I used to have a problem with brownies. I tried a variety of recipes but I always had the same miserable outcome: muddy in the middle. Brownie recipes always state: Do NOT over-bake. The toothpick test is useless here too because they are supposed to still be moist when you take them from the oven. But if you overcompensate and bake them too long, you’re left with dry and heavy results.
Not to be beaten by a 9×13-inch brownie pan, I turned to Baker’s Chocolate Brownie Cookies. They are my go-to chocolate indulgence cookies. They satisfy my craving for a brownie without the guesswork. Only one bowl is needed and they take about 15 minutes to make (not counting baking time, of course). The recipe is from Baker’s, a baking chocolate that I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
We call them Dunkable Brownies in my house and as nice as they are with walnuts added, I recently tried Brownie Thins, which call for pistachios. I’ve never been a big pistachio fan; I think I tried pistachio ice cream as a kid and didn’t like it and that’s why I steered clear of the distinctive green nut. These looked so wonderful, I was willing to give pistachios another bash-io.
Am I glad I did! My grown-up palate appreciated their crunchy, buttery flavor. Nestled in slivers of brownie, they bring out the rich, chocolate flavor with their complementary goodness.
Either way, try one of these brownie cookies and the chocoholic in you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy and tell me how yours turned out!
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c sugar
1 large egg
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 c chopped pistachios
Position rack in lowest third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 2 baking sheets. Place butter and chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high until almost completely melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar and egg; whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add flour, both extracts, and salt; stir just to blend. Let batter stand 10 minutes.
Scoop rounded teaspoonfuls batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing apart. Spray sheet of plastic wrap lightly with nonstick spray. Place, sprayed side down, over cookies. Using fingers, press each mound into 2 1/2-inch round. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle pistachios over rounds. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until slightly darker at edges and firm in center, about 7 minutes. Cool on sheet 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack; cool completely.
* Look, I didn’t do all that with the plastic wrap. I just used the back of the spoon that I used to dispense the batter onto the trays. A finger would do; just spread the batter out into thin rounds. Also, I toasted my pistachios. Yum. Watch them carefully the first time, to adjust subsequent baking times, if necessary.
Hello fellow chocoholics! I have chocolate on the brain today because I’m going to make Hedgehog Cookies later, so I thought I’d talk about chocolate for baking. Having grown up in the States, I was reared on Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. Most Americans are familiar with the cookie and its time-honored recipe (since 1939). Some folks may use Hershey’s chocolate chips, or morsels, but I have always been a loyal Nestle’s fan. Until this year, semi-sweet chocolate chips have been nearly impossible to buy in supermarkets in England. I have always ordered them from Skyco in Surrey (or Mom sends them to me).
For recipes that call for squares of chocolate, I have always used Baker’s, another American label. The brand is reliable and I’ve used many of the recipes printed on the back of the box too. While this brand is unavailable here (except through Skyco and other mail-order outlets), quality bittersweet chocolate bars are easy to find and many have more than Baker’s 54 per cent cacao.
Bittersweet chocolate, otherwise known as semisweet or dark chocolate, has recently found favor for its heart-health benefits because it is rich in flavonols. In addition to containing antioxidants, which allow your body’s cells to resist damage caused by free radicals, flavonols have other potential influence on vascular health. These include lowering cholesterol, improving blood flow to the heart and brain, and assisting blood platelets to clot.
What’s more, as you probably already know, bittersweet chocolate is good for your mental health too. Its smooth, intense flavor melting on your tongue is enough to perk you up on its own, but dark chocolate also causes the release of neurotransmitters, which speak directly to the brain. The confection helps to improve the flow of endorphins (known to improve mood, lessen pain and relieve stress) and serotonin (the brain’s feel-good chemical).
Unsweetened chocolate is another story here. It’s nearly impossible to locate a bar of unsweetened chocolate here; I’ve read so many labels! However, Waitrose shops recently started stocking Willie’s Cacao, made by “The Chocolate Man”, Willie Harcourt-Cooze. These mini-barrels of solid artisan chocolate come in several varieties, such as Venezuelan Black (100% Rio Caribe Cacao) with its complex nut and coffee notes. All you have to do is chop or shave it and it’s ready to use. The flavor is superb.
I hope you can find good-quality chocolate where you are because tomorrow I’ll share two recipes that use semisweet or unsweetened chocolate: Brownie Thins (studded with pistachios) and Dunkable Brownies — irresistibly good brownie cookies.