Posts Tagged ‘Brownie’

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Baked Alaska

September 8, 2009

Why Baked Alaska? My husband mentioned it a few times, so I asked him what the deal was with Baked Alaska. Was he dying to have some? His response was “I know it’s hard to make.” Those are fighting words! Neither of us had ever eaten it, and I don’t think he knew what it was, but I knew I was up to the challenge. And the really fun part is that as you read this, we are in Alaska! It was fun to eat Baked Alaska while planning our trip to Alaska.

I did some research in cookbooks and online and found that there are a lot of interpretations of this classic dessert.  I decided to make two individual-sized servings. These have a brownie base and chocolate peanut butter ice cream: one of the tips I found when researching is that you want an ice cream that will contrast the color of the meringue. This was also an opportunity to use a couple of things I was planning to make anyway, and to use some egg whites that I had in the freezer. So although there are a lot of components to this dessert, it wasn’t too much work to make it.

BakedAlaska2

The components:

  • For the base, I used a brownie baked in a standard-size muffin pan. When I made Brownie Buttons for Tuesdays With Dorie, I baked a few in my regular muffin pan, left the white chocolate off, and stashed them in the freezer. You could also use cake or a brownie cut into a circle about the same size as a scoop of ice cream.
  • For the ice cream, I used this Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream.
  • For the meringue, I whipped three egg whites with 1/3 cup sugar and a tiny pinch of salt. If you have a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours, look at the meringue tips on page 400. I used a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whipped the whites and salt on high speed for a couple of minutes, then added the sugar slowly. I stopped when the meringue was smooth and glossy and pretty stiff: if you can flip the whisk attachment upside down and the meringue holds a peak, it’s ready. Three egg whites was more than I needed for two servings, but I baked the extra meringue to use in another recipe. Two egg whites should be more than enough for two servings. [Note: the meringue doesn’t bake for long, so standard warnings about egg whites apply. If you have any concerns about eating an undercooked egg, use pasteurized eggs or buy egg white powder.]

The assembly:

  • Put the brownie base on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put one scoop of ice cream on each brownie. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (overnight is fine too).
  • After the brownies and ice cream have been in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, make the meringue. If you want to pipe the meringue like I did, put it in a pastry bag with a large star tip.
  • Move the oven rack to the lowest position and start the oven heating to 500 degrees F. Take the baking sheet out of the freezer and either pipe the meringue on or spread it on with a knife, making swirls and peaks. Be sure to cover the entire brownie and ice cream. Put the baking sheet back in the freezer until the oven is up to temperature.
    Here’s a Baked Alaska ready to go into the oven.

BakedAlaska1

  • When the oven is heated, take the baking sheet out of the freezer and put it in the oven. Stand there and watch it; it will brown quickly. When it’s browned but not burned, take it out. Serve immediately: if you want to do any fancy plating (which I didn’t!) have it queued up ahead of time. Or do what I did – I made my husband come into the kitchen just in case the Baked Alaska didn’t make it to the plate in one piece (although it did).

Enjoy! This was a fun treat to make, and if you have the brownie (or cake) and ice cream ready to go, you just have to do some last-minute meringue making and baking.

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Tuesdays With Dorie: Brownie Buttons

August 11, 2009

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie is Brownie Buttons, selected by Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. Head over to their blog for the recipe or look on page 106 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. Here are mine…cute as a button!

Brownie Buttons

What I did: I followed the recipe though I didn’t include the optional orange zest. I made a full batch because it was a pretty small batch (and I didn’t want to do the math to divide it in half!).

How it went: Quick and easy! Everything gets mixed in one saucepan; no special equipment needed and not a lot of dishes. I used my mini-muffin pan, which is old (or should I say retro? antique?) and an odd size: 9 minis, and I don’t know how the size compares to a new mini muffin pan. After I filled the 9 minis, I put the rest of the batter in 3 standard-size muffin cups. It worked out great because I put the larger ones in the freezer for something I’m planning to make in the near future.

MiniMuffin

When these were in the oven, I didn’t think they were going to turn out. They got very bubbly – especially the larger ones – and seemed to be kind of boiling. But a few minutes later, they looked better and after cooling a little bit, they came right out of the pan. Instead of dipping the brownies in white chocolate, I put a blob on top of each one.

How it tasted: These were chocolaty and moist. The white chocolate I used was pretty tasty on its own, but I don’t think it added much to the brownies. My husband ate one and said “it’s just a brownie.” He liked them, but I think he now expects more wow factor from my baked goods.

Would I make this again?: Although these were good, there are other brownie recipes that I prefer (such as the other two brownie recipes I’ve made recently). The mini muffin pan idea was fun though – I just may use that idea in the future!

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Tuesdays with Dorie: A Brownie and a Movie

July 7, 2009

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies. Apparently, Ms Hepburn made a mean brownie, and this is Dorie Greenspan’s version of her recipe.

KH Brownies

I am no Katharine Hepburn expert, but when I saw that this recipe was selected, I immediately thought of the movie Desk Set. The short story on the movie is that Katharine Hepburn works in the research department of a major broadcasting company. Enter Spencer Tracy, an efficiency expert, and his gigantic “electronic brain” named EMERAC. Will Hepburn and Tracy fall in love? Will the research department be replaced by a machine? Will someone push that giant button on EMERAC, even after being told to never touch it? Watch the movie and find out! And munch on a brownie (or four) while watching!

Image from amazon.com

Image from amazon.com

OK…brownie time

What I did: I made half a recipe and baked it in two mini-loaf pans. I did not include the cinnamon or nuts. For the instant coffee, I used instant espresso. For the chopped chocolate, I chopped some Guittard bittersweet chocolate discs. The discs are awesome because they’re so easy to chop!

How it went: This recipe came together easily. I was nervous, though. I’ve been making the same brownie recipe for many years because it turns out for me. This was the first time trying a different recipe in a long time. The batter came together nicely and I baked the small pans for 24 minutes. After cooling, I  loosened up the edges and they popped right out of the pan. I was glad that I followed the instructions to butter the pans and use parchment, even though I was tempted to take a shortcut and just spray the pans. I chilled them before cutting and then left them at room temperature before tasting.

How it tasted: These are a dense, chocolaty, butter-rich indulgence. Best served in small pieces (even if you have more than one). I loved the taste and especially loved the texture. If I were taking brownies to a picnic, I’d probably go for something less rich, because that’s the type of occasion when you’d like to have a big hunk o’ brownie in your hand. While I didn’t feel that these needed any further embellishment like frosting or whipped cream, I do wonder how they’d be cut into tiny bits and mixed in with ice cream. I have a feeling I wouldn’t be disappointed. My husband gave these a thumbs-up and described them as a “sophisticated brownie.”

Would I make this again?: These are going in the file for when I need a really rich chocolate bite and as an idea for an ice cream mix-in.

Lisa of Surviving Oz. Lisa had the honors of selecting this week’s recipe because she designed the new Tuesdays With Dorie logo. It’s great! Don’t you love the Eiffel Tower? Although Lisa is not a TWD member, she baked along with us and you can see the recipe here.

tuesdays-with-dorie-logo4

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