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

March 22, 2015 at 11:14 am | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 13 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.)

Apron GIVEAWAY!

February 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Posted in other stuff | 40 Comments
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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 random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to chickie brewer and Melissa E. Your aprons are on their way!***

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer GIVEAWAY!

September 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Posted in other stuff | 6 Comments
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be a good cookie

Be a good cookie.  That’s a real motto for life, don’t you think?  It was also the message behind an event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer that the good folks at OXO, their strong partner and supporter of good cookies, and the lovely Dorie Greenspan invited me to last Tuesday night.  I was thrilled to chat with Dorie (she also gave a baking demo), to flip through her amazing new book, Baking Chez Moi (which is coming out next month– get it!), to drool over OXO’s awesome Chelsea test kitchen and to fiddle with some of their latest baking gadgets (I went out the very next day and got myself a spiffy baker’s dusting wand).   Most importantly I got to learn more about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which provides research grants to some of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer centers to advance the development of less toxic, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.

I want to do at least a small part to help spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month (that’s this month), so I’m going to give two lucky winners both an OXO Good Cookie Spatula and a copy of Gretchen Holt-Witt’s book Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies!  The sale of both these items helps raise money for pediatric cancer research.

spat book

Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you win! **I’m really sorry, but I can only make this giveaway open to U.S. residents.**

You can see heaps of photos from Tuesday’s event here.  Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site to learn more about the organization and to get involved.  Also, if you’re looking for some new kitchen toys (like a baker’s dusting wand, perhaps?), OXO will make a donation to the initiative from the sales of select baking items.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to Becky and Stephanie. I’ll be in touch and sending your items soon!***

Confetti Layer Cake and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, layer cakes, sweet things | 50 Comments
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confetti layer cake

Sometimes I just want a piece of birthday cake…even if it’s no one’s birthday.  Know how that is?  I do feel I’m embarrassingly late to the imaginary party with this confetti cake.  I don’t even know if I’ve ever had the Pillsbury version.  And it seems everyone’s made a homemade one but me (till now).  What I thought was some magical secret to the colored bursts of confetti is really just jimmies stirred into cake batter.  A cute book called Sprinkles!, which helps turn all things sparkly or rainbow-colored, showed me that.  My own sprinkles collection borders on the absurd.  Apparently I really needed this book– I’m filing it in the “self-help” section of my bookshelf.

Back to the cake!  The base here is a delicate white cake flavored with almond extract, although it would be also great flavored with lemon, so I included that as an option.  The sprinkles folded into the batter explode in the in oven (not in a dangerous way, I promise!) into little pops of color scattered throughout each slice.  I think any frosting you like with white cake would work well here, so use your favorite.  I made an American-style powdered sugar buttercream with a blob of cream cheese added in to temper the sweetness just a bit.  The sides of the cake are exposed to show off the fun inside, and don’t forget the extra sprinkles on top!

The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Sprinkles!,  and now I want to jazz up your baking by sending a copy to one of you.  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Tuesday, March 18 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 24, so congratulations to Barb T. I’ll be in touch and sending your book soon!***

confetti layer cake

Confetti Layer Cake– makes a 9-inch triple layer cake
adapted from Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers

Steph’s Note:  Obviously I didn’t bake my cake in 9-inch rounds.  I scaled it back to a third and baked it as a quarter-sheet (adjusting baking time accordingly), which I then cut into three strips and frosted. 

1 1/2 cups milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup applesauce or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract
4 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted, plus extra for flouring pans
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies, plus extra for decoration

4 cups (approximately) your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting

-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment circles, grease, then dust with flour.

-In a medium bowl, stir milk, egg whites, applesauce or yogurt and extracts. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

-Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add flour and milk mixtures alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the 1/2 cup sprinkles.

-Divide batter among pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

-Cool cakes in pans set on wire racks for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of each pan, then invert cakes onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops and “crusts,” exposing the confetti sprinkles (this is optional).

-Place first layer on a plate. Spread 3/4 cup frosting evenly over top. Repeat with second and third layers, leaving the sides exposed. Decorate the perimeter of the top with the remaining jimmies. Serve, or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Maple-Glazed Meatballs and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Posted in book review, other savory, savory things | 29 Comments
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maple-galzed meatballs

As a kid, getting breakfast for dinner was a rare and exciting treat.  As an adult, I can do this any darn time I please, but it still hasn’t lost it’s excitement factor.  Clearly I’m not alone in this, because there’s a new book called Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth.  This book has savory takes on pancakes and waffles, lots of egg dishes and even breakfast for dessert, but these Maple-Glazed Meatballs– like breakfast sausage doused in syrup– were what I wanted to try first.

These meatballs are flavorful and moist. Because of their sweetness, I wouldn’t pair these with pasta, but they make a great app or a perfect TV snack.

I want to send a copy of Breakfast for Dinner to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Friday, March 8 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 18, so congratulations to AnnaZed. I’ll be sending your book soon!***

Maple-Glazed Meatballs- makes about 24 meatballs
from Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Steph’s Note: The original recipe called for ground pork, but I used ground chicken instead.  If you do, too, you may find that you need to add extra tablespoon of so of breadcrumbs and give the mix about a 30 minute rest in the fridge before portioning into meatballs.

for the meatballs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork (or ground chicken)
1 egg
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

-Line a baking sheet with foil.

-Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion.  Cook until translucent, 7 to 10 minutes.  Stir in apples, ginger and garlic.  Cook 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

-In a large bowl, combine pork, egg, breadcrumbs, milk, maple syrup, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Add the cooled onion mixture.  Mix with your hands until uniform. Roll by tablespoonfuls into 1-inch balls, or use a small ice cream scoop to portion.  Arrange on prepared sheet.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400°F.

-For the glaze, whisk together maple syrup, tomato paste, apple juice and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

-Brush meatballs with half of glaze. Bake 10 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze. Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until cooked through (internal temperature of 160°F. Serve warm.

Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.
Breakfast for Dinner

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook GIVEAWAY!

June 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Posted in other stuff | 46 Comments
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cookie dough lover's

Every Thursday at the shop, I make ginormous batches of all our cookie doughs.  And I totally eat ginormous amounts of cookie dough, too!  I’d like to say that I do it in the name of quality control, but really it’s a lack of self control.  Cookies-in-the-raw just may be better than baked ones.  I clearly have no problem snacking on raw eggs (although now that I put it that way…), but if you so deprive yourself, then you’ll be happy to see The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook by Lindsay Landis, who also writes the gorgeous food blog Love and Olive Oil.  She has ingeniously concocted an eggless cookie dough that isn’t meant to be baked, but used raw, as an ingredient or an out-of-the-bowl snack.  Now I normally take my dough straight up, but I’m amazed by the diversity of recipes in this book…candy made from cookie dough, cakes, pies, puddings, breakfast stuff (what?!).  And, of course, there is ice cream…ice cream that is calling–no, screaming–my name.  All of this is gorgeously photographed…proof that these things are real and not just in my dreams!

The very kind folks from Quirk Books gave me a copy of this cookbook, and now I want to give one of you a copy, too.  Maybe we can make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream together next weekend??  What do you say?  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Thursday, June 7 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 11, so congratulations to Tina.  I’ll be sending your book soon!***

Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!

January 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Posted in other stuff | 55 Comments
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Baking With Julia book cover

Next month, Tuesdays with Dorie is diving full-force into Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Have you signed up?  If not having the book is keeping you from getting onboard, then I want to help.  I’m giving away one brand-new copy of Baking with Julia before the group gets going with the first two recipes.

Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Monday, January 23 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 32, so congratulations to Emily.  I’ll be sending your book soon!***

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