Monday, February 28, 2011

Baking With Dorie: Brownie Buttons

It's been a year of Baking With Dorie. And what fun it has been: to get to know everyone in our small group & to bake through this wonderful book that I can't praise enough for the simplicity of its' recipes. It is absolutely, hands down, the best baking book I have ever used. Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned baker, this book is for you & I think everyone should own a copy!

These Brownie Buttons are, in Dorie's words, sensational. Fudgy yet light as air. Perfect for an any-time snack or a kids' party. I made mine with whole-wheat flour today:

Brownie Buttons

Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the glaze:
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Lightly butter two mini-muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet. 

If you are using the zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small  bowl rubbing them between your fingertips to blend; set aside. Whisk together salt and flour. 

Melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two. 

Stir the vanilla, egg and zest into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well-blended, add the flour and stir only till it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. 

Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup 3/4 full. Put 1 tsp of water in each empty cup. 

Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature. 

To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly and don't leave the chocolate for even a minute. As soon as it is smooth, remove from heat. 

One by one dip the tops of the buttons in the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl. Refrigerate 15 mins to set the glaze. 

Happy 1st Anniversary to all my fellow bakers! Thanks for being part of BWD this past year. 

Please check out the blogroll here to see everyone else's take on these adorable brownie buttons. Next up we're baking Honey Nut Scones. If you'd like to be part of our baking challenge, please drop me an email at needfulthings at ymail dot com. We'd love to have you bake along with us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Baking With Dorie: Cinnamon Squares

While I love both cinnamon & chocolate and don't mind combining them together in a dessert, this recipe disappointed me a little (Sorry, Dorie!).

I made the Cappuccino version suggested in the book but even with addition of extra espresso, the cinnamon flavor was too over-powering for my family & even myself. I liked the chocolate & crunchy-sugar-cinnamon-y swirl in the middle of the cake as well as the chocolate frosting & the cake was very moist. But overall, this was not my favorite bake from BFMHTY. Which makes me very glad that I cut the recipe in half and baked mini-cakes. Maybe I wold have liked it better had I made the original version so that is something I would like to try out at some point in the future. 

I was aiming to get mini heart-shaped cakes (despite the fact that I'm a Valentine Grinch), but I over-filled my molds and ended up with some mushroom-topped cakes that looked nothing like hearts. Oh well, better luck next time. 

Please check out Chaya's blog Bizzy B. Bakes for the recipe (or pages 210-11 of Baking from my hoome to yours by Dorie Greenspan) and the blogroll here to see everyone else's versions. So far they've all enjoyed this cake better than I have. Next up we're baking Brownie Buttons. If you'd like to be a part of our baking challenge, please email  me at needfulthings at ymail dot com. We'd love to have  you bake along with us!

Late posting my BWD challenge this week

My post is already late & will be up in a few more hours.
Meanwhile, please visit the blogroll here to check out other BWD bakers this week.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nutella-Banana French Toast Strata

Can you think of anything more comforting than French Toast on a winter morning? Add Nutella and it goes from comforting to divine.

This is my entry for World Nutella Day which is the brainchild of Sara & Michellae at Ms. Adventures in Italy & Bleeding Espresso. Check out the Nutella Day Flickr Pool or the Nutella Day Facebook Page for more inspiration. 

This was a real treat - I added very little sweetener to the egg mixture so the strata was mildly sweet and even my drizzling it with cream & nutella did not send it over the edge. Perfect start to my day!

Nutella-Banana French Toast Strata
(I scaled down the recipe to make an individual portion today)

A loaf of bread (I used Multigrain), crusts removed & cut into squares or rectangular pieces
8 eggs
3 1/2 - 4 cups milk
8 sliced bananas
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave syrup 

Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x13 dish. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla and agave syrup. 

Spread Nutella on half the squares/rectangles of bread and layer them in the dish, nutella side facing up. Layer sliced bananas on top. Spread Nutella on the remaining squares/rectangles of bread  and layer them on top of the bananas (nutella side facing down).

Pour the egg mixture on top, pressing gently with a spoon so that the bread soaks it all up. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake strata for 35 minutes, uncovered. 

Let stand for 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar & serve. I drizzled a little mixture of nutella & cream on top before serving.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Baking With Dorie: Coffee Break Muffins

It was my turn to pick the recipe this week & I apologize for not posting mine on time: I had un-announced internet outage for the entire day yesterday and it set me behind on everything. 

I baked these muffins two weeks ago and was surprised at the mild coffee flavor despite the whole cup of coffee that goes into the batter. They are moist & lovely on their own and especially so with a cup of coffee. But when I made them again yesterday, I felt they needed something extra so I threw on a mixture of chopped dark and white chocolate. The dark chocolate brought out the taste of coffee and the white chocolate added that extra bite and hint of flavor I was looking for. These muffins are so unassuming, so quick to put together and so good.

You can find the recipe on Page 15 of Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. Please see the BWD Blogroll here to check out other BWD bakers. Next up we're making Cinnamon Squares, chosen by Chaya. If you'd like to join our baking challenge, please drop me an email at needfulthings at ymail dot com. We'd love to have you bake along with us. 

Coffee Break Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400F. 
Butter or spray 12 molds in a muffin pan or fit them with paper muffin cups. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, espresso, baking powder and salt. Stir in the brown sugar and make sure there are no lumps. 
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the coffee, butter, egg and vanilla till combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and with a whisk or rubber spatula gently but quickly stir to blend. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups. 

Bake 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its' mold.


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