Tag Archives: Bake

Classic Brownies

Well, it seems to be working… all those afternoons in the kitchen with Kristen baking cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pancakes, etc. apparently have made an impact on her.  She is starting to ask for cooking sessions out of her own motivation.  A few weeks ago, she organized her first family gathering inviting her aunt, uncles and grandparents over for coffee and cupcakes.  I let her prepare the (cake mix) cupcakes all by herself (under my supervision for chaos control).  She was so proud of herself!… and so were we.

On one of her requested baking sessions, we wanted to make brownies.  I reached for the brownie mix in my pantry, only to find that it had expired.  Brownies from scratch it is, then.  I searched for a few recipes and decided to go with the one from Smitten Kitchen, I didn’t want any surprises and Deb’s recipes haven’t let me down.  What I liked the most about this recipe, aside from being a good classic brownie recipe,  is the tip for using aluminum foil to cover the pan before you add the batter!  I will do this every time from now on, it made getting neat squares easy.

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it) the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy. If overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.


Chocolate Brownies

Classic Brownies

Recipe from  Smitten Kitchen


1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar.
  5. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Pots de Créme

I’ve been wanting to try these for quite a while, so I took the opportunity on a rainy afternoon to ask my daughter if she wanted to help me make a chocolate dessert- I had the Chocolate Pots de Créme in mind. I killed some time, kept her busy and ended up with this very rich chocolate dish. I sent some out to Mariano’s friends the next day, for his weekly get together with the boys.  I’m glad to report the boys were happy.

This is very easy to make, although it does take a while to bake. 50 min in a 325 F oven. It’s a great option for a dinner party, or afternoon coffee. You can divide it up into smaller cups to make even smaller portions. For me, one ramekin is a bit too much for this dessert. It’s too rich. If you can get bake ware smaller than a ramekin, use it. Or, fill up normal ramekins halfway up.  You can always decorate them with whipped cream and berries to make them look nice.

Now, to describe the taste: Pure chocolate creaminess. This is definitely a sinful dessert for a special occasion.

Note: I didn’t use the tea towel in step 5 and it worked out fine. Also, for presentation’s sake, fill the ramekins 3/4 full. I filled mine to the rim and they must have puffed up a bit during baking and stuck to the foil. I only got 2 completely smooth tops out the 6 portions. (the 2 smooth ones were filled a little bit under the rim).


 Chocolate Pots de Créme

Recipe adapted from Stefano Faita
Yield: 6 servings.

2 cups (8 ounces) finely chopped chocolate (60%)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg yolks
Whipped cream, for garnishing (optional)
Shaved chocolate, for garnishing (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Add chopped chocolate to a bowl. Set aside.  Add egg yolks in another bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine milk, 1 1/2 cups cream and sugar. Heat over medium heat just to a gentle boil. Add to bowl of chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and chocolate is melted.
  4. Whisk egg yolks until pale. Slowly, whisk chocolate mixture into egg yolks until thoroughly combined. Strain the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Pour evenly into 6 (1 cup) ramekins or custard cups.
  5. Place ramekins in roasting pan lined with tea towel. (The tea towel will prevent the ramekins from sliding.) Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until custard is set around the edges but still jiggles in the center, about 50 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, or berries.











Chocolate Cake with Roasted Strawberry-Balsamic Swiss Buttercream

I spotted a recipe for Roasted strawberry-balsamic Swiss buttercream (that’s a mouthful!) and  I knew the time had come. It was time to conquer buttercream. I had tried to make it once before… it was unfortunate.  See my Mother’s Day post  for the horror.  I did succeed after, when I made my World Cup Cupcakes, but I made Italian Meringue buttercream that time, and honestly… I do prefer to try the Swiss technique so I don’t have to deal with temperatures and sugar crystallization. To be honest with you, the whole sugar crystallization thing is still a gamble with me, sometimes I get the syrup right and sometimes the thing crystallizes on me and sends me on a cursing and stomping rage.  Then, I try again.

I called Kitty up, I needed backup. (She can make buttercream) We got together for a Foodies’ day of baking.  Glad to say, I think I have the Swiss buttercream technique down. The trick is the butter temperature. It has to be at room temperature, but still firm enough that you can slice it and still get neatly shaped squares, do you know what I mean?  I am so pleased with the results, I will try to make it again, tweaking a few things here and there. I would like to get more “merenguiness” (I don’t think that word exists, but you get me ) and less butter flavor. I already have my eye on a few recipes that I will try soon.

Now, about this specific recipe with the roasted strawberries.Oh… my…God.  You have to try it. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries love each other, and you can really taste the natural strawberry flavor in this.   For the batter, we used Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe.  You can’t go wrong there.

I’ll walk you through the cake recipe first, and then below you will find the buttercream recipe.

You can also see more pictures of the procedure over at our Flickr stream! http://bit.ly/GTOVom


Chocolate Cake & Cupcakes with Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

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