind and living in France I love my cheeses. They had fine meats, candy, all sorts of oils and vinegars and most importantly a Bakery. They had the most finest of bake goods that not only look perfect but their taste rivals their appearance. So when I was there I bought a brownie that was divine. It could stand alone without any frosting and melted in my mouth.

So when I came across a recipe posting on the cooking blog Bake or Break for some specialty brownies that are sold at a New York bakery called Fat Witch Bakery, I had to try it because first of all it reminded me of Dean & Deluca and secondly, getting the recipe for a famous brownie made me feel like somehow I was getting away with something or was just lucky to have it.

When I tried this recipe I loved it and what I loved about it was the delicate yet rich taste. And I also loved that surprisingly this brownie was not dense but light in its consistency. This definitely is the sort of brownie that would go into my "must make again" recipes collection.

Fat Witch Brownie
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Start of being preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Next grease a 9″x 9″ baking pan with butter, dusting it with flour, a getting rid of the excess flour by hitting the sides and bottom of pan. Set aside and let cool.

Using a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, making sure to stir constantly. Once done, Set aside. In another bowl (I use my kitchen aid) beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed. Once mixed well, add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.

In another small bowl sift together the flour and salt, mix together. Then add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, mixing gently until well combined.

Lastly, spread the chocolate batter evenly in prepared pan. Place in oven and bake 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only dry crumbs. Once done remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 1 hour before cutting into bars. Makes 12-16 brownies.

So if you are a brownie lover like myself and love a rich but light brownie, then this recipe is for you. So enjoy and eat up!

Happy New Years Eve!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cavet's Peanut Butter Blossoms.....

Who does not love peanut butter and Hershey Kisses, especially together? We have all had these in some form, at some point, some where. But this recipe is better than the rest. This fancy cookie was lovingly named after my youngest brother Cavet who loves peanut butter and who loves these cookies....hence the name. I always make these yummy cookies around the holidays because once baked they have a fun look and look pretty on a cookie platter. In fact I made these for a church Christmas party and doubled the batch and only brought home 3 cookies.

This recipe is the best recipe out there for peanut butter blossoms. These cookies have a perfect softness, mixed with the chocolate and rolled in sugar making these cookies worth trying. They are great for the holidays but also can be made any time of year because peanut butter and chocolate are always in style and always appropriate.

Cavet's Peanut Butter Blossoms
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 bag Hershey Kisses

Start off by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a medium size bowl (I use my kitchen aid), cream the butter, making sure it is at room temperature and peanut butter together at medium speed. Once mixed, add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Beat until combined and smooth. Next, add the egg and vanilla to the mixture, beating until all ingredients are combined. Lastly add in as much of the flour as you can, mixing on low. If any flour remains, mix in with a spoon. Once all ingredients are combined, let the dough chill for about 30 minutes or more.

Get out a plate and measure out a little over a cup onto the plate. Once dough is chilled, remove from refrigerator and shape dough into 1-inch balls. Then roll the 1-inch balls in the sugar, making sure all sides are coated. I place 8 on a cookies sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes (baking time depends on how fast your oven cooks). Now the key to a good cookie is its softness, so watch your cookies closely the first few batches to get the baking time down. While cookies are baking, I unwrap all the Hershey kisses and have them all ready.

Once cookies are ready, leave them on the cookie sheet pressing a Hershey Kiss into each cookie, pressing it down softly so that the cookie around it slightly cracks. I love this finishing piece of the Hershey Kiss and how the cookie looks when completed. Once the Hershey Kiss are pressed into each cookie, I transfer the cookie ever so carefully, to the cooling rack.

Once they are cooled I plate about three of them and take them to Thad (my official and loyal taste tester), with a tall glass of milk. These are the perfect cookies to take to a new years party and are guaranteed to be gone within seconds. Enjoy!

Happy New Years!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Wintery Winter Crisp

Winter is a time for baking, especially anything with warm apples and cinnamon.....apple pies, apple tarts and even appple crisps. The smell that travels through the house as these yummy desserts are being baked is so comforting and that scent alone can conjure up good holiday memories and get you all warm and fuzzy inside (cheesy but true). Martha Stewart has an apple crisp like recipe but with a holiday twist that will knock your Christmas reindeer socks right off. What is this holiday twist or secret ingredient you ask? Well cranberries of course and tis the season for fresh cranberries and I love me some fresh cranberries.

Martha's Winter Crisps is an age old favorite in our family, that my mom has made for years and that I can recall making when I was a junior in high school for the first time. The tart of the apples and cranberries mix well with the sweetness of the pears and crumb topping. And the cinnamon and nutmeg give it a holiday taste that is unmatched. And when served warm with some vanilla ice cream, there is nothing better.

Martha's Winter Crisp
2 cups cranberries (fresh), can be found in the produce section
4 cups pears, peeled and sliced
3 cups apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar

Crumb Topping
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup unsalted butter
Nuts optional

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch glass dish. Set aside.

Using a medium size bowl, peel cut and measure out the apples and pears, adding the cranberries last after rinsing the cranberries gentle. The in a small separate bowl mix together the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Once mixed add the dry spice mixture to the fruit, tossing with your fingers until everything is coated evenly. Once fully coated place the fruit-spice mixture into the buttered glass dish. Set aside.

In another small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and oatmeal. Mix well. Then cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry knife or a fork. Mix until the butter is in small pea sized balls and is incorporated in with the dry mixture. Pour the crumb topping mixture onto the fruit in the butter dish making sure it is blanketing the fruit.

Bake the winter crisp for 35-45 minutes, baking unto the crumb topping is a golden brown and the juices from the fruit mixture are bubbling and the fruit is soft. Once done baking, place on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, with a yummy vanilla ice cream.

So if you are needing a little Christmas kick in the pants and like a good crisp, bake you a Winter Crisp and finish it off with a scoop of ice cream. In the end you will be oozing with christmas cheer and will keep going back for more.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spreading some sugar cookie cheer........

Thad and I have a friend named Chris who is in the Navy and has been in Rhode Island for the past several months doing some training. He has been away from his wife and daughter and for some time had not been allowed packages. When he was allowed a package, Chris told Thad that he was craving my sugar cookies.

So one night I spent the evening making and decorating sugar cookies. I used the best sugar cookie recipe in the world, Bradford Sugar Cookies. Making them got me into the christmas spirit and got me excited for a season of baking. After a long but fun night of baking, I was able to get the cookies off to Chris the next day, so that he could enjoy them fresh.

So there you have it, just wanted to share some Christmas cheer with you, so that visions of sugar cookies dance in your head. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mini Pecan Tarts

Since I have lived in the south I have noticed that pecan pies are a beloved dessert that usually make a showing at many family gatherings and any event. You can almost always find it on the dessert menu at a restaurant and I have never made a pecan pie ever, and got my chance recently.

Thad loves to repay or thank people by offering up my baking. A friend recently had done something really generous for us and Thad asked him if there was anything he would like me to bake as payment, since he was refusing payment for his kind deed. This friend told Thad that he loved pecan pies. I was instantly intimidated because pecan pies, although made all over the world are definitely a southern specialty and southerners know their pecan pies.

So the search was on for a good pecan pie recipe but not just any good recipe but a great recipe. I tried a recipe from one of my cookbooks and it didn't work and so I remembered that my mother-in-law makes great pecan pies and so I went and got out her cookbook that she had made years ago for her children. I also thought that I wanted to do something different. I remembered I had some cute little tart pans and had never used them so I decided to make our friend, little cute pecan tarts.

I used my mom's secret pie recipe for the crust and then for the pecan filling I used Pat's recipe (my mother-in-law) and made them 5 cute tarts. The pecan tarts turned out rich and soft and were absolutely yummy. They were a hit with our friend and his wife told me he ate all five tarts except she got half of one.

Pecan Pie Filling
1 cup sugar
2 cups white Karo syrup
6 eggs (sligthly beaten)
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
2 cups pecan halves

Start off by setting the oven to 350 degrees. My oven tends to cook get a little hotter so I usually set it 10 degrees lower than the recipe calls. For this recipe I would set my oven to 240 degrees.

Then using your favorite pie crust recipe, roll out the dough until it is thin but not so thin that you can't work with it. Then depending on what size tart pan you use, use the tart pan as a gage making sure there is an inch extra along the edges. Then press the dough into the tart pan. Once that is completed, using a fork, poke holes all over the pie to let it breath. Set the unbaked tart pans to the side.

For Pat's pecan pie filling, using a stand mixer combine the sugar, karo syrup, eggs, salt and vanilla. Mix well on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Then with a wooden spoon stir in the pecans until they are incorporated fully into the mixture. Then pour the pecan pie filling into each tart pan, pouring batter almost to the top of the tart, so that you can still barely see some crust. This recipe will make about 10 4-5 inch mini tarts or what I did is I did one pie and about 6, 4-inch pecan tarts. Then place the cut cubes of butter onto each tart.

Next, place the tarts on a cookie sheet to prevent any dripping or overflowing. For the baking time I would watch them closely. For an average pecan pie you would have it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. For these I started checking on them 10-12minutes in. My pies were done within 20 minutes and the way I could tell was by inserting a small butter knife into the center, and when it comes out clean it is done.

Once the pecan tarts are done, place on a cooling rack and let cool. Once cooled completely, serve with a dollop of whip cream. If you love pecans, you will love these little tarts. They are easy to make and a southern favorite!

Enjoy Y'all!