29 March 2010

The BEST Passover Brownies you will EVER eat. Promise.

So Passover is passing over. Part of the meringue-making earlier was so we would have something sweet to eat during our seder. However, upon tasting the meringues, I decided I needed more chocolate. Stat.

So I took a standard issue Passover brownie mix and got to work doctoring it with instant espresso, dark cocoa powder, chocolate chips... Added the same to the frosting, too. The product?

Topped them with the meringues too... probably overkill, but looks pretty!

This is Toto. She helped.

Aaaand now, tips for making your Passover brownies actually taste like brownies!

Passover Brownie Doctoring 101

  • Start off with a standard Passover brownie baking mix, preferably one that comes with frosting.
  • Follow the directions to make the batter. Add 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened), 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2 tsp espresso powder. Bake as directed.
  • Make frosting according to box.  Add an additional 3 tbsp boiling water, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, and 1 tsp espresso powder. Pour over the cooled brownies, and pop in the freezer to set.
Have a delicious Pesach!

And now we interrupt for something entirely nerdy...

I forgot I had pictures of these guys... cupcakes I made for our LOST premiere party!

Just standard Dharma-issued devil's food and fudge frosting... and lots of black food coloring...

Pomegranate Meringues

Since I've been home on Spring Break, I've been on a meringue kick (partially induced by the fact that --GOODNESS!-- we have a stand mixer here!)

As most who are familiar with Chicago know, there is a huge, wonderful, thriving foodie scene here. And my neighborhood happens to be a hub-- we even have an olive oil store!

My favorite store in the neighborhood (well, second to Greer) is The Spice House. I love going in there, seeing all the different spice mixtures, sniffing the fresh extracts... complete heaven. And the salespeople couldn't be nicer. I always make a point of hitting it up when I come home, even if I'm only here for a day or two.

And, while browsing today, I met this tall, dark, handsome gentleman:

Then, I introduced him to my lovely meringue mixture...

They got along quite nicely, it seems.

And the result?

Pomegranate Meringues

2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup fine sugar
4 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 250F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar to the eggs. Then, slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in the pomegranate molasses and cocoa powder. Place the batter/dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the top cut off. Pipe onto the parchment paper. Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Once the cookies look dry and VERY lightly browned, remove and allow to cool. Allow cookies to sit out for a few hours to dry. Then dig in!

26 March 2010

Brownie Drops

One of the many great things about being home is being able to raid my mom's excellent cookbook collection. I found this gem today:

Okay, okay... so it's backwards... And Paula's in the background...

The point is, it's a first edition of Maida Heatter's "Book of Great Cookies!" And it's signed! And well loved!

And I LOVE the tips Maida gives us. For instance, Santa Fe Chocolate Wafers "are very fragile and not suitable for picnics."Aww, shucks, Maida, you shot that plan down in its infancy, didn't you?

I was curious about "Chocolate Street Cookies," which are really brownies in cookie form-- in fact, they're a great deal like a recipe that my friend Aki gave me. Why they're "street" cookies escapes me... all I know is, they're darn good! I altered them a bit to make them fudgier...

I call this new version "Allie has irrational fears of standardized tests (especially the MCATs) and drowns them in chocolate" cookies.

"Chocolate Street Cookies" 
(version 2.0)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz semisweet chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift all dry ingredients together, except for the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. In yet a third bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together (I used a microwave for this). Once cooled, add chocolate mixture to egg mixture. Then add that mixture to dry ingredients. Spoon rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes, or until tops are crinkley, like brownies. Consume.

Chocolate Cookies on Foodista

25 March 2010

Chocolate-Orange Meringue Cookies

Wandering around a grocery store for an hour can give you ideas...

And make you extremely hungry.

During yesterday's prolonged excursion, I noticed a stack of those chocolate-orange balls. You know, the ones you smash open?

Aww yeah... let out your frustration and then eat it, too.

Then: what if you stuck it in-- gasp!-- a cookie?!

Thus these babies were born:

Chocolate-Orange Meringue Cookies

3 egg whites, brought to room temperature
3/4 cup powdered or finely granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp orange oil
Food coloring (red and yellow)
Dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer (or handmixer, if you have awesome arm-holding-up endurance), beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar to the eggs. Then, slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in the orange oil and some food coloring. Place the batter/dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the top cut off. Pipe dots, flowers, letters-- whatever makes you happy-- onto the parchment paper. Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Once the cookies look dry and VERY lightly browned, remove and allow to cool. Melt chocolate in a pastry bag (careful not to burn the chocolate if using a microwave), and drizzle over the top of the cookies. Allow cookies to sit out for a few hours to dry. Then dig in!

16 March 2010

Cinnamon swirls in every bite!

I have never been a patient person, which explains why, every time I attempted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch, I would inevitably mess them up.

Last night, however, was different.

I had enough homework and MCAT studying to get done that I was able to allow the dough to rise and the caramel sauce to reduce in peace. And, as I found out this morning, waiting to let the glaze soak in overnight only makes them better. I don't know if these rolls were enough to make me a more patient person, but now I at least realize the sweet, sweet result of said virtue.

Here they are, unglazed:

And in all their glazed glory:


(A miniature adaptation)

  • Since, unlike Ree, I don't have an entire cattle ranch to feed (just six hungry girls in an apartment), I only made 1/4 of the recipe. Pretty sure I shouldn't have gotten this many rolls, but they're way cute-- about the size of the bottom of a drinking glass. I also did my own take on a glaze, since we were running low on milk and didn't have powdered sugar in the apartment.

For the rolls:
  • 1/2 pint Whole Milk
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp  Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 cups (Plus 1/4 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour (I used whole wheat-- made them a bit chewy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • Melted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • Cinnamon

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Heat the milk, sugar, and oil over medium heat (NOT TO BOILING!). Let cool a bit, then sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in the majority of the flour, cover, and let sit in a warm place for an hour. Then add the last of the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Roll out to 1/4". Spread melted butter over dough, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top, and roll towards you to form a log. Slice log every inch or so, and place into greased dish. Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes.


Heat sugar and water over medium heat to make a simple syrup. Let boil until carmelized, stirring as neccesary to keep it from boiling over. After the syrup has reduced to half the original volume (about 30 minutes), add milk and vanilla, and repeat boiling and management for another half an hour. Pour over hot cinnamon rolls, and allow to cool a bit before biting in (unless you want a cinnamony burnt roof of your mouth). Even better if you let them sit overnight.

They didn't last long.

14 March 2010

Save a napkin. Lick your fingers.

One thing that I've learned is that, in the college dorm/apartment setting, stress baking instantly turns acquaintances into friends (and earns brownie points with those you already have!)

I have a lot of friends. And I'm pretty sure they just keep me around for the food.

I'm more than okay with that.

The other, more important thing that I learned is that baking >>> physics. Then someone pointed out to me that baking involves physics...

So I just totally studied for that quiz, then, right? 

(And they're made with whole wheat flour, so college students like myself can tell themselves they're eating healthfully... we'll just pretend the butter isn't there.)

Physics <<< Homemade Oreo Wafers

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine dry ingredients. Add softened butter, and mix well. You can be like Joy and cut them out all pretty like, or impatient like me and just squash them into circle-like forms. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

11 March 2010

Productive Procrastination

And my last midsems week of college is now upon me. Can't say I'll miss it. The only thing I ever enjoyed about this hellish week was the excuse to bake. A lot.

And eat it, too.

This week has been practice for the onslaught of exams. I tell myself that I'm studying chemistry whenever I add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate!), or that I'm reviewing torque when I turn on my handmixer. Practical applications, right? Right?

I'm still trying to justify baking as a means of studying my major, biology... no luck.

I have recently gotten hooked on Joy The Baker's blog-- the girl's definitely on my wavelength. I had been craving graham crackers when I stumbled upon her recipe for s'mores brownies. Her recipe, however, was much too cakelike for me-- I am a fudgy brownie girl through and through. So I played around with the recipe a bit, and came up with something of which I am extremely proud.

Death by S'mores Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 graham crackers, crushed roughly
1 cup miniature marshmallows, plus extra for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder together in a double boiler over medium heat until blended. Beat eggs and sugar together until creamy. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture while beating. Add vanilla, salt, and flour. Mix until well blended. Fold in graham crackers and marshmallows. Spoon into a greased 8"x 8" pan or into a muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers, and top with more marshmallows. Bake for 20-30 minutes.