Friday, August 28, 2009

Double Chocolate Brownies

My sister-in-law, Margo, gave me this recipe and it's one that my kids always beg for whenever the word "brownie" is mentioned. I love it because the only chocolate needed is chocolate chips and I always have those on hand.

3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2 cups chocolate chips or one 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, sugar and water; heat just to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in one cup only of chocolate chips and the vanilla. Stir until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Gradually blend in the flour mixture.
  7. Stir in remaining chocolate chips (and nuts, if desired).
  8. Spread in a greased 9" square pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. This is easily doubled for a 9"x13" pan -- bake 35-45 minutes.
These brownies are very thick and rich. If you have a pan that's a little larger than 9" square, they'll come out closer to traditional brownie thickness. I also don't think there's any need to frost them because they're so dense. Definitely taste one before you lather on more sweetness.

Boy, just writing all this down makes me want to go bake a batch. Too bad they like my thighs so well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All-Butter Pie Crust

Since we're heading into prime apple pie season, I thought I would share this crust recipe. I love a good pie crust, but most of them require shortening and in my mind, "shortening" is another word for partially hydrogenated oil... something I avoid like the plague. There's no question that it helps make a great crust, but I still don't like it. So, I was thrilled to find this recipe (which I've modified a bit) and use it any time I make a pie. I know that butter isn't a healthy form of fat, but at least it comes from a cow and not a factory.

This makes one 9-inch, double-crust pie shell.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) frozen, unsalted butter; grated
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/3 cup ice water, more if needed

(You can combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, but I always do it the old fashioned way.)
  1. Blend flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add grated butter and combine.
  2. Sprinkle lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of water over flour mixture. Combine with a spoon.
  3. Add additional ice water until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains.
  4. Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1-2 hours, before rolling.
  5. Roll out the bottom and top crusts.
  6. Fill pie shell with something yummy!