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My Kind of Cake

I know I said I’d try to keep things balanced around here, but it’s birthday month, which means that it’s all about the chocolate. Being the birthday girl AND the baker means that you get what you want for a birthday treat. ūüėÄ

For as long as I can remember, chocolate (cake or pie) has been my birthday go-to. So, when this recipe popped up in my Facebook feed,¬†I knew that I had to try it. I’m sure glad I did!

I was surprised to discover¬†that this recipe is very similar to my standard chocolate cake recipe.¬†It uses buttermilk and coffee instead of regular milk and hot water. I also really liked the fact that Sally provided the weights for the ingredients, so I’m including them as well. It’s SO much easier to weigh out ingredients than it is to scoop with a measuring cup. And it’s more accurate. And there’s fewer dishes to wash. I did use the volume measurements for the liquid ingredients, since I figure there’s less room for error there. Plus, my scale only goes from ounces to grams, not milliliters. (Don’t worry, I’m including the volume measurements too, but seriously. Go buy a scale.)

The cake was fudgy and super-chocolately. It had a great texture (not too dense, but not so delicate that it would fall apart), and it stayed nice and moist from the day that I baked it (Thursday morning) until the last crumb was gone (Monday night).¬†Hmm. Guess that means we need another cake around here. After all, there’s still a couple weeks left in birthday month!

ChocolateChocolateCake

It’s birthday season around here. Sprinkles are mandatory.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

For the cake:
220 grams (1-3/4 cup) AP flour
350 grams (1-3/4 cup) sugar
65 grams (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
240 milliliters (1 cup) buttermilk
120 milliliters (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
240 milliliters (1 cup) hot coffee

For the frosting:
290 grams (or 1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
360 –¬† 480 grams (3-4 cups) powdered sugar
65 grams (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
45-75 milliliters (3-5 tablespoons) heavy cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Sprinkles, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350¬į. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans and then line the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla until well-combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Mix in the coffee. The batter will be very thin.

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake until cakes test done with a toothpick, between 25-30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Turn the mixer off and add the cocoa powder and 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to the bowl. Turn the mixer on to low and mix until the cocoa powder and sugar are absorbed by the butter. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the vanilla, half-and-half and salt. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting for another 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if you’d like a stiffer frosting.

To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer on a cake stand (or serving plate, or cardboard cake round). Spread a layer of frosting on top of the cake, then place the second cake layer on top of the frosting. For a smooth finish, cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting and then place the cake in the refrigerator. After 15 minutes, remove the cake from the refrigerator and frost with the rest of the frosting. Garnish with sprinkles as desired.

Store cake covered, at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

From Sally’s Baking Addiction, originally¬†adapted from Ina Garten

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in Cakes & Frostings, Dessert

 

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Aiming to Please

As someone who shows love through food, I do my best to keep track of people’s likes and dislikes. If I’m making food for you, I want you to love it. (No pressure, Andy.) I know not everything can be a home run, and sometimes, I make things that I know only I’ll enjoy, but those times are few and far between.

Of course, making something that pleases everyone is harder than it should be. Especially when it comes to dessert. In my group of friends, we have a chocoholic who dislikes caramel and coffee, a¬†custards-and-creme-brulee fan, two coffee-and-vanilla-bean addicts, and me, the equal-opportunity-dessert lover¬†(as long as you don’t muck things up with coconut). You can’t even¬†create a Venn diagram of desserts that will please us all. (Or, maybe you can, but you’ll end up with three separate circles.)¬†

So, when I invited a relatively new friend over for dinner, I immediately started thinking about what I should make for dessert. Not dinner, dessert. (I have a go-to dinner option for first-time guests. Unless you tell me that you don’t eat chicken, cheese, or tomatoes. But then we might have a hard time being friends. Kidding. Mostly.) Dessert though, that’s another story. There are just so many options!

I decided that I couldn’t lose with a chocolate-cheesecake combination, even if our dinner guests weren’t hardcore chocoholics. As my friend Jackie (the creme brulee fan) likes to say, “Chocolate dessert is better than no dessert.” I thought about making black-bottom cupcakes, but the idea of scooping out individual cupcakes just didn’t appeal to me that night. So, I turned to one of my favorite recipe sources, and lo and behold, Deb came through for me. Again. (No one’s surprised by this anymore, right?)¬†

These were super easy, although I definitely recommend using a hand or stand mixer for the cheesecake filling, rather than a whisk. Or maybe my arms just aren’t strong enough to whisk cream cheese into a smooth batter. (That probably means I should keep practicing, right?) I don’t think my cheesecake swirled quite as nicely as Deb’s, but no one complained. ūüėČ

These were really, really good. We served them straight from the fridge, and I would say that they’re definitely best cold. The brownie layer is thick and fudge-like, and the cheesecake layer is the perfect contrast to the rich brownies. My only complaint? It only makes a 8″ pan, so we ran out of brownies way¬†too soon.

cheesecake swirl brownies

Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies

For the brownie batter:
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2/3 cup AP flour

For the cheesecake swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350¬į and make sure the rack is in the middle position. Butter a 8″ square baking pan. If you’d like to be able to lift your brownies out of the pan (for easy / pretty cutting / serving), I’d recommend lining the baking pan with parchment paper to create a “sling.” (I didn’t do this, but probably will next time.)

Melt the butter and the chocolate in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat, whisking often, until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until everything is well-combined. Stir in the flour until just combined and spread it in the prepared baking pan.

Next, make the cheesecake swirl. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla, until smooth. Spread / dollop the cheesecake mixture over the brownie base and use a butter knife to marble / swirl the batters together. Sprinkle the top of the brownies with chocolate chips.

Bake the brownies until the center is set and the edges are slightly puffed, between 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely for easiest cutting / serving.

From Smitten Kitchen, originally adapted from Gourmet

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Dessert

 

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Buckeye Pie!

It’s no secret that I love chocolate and peanut butter. (All good Ohio girls do, right? There’s a reason we’re Buckeyes, after all!) It’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet, which means that I cannot be trusted around a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups. Or peanut butter M&Ms. Or these cookies. Apparently, I’m kind of addicted. Not that it’s a problem. I can stop whenever I want. (Yeah, right.)¬†

It’s not surprising then, that this pie caught my attention right away. I was flipping through my “Classic Home Desserts” cookbook last weekend, looking for an easy dessert that I could put together for our dinner and game night some of our favorite people. (Yes, we spend the weekends playing board games with friends. Yes, we might be nerds, and yes, we’re OK with that.) ūüôā Andy suggested vanilla bean ice cream, but I wanted something less, well, vanilla. Plus, with only three hours of prep time, I knew ice cream wouldn’t be ready in time. This pie, on the other hand, could spend a hour in the freezer, get topped with a chocolate ganache and then hang out in the refrigerator until dessert. Perfect!

This recipe called for buttering the pie pan before putting the graham cracker mixture, which seemed kind of strange (after all, the crust has half of a stick of butter in it). I went ahead and followed the directions, and I ended up with my best graham cracker crust ever. It was crunchier than the other graham cracker crusts I’ve made, and it stayed together very well. It came out of the pan cleanly too. I may try the same trick next time I make cheesecake!

The peanut butter filling tastes a lot like the inside of a buckeye. The whipped cream lightens the filling (in texture and taste, not calories!), and if you get a bite of filling and chocolate topping, well, it’s just awesome. This pie is definitely my kind of perfect dessert. It’s really rich (but since when is that a problem?), so you’ll probably want a glass of milk to go with it. And honestly, I don’t think there’s much more to say about this, other than “get thee to the kitchen!” ūüėČ

BuckeyePie2

BuckeyePie

Peanut Butter Pie with Fudge Topping (AKA Buckeye Pie)

For the crust:
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
8 ounce of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, well chilled

For the chocolate topping:
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 9″ pie pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Press the graham cracker mixture into the prepared pin pan, making sure the crumbs go up the sides to the edge of the rim. Use the outside of a measuring cup to tamp down the crumbs if necessary. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the mixture is well-blended, add the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl (unless you feel like washing the bowl for your stand mixer, which is what I did), beat the 1/2 cup of whipping cream just until it’s not quite stiff. Fold a generous spoonful of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten the filling. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread the peanut butter filling in the cooled crust and refrigerate until firm, about three hours. You can also put the pie in the freezer for about an hour if you’re on a truncated timetable.

When the peanut butter filling is firm, make the chocolate topping. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and place the chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Allow chocolate mixture to cool slightly to lukewarm. Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and then return the pie to the refrigerator. Chill until chocolate topping is firm, about three hours.

Cut the pie into wedges and serve cold.

From Classic Home Desserts

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Dessert, Pie, Uncategorized

 

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Worth the Splurge

For the most part, I’m a very practical person. I¬†rarely¬†succumb to impulse buys.¬†(Unless I find¬†a stellar deal on fruit¬†or cheese. I make no promises then.)¬†I opt for Keens over slip-ons¬†when I’m¬†sprinting through an¬†airport. My purses always have a cross-body strap for easy schlepping. I’m opposed to uni-tasker items. (Except for my doughnut pan. Thanks, Emily!)

And then I caught the popsicle bug. I blame recipes¬†like this, and this. Oh, and did I mention these? Let’s not even get started on things like this¬†and this. And yet, I still didn’t buy a popsicle mold. I kept reading blogs, seeing recipe after delicious recipe, thinking to myself, “if only I had a popsicle mold…” So I did what any rational woman would do. I started dropping hints.

“Look at these popsicles! Don’t they look good?”

Crickets. I tried less subtle hints.

“If I had a popsicle mold, I could make things like PEANUT BUTTER PUDDING POPS.”

More silence. Have I mentioned that Andy is even more practical (and more opposed to single-use items cluttering our cupboards) than me? I moved on to the direct approach.

“I think I want a popsicle mold.”

“Well, if you think you’d actually use it, and you really want one…”

Sold! (Actually, it took me a little while to order one – I looked in various stores, including IKEA, and wasn’t happy with what I found. I ended up going with this one from Amazon, and I love it.)¬†

When the package arrived two days later¬†(love that Prime shipping!), I asked Andy what recipe we should try first, and he said, “Fudgesicles.”

OK then. This chocolate girl can get on board with that, especially when the recipe comes from one of my favorite sources.

I doubled the recipe, since I knew that four popsicles would last about 10 minutes in our house. It’s ridiculously easy to put together, which is something that I’ve noticed about most popsicle recipes. They take about half the prep time that ice cream does, and they freeze A LOT faster. Win-win,if you ask me.

They’re also loaded with chocolate flavor, and somehow, are thick and fudgy enough where they don’t melt off the stick while you’re eating them. And while we’ve made several other popsicle flavors this summer, this is the one that’s on repeat most often in our kitchen. Let’s hear it for more impractical, uni-tasker items! ūüėČ

Fudgesicles

Fudgesicles

4 tablespoons or 1 1/2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly until they are smooth. Add the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt and milk to the melted chips. Increase the heat to medium and continue to the stir the mixture. Cook until the mixture has thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool slightly before pouring it into the popsicle molds.

Insert the sticks into the popsicle molds and freeze until solid. Unmold the frozen popsicles and place in a freezer-safe container. (I fill the sink with several inches of warm water and then dip the popsicle mold into the water before unmolding each popsicle. Then, I place the popsicles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and refreeze them before putting them in a Ziploc bag.) 

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from On a Stick

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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Too Good to Bake… Almost…

So, back in March, I bought a bottle of Irish cream. You know, so I could make a Bailey’s cheesecake chocolate Guiness cake (similar to this cake, only with cream cheese frosting and a Bailey’s cheesecake center).¬† I made¬†the cake (And it was good. Very good.), but it didn’t come anywhere close to using up the bottle. So I made brownies. And when I still had Irish cream left in the bottle, I did what any rational person would do. I made cookies. ūüėÄ

Of course, once I got started, I discovered that the recipe said to chill the dough for at least two hours. Who has time for that? Not me. (At least, not on a work night. After all, I didn’t get the butter in the mixing bowl until after 7pm.) Really though, how important could that step be?

Umm… fairly important when you have a sticky dough, I discovered. Still, two hours is a long time… especially when you want cookies. So I improvised.¬†20 minutes in the freezer is¬†just as good as 2 hours in the fridge, right?

Close enough. Especially when you discover that frozen Irish cream cookie dough is even better than baked cookies. (Seriously amazing. I mean… chocolate, Irish cream and white chocolate chips. What’s not to love?)¬†We did bake some, and they disappeared in no time. And since the bottle of Irish cream still isn’t empty, I just might make some more cookies. Or maybe I’ll just make the dough… and then put it in some ice cream… ūüėÄ

 

BaileysChocolateCookies

 

Irish Cream Chocolate Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups AP flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup Irish cream
1 cup white chocolate chips

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder together in a medium-sized bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined. Gradually add the Irish cream to the butter-sugar-egg-vanilla mixture, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When the Irish cream is all mixed in to the batter, add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for two hours in the refrigerator. (I used my cookie scoop to portion out the dough into one-inch sized balls and placed them on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. I then chilled the cookie sheet with the dough for about 20 minutes in the freezer. This seemed to work relatively well, especially with my reduced timetable.) 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and when you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

From Gimme Some Oven, who adapted it from How Sweet Eats 

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Cookies, Dessert

 

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One Thing Leads To Another

You know¬†the kids books “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” or “If You Give a Moose a Muffin“? Where one thing just leads to another, and before you know it, something simple has morphed into a giant project? I feel like that happens to me sometimes. An idea will pop into my head, and it won’t go away until I do something about it. And the longer it sits and stews in my mind, the more involved it gets.

I’ve been thinking about a Guinness/Bailey’s cake/cheesecake combo for several months now, but the timing hasn’t been right to make one. (The time is coming, though. I can’t wait.) Anyway, with chocolate and Irish cream thoughts¬†floating through my head, it was only a matter of time before they came together in my ice cream maker. Especially after a baby shower cake left me with an overabundance of egg yolks.

I went back and forth about the chocolate base. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? What would go better with Irish cream? What about spiking the brownies? (The first few recipes Google turned up started with a mix. And we all know how I feel about boxed mixes.) Should I add a fudge swirl, or would that be too much? (As if there could ever be too much chocolate.) Decisions, decisions.

I decided on milk chocolate ice cream, thinking that the Irish cream in the brownies would stand out more against the milk chocolate than the dark chocolate, and since I had five egg yolks in the fridge, I upped the egg yolks to five, rather than four. I used the same fudge swirl that I used in my moose tracks ice cream, and I found a reasonable (and easy) sounding recipe for the brownies.

I began to doubt my milk chocolate decision when I tasted the ice cream base. It seemed overpoweringly sweet, and I was concerned¬†that we were going to have some sub-par ice cream on our hands. And then I was afraid that the brownies were going to be too greasy. But the show has to go on, right? (After all, I’d already offered to bring ice cream to a friend’s house that evening.) So I churned the ice cream as planned and mixed in the brownie chunks, then swirled the fudge through the ice cream and popped it in the freezer to firm up.

Wow. I don’t know if it’s the contrast between the milk chocolate and the fudge swirl, or the hint of Irish cream in the brownies, or what, but we are definitely talking about the sum being greater than its parts. The ice cream is rich, for sure, but that’s never a bad thing. I keep trying to convert Andy from team vanilla bean to team chocolate, and thanks to this ice cream, I think I’m closer than ever. ūüėČ

ChocolateBrownieIceCream

Fudge-Swirled Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Irish Cream Brownie Bites

For the ice cream base: 
8 ounces of good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped (A shout-out to my brother-in-law, Dan, who gave us some fantastic milk chocolate for Christmas and made this possible.) 
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar

For the fudge ripple:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the Bailey’s Brownies*:¬†
1 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

First, bake the brownies. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8″ square baking pan with aluminum foil. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Place the chocolate chips and butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate chips and butter in 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Set the chocolate mixture aside and combine the brown sugar, eggs and Irish cream in a small bowl. Pour the sugar-egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until just combined and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is cracked and a toothpick comes out almost clean, about 45 minutes. (The brownies will be very thick. I’m guessing you could bake them in a 9″ x 13″ pan and cut the baking time in half.) Remove the brownies from the oven. Brush the top of the brownies with the remaining tablespoon of Irish cream. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack before cutting them into bite-sized pieces.

While the brownies are cooling, make the fudge swirl. In a small saucepan, whisk together all of the ingredients except for the vanilla. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to bubble. Let it boil for one minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool until needed, being sure that the fudge has cooled at least to room temperature before using.

To make the ice cream base, place the chocolate and the cream in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is melted and smooth. When the chocolate has melted, pour the mixture into a large glass bowl and set a fine mesh sieve over the top of the bowl. (I use my Pyrex two-quart measuring cup for this so I can easily pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker.) 

Mix the sugar, half-and-half and salt together in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl. Gradually add the warm half-and-half to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until most of the warm milk has been combined with the eggs. Add the entire mixture back to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Pour the custard through the sieve and into the chocolate mixture. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the ice cream base is thoroughly chilled.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When the ice cream is finished churning, stir in about 1 1/2 cups of brownie bits. Drizzle a tablespoon (or so) of the fudge across the bottom of a freezer-safe container. Spread about one-third of the ice cream on top of the fudge. Drizzle some more fudge on top of the ice cream, then top with more ice cream. Repeat until the ice cream is all in the freezer container, and then top with some additional fudge. Freeze until firm.

*Note: This brownie recipe makes an entire 8″ pan of very thick brownies. I used about 1/4 of the pan for the ice cream, which left us with plenty of brownies to enjoy alongside our ice cream – something that no one complained about.¬†

Ice cream from The Perfect Scoop, as seen on Annie’s Eats; Brownies from The Recipe Girl Cookbook, as seen on Eats Well With Others; Fudge swirl from the Perfect Scoop, originally seen on Annie’s Eats

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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Going to the Dark Side

It’s no secret that I’m stuck in an ongoing argument battle debate about the greatness of chocolate over vanilla. Why more people don’t come to the dark side, I’ll never understand. After all, we have chocolate. (Side note: If you’re here for healthy January food, you probably want to click away now. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, which means I like¬†my veggies and refuse to give up dessert in January.)

Back in November, I celebrated “Friendsgiving” with some of my girlfriends. We had such a good time (and so much good food) that we decided to do it again a month later and call it Christmas. ūüôā (Plus, this gave us a chance to redeem ourselves – we left our husbands at home for Friendsgiving, and Andy wasn’t going to let me forget it.)¬†Since I’d appeased the vanilla crowd with creme brulee in November, I knew that I had to go dark for Christmas. Dark and rich. 11 ounces of chocolate dark. More than¬†1 1/2 cups of cream rich. Cook’s Illustrated simply calls this a “rich chocolate tart,” and they aren’t kidding. It was phenomenal, if you’re into over-the-top chocolate things.

To make things easier (this is a CI recipe, after all), I made the crust Friday night, made the filling and baked the tart Saturday morning, and then glazed it right before we left for dinner Saturday night. Other than cheating a bit on the final chilling time, I followed the recipe to the letter. I was slightly concerned that I overbaked the crust, but it turned out just fine.

We served it with whipped cream, and the 10 of us ate about three quarters of the tart Saturday night, even after we’d stuffed ourselves on turkey, stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, green bean casserole, salad and cranberry sauce. ūüôā Of course, that meant that someone had to step up and eat the leftover tart the next day. We all have to make sacrifices, right? ūüėČ

RichChocolateTart

Rich Chocolate Tart

for the crust: 
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 /4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

for the filling: 
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped  (I used the CI recommended Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking bar.) 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

for the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot water

for serving
whipped cream, optional

First, prepare the crust. Beat the egg yolk and the cream together in a small bowl. In a food processor, process the almonds and the sugar until the almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and salt, then pulse briefly to combine. Put the butter chunks to the food processor, then pulse the mixture until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. (CI says it will take about 15 pulses, but I didn’t pay attention to how long it took.) With the food processor running, add the egg/cream mixture and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and roll it out into a 6″ disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, but still workable. (If you refrigerate it overnight, like I did, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up so it’s workable before rolling it out.)

When you’re ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the dough into an 11″ circle between two sheets of plastic wrap. Keep the dough between the plastic and slide it onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and peel off the top piece of plastic wrap. Leave the dough on the baking sheet and invert the tart pan on top of the dough. Press the tart pan down hard enough to cut the dough. Pick up the baking sheet and invert the tart pan onto the counter. Remove the baking sheet and peel off the remaining piece of plastic wrap. Reserve the remaining piece of plastic wrap.

Roll a rolling pin over the edges of the now-right-side-up tart pan, cutting through any remaining dough. Reserve the scraps. Roll the dough scraps into ropes that are 3/4″ thick.Press the ropes of dough onto the sides of the tart pan. Line the tart pan with the plastic wrap that you saved, and using the bottom of a measuring cup, gently press the dough into an even thickness all the way around the sides of the pan. Trim off any remaining scraps of dough that hang over the edges and remove the plastic wrap. Put the tart pan and baking sheet in the freezer and freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and baking sheet from the freezer. Cut a 12″ piece of aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Press the foil, oiled side down, onto the surface of the tart, and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake until dough is dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights, and then return the pan to the oven and bake until the pastry is rich golden brown, about 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

While your crust is cooling, prepare your filling. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, espresso powder and salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then gently stir the mixture with a whisk until it is smooth. (Try not to whisk too hard, as this will incorporate air into the filling, which leads to little air bubbles on the surface of the tart. On the other hand, you’re going to cover the tart with glaze, so no one will be the wiser if you get carried away with the whisk.) Add the butter and continue to whisk until the butter melts.

Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl of chocolate. Pour the beaten eggs through the strainer and whisk until the mixture comes together and becomes glossy. Pour the filling into the baked crust. Gently shake the mixture to evenly distribute the filling. Use a toothpick to poke any air bubbles that make their way to the surface.

Bake the tart on a baking sheet until the outer edge of the filling appears set, with very faint cracks in the surface, about 30-35 minutes. (The filling will still be wobbly when it’s done.) Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, until filling is chilled and set, at least three hours. (I rushed this, since it took me longer than I had expected to bake the crust.)¬†

Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re ready to glaze the tart. (Don’t ask me why. This is another one of CI’s extra steps that I don’t get.)¬†Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate to the cream mixture. Let the chocolate stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until combined. When the mixture is smooth, whisk in the hot water until the glaze is smooth and pourable. Working quickly, pour the glaze over the tart. Tilt the tart back and forth to spread the glaze over the surface. Let the tart stand for at least one hour before serving. Cut into wedges and garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

From Cook’s Illustrated, November/December 2013

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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Dessert

 

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