obesessed with these brownies

This brownies are the bomb.

Seriously.

And it all started because of this picture. Who wouldn’t see this picture and not be tempted to bake these brownies as well?  I mean … brownie and raw cookie dough.  A-MAZ-ING.  (for realz).

I was checking my email and clicked open an email from the brown eyed baker … saw these beauties and just knew that I had to make them.  IMMEDIATELY. 

I decided that I would follow the brownie recipe that Michelle (the brown eyed baker) used, but wanted to use a different cookie dough recipe.I went back to my roots … and pulled out an old stand-by … Jenna’s chocolate-chip raisin cinnamon cookie dough  – the recipe made famous as the raw cookie dough in the Whalesbone’s sundae bar (I also blogged about it last summer).  The result … well I learned a couple of things …

1.  1 regular batch of raw cookie dough is too much.  I really only needed half the amount.

and

2.  Baking in 40+ weather is not the brightest of ideas.  Especially in a tiny kitchen that holds in all that heat.  sigh.

These brownies were popular (I brought them to a rooftop party @ Platonic Jeff’s place, and they were the most popular item … after my lemon gelato ice cream sandwiches) – but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could make them better.

That’s exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago.

Jenna told me I could bake whatever I wanted for the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.  I opted for these brownies.  Only … with a twist.

I needed a raw cookie recipe that didn’t include eggs (tante Michèle would approve).  Plus I wanted to make something that combined two of my favourite flavours:  chocolate & peanut butter.

And that is how my peanut butter cookie dough double chocolate brownies were born.  Brownie base, peanut butter cookie dough filling and a chocolate ganache topping.Rich Perfection.

People at the market thought so too.  These babies sold out.  Whoot Whoot!

Allow enough cooling time between baking the brownie and topping it with the raw cookie dough … and then allow for the ganache to set before cutting the finished product.  Simple and delicious.  Plus … everyone will be hooked.  Afterall … it pretty much pairs everyone’s favourite comfort food ;0)

peanut butter cookie dough double chocolate brownies

ingredients:

brownie:

4 ounces chocolate, chopped

1 c. butter, at room temperature

2 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 c. flour

peanut butter cookie dough:

1. c. butter, room temperature

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. peanut butter

2 c. flour

2 tsp baking soda

chocolate ganache:

1. c. heavy cream

12 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make the brownie base preheat your oven to 325 F and line a rectangular pan with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray and set aside.  You want the parchment paper to hang over the sides – this will help you pull your brownie out whole in order to cut it properly.

In a double boiler, melt your chocolate until it is smooth and glossy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together (use your paddle attachment) the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Increase the speed to really incorporate everything.  Add the melted chocolate.  Lower the speed of the mixer and slowly add the flour: don’t over-mix, you just want everything to be combined.Spread the batter evenly over the base of your pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes – this brownie recipe really rises in the oven … fear not!  It will deflate once it cools down.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.Then it’s time to make your cookie dough! (obviously you can do as I did the first time round, and use whichever dough recipe you prefer … just remember, you likely only need to use half a recipe).

In the bowl of your stand-mixer thoroughly cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the peanut butter, and then add the dry ingredients.  Once combined … that’s it! 

Grab some of the batter and spread it evenly over your cooled brownie base (don’t worry if you don’t use all the cookie dough – it freezes really well).  Use an off-set spatula to get it even and smooth.

Set aside and make your ganache.

Place your chocolate in a medium, heat proof bowl.  In a small bowl over medium heat, bring your cream up to a simmer (well… honestly, I usually let it boil – but just a little).  Remove it from heat and pour it over the chocolate; allowing it to sit for a few minutes.  Then grab a spatula and slowly mix together – stirring until the chocolate has melted and the ganache looks creamy. 

Pour over the cookie dough brownie and allow to set in the fridge (I’d say at least an hour).

Remove the brownie from the pan, trim the edges off and cut into even pieces.

At this point I’m going to guess you ate some of that trim … I sure did (so did Jenna).  I heart this brownie.  Seriously intense … rich chocolate and salty peanut butter.  Heck ya.  A-MAZ-ING.

oh what a week it has been…

I don’t know where to begin.  This past week has been chalk full of activity!  The market, a bonfire, a trip to Antigonish, a cocktail party … and baking for all of it!

Let’s start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start” … name that tune!), last weekend’s lime explosion  at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market with little red kitsch’n.

It was ridiculously DE-LIC-IOUS (and adorable, non?)

You saw my post on the lime-blueberry cheesecake cupcakes … this is what they looked liked when all was said and done.
These were the first goodies to go.

The lemon-lime cupcakes (filled with lemon-lime curd and topped with lime cream cheese frosting) were also super popular.  A little labour intensive (piping and filling on the spot) … but oh so wonderful.

Since the entire theme was based on that bon appétit magazine (“lime juice is the new salt”) – we swapped out Jenna’s usual lemon meringue tarts for some lime raspberry meringue tarts (the bon appétit recipe used blackberries – but since they aren’t in season, we used raspberries).

And then … the pièce de résistance … cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares.

Intense?

Amazing?

Yes … and … yes.

Another bon appétit recipe (from their desserts cookbook), only, we played around with it to make it work for our purposes.

We wanted squares.

We wanted a graham cracker base.

We wanted to switch the layers around.

It was a S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

Tart and fresh.  Not too heavy (the white chocolate mousse was a nice surprise), the addition of chinese five spice to the cranberry compote was pretty spot-on, and my graham cracker base was epic (Jenna’s words, not mine).

Since this is a layer dessert, you’ll probably expect me to tell you it isn’t difficult, but it does take a little bit of time.  Don’t worry – you can basically make everything in one go, and then just assemble in stages … in the end, not overly labour or time intensive, and oh so worth it.  Seriously … I can’t wait to whip these up again!

cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares

(based on bon appétit’s cranberry-lime tart)

ingredients:

graham cracker base

*this is completely unmeasured … I used two sleeves of graham crackers (the large ones) and pulsed them in a food processor.  I then melted (about) 1/2 cup of butter, and slowly poured it into the food processor and blended everything together.  You want the base to hold together when you pinch it together … but not get so saturated in butter that after you bake the base it would harden because of all the excess fat.

lemon-lime curd

zest of 1 lemon and 2 limes

1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon & 2 limes)

1/2 c. sugar

6 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

cranberry topping

1/4 c. water

1 1/2 tsp cornstartch

2/3 c. sugar

3 tbsp honey

1 1/2 tsp chinese five-spice powder

1 12-ounce bag (3 cups) fresh or partially thawed frozen cranberries

white chocolate mousse

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Once you get all those ingredients together … it’s time to start baking!

base:

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Line a square baking pan with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray.

Press the graham cracker base into your prepared pan.

Trick of the day (thank you Jenna): in order to get an even base, press the graham cracker base with the base of a measuring cup … you’ll see that by pressing the base of the cup across the top of the crust you’ll get a pretty perfect graham cracker base.

Bake for about 12 – 17 minutes.  You want the crust to be firm.  Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack in the pan.

lemon-lime curd:

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the lemon – lime juices, lemon – lime zest, sugar and butter.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  When the butter has melted in the saucepan, whisk some of the warm liquid into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly while you pour (this prevents the eggs from curdling).  Once done, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan (that is still over low heat).  Cook, whisking constantly, the curd will start to thicken – don’t let it start to boil.  Remove from heat.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl.

Pour the curd into the strainer – this will remove any little bits, and make for a silky smooth curd.  Allow to cool slightly, then pour into the pre-baked graham cracker base.

Bake in the oven (again, at 325 F) until set – about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (stick it in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap to speed up the process).

white chocolate mousse:
Stir chocolate on top of a double boiler over simmering water until it’s melted and smooth.  Remove from the water and heat and whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.  Cool completely (speed up the process by putting it in the fridge – remember to cover it with plastic wrap).
cranberry topping:
In a medium saucepan (and off the heat), whisk the water and the cornstarch until blended.  Add the sugar, honey, and five-spice powder.
Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
Add cranberries, cook until the mixture boils and berries just begin to pop but still retain their shape, occasionally stirring gently, about 5 minutes.  Cool completely – don’t worry if you think this topping is too thin… it thickens in the fridge.  I decided to cool it overnight … it got nice and thick.
At this point you’re ready to pull the white chocolate mousse from the fridge and gently spread it over the baked and cooled graham cracker base and lemon-lime curd filling.
Before you start cutting – you need to allow this to cool and firm up.  Again, I allowed this to cool overnight in the fridge … bon appétit recommends freezing it for 15 minutes.  You could try that as well :0)
Once set, it’s time to lift it out of the baking pan and then trim the sides … there are two reasons for this: (1) it makes for perfect squares and (2) it allows YOU (the baker) to taste-test.  Nibble on one of those cast-off trim pieces …
Once the trim is removed, you should be able to cut out 16 pieces … if you have a nice little square cookie cutter you would get perfect pieces ;0)  Top with the cranberry topping and serve immediately.  If you aren’t serving right away, don’t top the squares, return them to the fridge and finish assembling them as needed … and if you don’t need the whole lot of them at once, freeze them, uncovered by the cranberry topping in an airtight container.

lime explosion!

Jenna and I  are obsessed.

YES.

O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D … with lime.

After bon appétit joined our band wagon and proclaimed that lime juice is the new salt”  Jenna and I agreed it was time to bake up a lime storm.

And that is exactly what we’ve been doing.

It’s as though limes exploded in the little red kitsch’n (does over 2 cases of limes in a kitchen constitute an explosion???).

Yesterday was day one of baking/ prep for the weekend market (Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market).

My prep list kept me busy until well after midnight (don’t worry … it’s not all work and no play  .. you should see our dance moves in the kitchen)

-snicker brownies  (the classic layered brownie : flourless brownie, peanut nougat, topped with a smooth chocolate ganache)

 -lemon-lime curd … for a ridiculous cranberry lemon-lime & white chocolate bar cookie on graham cracker crust  … graham cracker crust (Jenna said my crust was EPIC!!!) … white chocolate cream and cranberry topping … all done and assembled (I’ll be sharing this one with y’all too).

-lime curd … for the most sinfully delicious lime raspberry meringue tarts (our twist on the recipe on the front of bon appétit magazine … both of us saw the picture and just KNEW we had to make the tart).

-peanut butter cookie dough brownie (recipe to follow … but whomever sampled my first attempt a few weeks ago are going to be shocked at my new update … I twisted this up even more)

caramel snicker brownie gelato … I have big plans for this sweet treat … :0)

and then these … sweetly irresistible (at least we hope)

blueberry – lime cheesecake cupcakes with an oatmeal crust

Seriously adorable.

Incredibly easy to make.

Addictive.

Oh yeah … and a crispy, crunchy, granola type base is pretty insanely perfect when paired with a smooth lime cream cheese batter and blueberries.

Sigh.

The original recipe called for a graham cracker cookie base.  We decided not to do that.  Nope.  Jenna has a recipe for an oatmeal  crust – chalk full of oats, a dash of nutmeg, and plenty of butter.

If I’d been at home I probably would have made a lemon-cookie crust … or … even a chocolate oreo cookie base.

Just have fun with it!  The beauty of this type of dessert is that you can combine some of your favourite flavour profiles and just make it 100% YOURS and not your standard Martha recipe (fyi – the filling is from Martha Stewart).

blueberry – lime cheesecake cupcakes

ingredients:

base:

1 ½ c. cookie base (use your imagination … graham crackers, lemon cookies, oreo cookies, spicy cookies, ginger cookies, etc), finely ground

¼ c. butter, melted

filling:

2 c. blueberries, cooked over medium heat until soft (no need to add sugar or water to this… just toss in a small saucepan and heat, stirring from time to time)

2 lb. cream cheese, room temperature, cubed

1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (or lime juice)

zest of 1 lime

4 eggs, room temperature

Two things you should know about cheesecakes (yes … I seem to have become a tad obsessed with baking mini cheesecakes, so I feel I have some street cred) …

1. ROOM TEMPERATURE.  If your ingredients are at room temp before you get started, that helps with ensuring that the tops don’t crack when baking.

2.  FOOD PROCESSOR.  I use only my food processor to mix all my ingredients together …  it doesn’t matter which cheesecake recipe I follow – I pulse it all the way to smooth … from base to filling.

Now that you know my two top tips … time to get baking.

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Line each of your muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Grab your chosen cookie base, and pulse it until it’s finely ground in your food processor.  While it’s still running, slowly add the melted butter – in this case, since we made the oatmeal crust from scratch (it’s texture is very similar to a crumble topping – also another good option), I skipped this step.

If you need more than the ¼ c. of butter to ensure that the mixture holds when pinched together, melt a little more, and add it.  Slowly.  It’s always easier to add more than to fix a recipe when you’ve added too much ;0)

Once the base is made, grab a little handful and gently press it into the base of the cupcake liner.

When all your liners are ready – blind bake the base until set – anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes (or as Jenna reminds me – “it’s done when it’s done”).

Set aside.

Clean your food processor and toss in your cream cheese – puree until smooth.  Add the sugar – keep that processor running … once incorporated, turn it off and scrape the sides with a spatula.

Turn it back on and add the vanilla (or lime juice),the eggs, and the lime zest.  Process the mixture until everything is smooth and well incorporated.

Done.  Simple eh?

I poured the filling into a piping bag in order to fill the liners, but I would also recommend a large measuring cup (with a lip), and pouring the filling into each liner that way.

Once you have the liners filled to ¾ of a way full – take your blueberry mixture and a teaspoon of blueberries to each cupcake.  It’ll look like a blog of blue in the centre of each cupcake.

Grab a wooden skewer and gently swirl the blueberries around … it’ll create a super fun marble effect.

When ready, place the cupcake pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes – rotating halfway through baking.  You’ll see that the centres will puff up when they are ready.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the cupcake pans on a wire rack.

These cupcakes do need to be refrigerated if not eaten immediately.  But really … don’t you just want to have one.  Right. This. Instant!?! (the neighbours did … Jenna brought over a couple as soon as they heard I had baked these up!)

I only made half of the recipe … I have some extra oatmeal crust bases already cooked off and ready to be filled tomorrow night ready to make an appearance on Sunday at the market… so be warned … 1 batch (if recipe is followed as directed below) will make 3 dozen cheesecakes.

Makes you want to stop by little red kitsch’n this weekend doesn’t it?

Or maybe it has just inspired you to use some lime.  It is the new salt after all ;00