Month: May 2012

Double-chocolate Brownies

 - by Elizabeth

So, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with these.  I love the flavor, so rich and chocolatey I could dive into the batter and be happy for days.  But I also like the ease of opening the Betty Crocker Brownie mix from the store and stirring it altogether.  These brownies are also known as Outrageous Brownies, and they come from Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame.  But I’ve adapted them slightly.

These are the kind of brownies that make a TON–perfect for giving to the ladies on Mother’s Day at church, or for taking to a picnic.  I’ve read about them online and many cooks are simply cutting the amounts in half and baking it in a 9 x 13 inch pan, adjusting the cooking time.  But me–I’m going with the original. If you don’t feel like baking, head to her website, where you can order a mix for her Outrageous Brownies as well.

What did I change from her recipe?  I’m not a fan of mocha anything.  No way, no how, and hers called for some coffee granules to cut the sweetness of the brownie and deepen the chocolate flavor.  I like the sweetness just fine and the chocolate flavor’s pretty deep as it is, so I axed the granules.  Here’s the recipe, but promise me you’ll use real butter and the full amount of chocolate.  Be sure to let the batter cool down so you don’t lose the texture of the added chocolate chips.

Ingredients

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, about 5 cups–or use a scale
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

 Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.  I just use one of the cubes of butter, then throw it in to melt.  After you grease it everywhere, throw a handful of flour on the sheet, then tap it around with your hands until the butter is well-covered.  Then tip it upside-down over your sink and give a small tap.  The excess flour will fall off. Set it aside.

 

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips (about three cups), and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. However, if you have a heavy pan (and I mean HEAVY) and you promise to stand there and babysit it, stirring stirring stirring, while it melts over a low flame, I’ll let you do it in a pan without all the water bath business.  NEVER let it come anywhere near a boil.  Just a low, soft heat until everything melts.  And stir constantly.  (Did I mention this?) Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.  She’s not kidding about this step.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. [NOTE: Who sifts anymore?  I don’t even OWN a sifter.  Just put the dry ingredients in a bowl, and using a kitchen whisk, stir several times to blend the ingredients evenly.] Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.

Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour the whole conglomerate into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

To serve a crowd and to cut the calories down to where I wasn’t gasping when I read the amount (I know what the amount is because I figured it out), if you cut them about 1-inch square, you can feed the five thousand. Or eighty-eight.

Roasted Sugar Snap Pea Pods

 - by Elizabeth

I was reading an article about this new restaurant in Los Angeles that has a giant wood-burning oven as its centerpiece.  The menu is based on things that can be cooked in there and one thing they mentioned was roasted sugar snap pea pods.  I bought a bag the next time I was at Costco, then lacking a giant wood-burning oven in my kitchen–or my home, for that matter–I searched for a recipe online that could be done in my oven.  It’s simple.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the sugar snap pea pods, and “de-string” them if they need it, by snapping off one end with a paring knife and pulling the long “string” away from the “backbone” of the pea pod.  I was lucky.  Mine were the stringless type (they do sell some like this).

Toss with a few tablespoons of good olive oil, some thyme, salt and pepper.  At the last minute I stripped some rosemary leaves off a sprig or two, snipped them into small pieces and tossed those in as well.  Spread out onto a cookie sheet. . . or two–don’t crowd them.  Roast for about 10 minutes (mine took 13) or until they just begin to brown.

The pods soften up, but still have a little bit of texture, and the peas sweeten up inside.  We’ve been snacking on the ALL day, and have tried them with some Trader Joe’s regular hummus as a dip.  Quick, easy.