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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outrageous Brownies

Need I say more? Doesn't the title just say it all?

This Brownie recipe is an Ina Garten recipe. (of course...the food network) I saw her make them on her show once and decided to give them a go.

I have to warn you, they are expensive to make, but they are sooooo worth it!!! This is one of my favorite brownie recipes. They are very rich and fudgey, everything you want in a brownie.

My friend Keith that I work with had a death in the family, so I made these brownies for him.

Chocolate = comfort, comfort = love, love = brownies. See how I did that? Brownies love me and I love brownies!! It's a mutual thing. :-)

We made these brownies a couple of times at the cafe, but everyone was so used to our other brownie recipe that these ended up going by the wayside most of the time. What a shame. Because trust me, once you try these, you will love them. And based on my math above, the brownies will love you back.


Notes:  Like most things made with chocolate where the chocolate flavor shines, the better the chocolate, the better the taste. I use Ghirardelli Chocolate because I think it has a great taste. You can use Scharffen Berger Chocolate, but you really don't need to go to that expense.

I also didn't add a complete pound of chocolate to the butter and unsweetened chocolate that gets melted. I only added 12 oz. I don't think that the 4 oz that's missing made a huge difference.

You can add a different nut if you like other than walnuts. I believe walnuts go with brownies, but if you believe a different nut does, by all means, use it. Or if you have an allergy to nuts or don't like them, leave them out!! Either way is good.

These can be frozen. I like to freeze them and take them out when I need a chocolate kick. They are just as good as the day I made them. I've frozen them for up to a month, but only because they never last further than that!

You can also warm these up and serve them with some Vanilla Ice cream. That will take them from outrageous to over the top!!!

Outrageous Brownies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl in the microwave. I started at 1 minute with just the unsweetened chocolate because it takes longer to melt. Then added the butter and chocolate chips and microwaved for 2 minutes in 1 minute increments; stirring after each minute. You might need to microwave longer if not fully melted. But all should be smooth and melted. If you don't want to microwave you can put all in a double boiler and melt mixture that way.

In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the flour mixture.
Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.  This helps to keep the chocolate chips and walnuts from sinking to the bottom.

Pour into the baking sheet.

 Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake!
Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into squares.

The first time I made this, I didn't refrigerate the brownies before I cut them. Trust me you have to. Otherwise you will have nothing but crumbs on your hands!! I think it has something to do with all the butter that's in them.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Pecan Sticky Buns

Tracie came for another visit and guess what we made?

Ok, so my title and this picture gave it away. As promised, we made sticky buns!!

When I first opened the cafe, we used to make them a different way. Instead of making the Goo, we mixed butter, brown sugar and pecans together and then put that mixture into muffin pans and then put the pecan roll on top of that and baked them that way.

As I have mentioned previously, I have this penchant for the Food Network and I love Bobby Flay. He has a show called Bobby Flay's throw down. It's where he competes against someone who is the best at what they make and then asks them to a throw down where he tries to out beat the thing they are known for. He'll add a twist to make the recipe his own to see if he can win against the other person. I love it!!

One time I was watching it and saw him do a throw down against a woman in Boston that had a bakery and was known for her sticky buns. I wasn't real fond of the way we made them, so I came in to work the next day and proclaimed to Tracie that we are changing our recipe!!!

Do you know how hard it is to get Tracie to change her ways? She can attest, we fought for weeks on this one. But being the owner, I won out!!

I love them this way. Tracie likes them the old way. I know our customers loved them this way. But I also know some of our customers liked them the old way. This is still a winner either way!!

So Gail, without much ado, here is our recipe for sticky buns.

p.s. Tracie hated it when I watched the food network. :-)

Notes: We used to make this in glass baking dishes. You might notice my batch wouldn't fit in one pan so I had to use two. One was glass and the other was metal. The glass batch actually turned out better. So if you make this and have a 9 x 13 glass pan, make these in it. They should all fit.

You could add raisins to the roll part if you like. You could probably use chopped apples, craizins or any other type of fruit (dried or fresh) you like. I'm sure it would all be good!

You can make the roll ahead of time (we used to) and freeze the roll. Freeze them at the point after you cut them. Just let them come to room temperature and rise with the goo before you bake them.

 Roll recipe

1/2 cup luke warm milk
1/2 ounce active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs room temp.
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
4 tbls butter

Goo recipe:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (110 grams) honey
1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80 grams) water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

First, make the goo. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that's ok).

Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
While the above is cooling -

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth. Combine remaining sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add  4 tbls room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.
If you don't have a stand mixer, fit your food processor with the standard chopping or dough blade. Combine remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in food processor. Pulse to blend. Add milk mixture; process until combined. With processor running, add 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Process until dough is soft and silky, 2–3 minutes longer. Dough will be sticky but should not be greasy. If it is greasy, process for an additional 1–2 minutes.
Brush a medium bowl with some melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill.
Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1–1 1/2 hours (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been refrigerated).
Also a quick way to proof your dough. Set your oven to the lowest temp. Mine will go down to 125. Place covered dough in oven for about 15 - 20 minutes and dough should be doubled in size. (Keep a close eye on your dough if you are going this route.)

To put together -

Roll dough out on floured surface to a rectangle aproximately 12x16. (if you don't have a rolling pin a wine bottle works just as well!!)  ;-)
With longer edge facing you spread 4 tbls. of room temp. butter over dough. Mix 1/2 cup of white sugar with 1 tbls of cinnamon and spread over dough. Sprinkle 3/4 cups of chopped pecans over dough.


Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll dough into a log, tightening as you roll, and patting in ends if they begin to taper. Pinch together the seam where the long side meets the roll to seal. Arrange the log seam side down on the work surface.
Using a large knife, cut the log crosswise into equal pieces. (we got 13 1 inch slices) Lightly flour the knife between slices if the dough is too sticky.


Pour goo into lightly buttered pans. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of pecans (whole or chopped, what ever your preference is.

Turn the buns cut side up and gently pat the top to flatten slightly. If needed, reshape to form round edges by cupping lightly floured hands around each bun and gently pushing and turning them in a circular motion.
Place the buns in prepared pan; space them evenly apart (buns should not touch each other). Cover with tea towel and let rise until almost double.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, rotating pan halfway through until buns are golden brown, and filling is bubbling.
Take out of oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Then place platter over pan and turn over and serve.


These are best warm. They are also good the next day warmed up in the microwave or room temp.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hilltop Salad with Raspberry Chipotle Vinaigrette

Have you ever been to San Antonio? Walked the river walk? Ridden the trolley to the Missions?

If you have not done any of the above, you need to!! San Antonio, Texas is beautiful. I would go back there in a heart beat.

My travel buddies and I (Renee and Chris) went there for a long weekend. There is a trolley you can ride that will take you all over the city to the tourist areas. You can ride the trolley all day long and get on and off at the sites you want to see.

One of our stops was in the German area where the Guenther family had a flour mill. The house where the Guenther family lived is now a restaurant appropriately called the Guenther House. After touring the grounds we decided to eat lunch there, which is where I discovered this wonderful salad dressing. It was so good, I decided to create a salad that would go well with the dressing and put it on the menu.

I love the combination of sweet and savory and that combination is what this salad is all about.

Sich erfreuen y'all!!


You can use any type of lettuce you like. I used a spring mix for this salad. It worked well.

Candied walnuts

1/2 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups walnuts

Melt butter and add brown sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Take off heat and add walnuts. Stir until Walnuts are coated. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. (I use my silpat) Let cool.

Raspberry Chipotle vinaigrette 

1 cup raspberry jam 
1 tbls of pureed chipotle pepper in adobe sauce(you can add more and make it as spicey as you would like)
1 cup of oil
1/2 cup of vinegar (I use a white wine vinegar, but you could use a raspberry or cider if you like)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Put in cruet or bottle. Something with a lid that will allow you to shake it up without going all over the place!

To assemble the salad 

I use a spring mix for my salad, but you can use any type of lettuce/spinach you like. Sprinkle a handful of craisins on the salad, a handful of Gorgonzola cheese and then a handful of the candied walnuts. Top with the Raspberry Chipotle Vinaigrette and enjoy!!