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  • Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies

    Brownies

    I am the eldest child (well, at least chronologically). Not an easy task. As the eldest, you are the experimental child. Your parents really have NO clue what to do with a baby, a toddler, a child, a tween, and (EEK!) a teenager.

    When you get to the youngest child – especially if there is a gaggle of children – that youngest child can pretty much juggle knives and it’s okay.

    Not convinced? Neither was Sandro. Our conversation sounded a bit like this:

    Me: “when I was your age …”
    Sandro: (eye rolling)
    Me: “Yes, I know, I was never your age. But, when I was, I had a midnight curfew!”
    Sandro: “What!?”
    Me: “Not that I ever came home on time, and was grounded constantly, but yes, at 21 I had a midnight curfew.”

    I couldn’t go away for a weekend with friends, just miles away, without a lot of guff. Sandro is going to CANCUN with friends. Le sigh.

    On the other hand, I never had hand-me-downs. And while knife juggling and staying out late wasn’t allowed, my parents’ life fit around my schedule, as opposed to all those that follow whose every move has to really fit around everyone else’s schedules.  Also, my parents let me try any activity that tickled my fancy. After a bunch-o kids, you already know when certain activities will last about 45 seconds before they flit on to something else and you become more hesitant to sign that permission slip.

    What does this have to do with brownies, you may ask. Absolutely NOTHING!

    Sandro Pan

    Oh, that ^ handsome fella is Sandro. And when I said I felt like baking something and then said brownies, his face lit up. So, really how could I refuse! What brownies to make? I had wanted to try these brownies since first seeing them in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours. This was the perfect opportunity.  As always happens, Sandro disappeared while I was getting ready to bake these brownies and he only re-emerged from his room once he smelled the just out of the oven brownies!

    These are really chocolatey. Nice crisp top and a gooey inside. They’re made in one pot – another BIG plus. Just pay attention to the part about BUTTERING the baking pan (I didn’t) and letting them cool completely before cutting (Sandro didn’t). They get better and richer as they sit. These definitely go into the brownie rotation!

    • ½ C cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate
    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
    • 1 C sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 C flour
    • 1 t vanilla
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 C roughly chopped walnuts or pecans

    NOTE: Not having baker’s chocolate and being far TOO lazy to go out, I opted for the cocoa.

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    Ingredient Pan

    Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium low, whisking constantly till blended. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well.

    Ready to bake

    Pour into a well buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    NOTE: SEE THOSE WORDS … WELL BUTTERED!? I am just seeing them NOW! They were a bit difficult getting out of the baking pan.

    Baked

    Cool completely and cut into squares. These brownies are very fudgy and may be somewhat difficult to slice cleanly; use a sharp knife and a spatula to help them loosen from the baking dish.

    NOTE: Ah, the other problem with getting them out was that other foreign word … COOL!

    Inside Out S’mores

    This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was given the honor of choosing a recipe from Hoosier Homemade. There are so many wonderful recipes on Liz’s site that it was really difficult to choose just one. Then I saw her recipe for Peanut Butter S’mores.  The S’mores reminded me that I was itching to try Smashing S’mores from How Sweet It Is. What a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone!

    Jessica at How Sweet It Is copied adapted these after Trader Joe’s Smashing S’mores and I stole adapted them from Jessica.

    These are so simple and so yummy! You can make as many or as few as you want so they can be perfect for a quick snack or dessert in a pinch.

    All you need are:

    • marshmallows
    • graham crackers
    • chocolate chips or bar chocolate, melted

    I burnt roasted the marshmallows a little bit first. I like the toasty flavor marshmallows get when roasted a bit. Once roasted let cook completely.

    Melt a small bowl of chocolate to use as the glue to hold everything together.

    Break graham crackers into fours, then cut or snap each plank into squares. Use a small dab of chocolate to glue the squares together. Add one dab on top of the top graham cracker and press the marshmallow on top. Let the stacks sit for 30-60 minutes or until the graham crackers and marshmallows are stuck together.

    Melt more chocolate in a deep glass bowl or mug to make it easy for dipping. Using a thin fork or long pointy tool press it into the top of the marshmallow gently. Dip it in the chocolate and cover as much as you can. I sat my stacks on a fork and drizzled the chocolate over the top. Remove and set on wax paper, leaving until the chocolate is hardened.

    I stored mine in the fridge but they are fine at room temperature too! While the chocolate is still wet you can add sprinkles to the top, some crushed graham crackers or chopped nuts.



    Sour Cherry Streusel Cake

    This recipe was shared with me many, many moons ago by one of my pals at Nigella’s Kitchen Forum.

    This cake also happens to be my son’s favorite sweet comfort food. It is one of two sweet things my son will request – the other being my kitchen sink oatmeal cookies. The cake is light and delicate with sour cherries and a crispy, buttery streusel topping.

    It doesn’t ship well.

    My making this can only mean one thing – VISITING WEEKEND AT CAMP! I cannot wait to put my arms around that skinny boy. I know. I know. He’s a man – HA. He’s 21. He’s my baby. I don’t care if he’s 51. He’s my baby.

    Enough filler. Let’s get back to our regularly scheduled cake.

    Although the recipe is originally called Platz (Mennonite Streusel Cake), it came to me as Sour Cherry Streusel Cake and that is how it shall forever be known. The recipe comes from Johanna Burkhard’s 400 best Comfort Foods.

    And besides, if I had told my family that their now beloved Sour Cherry Streusel Cake was actually called Platz, I don’t think they would have been quite so quick to love it! And until I bought the book, I would never have thought to make this with other fruit! I think it was more of a sour cherries – yum – what could be better than that! The book recommends cherries or apricots. I’m thinking blueberries!

    And I wait patiently every year until late spring/early summer for the sour cherry crop to be ready. And sometimes I miss it.

    I was very lucky this year, and came across some at the Farmer’s Market in Union Square Park. I pitted all of them and put some in the freezer for use later in the season. Did I mention I love my cherry pitter? Well I do! Not as much splattering and the fruit doesn’t get too damaged in the process.

    Cake:

    • 2 C all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 C granulated sugar
    • 1 T baking powder
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 1/3 C butter, at room temperature
    • 1 egg
    • 1 C half-and-half or light cream
    • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract or grated lemon zest
    • 4 C pitted, drained sour cherries or other seasonal sliced fruits

    Crumb Topping

    • 1 C all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 C brown sugar
    • 1/2 C butter, at room temperature

    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork to make coarse crumbs.

    Beat egg in a bowl; stir in cream and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture to make a thick batter.

    Drop small spoonfuls of batter into a generously greased 13 x 9-inch cake pan and spread evenly.

    Top with cherries in a single layer.

    Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork to make coarse crumbs.

    Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake on middle rack in oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is golden.

    Place pan on a rack and let cool. Cut into squares and serve.

    Makes 12 squares

    NOTE: In a dash of occasional madness, I have been known to add almond paste (1/2 a tube) to the cake batter and a little almond extract (1/2 teaspoon). And to incite further frivolity in my house I have made 1 1/2 times the streusel topping!

    And just coz I know you want it – one me peek at the cake …