Fudge Brownies

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This is a sweet, chocolately treat, perfect on a rainy day (of which we’ve had several this week).  Although these squares are definitely a favorite around here, we don’t make them very often as they’re not exactly low-calorie.  Although I did this time, we don’t usually add any nuts, which results in a denser, more fudgy texture.

Generally speaking there aren’t usually a lot of ingredients in a brownie recipe, and it seems like a simple thing to whip up a batch in short order.  There are however some brownie pitfalls that should be avoided:  overheating the chocolate, overmixing the batter, over or underbaking, inaccurate measuring of ingredients.  I know that’s these things seem like no-brainers, and apply to all baking, but brownies don’t seem to have the latitude for even slight inaccuracies that most baking has.  If the chocolate is too hot, the eggs won’t be incorporated properly (ew, you want to really avoid having cooked bits of egg in your brownie!).  Overmixing the batter producing a thin, crumbly layer on the top that that makes it hard to cut into attractive squares.  Overbaking produces a dry, crumbly brownie, while underbaking leaves the middle of the pan a bit of a gloppy, eggy, unappetizing mess.  Too much chocolate and the brownies won’t rise properly.  I could go on, but you get the picture.  Having said all that, don’t be put off, go ahead and make a batch, even when they are less than perfect, they are still delicious!

Fudge Brownies

½ cup butter

2 oz ( 2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate OR 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

¾ cup flour

½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Melt butter over low heat, avoid browning the butter.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely incorporated in the butter.  Stir in sugar.  Blend in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla, flour and nuts.  Mix just until combined.  Spread in a greased and very lightly floured 8” x 8” pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Brownies should be done when the sides have just barely started to pull away from the pan.  The color should be even (if the edges are browner than the middle, that’s likely overbaked).  Cool thoroughly before cutting into squares.

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Cowboy Cookies

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I have no idea why these cookies are called “Cowboy” cookies, maybe they taste their best out on the trail, or after a long hard day of wrangling cattle, but even if you’re not a range rider/cowboy, the cookies are still a delicious treat.  A hint of cinnamon adds a nice depth of flavor.    If I remember correctly, I think the original recipe called for chopped pecans, but I’ve substituted almonds.

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1 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla (extract or paste)

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans

3/4 cup shredded coconut

Cream butter and sugars till mixture is light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly, then add vanilla.   In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture in two orIMG_2211a three additions.  Then stir in oats, chocolate chips, almonds and coconut.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 ” balls, place on ungreased cookie sheets and flatten.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 9-10 minutes, being careful not to overbake.  Makes about 3 dozen.

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Marble Cake

 

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Some days call out for a sweet treat and today was such a day.  What better choice than a tender mix of chocolate and vanilla? Perfect as is, or add a taste of soul-satisfying richness with a wee dollop of whipped cream.  Fragrant, fresh brewed coffee on the side, yes please!

Marble Cake

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2  tsp baking soda

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup melted butter, warm but not hot

2 eggs

3/4 cup 2% milk

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp cocoa + 1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.  In a smaller bowl, mix eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just to combine.  Pour about 3/4 of the batter into a greased and floured  bundt pan.  In a small bowl, mix cocoa and sugar with water till smooth.  Stir the cocoa into the remaining dough.  Drop spoonsful here and there over the vanilla batter and then swirl together with a knife.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto serving plate.  Let cake cool a further 10 minutes, then glaze.  Serves up 10-12 slices.

Chocolate Glaze

4 tbsp butter

3 tbsp cocoa

1 cup icing sugar

3-4 tbsp very hot water

Melt butter.  Whisk in cocoa and icing sugar.  Add 3 tbsp hot water and mix thoroughly.  If glaze seems too thick to flow, add more hot water a little at a time until desired constituency is reached.  Glaze will set quickly, so once the hot water is added, work quickly to glaze cake.

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