Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sinfully Rich Brownies

Sometimes what you crave is just a really good, high-quality version of a basic favorite. These brownies have no secret ingredients or funky mix-ins, but make no mistake - they are sinfully rich and delectable. Be sure to have some milk handy!

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (or line with parchment) a 9x13 pan

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Gradually add in the eggs, then the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the wet a little at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in the last bit by hand - you don't want to over beat this batter.

Spread the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. At 30 minutes, start checking on it every two or three minutes, giving the pan a little jiggle. When it no longer jiggles in the center and cracks are starting to appear, the brownies are done.

Let the brownies cool for a while or they will not slice neatly. They can still be warm, but not hot.(They actually slice much more neatly if you make them the night before and serve the next day, but some people really want them still warm.)

You may want to cut them on the small side, these brownies are very rich!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recipe Review - Miss Kay's Hummingbird Cake

I got the Duck Dynasty cookbook as a gift, and whether it was meant as a joke or not, I really do love Southern food. So I decided I needed to make some of the tasty recipes in this book, starting with Hummingbird Cake.
I have always been intrigued by Hummingbird cake. As someone who grew up out West and then moved to the Northeast many years ago, it is not something I had ever had before. What is Hummingbird Cake, you ask? It is a very sweet cake made from an unusual combination of pineapple, bananas, pecans, and a touch of cinnamon, all topped with cream cheese icing. I wasn't sure if this hodgepodge of stuff would just be too many competing flavors, but it worked surprisingly well. The cake stays very moist and the flavors meld into a nice mix that is hard to pin down. Tasters would probably not be able to tell you what is in it until you told them. All in all, this is a good, easy-to-follow recipe if you like really sweet cakes in the Southern style.
Miss Kay's Hummingbird Cake
(Recipe from Duck Commander Kitchen by Kay Robertson)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line with parchment 9" cake pans - this makes two thick or three thin 9" layers, so choose accordingly.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups diced bananas
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans (plus another cup for garnish if desired)
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, beating by hand until well-mixed.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet by hand, giving it a good stir to make sure all clumps of flour have been mixed in. Then add the bananas, pineapple, and pecans, gently folding them in just until they are spread into the batter. Try not to overmix this.
Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Important note: My layers took 8-10 minutes longer because I made the two thick layers instead of the three thin layers the original recipe called for.  
Cream Cheese Icing:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat all together with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the cake has completely cooled, frost the cake, then sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans for garnish (I skipped this step as you can see from my picture)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Party Squares

These are very popular in my husband's family. Family legend has it that Aunt Martha was always asked to make these bars for every family function. Mysteriously, nobody else in the family can get them to turn out quite as good as hers. My husband, in a Boston accent he often exaggerates for effect, calls these "Aunt Mahtha's Pahty Bahs."

Anyway, what are they? The bottom "crust" layer is a butter cookie, softer than shortbread but with a similar flavor. The middle layer is melted chocolate chips (how easy is that?) and the top is a sweet layer of crisp meringue.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Jelly Roll pan 
*Note* I have made these in a 9x13 pan but they turn out a little too thick. The bottom crust is too soft and the meringue does not get crispy like it should. If all you have is a 9x13 pan instead of a jelly roll, make this recipe but use only about 2/3 of it in your pan. If you have a bread pan or something small like that, you could make a separate mini batch in that pan to use up the leftovers.

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
2 1/2 Cups Flour

12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
dash of salt
3/4 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks, vanilla, and whip until fluffy. Add flour gradually, slowly mixing until well combined. Press the dough into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until it is set and beginning to turn golden.

Remove from the oven and WHILE STILL HOT, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. When they have melted, take a spatula and spread the chocolate around to even it out and cover the crust.

Beat the egg whites together with the salt and the cream of tarter until stiff. Add the sugar slowly and beat again until very stiff (the meringue should lose its gloss and stand in very stiff peaks when you lift the beater up.) Spread over the chocolate to the edge. It will be a thin layer. Return to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until the meringue is crisp and starting to brown on top.

Cool in the pan, then cut into squares.