June 28, 2013

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies

Only the Best Brownie Recipe... EVER!

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies--- whenlifegivesyousprinkles.blogspot.com
First of all huuuge shout out to King Arthur Flour (no, I am not in any way tied to KAF, just a fan of their products and blog).  It is very rare that I take a recipe that I find and don't adjust or add to it in any way... but this one warrants following the recipe EXACTLY.  These brownies are the best I've tried. 

In fact, I made this recipe twice already.  The first time I followed the recipe, but couldn't get ahold of Dutch-Process Cocoa from my local grocery store, so I used the plain ol' unsweetened stuff.  The brownies were good but they weren't great, but I could see the potential.  The chocolate flavor in my first batch was just too strong and acidic.  So that lead me on my hunt to find Dutch-Process Cocoa so that I could recreate the recipe EXACTLY.  I finally found it at Cost Plus World Market.  The brand is called Droste. 

The difference between Dutch-Process and other cocoa powders is that it has been treated with an alkalizing agent that modifies its color and gives it a milder taste.  It has a neutral pH and isn't as acidic as well.  But beware for those of you looking to switch to Dutch-process in your other recipes... You cannot use Dutch-process cocoa in recipes that use baking soda as the leavening agent because the baking soda relies on the acidity of the cocoa to activate it.  You must use it in recipes that call for baking powder (rather than baking soda) for leavening.

The unfortunate part of the dutching process is that it removes the antioxidants from the chocolate, sometimes up to 90% are removed in a heavy dutching process.  Oh well! I guess that means I will still have to eat my square of dark chocolate after I enjoy my brownies... darn!  But really, are we truly eating brownies for the antioxidants?  I don't think so. 

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies-- whenlifegivesyousprinkles.blogspot.com

Anyway, back to the brownies!  The second round went fantastic!  The brownies had an excellent chocolate flavor and by heating the butter and sugar together before adding it to the batter, it allows for the sugar to rise to the top during the baking process and gives you that awesome shiny, crackling top.  What's even better about these brownies?  You don't even have to get out the mixer!  Love it!

Fudge Brownies

From King Arthur Flour

Makes 24 brownies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with a light layer of baking spray. 

In a large bowl crack eggs and whisk in cocoa, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and vanilla.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter.  Add in sugar and stir to combine.  Heat the butter and sugar mixture for a couple more minutes on the stove just until it is hot (110-120 degrees, not bubbling).  You can do this process in the microwave as well.  The mixture will become shiny as you heat it.  This process is what helps the sugar distribute more and gives you that shiny, crackly top. 

Add the warm sugar/butter mixture into the egg/cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.  Add the flour and chocolate chips and stir until smooth.  If you want the chips to remain solid chunks in your brownie and not melt into the batter, allow the batter to cool for 10-20 minutes before stirring in the chips. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out with very moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow them to cool on a rack before cutting and serving. 


June 25, 2013

Chicken Avocado Soup

A Light Soup with Shredded Chicken, Avocado, Lime and Cilantro.

Chicken Avocado Soup with Lime and Cilantro-- whenlifegivesyousprinkles.blogspot.com

I feel sorry for the people in the world that have that awful genetic trait that makes cilantro taste like dish soap. (It's true! I read about it!)  Even Julia Child had called cilantro's taste "offensive" and if she came across it she would "pick it out and throw it on the floor".  I also learned through my reading that the Oxford Companion to Food says that word coriander is said to derive from the Greek word for bedbug and that may have come about because some likened the smell of the herb to bedbug-infested sheets.  GROSS!
Now I don't know about all that soap and crushed bug nonsense... I love me some cilantro! I love its bright, fresh scent and I keep a bunch on hand at all times in my kitchen. I can't imagine this Chicken Avocado Soup without it. 
To all of those cilantrophobes out there, I don't blame you, it's not your fault! Let's all blame it on the OR6A2 gene and be done with it!  But don't fret, there may be hope for you... if you want to join in on the cilantro party wagon, try crushing it up!  By crushing the leaves it allows the enzymes to gradually change the soapy-scented aldehyde into other substances without any aroma.  And what's more crushed than a pesto?  Many cilantro haters have found that they can tolerate a cilantro pesto and that has eased them into enjoying cilantro at least a little bit more. 
The addition to cilantro in this soup adds an herby freshness that accompanies the lime and avocado perfectly.  The recipe is simple and it's a great way to use leftover chicken or even one of those awesomely cheap roasted chickens you get from the grocery store.  I wouldn't skimp on the cotija cheese either (and not because it is one of my new favorite things), but because it adds the perfect salty bite to balance out the acid of the lime, but if you must, try adding a touch more salt to the broth. 

Chicken Avocado Soup with Lime and Cilantro-- whenlifegivesyousprinkles.blogspot.com


Chicken Avocado Soup

Adapted from Skinny Taste
Serves 4
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cups chicken broth (I always use low-sodium)
2 cups shredded chicken (about 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded)
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups scallions, chopped
2 avocados, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chile powder or cayenne if you want to spice it up. 
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
To garnish:
limes, a couple wedges per person (I like a lot of lime)
sprinkle of cotija cheese
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of the scallions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Add tomato and cook for another minute.  Add chicken broth, cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper.  Stir and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. 
In individual bowls, layer each with 1/2 cup shredded chicken (with a squeeze of lime), 1/2 an avocado, the remaining scallion and cilantro.  Ladle in about 1 cup of the broth and top with a sprinkle of cotija cheese.  Serve with lime wedges. 

June 4, 2013

Ginger Peach Teacakes

Peach Teacakes with a Ginger Liqueur Glaze, Ol' Sport!
ginger peach cakes cupcakes flowers

Which potluck item would be appropriate for a Great Gatsby themed 20's housewarming party?!  I racked my brain...  I knew I wanted to make sweets, and of course, cupcakes are always on the top of my mind.  I even went shopping for cupcake liners to get some inspiration.  Well, I did manage to find the cutest cupcake liners that were grey, black and yellow and super elegant. I thought I would be using those, but I made a last minute change and wanted to do something smaller and more bite sized for the party. So I landed on mini cakes, tiny, cute, teacakes. 

ginger peach cakes flowers

Now, I may be taking some liberties in calling them teacakes, because what really makes a teacake a teacake?  I typed that exact question into my search engine.  I got results for traditional English teacakes, which aren't very cute at all, more like a yeast-based bun with dried fruit.  The South will refer to a large, dense, cookie-like treat made with butter, flour, eggs, milk and sugar as a teacake. BUT, in the rest of the United States a teacake is usually a single-layered, lightly spiced cake, often made with buttermilk, topped with a glaze and sometimes they contain fruit.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  We have a winner.  And by just doing a glaze on top, instead of frosting, gave me a chance to play around with my royal icing and piping techniques that I so rarely use outside of work. 

ginger peach cakes cupcakes flowers