Cocoa Brownies

Classic Brownies

I am trying to recover from my travels this week – the 9 hour time difference is not easy on the body, but I am doing my best.  Life doesn’t stop for you – so you just need to carry on and hope that eventually everything will go back to normal.  Whenever I travel for work, I never have enough time to soak everything in.  I do my best though to at least savor the food.  I have mentioned this before, but my favorite place to soak in the culture is at the super market.  Fortunately in Israel, I was able to go on a field trip.  I was there the week before Passover, and the woman who was hosting me was so excited that I also celebrate Passover.  She took me to the market near the office, and we bought lots of fun stuff.  Matzo ball mix, Passover biscuits, halva and chocolate covered matzoh.  What fun!  I couldn’t believe I was able to fit all this stuff into my suitcase, but I crammed it in.  As a bonus, one of the women in the office sent me a recipe for a Passover Apple Cake – maybe a post for tomorrow, if I can get my act together?

The food in Israel was delicious – lots of fresh vegetables and cheeses – and wonderful salads for breakfast.  My stomach was not overly thrilled to eat salads for breakfast, even though they were wonderful – so I mostly stuck to yogurt – which was rich and creamy, and just delightful.  The two highlights of the trip were the lunch I had at the falafel restaurant – just a tiny hole-in-the-wall, with amazing falafel and pickled vegetables.  The pita bread though was really too much though – not like the pita bread we get – this was light and fluffy and completely fresh.  The other highlight was a Persian restaurant that my cousin took me to – the salad was so amazingly fresh, and the chicken and rice I had was out of this world.  It was really a treat.

On my way back to the states, I stopped in Paris to visit the subsidiary there, and of course had my fill of magnificent food – even though I was barely there.  It gave me just a taste and I can’t wait to get back there…  At the office, they have a regular cafeteria, and then two specialty French restaurants.  We went to the “bistro” – and had an incredible lunch.  I felt spoiled.  I was stuffed after my appetizer and entrée, but they insisted I order dessert.  All the desserts sounded terrific, but I decided to go with a chocolate brownie – on top of Panna Cotta, then topped with chocolate mousse.  Oh my…it was spectacular.  Although the brownie was my least favorite part.  It was good, but nothing like these brownies that I found in Bon Appetit that I made for book club the other week.  These were so simple to make, and seriously decadent.  Nice and rich – and it had been too long since I posted a brownie recipe on this site.  I have posted similar recipes before, but this one was too good, even if it was a duplicate.  So – even though the French are pretty much better at making everything else sweet – Americans are the experts when it comes to making brownies.  Someday when I live in France, I am going to make some of these recipes with their superior ingredients – won’t that be something. I can’t wait!

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil  spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Scharffen Berger natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°. Line an 8x8x2 inches glass baking dish  with  foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2 inches overhang. Coat foil  with nonstick spray; set baking dish aside.

Melt butter in a small sauce-pan over medium heat. Let cool  slightly. Whisk sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Pour butter  in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in  vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each  addition. Add flour and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Scrape batter  into prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted into  the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack;  let cool completely in pan.  Using foil overhang, lift brownie out of pan; transfer to a cutting board.  Cut  into 16 squares.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cocoa Brownies

Chocolate-Orange Brownies

Some people like them nice and chewy, some people like them rich and dense, some people like them more cake-like – yes, I am talking about brownies.  I already made a rich and dense version that was spectacular – so I figured it was time to make one more cake-like.  I definitely accomplished my goal.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit – and although I am not a huge fan or adding orange flavor to my chocolate – I figured I had to try these out.  I was so pleasantly surprised – boy were this fantastic.  I brought them over to my friend’s house – and she likened them to the bottom of a Trophy Cupcake – our favorite place to buy cupcakes.  They had a wonderful chocolate flavor with a hint of orange – but the texture was just perfect.  Eat one with a cold glass of milk, and you have a treat beyond belief.  The best part of these brownies – you can wrap them up, and they stay good for days.  For a cake-like brownie, that is definitely something worth being proud of.  Something else about this recipe?  It is super simple – it took me less than 15 minutes to get them into the oven.  What could be better?

Ingredients

  • Non-stick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with non-stick spray.  Whisk 1/2 cup boiling water and cocoa powder in a small bowl to blend.  Whisk sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.  Whisk eggs in large bowl.  Add butter, orange peel, and vanilla; whisk to blend.  Whisk cocoa mixture into egg mixture.  Add flour mixture; stir just to blend.  Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan on rack.  Cut into 16 squares and serve.  Adapted from Homepage Cafe.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate-Orange Brownies

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