Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Best Fudgy Brownies

I've tried dozens of brownie recipes. The perfect brownie is fudgy and moist, but not underdone, heavy on the chocolate but not overly sweet. This recipe brings it: a perfect balance of flavors, studded with nuts and a crackly top. While it's perfect without icing, I added a thin layer of frosting just to gild the lily.

This recipe calls for heating the sugar and butter together. This step dissolves more sugar and yields a shiny top crust on your brownies. I like to include a sprinkle of walnuts, pecans or peanuts in the batter. If you don't like nuts, just omit.

While brownies are a casual dessert, well executed they can be just as satisfying as an upscale treat. They're a perfect ending to a tailgate or pizza party, a fun lunchbox treat or dinner party dessert dressed with a scoop of ice cream.

Add sugar to melted butter, reheat just until hot
(110-120 degrees). The mixture will become shiny as you stir. 

Add cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla.

Mix in eggs, flour and nuts, stirring until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 29-32 minutes.

The perfect brownie top: shiny and crackly. Let cool completely before frosting.

Make the icing. Super smooth and creamy!

Spread frosting over cooled brownies.

I need a big glass of milk!

Fudgy Brownies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes a dozen 3-inch brownies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Add sugar, stir to combine and reheat just until hot - 110-120 degrees. Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Add eggs stirring until smooth then stir in flour and nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 29 to 32 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Whisk in cocoa. Mix in powdered sugar and milk alternately. Stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled brownies.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fruit Crisp

Fruit crisp is one of our go-to desserts. We almost always have fruit on hand: seasonal fresh fruit or freezer berries, peaches and cherries from our fruit trees and shrubs. It's a fast dessert that is always satisfying (and never fails to remind me of my grandmothers).

The topping for this crisp bakes up crunchy - a nice foil to the fruit filling. With the addition of whole grain flour, it's a dessert I feel good about eating (even occasionally for breakfast). If you like lots of topping, load up your crisp. I usually use a portion on the recipe and place the rest in the freezer. With both fruit and crumb topping stashed in the freezer I can assemble dessert in just a few minutes.

I serve this crisp warm from the oven topped with whipped cream, ice cream or yogurt. Feel free to alter the sugar in the filling based on your tastes and the sweetness of the fruit. Also, if berries are juicy, you might want to add additional flour to thicken the filling.

This recipe works with a variety of fruit. I used our
freezer blackberries. A taste of summer in the winter!

Combine flours, sugar and salt.

Mix in melted butter until crumbly.

Add nuts of your choice (or omit). I like pecans
but also use almonds, walnuts and hicans.

Mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle lemon zest and juice over fruit.

Gently toss with sugar, flour and salt.

Place fruit in a 9 inch pie plate. Cover with topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until
fruit is bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serve with ice cream (optional). Warm, fruity and crunchy!

Fruit Crisp
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Serves 10

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
10 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup nuts, chopped

4 generous cups berries or chopped apples or peaches
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare topping by combining all topping ingredients. Set aside.

Prepare filling: Toss fruit with zest and juice. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and 1/4 tsp salt. Toss to combine. Pour into prepared pie plate. Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake crisp for 45-50 minutes until filling bubbles. Cool slightly. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Curly Fries

When my nephew bought us a spiralizer for Christmas, I admit my first thought wasn't: Ooh! Healthy zucchini noodles! But rather: Yay! Curly fries!  We've spiralized several kinds of veg. Some have even been eaten without deep frying.

In case you're unfamiliar, a spiralizer simultaneously turns and slices vegetables resulting in long curly ribbons. If you've had curly fries with your burger, you know that extra surface area makes for delicious crispy, twirly potatoes.

For the best tasting spuds, I use the double fry method. The first fry, at a lower temperature, ensures the interior of the potato cooks up fluffy. The second fry, at a higher temp, crisps up the outside. This method can be used on curly, shoestring, steak or any kind of french fry.

For traditionalists, finish fries with a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper and serve with ketchup. Spicy fans can add garlic powder and cayenne and serve with mayo. Hedonists can top with cheddar cheese, bacon and sour cream.

Use a spiralizer to cut fries into long curly ribbons.

Soak cut potatoes in water to remove starch. Be sure to dry before adding to hot grease.

First fry: carefully add potatoes to oil heated to
325 degrees. Fry for 4-5 minutes. Do not brown.

Remove from grease and drain on a paper towel.
Allow to cool while frying remaining potatoes.

Increase oil to 375 degrees. Return cooled potatoes
to oil, frying until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.

Remove from oil, drain and season. Serve hot.

Great accompaniment to burgers!

Curly Fries

8 cups peanut oil
One potato per person
Salt, pepper or desired seasonings

Wash potatoes. Do not peel. Using a spiralizer, cut fries into ribbons. Place in a bowl with water. Allow to site at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to remove starch.

Meanwhile, place oil in a large pot so oil is about 2 inches deep. Using a candy thermometer, heat oil to 325 degrees. Remove potatoes from water. Drain and pat dry as possible. Carefully lower a few potatoes at a time into the oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally to separate. Do not brown. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Cool.

Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees. Add cooled potatoes to hot oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain and season. Repeat until all potatoes are cooked. Serve hot.