Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just In Time For Valentine's Day


Raspberries. Chocolate. Two things my friend Ashleigh likes. Like I have in the past, I asked a few weeks ago for a flavor. She named strawberries. Next, I asked our friend who was going to help me for his idea. Brownies. But he just really likes brownies, so I wasn't too surprised.

Somehow the idea to make raspberry cheesecake brownies turned into deep dark raspberry brownies. Which is good. They're kind of like the raspberry brownies I used to get as a kid, a variation on the classic LMG brownies that so many people I know now miss. But that's okay, I've got them down. Sort of. The regular ones with the walnuts that is. It just takes a lot of strength to make a half sheet pan's worth of them.

But not to get carried away and completely off track, because those aren't the brownies we're talking about. Well, they are, but not quite. Because these rich, dense, fudgy morsels are not for the faint. Or for those who can't wield a heavy knife, because trying to cut these with a butter knife will lead to blisters. Trust me. They're also worth the blisters. And if you can find seedless jam, you might want to try it with that instead. Or straining your jam. But hey, I'm a lazy college student.

And while I made these as a birthday present, they're also the perfect Valentine's Day dessert. Unless you want to be boring and cliche and make a chocolate souffle.

Raspberry Brownies
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Brownies
adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef
makes an 8x8" pan of brownies, cut into desired size (about 30?)

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease an 8" square pan (for easier removal, line with two pieces of foil with a 1" overhang, grease the foil as well) and set aside.

In a double boiler or a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Set aside to let cool a bit.

In a medium bowl beat together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until pale and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.

If slightly cooled melted chocolate is not already in a large bowl, transfer it to a large bowl. Fold the egg mixture into the chocolate. Stir in the flour (it doesn't hurt to sift it, but it's not necessary.)

Pour most of batter into prepared pan. Spread raspberry jam over top. Add remaining batter and smooth top.

Bake in over for about 30 minutes or until top is dry to the touch and a toothpick comes out not looking like raw batter has completely attacked it, but not entirely clean either. If the toothpick comes out clean you've overbaked the brownies. They will continue to cook as they cool.

Let cool completely before cutting, unless you want a big mess on your hands.

Sometimes it helps to refrigerate or freeze them to cut the brownies cleanly.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"But, Everyday's My Birthday" Cake


I may not be the most observant person, but I'm not so blind as to not notice someone birthday when they've made a bit of a hullabaloo about it. Trying to convince me two months later that your birthday is two days away, well, I'm not going to buy that.

But that doesn't mean I won't bake a cake. I'll take any excuse to bake something. All you've got to do is ask. And then give me some time to get my act together and find my go-to recipe (that I usually use for ice cream cakes... but oh well).

So this time, I baked the cake (I wasn't supposed to do it alone, but I didn't realize that...) and then other people decorated it, after realizing what I was doing and getting all excited. I brought a pastry bag and a couple tips with me, and decorating is not really my thing, so I was more than happy to oblige.

It was kind of crazy, and corresponded with Lost starting up again, so the floor was quite quiet. And the person the cake was for disappeared right after we gave it to him. I wonder what happened to the cake. It was just sitting on the table last time I looked.

"Because Everyday's  My Birthday"
Moist and Devilish Chocolate Cake (aka my go to Chocolate Layer Cake Base)
from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book
Makes 1 9-inch cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup neutral oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour a 9x3" round cake pan.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk in sugar, followed by oil.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir into the flour mixture. Gradually whisk in boiling water until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan (if your pan is smaller, pour 2/3 way up the sides and use remaining batter to make cupcakes.)

Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Another Buttercream Frosting
adapted from somwhere, I need to stop scribbling recipes onto scraps of paper

1 stick (4 oz) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 t. salt
4-5 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter in a medium-large bowl until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla until no lumps remain and the frosting is fluffy!

Use as desired. Spread on with a knife or spatula, pipe on with a bag, or do whatever else it is you do with buttercream frosting.