baking therapy: brownies, continued

After last week’s brownie baking adventure (with the end result of brownies that were more like chocolate cake), I decided to give it another go. This time I went to Martha.

Whole-Wheat Brownies, from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food
6 T unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1 1/4 t baking powder
1 t coarse salt
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8 inch square dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together applesauce, sugar and egg. Place butter and 6 oz of chocolate over a double boiler to melt. Stir chocolate into sugar mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Pour into pan and top with remaining 2 oz of chocolate.

Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Conclusions: Also delicious (and perfectly complimented by vanilla ice cream – oh so comforting), but still on the edge of cake territory. These brownies were closer, but I still long for a brownie with chewy edges, a fudgey middle and a flaky top.  Ahhhh.

After two attempts, I now have a very strong compulsion to make the perfect brownie and fulfill my fantasy. Up next: Ghiradelli’s Classic Chocolate Brownie. Let’s hope this one makes the cut!



baking therapy: banana cream pie

Oh pate brisee, why did you torture me so! I lovingly and carefully incorporated your flour, butter and water, painstakingly chopping the butter into tiny bits, and all you do to thank me is collapse upon yourself in the oven.

Not a terribly successful weekend for desserts. I decided to make a banana cream pie for my coworker’s birthday (she requested a banana dessert) and wanted to make the pie crust from scratch. I followed a recipe that used all butter, because crisco sort of freaks me out, but sadly, only one of the two pie crusts was even usable after baking (and the usable one was definitely ugly).

I followed a Martha Stewart recipe for the pie.

Despite the aforementioned crust issues, making the vanilla custard went smoothly. And once the pie crust was topped with sliced bananas and vanilla custard, you could hardly tell it was an once ugly. I served it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Conclusions: All of my coworkers loved it, even the ones that don’t like banana cream pie (myself included). Surprising myself, I would make it again and recommend you all to try it.



buttermilk reincarnated: vichyssoise

Remember that leftover buttermilk from my butter-making experiment? Well, I just couldn’t let it go to waste and so I spent a little time browsing for buttermilk recipes online. After sifting through dozens of buttermilk fried chicken and buttermilk pancake entries, I found … vichyssoise with cauliflower and buttermilk. First thought: “Yum!”. Second thought: “Thank you Martha!”.

Vichyssoise with Cauliflower and Buttermilk, adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
5 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well (about 3 cups)
1 white potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground white pepper (I used black because I didn’t have white, but the white would make it a prettier soup)
Large pinch nutmeg
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
Coarse salt
3 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 cup buttermilk (ta-da!!)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add potato, a generous grinding of pepper, and the nutmeg, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in cauliflower, a large pinch of salt, and 3 cups stock. Simmer, partially covered, until cauliflower has softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove 2 florets, and transfer to a cutting board; thinly slice lengthwise. Set aside for garnish.

Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture in a blender (I used an immersion blender-much easier), filling no more than halfway each time. Return to pan. Stir in buttermilk and remaining 1/2 cup stock.  Season again with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, garnished with cauliflower slices.

Hot this is soup referred to as potato and leek soup, cold as vichyssoise … if anyone can explain this to me, I’m all ears.

Conclusions: While not the most photogenic of dishes, this soup is delicious! Quick, easy and really comforting. We ate it for three days and weren’t too upset about that fact.