Gluten-Free Double-Chocolate Brownies and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 22, 2015 at 11:14 am | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 14 Comments
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double-chocolate brownies

By no means do I follow a gluten-free diet (more like a gluten-full diet), but I know plenty of people who do, and I’ve had to do an increasing amount of gluten-free baking for customers at work.  So I’m interested in it, even if I don’t do that much gluten-free baking at home, and was excited to see a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot (from the very cool Ideas in Food) show up in my mailbox.  They’ve developed gluten-free flour blends and devised recipes to use them that run the gamut of baking…breads, cookies, cakes, pies…heck, even kougin amann and cannelés!  There’s pasta, dumplings, steamed buns and Japanese fried chicken, too.

Flipping through my new book, I fixated on a brownie that’s made gluten-free, not with a blend, but simply with the use of oat flour.  When it comes to brownies, I’m not loyal to any one recipe.  I play the field and always seem to be trying a different recipe out.  Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies are a favorite of mine, and I knew I’d like a bit of that wholesome flavor in brownie-form.  You can buy oat flour at most stores or make it yourself by blitzing old-fashioned rolled oats in your food processor, blender or spice grinder.  I use oat flour often for whole-grain pancakes and when I need it, I usually go the homemade route because it’s something that’s a lot cheaper to DIY (and it’s quick and easy).  Just make sure the flour or the oats you buy are certified gluten-free if you also want your brownies to be.

These brownies use melted chocolate and a healthy amount of natural cocoa powder, so they really fix a chocolate craving.  They’re tall and kind of straddle the line of being a little cakey on the edge and fudgy in the middle (I’m assuming this structure comes from having 6 eggs in the batter).  And yeah, I could taste the oats, but no, I didn’t mind one bit.  They’re delicious.  A scoop of coffee ice cream on the side is delicious, too.

The kind folks at W.W. Norton sent me a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power,  and now I want to send a copy to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Sunday, March 29 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.

Double-Chocolate Brownies– makes a 9-16 brownies
adapted from Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot

Steph’s Note:  If you grind your own oat flour and are using cup measures, grind more than you think you’ll need and measure again after.  You can save any extra to add to other recipes.  Also, nuts were not included in the original recipe, but I like them in brownies and added them to mine.

6 oz/ 170 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tbsp/ 6 oz/ 170 g unsalted butter, sliced
1 cup/ 130 g oat flour
2 cups/ 400 g sugar
1/2 cup/ 60 g natural cocoa powder
1 tsp/ 6 g fine sea salt
6 large eggs (cold)
1/2 cup toasted and roughly chopped nuts (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. (You can line the pan with buttered parchment if you’d like, and the brownies will be easier to remove.)

– Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted and smooth.  It should take about 2 minutes total.  You can do this in a double boiler on the stovetop if you prefer.  Let the mixture cool.

–Put the oat flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  Add the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk to blend.  Add the eggs, one by one, stirring in each well with a rubber spatula before adding the next.  If using nuts, fold them in now.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, give the batter another 20-25 strokes to insure the batter is well-blended.

– Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the brownies are just set in the center.  They should feel firm when gently pressed and they will not jiggle if you shake the pan.

– Let brownies cool completely before cutting them with a sharp knife.  (I like to refrigerate brownies for a couple of hours before cutting them.)

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Becky Ellis!  I’ll be in touch soon.***

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Lemon Madeleines

March 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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lemon madeleines

By now, I’ve made several of Dorie’s madeleine recipes, but these Lemon Madeleines were the first to give me that coveted backside bump!  The trick, apparently, is to keep the batter super-cold until the second the shell-shaped pan hits the oven.  Hmmm…perhaps I should revisit one of the older recipes (chai was a favorite)?

I like madeleines, but I never really think of them until they roll around for TWD.  They’re easy enough to make…the batter is quickly whisked together by hand and it can even out in the fridge for a few days.  Madeleines are for sure best eaten fresh, so it’s handy to be able to bake them off as you want them (I did about four a day until the batter was gone).  These ones came out nice and spongy.  And lemony, of course, because of zest in the batter and juice in the glaze.

Madeleines often find themselves dunked into a cup of tea, but there was some lemon curd left from last week’s BWJ recipe, so we swiped them in that.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie

March 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments
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not-your-usual lemon meringue pie

I’ve done a pretty traditional LMP here before, so I guess it’s time to try out Gale Gand’s Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie.  Forget about making pie crust for this– lemon curd and meringue are sandwiched Napoleon-style between layers of crispy sugared phyllo dough.  BTW, based on the previous Gale Gand stuff we’ve made, I was not at all surprised to see phyllo pop up here.

This is a pretty dessert and it’s pretty straightforward, too.  It does need to be served fairly soon after it’s stacked up, but you can make the lemon curd and bake the phyllo crisps plenty ahead of time.  Wait till the last minute to get the brown sugar Swiss meringue done, though.

We liked this “pie” a lot.  The pretty layers do smoosh as soon is they’re hit with a fork, but that’s okay.  The lemon curd is a gentle one…not too puckery.  The recipe left me with extra curd, which is no problem in my books, but I would recommend reducing the meringue amount by at least a couple of whites, if not by half.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here).  Here’s a video of the BWJ episode (this dessert is in the second half).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Blood Orange Tart

February 24, 2015 at 8:05 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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blood orange tart

I only seem to get my hands on a few blood oranges each winter and when I do, I always think I should to do something special with them.  That’s why last week I took Dorie’s Pink Grapefruit Tart and turned it into a blood orange one.  This tart is a take on a favorite of hers called Pétale de Pamplemousse from Hugo & Victor, a swanky shop in Paris.  It has a sweet tart shell with a layer of lemon-almond frangipane cream hidden under a rich citrusy crémeux.  Frangipane we’ve done before, but crémeux is a pastry cream luxuriously enriched with heaps of butter and softly set with gelatin. These several steps each have their own wait times as well, so it’s best to spread the process out over two days.

OK, here’s where I ran into trouble on this one…I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat so I try to avoid gelatin, too.  I also try to not get too crazy about it, because I’ve worked in kitchens for years and I know that gelatin gets slipped into things one would never even suspect.  But if I know it’s in there, I don’t go for it on a menu and I don’t make it at home.  The word “crémeux” is a tip-off that gelatin is involved (although some chocolate ones don’t need it to set), so I wanted to find my way around that to make this tart.  I tried agar-agar once, likely messed it up, and haven’t tried it again (although Zosia did and it looks great!).  I tried fish gelatin another time, had good success, but have since decided that I’m creeped out by it.  Poking around, I found that I had half a packet of a plant-based kosher gelatin in the cupboard.  I have absolutely no clue what I did with the other half of the packet…I remember buying the stuff but have no memory of using it….but it was about equal in amount to half the gelatin called for in the recipe, so I made a half-batch of everything (for a 7-inch tart) and added that to my cremeux base.  The next morning, however, my crémeux was still very loose, so either the setting ratio is different (the packet didn’t compare it to regular gelatin), or it was too old (I admit that I’d had it in the cupboard for quite a long time).  I broke down and brought home a leaf of sheet gelatin from work that night, scraped the cremeux back into the mixer, blitzed in the bloomed gelatin leaf and poured it straight into the crust to set.  Fine, that worked.

This tart was beautiful and perfectly delicious, and fresh citrus can certainly brighten up a frosty late Februaury day.  Dorie says you could omit the almond cream to skip a step and keep it simpler, but I really think the flavor adds a lot to the tart.  All that said, while I’m willing to tinker around with different gelatin alternatives (has anyone tried Natural Desserts Vegan Jel??), I’m not sure this will be a repeater for me.  If I make something this butter-heavy, generally I want it to be because frosting is involved…yeah, yeah, I’m a cake person.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.:  Enter my blogoversary GIVEAWAY here!


February 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Posted in other stuff | 40 Comments

apron giveaway

I realized not long ago that the end of this month marks the 8-year anniversary of my little space on the Web.  What?!?  That’s a pretty long time…certainly longer than I ever thought I’d keep this up.  To celebrate not throwing in the towel years ago, I decided to treat this blog to a new header and I got in touch with Alyson, who helped me the last time.  Do you like it?  I think she incorporated the best parts of my much-loved old one in with the new.

I have something for you, too….because where would a whisk and a spoon be without you?  Actually, I have two somethings to share– two bib aprons in red and oatmeal striped linen from NYC-based Birdkage to giveaway to two readers.  Let’s bake clean and cute!

Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Monday, March 2 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.  xoxo

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to chickie brewer and Melissa E. Your aprons are on their way!***

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt

February 17, 2015 at 12:02 am | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, puddings & custards, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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crème bruléed chocolate bundt

This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made.  I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes.  And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts.  And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding?  I knew this would be good.

If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched.  I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order.  I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too.  I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it.  It didn’t!  I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!

I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor.  The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??).  I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream.  I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely.  After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess.  All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.

crème bruléed chocolate bundt

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!  (Update:  I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Marquise au Chocolat

February 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, ice creams & frozen, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments

marquise au chocolat

Valentine’s Day calls for something super-chocolatey, right?  Chocolate mousse, maybe?  Or perhaps frozen chocolate mousse?  Would it sound sexier if we said it in French?  Mais bien sûr…Marquise au Chocolat it is.

This is a delicious and decadent dessert.  Butter, dark chocolate, sugar, whipped cream– it’s all in there, baby.  Oh, and raw egg yolks, too.  This was a hot topic for our group, and if you’re concerned (I wasn’t really), some alternative ideas were floated around.  I thought about making a whole recipe in a loaf pan because it can keep for a month in the freezer, but decided to just make a few servings worth and set them up in the little molds I use for coeur à la crème.

I think the deep chocolate flavor and the creamy texture are best enjoyed after the marquise has had several minutes to temper outside of the freezer.  You’ll probably need to do that anyway to get your plastic wrap liner to easily release from the mold.  If you make a larger loaf, Dorie says dental floss or a warm knife is the way to cut nice slices.  This would be lovely with berries or crème anglaise or whipped cream.  I had a can of coconut cream that I tried unsuccessfully to whip…it wouldn’t get anymore volume than a foamy sauce, so I just went with it.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Salsa Quitza

February 3, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 7 Comments
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salsa quitza

I’ve been intrigued by Lora Body’s Salsa Quitza recipe for a long while…I’ve nominated it at least five or six times, but seems I was the only one so interested!  With refried beans in the crust and layers of cream cheese and salsa in the filling, I’ve never heard of this bizarre Southwestern quiche-pizza hybrid thing.  Must be a Lora Brody original.  I made it for Sunday’s game (which did not at all end the way I hoped it would, by the way), and my husband asked what to expect…I told him the only thing I was sure of was that it would be weird.

The quitza crust is a bread dough that can apparently also be made into a loaf, if you don’t want to go full-quitza on it.  The dough instructions call for a bread machine, but I don’t have one so I made it in my stand mixer and let it rise on the counter.  I combined the ingredients in the “regular” way, with yeast and liquids first (including the not-so-regular addition of refried beans…I used canned pinto), followed by the dry stuff.  The dough was soft, but not sticky, and made a nice ball after about eight minutes of knead-time.  I let it rise twice, about 45 minutes to an hour each time, before shaping it in the pan.

I made half a recipe and baked it in an 8″ regular cake pan.  For the filling, I followed Cher’s suggestion to decrease the salsa by about half (proportionally, of course, for my half recipe), and I also chose to reduce the cream cheese layer by a couple of tablespoons and add on a smear of refried beans, since I had extra from the dough.  I topped it with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella.

OK, yeah, it was kind of weird, but good-weird.  The dough was soft and rose high, like a deep dish.  The filling was really creamy from the cream cheese (and I’m glad I reduced the cream cheese and salsa or it would have been sloppy and too much).  And it went well with beer.  If I make it again, I think I’ll sprinkle some olives on top.

salsa quitza

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video here of the episode). Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

January 27, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 37 Comments
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brown-butter-and-vanilla-bean weekend cake

A weekend cake- I love it!  A good cake does make the weekend even better, if you ask me.  (Hopefully it will make the nor’easter we’re about to get socked with better, too!)  This one’s a simple loaf cake, but it’s flavored with brown butter, vanilla bean and rum.  Simple but special.

I have a French blue steel loaf pan, and I thought it naturally appropriate to use for a French cake.  I like that the pan has perfectly straight, not flared, sides.  It’s longer and slimmer than the standard 9×5, so I was sure to check it in the oven plenty early.

The ingredients are lovely and fragrant, and the cake smells so good out of the oven, that it’s hard to wrap it up and let it sit overnight like Dorie suggests.  It’s less buttery and heavy than a pound cake but has a similar delicious crust.  This cake is good on it’s own or with a sauce.  (I’m going to try it in early summer as a strawberry shortcake base.)  If you can’t eat it all up over the weekend, don’t worry because it freezes nicely.  Dorie also says stale slices are good toasted, although I don’t plan on testing that out this time.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Eastern European Rye

January 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 12 Comments
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eastern european rye

Before making Lauren Groveman’s Eastern European Rye, I began to daydream about a turkey reuben on homemade bread.  Liz Lemon is not the only one with very specific food fantasies.  I was out of rye flour, though, so I bought a bag of local (okay, not NYC, but NY state) farmer-ground organic rye flour from the Greenmarket and got to mixing.  I saw a tip to mix the dough in a stand mixer for 3 minutes, turn it off and let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then back on again for about 12 more minutes of kneading.  I did this mixing method, and the dough rose nicely, and apart from my three slash marks, it didn’t split open in the oven.  The final dough shaping and rising instructions are a little wacky when you read them in the book, but in this video, Groveman demonstrates those same steps on her pumpernickel loaf recipe.  They are still wacky, but are at least understandable after seeing them on video.

The bread that I wound up with was not the Levy’s-like sandwich loaf I was expecting, but a rustic loaf with more of a true whole grain bread feel and a craggily crust.  I couldn’t really get nice sandwich-sized slices from it, so no homemade turkey reuben for me this time (since I have a one-track mind, I did go to Mile End yesterday and get one!), but the bread does have great rye and caraway flavor and it’s nice with salty butter or a bit of good cheddar.  I think it’ll make a good tomato soup dunker, too.

I assumed that the whole grain rye I used was the culprit for the denser loaf that I got…after reading Alisa’s post this morning, if I make this again I’ll either just reduce the amount of rye I use or sub a bit of it with some extra white flour and see what I get .

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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