Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's better than a brownie?

How about a brownie with cheesecake swirl on top?! That's right I said it and I know you (that's all 3 of you who read this) are going to heart it:)

Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies (www.smittenkitcen.com)
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2007

Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies

Brownie batter
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make brownie batter: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan — though I did mine double-boiler style, placing the mixing bowl I was using over simmering water, thereby creating one less dirty dish and melting the chocolate more gently — over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter: Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.

[I actually like using a butter knife because the tip of it is round enough that you can use it to fold bits of the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter for a more visibly marbled effect. Try it!]

Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl. Although it might be more logical to just mix them into the cheesecake batter (and feel free to do this, it will have no ill-effect) I thought it might interrupt the swirl-ability of it.

Bake brownies: Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slicing tip: I like to chill my brownies until they’re almost frozen before cutting them. It makes it much easier to get a clean slice. I also like to eat my brownies super-cold, but that’s just personal taste.

Courtney's note: I doubled the recipe cause let's just say it, an 8in pan of brownies aren't gonna last long. I also have to say that the brownies were like 10x better eaten cold!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Got Rotten Bananas?

Cause I did. So I made these. . .

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
¾ cups Sugar
2 whole Eggs Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 whole Large Ripe Banana (or Almost 1 Cup)
½ cups Whole Milk, Room Temperature
Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cups Butter, Room Temperature
8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 box(es) Or 1 Lb. Confectioners Sugar
Yellow Icing Color To Tint
Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tray with 12 baking cups.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl with a wire whisk.
Cream butter and sugar in a mixer for about four minutes.
Add banana and mix until combined.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add half the flour in three additions alternating with milk in two additions. Scrape down the sides with each addition.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until done.
Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream butter and cream cheese in mixer until thoroughly combined
Add vanilla. Then Add sugar in small batches until combined and creamy.
Add a small amount of buttercup yellow icing color to frosting and mix.
Refrigerate leftover cupcakes.

I obviously added chocolate chips to the batter right at the end, and then to the frosting I added 1/2 a mashed banana to give it a little more banana flavor. They were good. Tasted like a banana cream pie in the form of a cupcake. Can't really go wrong with anything in the form of a cupcake if you ask me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Inspired By Trader Joes

Ahi Tuna. Gorgonzola. This happens to me at other grocery stores too, but Trader Joes just has a power over me. I usually have a list, but it never matters here. There's just too many delicious things that as soon as I step foot through the door, Dave Ramsey and my budget go out the window. Most of the time I leave with about a bag full of extra items that have nothing to do with each other but are all wonderful in and of themselves. That's what happened on one fateful day last week, so I decided to cook. I asked Ashley over for her lunch break and we ate in a rushed frenzy while throwing cheerios at Daniel and replenishing Riley's mac&cheese.
Again, these aren't recipes, just methods.

For the tuna, I marinated it for a half hour in "Yoshida's Sauce" (you can get it at Costco and it's good on anything), some soy sauce, and sesame oil. Just sear it in a pan till it's done to your liking. It's best pink in the middle! Oh Yeah! Yum! I can practically taste it!

With the Gorgonzola cheese I made a salad with baby spinach, toasted walnuts, pears, and the cheese. I used the "goddess" dressing from TJ's but it would probably be good with any kind of mild vinaigrette.

This goes out to you, Trader Joe, whoever you are.