Category: Brownies/Bars

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

We had friends in town from San Francisco for the weekend, and they generally bring ridiculously good weather for some reason. I don’t know how they do it, but they have yet to see the famed Portland rain. Andrew played host and tour guide while I worked, but I was able to sneak out for a glass of wine in at Bar Vivant, a plate of fresh linguine with braised veal sauce and my favorite tiramisu from Piazza Italia, some homemade musubi made with linguica from my friend Chris, and a ridiculously good biscuit sandwich from Bad Habit Room. Not too shabby for a limited amount of time off. I was still ready for the chicken skewer and salad I made tonight though. Sometimes you got to.

Is it bad that I’m posting about gingerbread in March?

I could actually go for one of these right now despite it being unbelievably sunny and warm. These were like a thick, chewy gingerbread cookie. Sort of a gingerbread brownie [blondie?]. I wish I had used the candied ginger per the original recipe for some added oomph. You should too unless you really can’t stand the stuff. I made them for a group that hasn’t been exposed to a whole lot of ginger, candied or otherwise, so I didn’t want to freak them out by how in-your-face that flavor can be. Mission accomplished. It’s the same reason why I didn’t ice them at all either. I dipped them in coffee at least once or twice. They maintained the chew for a few days before ultimately drying out. A scoop of ice cream on one wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Inspiration: The Crepes of Wrath

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped, optional
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle on top, optional
  • White chocolate drizzle, per the original recipe, optional

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 13″x9″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. I used aluminum and sprayed it with cooking spray to be safe.

Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and mix to incorporate. The sugar mixture will be shiny and you won’t see any of the yolk streaks anymore. Add in the molasses and almond extract and mix. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the dry ingredients with the wet. Don’t over mix. Fold in the ginger, if using.

Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan. You’re going to need something to assist you unless you don’t mind using your hands [I don’t]. Try to even out the mixture and then sprinkle with the sugar, if using.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick should be clear when you test it in the middle. Make the white chocolate drizzle while it bakes, if using. Allow the bars to cool for a good 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Cocoa Brownies

Tickets have been purchased. Portland to Bangkok and Bangkok to Portland 20 days later. I. Cannot. Wait. Well, not for the 23 hour flights, but you know what I mean. We narrowed down our original ambitious plan to focusing mostly on Thailand, with maybe a stop into Cambodia or Vietnam. I don’t want to spend more time traveling vs. enjoying the place I’m in. I tried that on my first trip to Europe. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground, but not to experience things.

We’re looking into backpacks and all that. We went carry-on only in Italy for three weeks, so I’m not worried about the packing aspect, but it was still a roller bag. I want to be much more mobile in Thailand. If you have any suggestions, please throw them my way!

I swear this is the last of the butter-laden treats for a bit. I realize I was eating a lot there for awhile, but the BBQ and heat have slowed me down. I’m much more into ice cream [Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss] and sorbet/gelato [Talenti] these days.

These are very straight forward brownies, which is really the only way to go. Others are good, but the good ol’ standby is good and old for a reason. It’s seasoned. It’s lasted when others haven’t. There is something so satisfying by a fudgy bite, especially when you know there is no nonsense involved. Simple ingredients yield the best stuff sometimes. Quality over quantity.

Inspiration: Bon Appètit

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder [the higher the quality, the better]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325º and line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil if you’ve got it. I conveniently ran out RIGHT as I made these, so I sprayed the pan with olive oil and hoped for the best. It worked out okay. I’m okay with imperfect brownies.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Once it’s melted, remove it from the heat, and let it cool while you pull out your other ingredients. In a mediums size bowl, whisk the cocoa, sugar, and salt. Pour in the butter, whisking until it’s blended and smooth. Whisk in the vanilla, and add the eggs one at a time, beating until blended each time. Add the flour and give it a gentle mixing. It should be smooth, but not over-mixed.

Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan. Use a knife [or finger, ahem], to smooth everything out. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean , and only a small bit crumby. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. I stored mine in the fridge for awhile until it cooled completely. Fudgy brownies ftw.

Meyer Lemon Bars

I’ve been so excited about these hints of sunshine and warmer [50° is warm, okay?] weather that I actually put the heater away. I keep an oil heater down in the entry way during the cooler months to take the edge off because it’s two stories lower than the bedroom. I clearly moved it too soon. It always feels 20 degree cooler when you head out the door. I know I’m exaggerating, but c’mon March — you really can’t trust it. You can’t really trust my judgement either. I should have left it alone.

I’m ready for bright, light, and generally warmer weather, but I know not to expect it until closer to July. I haven’t stopped wearing tights and leggings just yet. I’m not ready to unleash my pasty pale legs on the world yet. It also means I can eat all the soup and comfort food I want without any feeling like I’m too late to the party. Sneaking in bits of citrus definitely takes more of the edge of of colder weather. It’s almost like bright pops of sunshine. These lemon bars totally trump the other ones I made last month [sorry Andrew].

They are exactly what I expect from a lemon bar. It’s much more tart than sweet, but not overly so thanks to the Meyer lemon. The best part is the coconut in the shortbread crust. My god, what a difference that makes. It’s such a nice touch. The crust is crumbly, but tastes awesome. That’s what the lemon filling is for anyway. It holds it all together. Processing an entire lemon with sugar takes all the bitterness away. Adding a hint of greek yogurt also added to it, but it probably didn’t help my face any. A week of regular yogurt really isn’t that beneficial when you’re to cut costs, but it sure as hell tastes good.

I want more.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/_hoot/8514286097/

Inspiration: Salad in a Jar

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 Meyer lemon peeled, seeds removed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup non fat yogurt

Preparation

Preheat an oven to 350° and line an 8×8 pan in aluminum foil. In a larger microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in about 50 seconds. Add the flour, powdered sugar, shredded coconut, and a pinch of salt. When everything is moist from the butter, pour it into the prepaid pan and flattened it out. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a food processor, mix together the entire lemon cut into quarters and the cup of sugar. Make sure it is mostly, if not 100%, pureed. Add the tablespoon of flour, yogurt, and eggs. When the mixture is smooth, pour it into the pan with the baked crust. Bake for another 20-25 minutes after it’s turned down to 300°. The lemon filling will be set.

Cool the squares as much as possible before eating. They’re really, really good. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Lemon Blueberry Bars

I’m breaking up with soy. Here I thought dairy was my only problem, but I guess things aren’t ever that simple. The backstory, in case you’re new to the game, is that in my early 20s I was breaking out like a puberty stricken teen when I was eating/drinking dairy. It took me forever to figure it out [denial is a hell of a drug], and once I did, it really cleaned things up. I was pretty hardcore about it for awhile [a year or two], avoiding it it nearly 99.99% of the time. It wasn’t easy. In the last year or so, I’ve cheated a lot realized that dairy and I are okay with each other for the most part in smaller quantities [mmmmm cheese and ice cream and the occasional cappuccino], and if I pay particular attention to fat content [as near to whole as possible] and to avoid processing. The more natural, the better.

These days I usually use coconut milk when it came to liquid dairy substitutes. I prefer the taste. For some crazy reason during the last two weeks I switched back to soy milk for protein in my smoothies. To add insult to injury, I also snacked on shelled edamame at work. Coincidentally enough, I’ve been breaking out like crazy the past two weeks or so. Really bad. The worst its been in years. It took me until Thursday to figure it out. I’m pretty sure I was consuming just as much soy as dairy back in my early 20s, too. Hmmm. So after talking it over with my esthetician [shameless plug], it kind of makes sense. I’m cutting off the soy. I wasn’t particularly enjoying it anyway, so it won’t be any love lost. My face has already calmed down thanks in part to the facial and the lack of soy. Fingers crossed.

Now that I’m back on dairy in moderation, I have declared sweetened condensed milk dangerous. I’ve had very few run ins with it for whatever reason, and every time I end up buying a can, I’m reminded of it’s intensity. It’s thick. It’s creamy. It’s ridiculously sweet. It makes me want Vietnamese coffee, really. It takes a lot of restraint not to just eat it by the spoonful out of the can. Andrew found this dessert awhile back, and when I was given my lovely sack of lemons from Eileen, I was kind of sold. I had already planned on making lemon bars anyway.

They’re really, really sweet, and not at all like traditional lemon bars [not that they’re trying to be]. The graham cracker crust was a wonderful excuse to buy a box. Am I the only one who feels like a kid when I eat them? The blueberries were perfectly sweet, but tart enough to cut through the crazy sweet of the rest of the dessert. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I could have really enjoyed it. It was all kinds of sweet on top of sweet. Sometimes that’s what you need. 

Inspiration: Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice [two small lemons]
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and grab an 8×8″ pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, sugar, and all but one teaspoon of the lemon zest. Stir until it’s all combined and kind of sticky [I used my hands]. Press the crust into the pan, and bake it for 10 minutes.

While it’s baking, mix the egg yolks and condensed milk. Add the lemon juice and remaining one teaspoon of zest. Keep whisking it until it starts to thicken. Do. Not. Taste. This. It will be your demise. Fold in the blueberries. Pour it into the baked crust. Bake for 15 minutes until it’s set.

Cool it to room temperature before eating. It’s even better once it’s in the fridge, but good luck holding out. That stuff is good.

Brownies

These are without a doubt my new favorite brownies, and not just because Sara at Sprouted Kitchen posted them.

I ate them all by myself.

Well, I ate all but one of them. I practically threw one at my sister when she was over just so I could say I didn’t eat them all so she could see what they was all about. It’s not every day that I’m raving about something chocolate. They are the perfect fudgy consistency, sprinkled with sea salt. If you aren’t normally a salt fan, you should still try this. It brings out so much more flavor. The chocolate is only a hint of sweet, which is how I prefer my chocolate. I used Guittard 53% extra dark chocolate chips. I toyed with getting something extra fancy when I was faced with the wall of chocolate at the store, but stopped myself. Splurging on desserts isn’t really my cup of tea.

Yet somehow I keep eating a lot of dessert lately. I might have just finished off the last bits of pistachio gelato, a few chocolate chips, and the remnants of the almond butter. Fancy. I would have had another brownie if they were still around. They were the type that I’d occasionally come by, slice of a sliver from the pan and go about my merry way. The joys of a batch all to myself.

Someday I’ll actually buy cocoa nibs and use them.

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped if it isn’t chips already
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats processed into flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • course sea salt for topping

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 8″ square pan with aluminum foil [or parchment] so it hangs over the edges so you can remove them later. Lightly grease the foil.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Add the chocolate and stir often until its melted and incorporated. Remove from the heat and add in the sugar and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until they’re mixed in completely. Add in the flour, pinch of salt, and espresso powder, mixing it together for a solid minute. It will become smooth and start pulling away from the sides.

Pour the batter into the pan, sprinkle with course sea salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the batter is mostly set, and the center doesn’t jiggle when you tap the pan. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely before cutting. I placed mine in the fridge for several hours before cutting and eating.