Friday, March 4, 2011

Cookies, Part the Third

The madness continues! Continual success with these batches.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies
Seriously, you shouldn't even have to ask why this recipe is awesome. I mean, a) brownies. Duh. But if that wasn't enough, you get a center of cream cheese (which keeps them astoundingly moist, even after several days) and raspberry jam is spread throughout all the batter. Raspberry-y chocolate? How could you possibly go wrong?

I tell you, though: next time I make this, I'm putting all the chocolate batter on the bottom and leaving the marbled cream cheese and jam for display. Because that is a thing of beauty.
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1,1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2,1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 3 large eggs
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing excess to hang over pan edges. Grease foil. Process cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, and 3/4 tsp vanilla in food processor until smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Microwave butter and chocolate in large bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 1min. Whisk in 1/4 cup jam and cool slightly. Add remaining 1,1/4 cups sugar, eggs, and remaining 1,1/2 tsp vanilla to chocolate mixture, stirring until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until incorporated.

Microwave remaining 1/4 cup jam until warm, about 30secs; stir until smooth. Scrape half of batter into prepared pan. Dollop cream cheese filling over batter and spread into even layer. Dollop warm jam over filling and swirl to partially combine. Spread remaining batter evenly over filling. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 50-60min. Cool completely, about 2hrs. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan and cut into squares.

Butterscotch Meringue Bars
Ok, so if we posit that meringues themselves are too sweet, where does that leave meringue toppings? Can they still be used without wrecking the taste with sugary sweetness? Answer: yes. In fact, I wouldn't make this bar without the topping: it adds a third layer that contrasts colour (which you can't really tell from that picture), texture, and flavour to the other two. "The other two," being a layer of pure melted chocolate, and a blondie base. A sweet sandwich of delicious. Ergo, the use of meringue is justified.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 Tbs (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13*9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess to hang oven pan edges. Grease foil. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 2min. Add egg yolks, water, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Press chocolate chips lightly into dough.

In clean bowl, whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add remaining brown sugar, mixing until smooth and shiny. Gently spread egg white mixture over chocolate chip layer and bake until golden brown, about 35min. Cool completely, about 2hrs. Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan and cut into squares.

Old-Fashioned Butter Crunch Candy
I'm not sure what makes this "old-fashioned," or why they titled it this way. Several folks I offered it to called it "bark." I've never had commercial bark candy, but I understand the general concept. This isn't too different, other than its caramel base and nut topping. It's pretty sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. Moreover, if you served a lot of soft warm desserts like I do, suddenly having something hard and crunchy can be a nice change of pace, especially if you serve it with ice cream. Besides, you can show off; everyone will be astounded that you made your own candy.
  • 14 Tbs (1,3/4 sticks) butter
  • 1,1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 4 oz [milk|semisweet|bittersweet] chocolate, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup almonds or pecans, toasted and chopped fine
Line a 13*9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess to hang over pan edges. Grease foil. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, water, and corn syrup and boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is light caramel in colour, 10-12min. If you're all fancy-pants and have an instant-read thermometer, it should register 310 degrees at this point.

Carefully pour hot caramel into prepared baking dish. Let cool until slightly firm but still warm, about 5min. Scatter chocolate pieces evenly over top, let soften for 5min, then spread into even layer using back of spoon. Sprinkle nuts over chocolate and gently press to adhere.

Cool completely, about 1hr. Using foil overhang, lift candy from pan and break into various-size pieces by hand.

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