Chocolate Teff Brownies

My husband and I were invited to a cook-out recently. He knew the couple hosting the event; I didn’t know anyone. I volunteered to bring a dessert so that there would be something gluten-free available for my husband. A look through my pantry and through my favorite cookbook (as you likely know by now!), Nourishing Meals, and I settled on some Chocolate Chip Teff Brownies with an added dairy-free ganache. They were absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the party goers.

Chocolate Teff Brownies

CHOCOLATE TEFF BROWNIES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Dry Ingredients
1 c. teff flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. dates, pitted
1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix-in
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 7 x 11 baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Place the dates and ground flaxseeds into a blender; pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and quickly whisk together. Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour better into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz chocolate chips
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a small pan and heat over low. Stir continuously until melted and thickened, just about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Do not chill. Drizzle over brownies.

Or, if you would like a thick, creamy, spreadable frosting then let the ganache thicken at room temperature for about 3 hours.

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Gluten-Free Goodness: Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies

These tasty little morsels are full of chocolatey goodness and they are made with coconut flour. I don’t have lots of knowledge of or experience baking with coconut flour, but I know that it soaks of moisture, so a little goes a long way! These also contain walnuts, so they are more healthful and protein packed than your average brownie (we could all use a few more “healthy” brownies in our life, right?!).

I made these for a holiday brunch and topped them with a bit of vanilla custard and strawberries. Though they would be delicious with some whipped cream, icing, powdered sugar, or even just plain.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE WALNUT BROWNIES
(from elanaspantry.com)
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1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (73% cacao)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup agave nectar (maple syrup or honey, if preferred)
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (73% cacao)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips in food processor and pulse until the consistency of coarse sand. Pulse in coconut flour, salt, and baking soda until combined. Pulse in eggs, agave, grapeseed oil, and vanilla.

Pour batter into a greased 8×8 pyrex dish. Sprinkle walnuts and remaining chocolate chips over batter. Bake  for 25-30 minutes. Cool and serve.

Optional: Top with fresh strawberries, vanilla custard, whipped cream, homemade icing.

Off the Shelf: February Magazines

Fine Cooking (Stephanie) – I enjoy looking through the pages of Fine Cooking in part because each issue offers a particular dish with recipe alternatives. The February/March issue includes meatloaf variations with aromatics, meats, mix-ins and herbs and spices ideas so you can create your own recipe. This issue also features several recipes using the banana, including Thai-Style Halibut Banana Curry with Peanuts and Banana Split Brownies.

I chose to try the Lemon-Glazed Banana Scones with Crystallized Ginger. I have to admit the flavor combination sounded strange, but nevertheless, intriguing. Also for true confession, I used powdered ginger because I wasn’t willing to send $8 on a jar of crystallized ginger for this recipe (conversion: 1/8 tsp of powdered ginger added in with the dry ingredients), so the ginger flavor is most likely less aggressive than the original recipe. Regardless, these are fantastic! I was amazed by the way the banana and lemon complemented each other.

(For any of you gluten-free readers, I successfully made these gf, but substituting my gf all-purpose flour mix of choice and adding 1 tsp of xanthan gum.)

LEMON-GLAZED BANANA SCONES WITH CRYSTALLIZED GINGER
(from Fine Cooking, Feb./Mar. 2011)
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FOR THE SCONES
9 oz (2 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/8 tsp salt
2 3/4 oz (5 1/2 Tbsp) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small ripe (but not mushy) banana, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 c.)
1 Tbsp minced crystallized ginger
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp heavy cream; more for brushing
coarse white sanding sugar, optional

FOR THE GLAZE
3 oz (3/4 c.) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt

Position the rack in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Stack two rimmed baking sheets and line the top one with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain. Stir in the banana and the ginger. Add the cream; with a fork, gradually stir until the mixture just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into a 7-inch circle about 1-inch thick. Using a knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer to the baking sheet, spacing the wedges 1-2 inches apart. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar (optional).

Bake until the tops are golden, 19-25 minutes, rotating halfway through baking for even browning. Transfer the scones to a wire rack and cool slightly, 3-4 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, butter, and salt until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones with the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saveur (Stephanie) – I perused the 135th issue of Saveur magazine online, the Jan./Feb. issue is the chef’s edition. I have to admit that many of the recipes didn’t appeal to me as they were ingredients I don’t typically use in my kitchen. But there were several different deviled egg recipes I found interesting. I tried the Bacon-and-Cheddar Deviled Eggs; how could they not be delicious?! 🙂

BACON-AND-CHEDDAR DEVILED EGGS
(from Saveur Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2011)
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MAKES 12

6 eggs
1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, plus 2 tsp. rendered bacon fat reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, to garnish

Put eggs into a 4-qt. pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. Drain eggs and crack each shell slightly. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Peel eggs. Halve each egg; using a small spoon, transfer yolks to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash yolks. Add cheddar, mayonnaise, 3/4 of the chopped bacon, and bacon fat; season with salt and pepper. Stir vigorously with spatula until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a plastic bag or a piping bag fitted with a smooth tip and pipe into egg whites. Garnish eggs with the remaining bacon, more cheddar, and hot sauce and serve cold or at room temperature.

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – This issue had some great looking recipes. They have a section an interesting section on honey as well as a variety of chili recipes. The Honey-Roasted Onion Tart, Roasted Beets & Citrus w/Feta, Sesame Cilantro Soup, Black Bean Chili w/Butternut Squash, and Fresh Pinapple Trifles w/Orange-Coconut Cream are just a few of the tempting recipes. However…

…Just look at the cover of this magazine. Yum. And with a boast of them being the best brownies ever and that you would want to eat the entire pan, well, I simply had to try them. Not that I needed them, mind you – it was all in the interest of kitchen research, of course. 🙂 The verdict: I DID want to eat the whole pan but I restrained myself. Despite my adding way too much flour, they turned out simply delicious. I think the combination of the browned butter, walnuts, and rich chocolatey goodness made them irresistable. [On a side note, I used dark chocolate cocoa powder.] These would be an excellent Valentine’s Dessert if you are cooking dinner for two. You could use a cookie cutter to cut them into hearts and serve them with ice cream or fresh whipped cream or all by themselves. Seriously good, folks. Make them. 

COCOA BROWNIES w/BROWNED BUTTER & WALNUTS 
(aka delicious and worth every calorie)
Bon Appetit, February 2011
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10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

My Kitchen View

This week I’m preparing for my mission trip to Kazakhstan! One of the things I’m looking forward to is enjoying the food. I would characterize myself as an adventurous eater – I will try nearly anything once. When we were in Kazakhstan bringing home our oldest sons, we spent a few meals just pointing to random things on the menu. We enjoyed it all! We also lived on meat pies for the last week we spent there. They were so good! I hope to have a chance to blog a bit about the food we eat.

As I may have mentioned, life has been a little crazy for my family lately and it made me think of some of the quick things I make and the kitchen shortcuts I take when we are so busy. A favorite quick dessert is espresso brownies – they start with a brownie mix and we love them!

ESPRESSO BROWNIES
(inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis)
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1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. plus 2 Tb. strong brewed coffee or espresso, divided
2 lg. eggs 
1 (19.8-oz) box brownie mix
3/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tb. butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Pour brownie mix into a large bowl; add 1/3 cup of coffee, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until combined. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 Tb. espresso, and butter and whisk until smooth (I add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it). Spread the glaze over the brownies. Garnish with more chocolate chips. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Makes 24.

Baker’s Delight: Citrus Desserts

I LOVE citrus desserts. I grew up enjoying lemon glaze cake, lemon meringue pie and more. The combination of sweet and tart is delightful.

These orange brownies were unbelievable!There is no chocolate in them – they are simply a dessert bar. We will definitely make them again for a wonderful treat!

ORANGE BROWNIES
(slighly adapted from Paula Deen)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp. pure orange extract (I didn’t have this so I used 2 tsp. orange juice and 1 tsp. of a citrus extract)
Zest of one orange
1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 pan.

Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 Tb. butter, softened 
1 (1-lb.) box confectioners’ sugar (3-4 c.) 
 zest of one orange 
2 Tb. fresh squeezed orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.

I’ve not been a huge fan of key lime desserts until the last few years. This key lime cheesecake is delicious. It’s light and creamy and the fresh squeezed limes make it so fresh. I like to garnish this with fresh whipped cream, fresh lime slices, and white chocolate curls.


KEY LIME CHEESECAKE

CRUST:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
6 Tb. butter, melted

FILLING:
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
3 eggs
1 Tb. grated lime zest
2/3 c. key lime juice

Combine cookie or graham cracker crumbs with butter or margarine. Press into bottom and partially up sides of 9 inch springform pan. Refrigerate.

In a large bowl, beat with an electric mixer the cream cheese, sugar, lime peel, and cornstarch until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, blending just until smooth. Add key lime juice with mixer on low. Finish mixing by hand. Do not overbeat, or cake will crack during baking. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 300 degrees for 55 to 65 min., or until set. To minimize cracking, place a shallow pan half full of hot water on lower rack during baking.

Turn oven off, and let cheesecake stand in oven 30 min. with the door open at least 4 in. Remove from oven. Refrigerate cake overnight, and up to three days.

This cake is so lemon-y! We all loved it! I served it topped with blueberry sauce but it’s great by itself, too. It’s like a pound cake.

LEMON CAKE
(Ina Garten)

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

GLAZE:
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 1/2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-in.) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 min. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 c. lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 min. to 1 hr., until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 c. granulated sugar with 1/2 c. lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE
3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 c. sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp. cornstarch

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened.