June 15, 2011
You know those people who keep the recipes from every butter, margarine, cool whip, graham cracker box, pudding box? Those people who have shoeboxes of cardboard recipe clippings dating from god-knows-when until the present? I’m one of those people, guilty as charged. Except the shoeboxes would be a step up on the organizational level for me, right now my cardboard pieces are shoved awkwardly into folders, and the folders shoved wherever there’s space on my bookshelf. I took it upon myself to do some organizing the other day, and part of that plan was to go through my recipe clippings, sort them, then place them into a notebook somehow, making it easier to flip through them and make notes if need be.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, because we live in the world and things happen, my plan started out clear as day and ended up as… nothing. I ended up just sorting through them, oohing and ahhing over the ones that looked good, fondly remembering the ones I’ve made, and not remembering at all why I clipped some recipes in the first place. I think I might have been on the verge of grabbing a notebook when I saw a recipe for sugar-topped brownie cake, peaking it’s head out of the “looks crazy delicious” pile. Not sure why it didn’t stop me before (probably because I was still enthralled by the going-through of recipes instead of starting to organize, hooray for procrastination), but I scooped up the recipe and stuck it to the fridge. This baby’s gettin’ made. No question.
The most interesting part about this recipe is that it turned out RED, as in, red-velvet-cake red. Once upon a time I read that red velvet cake started out as a thing because the cocoa powder reacts with the leavening agent, creating a red color instead of normal chocolate-cake brown, and thus far the phenomenon had remained an abstraction to me. My red velvet cakes didn’t turn out red if I failed to use food dye or some sort of natural coloring agent, and my chocolate cakes didn’t turn out red. This is the first time I’ve seen it in my own baking, with my own eyes. So it really does happen! I can totally understand how red velvet cake became a ‘thing’ and can now appreciate, yet another, example of how science-y stuff applies to baking. Be forewarned that this comes out more like a cake than like brownies. I know the title says “cake”, but it also says “brownie”. Didn’t want you going into it and being disappointed. Now that I’m thinking about the sugar and chocolate crust, though, I doubt you’ll be disappointed, regardless.
Brown Sugar-topped Brownie Cake
(Recipe taken from a Land-O-Lakes package of margarine)
Yields one 9 by 13 inch pan of brownie cake and brownies can be sliced large, around 15 servings
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup butter, softened (almost melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, dark to semi-sweet
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9 by 13 inch pan by greasing or lining with foil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over top of batter, then do the same with the chips or chopped chocolate.
5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. (Check around the 27 mark if you want your brownie cake to be slightly under-baked; I baked it for 30 minutes exactly and got an even cake-like texture but might under-bake it next time.)
6. Let brownie cake cool completely in pan, and cool completely before cutting.
Store brownies at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 4 days and just covered up to 2 days.
December 2, 2010
There are days when I try to find a recipe that sounds complex! new! exciting! full of esoteric ingredients to satisfy your adventurous side! Some days, however, you just want to bake a ton of brownies and eat them, burning your mouth on the chocolate still hot from the oven. This was one of those days.
I rummaged around my papers, and got out my handy brownie recipe that has served me well these past few years. This particular recipe was torn from one of those airline magazines, stuffed in the pockets of the seat in front of you. Along with the barf-bags. Yes, those magazines. A friend and I recently went on a trip, and while in the airport we talked about the things in Skymall and the places reviewed in the magazines that were provided on our plane. We were laughing about some of the more ridiculous things when she said something about being glad that none of her friends ACTUALLY read them. My face got a little pale, and did that scrunching thing that my face does when I’m embarrassed (not a pleasant face, I assure you). She didn’t seem to notice, but it made me question my faith in that brownie recipe I had lugged with me all over the east coast.
Upon making the airplane magazine brownies for the umpteenth time, I did realize there existed room for improvement. On a gluttonous brownie day, I tried a different recipe from a trusted source. King Arthur Flour! They even had a recipe for brownies with whole-wheat flour, and I loved the idea of deluding myself into thinking these had some sort of nutritional benefit.
As a warning, these treats went fast, even faster than things normally go. I brought some to work, left some at home for my roommates, gave a few tiny bundles to friends, and brought two small-ish squares to a
dinner date. I didn’t give out an abnormal amount, but when I checked in at the end of the day, there were NONE left at home. The next day at work? NONE left in the tupperware. Gobbled up on the dinner date. The brownies were, overall, quite satisfactory!
(As an aside, I do still read those magazines. Sometimes they have articles about cool places! And sometimes other good things! I swear.)
Double Fudge Brownies
(Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)
This recipe makes enough brownie batter to fill a 9 x 13 inch pan.
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar (I used light, but only because I was out of molasses to make it dark)
¾ c unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (This ingredient is optional, and I used instant coffee powder)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (I used my normal chopped chocolate mix, 60% and 72% dark)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium sized saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. (Because I’m impatient, I swirled the butter around constantly, but am not sure if that sped up the process by any measurable amount.) Take the pan off the heat, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat, and remove it once the mixture is hot and starts to bubble.
3. Add mixture to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and vanilla extract. Let this mixture cool to about room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. (I simply left the mixture on the counter, but I imagine you could put it in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes? Maybe?)
4. Whisk in the eggs, and then stir entire mixture until smooth.
5. Add the flour and chopped chocolate/chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.
6. Spoon or pour batter into a lightly greased, butter or shortening, 9 x 13 inch pan.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, although please check it around minute 26 or 27.
The hardest part about this recipe is that it recommended you let the brownies sit overnight. I gave into temptation, and had some brownies right out of the pan while the chocolate was still melty and warm. They were definitely good, but this recipe, like most from King Arthur Flour, speaks the truth. If you let them sit overnight, the whole-wheat flour seems to absorb some of the moisture and the brownie becomes this perfect equilibrium of cake and fudge.