Best Recipe: Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

IMG_1934Cook’s notes: These are similar to the Best Recipe: Dark Cocoa Brownies but the preparation method is different (and flour reduced with cocoa increased). I was out of chocolate chips and wanted to make decadent brownies for a party. These are amazing and very rich. They bake at a slightly lower temperature.

Beating the eggs vigorously is the key to the crackly top. Beating the batter too much once the flour and cocoa powder are added will “create air in the batter, which will give you cake-like textured brownies.” That is not our goal, according to Cafe Delites.

Makes 16 brownies

1 stick (4 oz or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 325F degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Using a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, olive oil, and sugar for 1 minute.

Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, one at a time. Eggs will lighten in color.

Add cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Beat on low only until dry ingredients are just incorporated. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain, and do not beat too long. (Note: You may want to do this step with a rubber spatula.)

Pour into pan, and bake about 25 minutes, or until brownies are set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.

Source: Reduced the sugar and adapted recipe for a stand mixer from Bon Appetit and Cafe Delites.

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Dark Chocolate Cookies with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

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Very dangerous

I reduced the sugar by 1/3 and these still came out just wonderful. I am curious to make them again with cinnamon instead of the espresso.

Makes 32 cookies.

6 oz semisweet chocolate chips, such as Guittard brand
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder (we use Droste)
1 packet Starbucks via Italian Roast (instead of 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cane sugar
2 large eggs, organic

Pink Himalayan sea salt

Heat oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or use foil and coat lightly with cooking spray). Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips and butter, stirring until smooth. Stir in sugar. Let cool 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Beat eggs into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Add the melted chocolate to the dry ingredients, and beat on low until fully combined.

Use a Tablespoon scoop to place dough on cookie sheets, leaving room for spreading. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Sprinkle lightly with pink Himalayan sea salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until center is set. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling tray.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Adapted from the With the Grains blog.

Best Recipe: Black Panther Brownies

Cook’s notes: I have a friend who is gluten free and cannot have dairy (but eggs are OK for him). I used margarine instead of butter to meet his dietary needs with this recipe. Since these brownies contain eggs, they are not vegan. I used a yeast spoon (2-1/4 tsp, not just 2 tsp) to measure the vanilla extract. I used Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and high quality dark chocolate: a bar of Endangered Species brand natural dark chocolate with 88% cocoa (the “black panther” bar). This chocolate is certified vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

RAWWRRR…is how panthers say “amazing brownies”

More importantly, these brownies are awesome. You can’t taste the beans, but they add to the texture. They are my new favorite, even beyond conventional brownies.

(I did try to make a second batch vegan with 2 oz unsweetened applesauce instead of the egg, and they just didn’t set up right. Even after 90 minutes in the oven, they were still goopy. This technique is not recommended.)

Yield: 16 squares
Gluten free, dairy free (but not vegan)

15 oz cooked black beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)
3 eggs
1/3 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2+ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
3 oz bar dark chocolate with 88% cocoa, diced fine (chocolate chip size)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8×8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a blender, puree the black beans, eggs, melted margarine, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar. Blend until mixture is as smooth as possible.

Pour the brownie batter into the greased dish. Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the top. Use a spatula to push them down into the batter just a little (they will sink some while the brownies bake).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until brownies are set in the middle — check them at 45 minutes. Watch the edges for excess browning if you’re not sure they’re done.

Cool and then chill before serving. Store in fridge in covered container.

 

Source: Adapted from Tammy’s Recipes for Fudgy Black Bean Brownies (link). Tammy’s notes: “Sweet and chewy gluten-free brownies made with black beans (but you’d never know it from the taste). So simple and amazingly delicious!”

Estimated nutritional information: 1 brownie = 59 g (149 calories). Fiber 2.4 g, 17.7 g carbs (1.2 servings), and 3.5 g protein (0.5 serving)

Chocolate Guinness Bundt Cake

Update, 08/24/2014: Reduced the butter and sugar and it still turned out well — I used 10 Tablespoons butter, instead of 16 Tbsp [2 sticks] and 1-1/3 cups sugar, instead of 2 cups I really like it with the lesser amount of sugar. It is still a very moist, dense cake. I also found a new glaze recipe, which is listed below. The order of steps have been revised so that you melt the butter first, giving it time to cool.

Cook’s notes: This cake is so good that I once made it 3 times during a two-week period. It fetched $55 at a silent auction for charity. It is very similar to a Nigella Lawson version baked in a spring-form pan, but a Bundt pan is easier to deal with. The cake is so moist that it doesn’t need a ganache glaze, cream cheese frosting, or even a sprinkling of powdered sugar. It tastes wonderful served plain.

Best chocolate cake ever

 

Butter-stout mix

10 Tbsp unsalted butter 
1 cup stout (such as Guinness Extra Stout)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process; preferably Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa by King Arthur) — to make the cake extra-dark, use 1/4 cup black cocoa by King Arthur and 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa

Flour mix

2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/3 cups white sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Egg mix
2 large eggs
2/3 cup light sour cream

 

Heat oven to 350F. Coat a Bundt pan with cooking spray or melted butter well; make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies, especially the center cone.

Butter-stout mix: Melt the butter and bring it to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Gently stir in the stout. Whisk in the cocoa powder until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Flour mix: Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.

Egg mix: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sour cream to blend. Pour in the cooled butter-stout mix and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture in two batches, and beat briefly on slow speed after each addition.

Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn the cold cake out onto a rack.

Adapted from smitten kitchen

 

 

Optional glaze

Combine 1 Tablespoon black cocoa, 2 Tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa, 2 Tablespoons melted butter, and 1 cup powdered sugar. The mixture will be pasty. Stir in 2 to 3 Tablespoons hot water and stir to form a smooth glaze. Spoon over the top of the Bundt cake.

Nutty Clusters

Cook’s notes: No baking required. These almond bark clusters combine sweet and salty flavors with crunchy and soft textures. They are a nice addition to the holiday cookie platter. Note: One cup of chocolate chips equals 6 ounces.

1 cup slivered almonds
2 heaping cups puffed rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup miniature marshmallows
3 cups white chocolate chips – 1.5 x 12-oz bags (I like NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Premier White Morsels)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Line 2 or more rimmed cookie sheets with wax paper.

Place almonds in a dry skillet and warm over medium-high heat, stirring often, until they are toasted.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted almonds, cereal, peanuts, and marshmallows. Stir well to combine.

Heat the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring often.

Pour the melted chocolate over the nut and cereal mixture. Stir well to combine.

Using a teaspoon scoop, drop mounds of the mixture on wax paper and let dry. You may wish to refrigerate the clusters for 20 minutes until firm. Package in an airtight container.

Makes a large batch (at least 8 cups of mixture).

Source: Adapted from a recipe at http://www.jennylovesfood.com/?p=259. Tips on melting chocolate: see http://www.ehow.com/how_4514814_melt-chocolate-double-broiler-microwave.html.

Best Recipe: Dark Chocolate Syrup

Make a simple syrup with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup white sugar. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Whisk in 1/4 cup unsweetened Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa powder (from King Arthur Flour) and 1/16 tsp kosher salt (half of 1/8 tsp). Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens. Off heat, stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Makes about 1/2 cup. Store sealed in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Add 1 Tablespoon of this syrup to a glass of milk for the best chocolate milk ever.

Best Recipe: Dark Cocoa Brownies

This is our household’s new gold standard brownie. This “Minimalist” recipe by Mark Bittman is fudgey (not cakey), easy to make, and all ingredients are typically in our pantry. I substituted dark cocoa powder (Double Dutch by King Arthur) for 3 to 4 oz of melted chocolate. Regular cocoa powder would be too light. A glaze or frosting is not needed. They’re even good eaten stone cold out of the fridge. I also changed the directions so that this recipe is now a “one bowl” method.

Tips:

  • Mark Bittman says, “As long as you keep the flour to a minimum and don’t add chemical leavening like baking powder, you will produce a true and beautiful brownie.”
  • Proportionally, this recipe is the same as a half batch of Supernatural Brownies made with cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate.
  • For gluten-free brownies, use a gluten-free baking mix instead of plain flour.
  • Recipe makes 16 brownies. You can double the recipe and bake in a 13×9 pan.

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, heat butter in 30-second increments on High until it is melted. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir in cocoa and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour, optional salt, and vanilla, and stir to incorporate. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain.

Pour into pan, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.

Yield: 16 brownies

Source: Adapted from Mark Bittman. And food author Michael Ruhlman also uses Bittman’s recipe. Ruhlman’s book Ratio provides formulas for basic items. While it was a fun read, it does not include a brownie recipe. No matter; this is the one.

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

Cook’s Notes: A friend of mine loves German Chocolate Cake, and he recently had a birthday. The cupcakes are rich and decadent: they call for 2 sticks of butter, melted chocolate, and sour cream. After looking at the ingredient list, I couldn’t bring myself to make the traditional coconut-pecan frosting for the cupcakes.

Here are the treats I made for his party:

  • Make 24 “Dark Chocolate Cupcakes” from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
  • Chocolate glaze: Cook 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 2 Tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture boils. Turn off heat, and stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Continue to stir until chips have completely melted and glaze is smooth. Spoon chocolate glaze over cupcake tops in a circle. (From the book Cupcakes: From the Cake Mix Doctor)
  • Sprinkle sweetened flaked coconut on the top of each cupcake; gently press down so coconut sticks to the glaze.

Tip: 12 cupcakes fit into a 9 x 12-inch pan for transport:

Cupcakes

Best Recipe: Chocolate Almond Button Cookies

Cook’s Notes: Baked in a mini-muffin tin, these round, puffy cookies are a variation on the Chewy Bar Cookies. They are a little more work than just bar cookies, but they are cute as a button. With both almond extract and chopped almonds, the toasted nut flavor really comes through.

Makes at least 55 cookies (I got 58). See my list of other suggested bar cookie variations for more ideas.

1 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup roasted and salted almonds, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the almond extract and eggs. Beat in the baking soda and flour until just combined. With the mixer on the slowest speed, beat in the chocolate chips and chopped almonds.

Drop the dough with a teaspoon-scoop into the prepared mini-muffin tins. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are just the tiniest bit brown. Use a toothpick to check for doneness in the center.

Best Recipe: Black and White Bar Cookies

Cook’s Notes: This excellent version of Chewy Bar Cookies is similar to brownies. They have the flavor of chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos. My co-worker referred to these as “better than Hostess Ding Dongs.” The contrast of dark chocolate batter with white chocolate chips is simply delicious. Makes 32 to 40 bars.

See my list of other suggested bar cookie variations for more ideas.

1 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (King Arthur brand Double-Dutch preferred)
1 cup white chocolate chips (vanilla flavored)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Beat in the salt, baking soda, flour, and cocoa powder until just combined. With the mixer on the slowest speed, beat in the white chocolate chips.

Press dough evenly onto the bottom of the pan. (I put on food-safe handling gloves and press it in by hand.) Smooth the top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges are just the tiniest bit brown. Use a toothpick to check for doneness in the center. Cut into bars.