Archive for the ‘treat’ Category

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Recently I have been experimenting with brownie recipes. Embarking on the task of finding and amazing brownie is not an expedition for the feint of heart. What characteristics does a brownie need? Well it needs to be:

  1. Chewy
  2. Chocolaty
  3. Browniey
  4. Quick
  5. Foolproof

The only true method to find out these things is to go through each recipe one by one, in a barbaric trial-by-fire method until you find one that tickles your fancy. I went through quite a few recipes but, most forgot about characteristics #1, #4 and #5 and therefore only got 40% of the overall brownie experience, which, for your information, is not acceptable in any way, shape or form.

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FUN FACT:

Did you know that there is actually something called

the edge brownie pan, designed to make only delicious edge pieces?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnCGatFwag0

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Anyway, this recipe produces a very satisfying brownie indeed. Chewy, chocolaty and, in some ways most importantly, super easy, done (including cleanup) in 30 minutes (not including baking time. I grant this recipe the highest rank I can give it… a true spoon licker. Seriously, if you make these with someone younger and less powerful and they ask if they can lick the spoon, you say ‘No!’, overpower them and lick it yourself, that’s how good it is. So go make some brownies (and lick a spoon while you’re at it!) and absolutely, positively, I could not stress this more, don’t share…EVER!!!

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Also, if you are out of light brown sugar, and there’s no chance to nip to a convenience store for the chocolate, then just use 1 1/2 cups regular white sugar and up the butter to 1 1/2 and the cocoa to a heady 1 cup.

Ingredients

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

About 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small nuggety chunks (or 1 cup chips)

Confectioners’ sugar, to dust, optional

Special Equipment: Aluminium foil-lined baking pan or foil pan, about 13 x 9 x 2 inches

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon (still over a low heat) to help it blend with the melted butter.

Whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and pinch of salt, and then stir into the pan; when mixed (this will be a very dry mixture, and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.

In a bowl or jug, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.

Stir in the chopped chocolate and quickly pour and scrape into a foil-lined baking tin or disposable foil pan, spreading the mixture with a spatula, and cook in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. It will look set, dark and dry on top, but when you feel the surface, you will sense it is still wibbly underneath and a cake tester will come out gungy. This is desirable.

These are wicked warm or cold, although do let them cool a few minutes first, also if you eat them warm be ready for a gooey delicious.

Make Ahead Note: The brownies can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container. Will keep for total of 5 days.

Freeze Note: The brownies can be frozen for up to 3 months in airtight container, layered with baking parchment. Thaw overnight in cool place.

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A Single Scoop

Posted: November 6, 2012 in cooking, treat

When I was a little kid my favourite flavour of ice cream was French Vanilla, no questions asked. Someone could take me to the pink palace in Vancouver so I could scrutinize all 218 flavours but all I would want was French Vanilla. So I guess -even with all the other flavours in the world- if the world were to end and I could have one more perfect scoop, French Vanilla would be the one. Now I love ice cream beyond belief and all flavours of ice cream but French Vanilla has this elegance to it that makes it perfect for toping virtually anything yet also amazing on it’s own. Don’t get me wrong though, some of the best Vanillas I have tasted have been variations of the classic. Such as this honey French Vanilla, give it a try… to die for.

To start take 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2 a cup of honey, one vanilla bean (scrape the seeds then add both the seeds and the pod) and a pinch of salt to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile, start beating 3 egg yolks in a large bowl. Once the cream mixture comes to a boil remove it from the heat and cover it for five minutes. After the five minutes take out the pod and pour the hot cream -in a thin stream- into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Once it is fully incorporated Pour it back into the pan and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon until it registers 175˚F on an instant read thermometer and coats the back of a wooden spoon roughly 5-10min. Don’t ever raise the heat, keep it low also, don’t let it boil… ever! If it does take it and try to work out imperfections. Once it’s done, strain it using a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Then you can take roughly one cup and pop it into the freezer and put the rest into the fridge for at least four hours (for best results). After that time mix the frozen section with the chilled section, add a tbls. of vanilla extract pour into your ice-cream machine and freeze as directed.

One of my friends has a birthday on Halloween. His party was a few days later, on the third. My gift to him was to make him his birthday cake. I chose to make him a six layer chocolate cake with a pecan praline buttercream; each layer spread with a thin layer of chocolate frosting (for moistness and flavour) and every other layer spread with the buttercream then the outside spread with the praline goodness.

Ahhh, 3:30 A.M

It ended up being one of the most aesthetically beautiful things to leave my kitchen. I could not be more proud of my cake; the edges were beautifully smooth, the top was flat and the buttercream had the most perfect speaking of praline. The irony is that I stayed up until three thirty, making a cake that I couldn’t even try (gluten and sugar free, yall’) so I had no idea what it tasted like! -Luckily though I had my parental units so I trusted them with the judging of the flavour.- Everyone at the party loved the cake and it continued to get rave reviews when I made it to school after the weekend.

Along with the main cake I made a separate mini cake (the recipe I used makes four cakes, I only needed three so I had one to play around with), unfortunately no pictures were obtained because I left it to go get my camera and when I got back all that remained of the cake were a few lone crumbs. There is no evidence so far but I have a feeling I know who it was.

Anyway, this cake is obviously perfect and should be made for anyone who likes chocolate, caramel and pecans. So yeah, pretty much and body on this planet!

It is time for me to tell a tale; a tale of evolution, my lack of photos is somewhat embarrassing but it is a story none the less. There I was, decoding one of the many caption comics in the New-Yorker; searching for hidden profanities and whatnot when out of the blue the phone rang. Normally I would leave such a task until the very last minute – to give myself more time with the New-Yorker no doubt – but something different happened; suddenly a jolt of energy rushed through me and thrusting my hand upon the phone. It turns out that it was a fellow Lasquetian on the other end of the line, commissioning me to make her birthday dessert. I was ecstatic. I quickly flipped the magazine closed and rushed to the kitchen, and that is where our story begins.

I spent the rest of the night rustling through all the recipe books I had, the only request being ‘chocolate’ so I was forced to rack my brain. Hundreds of ideas bursting in and out. I slept on it. When I woke up in the morning I was certain as to what I would do: an assortment of French macaron on a chocolate dish, one dish per person for twelve people. I had miss-calculated. After nearly a week and a half of trying to create this delicacy. Using a variety of recipes and techniques I realized that my attempt was in vain. It turns out that it is in fact extremely difficult to make a perfect macaron. There was little time, so I had to improvise until I decided to make a dark chocolate tart with an almond crust. That day I made a prototype of the tart. It was fantastic. The next day was the event, I had previously requested the day off school so I was golden.

Then, at roughly 2:30 PM. Somewhere between pulling the tart out, and placing it on our wood stove. Literally hours before the dinner the crust fell. Straight…to…the…ground. I had trouble coping with the shock. I had no idea what to do; all my work just gone. After taking my time to grieve and whatnot I got my act together. I pulled some of the leftover dough from the fridge and started rolling; there was just enough. I put it in straight into the oven, no doubt skipping a step and waited. I didn’t even mind to pick up what remained of my tart off the ground. I just sat there emotionless until the timer rang.

I carefully pulled it out of the oven and placed it in its spot. I quickly whipped together the ganache filling and put it into the fridge for chilling. Miraculously, by the end of the day I had a beautifully elegant tart to serve for dessert. And that’s evolution, the evolution of an idea from macaron to tart.

That’s my story. Kind of cool. I’m just glad I could pull it off.

Secret Endeavours

Posted: September 25, 2012 in cooking, treat

I have been commissioned by an islander to make her birthday dessert. So it’s a pretty big deal. I would tell you what I am making although, she just happens to be among my viewers. Therefore you will find out what I am making after the birthday, just because I like surprises (I’m like my father that way). Anyway, I will do my best to post daily (or at least on weekdays) but it might just be a blab session like this. So hopefully you guys will be able to handle that, I’m sure you will be.

So a quick recap, I won’t be posting about too many new things because I am putting most of my time into this opportunity. As far as gluten and sugar free, it’s all going pretty good but now I really want a Mr BIG, which sucks cuz I can’t eat one… ho hum. See ya’ll.

Also, if you want a good laugh watch this…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuDtACzKGRs

Continuing on the tale of my Mom’s birthday. I am now going to venture into what we had for dessert, (notice I’m going from first to last-I’m a tricky one, what can I say).  I made my mom and our friends (they were over from Vancouver) a chocolate parfait with a passion fruit and guava coulis. There is only one way to describe it… it was like there were angels frolicking on our taste buds. Ok I have to be honest, that whole ‘angels frolicking’ statement wasn’t totally original; it came from this picture.

Anyway, that was a perfectly legitimate way to describe the parfaits. They were just right for the occasion. The chocolate melted as it touched your tongue while the coulis added a necessary fruity SLAPPAPOW! Or for those unfamiliar with the term, it means totally awesome in every way possible, for any circumstance (a.k.a… it’s a wild card). In this case it means that the citrusy tartness with just the correct amount of sweetness added just what the dish needed.

I would like to tell you that I had never seen a passion fruit before. They are absolutely stunning! I know that was a tinsy bit random but I felt it was necessary; I truly had never seen one before.

On one last note, I have completed day two of being gluten and sugar free and there have been no sudden urges so far so I’ll take it as a good sign. I look forward to continuing this experiment.

Stay tuned- Max

Coffee Cake 3 ways

Posted: September 17, 2012 in cooking, treat
Tags:

            During my Mother’s birthday weekend I made several coffee cakes (three to be exact) so you would think I must be pretty tired of coffee cake… NOT! Why? Because it is the best coffee cake I have had for a while. Not only that but I learned that instead of making it a strict blueberry cake – as the recipe calls for – you can use and cake, and that’s exactly what I did. The first cake I made was blueberry, the second peach and the third blackberry. All were fantastically amazing!

The thing that I like the best about this recipe is the fact that it takes no time to prepare and how flexible it is. for example, you can put more than two cups of fruit and you can use any fruit you feel like using; making it ideal for emptying your fridge of over-ripened fruits! So prepare to let your imagination run free!

 

          Ingredients:

Crumb Topping

  • 1/2cupall-purpose flour
  • 1/4cupplus 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2teaspoonkosher salt
  • 1/4cuppecans, toasted, chopped
  • 3tablespoonschilled unsalted butter, cut into      1/4-inch cubes

Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2cupsall-purpose flour
  • 1tablespooncornmeal
  • 1/2teaspoonbaking powder
  • 1/2teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1/4teaspoonkosher salt
  • 3/4cupplus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 6tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room      temperature
  • 1/2teaspoonvanilla extract
  • 2large eggs
  • 1cupbuttermilk
  • 1tablespoonground cinnamon
  • 2cupsfresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries (about 10      ounces)
  • 1tablespoonpanko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Special      equipment:

An 8x8x2-inch metal pan, (but I use a ring pan)

Preparation

Crumb Topping

  • Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir      in nuts. Add butter; using your fingertips, work butter into dry      ingredients until large, moist crumbs begin to form. Set topping aside. DO      AHEAD: Can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Coat pan with nonstick spray.      Line bottom with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking      powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 3/4      cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes.      Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between      additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until mixture is      pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes longer.
  • With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients to bowl      in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and      ending with dry ingredients. Pour half of batter into prepared pan and      smooth top. Whisk remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl;      sprinkle evenly over batter in pan. Spoon remaining batter over; smooth      top.
  • Toss blueberries with panko in a small bowl; scatter      evenly over batter. Sprinkle crumb topping over blueberries.
  • Bake cake until top is golden brown and a tester      inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes. Let cool      completely in pan. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store      airtight at room temperature.

One last thing before you leave, as of today, September 17/2012 I am gluten and sugar free! So I’ll keep you posted!

Max