Thursday, March 28, 2013

Decadent Fudge Brownies with Glossy Fudge Frosting

It's Passover again!  I'm trying to expand my Passover repertoire this year (and not make so many things from boxed mixes), so I cracked open A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking which I had received as a Chanukah gift from my husband's aunt and uncle.  Many recipes looked delicious, but this one really stood out to me.  Brownies that were Kosher for Passover and tasted good???  What??!!  So I decided to give them a whirl.

Boy am I glad I did!  They really are decadent, and everything about them is delicious, down to the mocha frosting (the recipe says you can use either water or coffee, I highly recommend using the coffee!).  To be honest, these were some of the best brownies I've had, Passover or not.  I think I may even break this out at other points of the year!  Maybe I should stock up on Passover cake meal.....

And the best part?  This month's theme for What's Baking is "sprinkles", so these qualify for my submission there, too.  Though regular sprinkles have corn starch, so I used the sugar crystal type.

Decadent Fudge Brownies with Glossy Fudge Frosting


for the brownies:
2 cups white or brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1 scant cup matzah cake meal

for the frosting:
2/3 cup water or brewed coffee
7 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter or Passover margarine, softened

- preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- lightly grease a 7-by-10 inch rectangular baking pan, a 9-inch square pan, or an 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
- in a bowl, mix the sugar into the melted butter, then the eggs, coffee, cocoa, salt, and cake meal.
- spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 min.  Do not overbake.  The brownies should be set and seem dry to the touch, but there should not be a crust around the sides.
- Cool in the pan

For the frosting:
- heat the water or coffee in a small saucepan.
- as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate.
- remove the pan from the stove and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.
- cool in the refrigerator for about 30 min.
- whisk in the softened butter or margarine and spread the frosting on top of the cooled brownies.
- let frosting set
- cut into squares (or wedges if using a round pan)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Caramel Shortbread Bars

It's time for the monthly recipe swap, hosted by the fabulous Sarah of Taste of Home Cooking.  When I saw the theme of this month's recipe swap, I immediately got excited.  Who doesn't love dessert??!!  I sent off my submission and eagerly awaited my assignment.  When I first saw these caramel shortbread bars I was excited, they looked delish!  It wasn't until I went to go make them that my feelings for this dessert started to sour.

I try not to adjust recipes that I'm assigned.  The point of the swap is to make what is sent you, not just something like what is sent.  So although I was a little surprised at just how much butter went into a dish baked in an 8x8 pan (3 1/2 sticks!!) I went with it and hoped for the best.  Thankfully I didn't have much planned the weekend I made this.  There are so many steps and most of the stuff has to then chill for an hour.  I ended up making this over the course of 2 days.

The end result was just ok.  It seemed way too butter-y and the chocolate was a bit bitter.  I think if I made this again I'd adjust a few things - I'd make less dough (and definitely use less butter), more caramel and use 70% cocoa (the original recipe said "the higher percentage, the better" so I aimed high).  My proportions seemed a bit off from what Coleen had ended up with.

Thankfully my husband's coworker will eat almost anything put in the break room, so I sent these treats with him and they were gone within a few days.

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Caramel Shortbread Bars (submitted by The Redheaded Baker)

For the cookie crust: 
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft 
- ¼ cup granulated sugar 
- ¼ cup powdered sugar 
- 1 tsp vanilla extract 
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 
- ¼ tsp salt
For the caramel:
- ½ cup light brown sugar 
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate glaze: 
- 9 ounces chocolate, finely chopped (the higher percentage, the better) 
- 1 ½ tsp light corn syrup 
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, soft

- Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving three to four inches of overhang on two sides.  
- Cream the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and creamy. Beat in the sugars and vanilla.  
- Whisk together the flour and the salt, then fold into the butter mixer. Spread the dough into the baking pan and smooth in an even layer. Chill for one hour.  
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, just until the cookie crust starts to brown at the edges.  
- Refrigerate crust until ready to add caramel layer, at least one hour and up to two days.  
- Place the brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, for one hour to 90 minutes, until caramel-colored and thickened.  
- Pour over cookie crust. Place in the freezer for one hour.  
- Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before adding chocolate glaze.  
- Place the chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water over lowest heat. Stir frequently, until only a few lumps of chocolate remain. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Pour over caramel layer. Refrigerate at least one hour.  
- To cut, dip knife in boiling water, wipe clean with a kitchen towel, and make a cut. Dip knife in hot water, wipe dry, make another cut. Repeat with entire sheet. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator with wax paper between each bar.