Suzi’s Blog

Salted Caramel Brownies from The New York Times and Baked

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Suzi is serving this brownie every week at Cooking by the Book. Teams come here to cook a meal together and then gobble up their creations for lunch or dinner. Suzi put these brownies on the menu, knowing that folks would home in on the idea of a brownie and caramel and salt. They do.

This recipe appeared in the New York Times and was credited to Baked, the quite remarkable bakery chain that began in Red Hook. Luckily for me, a new Baked is here in Tribeca and I can walk three blocks to buy a brownie any day. But, but, I must say that having the smell of these baking in your own kitchen is a treat. And to sample them warm and gooey, well, that’s just an incomparable over the top dessert.

The caramel here has a secret ingredient: sour cream. How does it taste? Doubly caramel!

Like brownies? Be prepared to fall in love all over again.

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yield: about 12 depending on your knife skills, and your avarice!

Ingredients:

For the caramel:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

½ cup heavy cream

¾ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ cup sour cream

For the brownies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces plus more to grease the pan

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces dark chocolate 60 to 72% cocoa, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

5 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Coarse sugar and flaky salt for sprinkling

Preparation:

Make the caramel: in a medium saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat, stirring gently, until an instant read thermometer reads 350 degrees or until the mixture is dark amber in color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, slowly pour in heavy cream and salt (it will foam up) and whisk. Whisk in sour cream (it may look lumpy at first) and set aside to cool. Taste and add salt if needed to give the caramel a good balance of salt and sweet.

Make the brownies: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use butter (or baking spray) to lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter or spray the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Melt chocolate and butter together, either in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, or in a microwave at low heat, working in 30-second bursts. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and combined. Whisk in sugars. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a sturdy whisk, add eggs one by one, whisking just until combined. Stir in vanilla.

Gently pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold together just until few streaks of flour are visible; do not overmix.

Pour batter into the pan and let settle. Drizzle caramel sauce over batter until the batter is almost covered. (you may not use all the caramel.) On the surface, use the tip of a butter knife or icing spatula to swirl the batter and caramel together. Don't worry if it looks messy.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. At the 30-minute mark, shake the pan gently to test for doneness. When done, the brownies will be barely set in the center and puffed, but not dry, around the edges. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar and flaked salt.

Let cool to room temperature before cutting. After cutting, if desired, drizzle any remaining caramel over the top. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Source: The New York Times, 2016

 

Maria Sin Sangre from The Craft Cocktail Party by Julie Reiner

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Ordinarily, you can tell if I have made a recipe here or am just supplying you with an exciting one from a cookbook. I can’t actually test and taste everything, so sometimes you are going to be the one enjoying that first taste. You can tell which scenario is in playby the picture. If I made it, I photograph it. If I haven’t made it, I use a photo, typically much better than mine, from the book.

Well, here, I made this wonderful cocktail. But, my photos of cocktails and soups are famous for being bad, and this cocktail is really good, so I’ve used the book’s lovely picture. It’s a gem, just like the beverage.

This is author, and bar owner, Julie Reiner’s variation on the Bloody Mary. No tomato juice here, hence the Sin Sangre in the title. No, you muddle cherry tomatoes with basil leaves and simple syrup. No vodka either. It’s tequila. And, only God and Julie know why, there is a splash of sherry.

The picture and the story and the ingredients were too powerful a pull for me to resist. My wife Suzi is a Bloody Mary fanatic. Her response after the first sip? “More.”

The flavor profile here is intriguing. The basil is powerful, the tomatoes sweet but earthy, and the simply syrup provides an underlying brightness. Then the tequila and sherry give you a jet-powered culinary shove.

Try this once and you, too, will simply say, “More.”


Maria Sin Sangre

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 basil leaves
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces blanco tequila (I recommend El Tesoro)
  • ½ ounce dry sherry (I recommend Williams Humbert medium-dry)
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Garnish of basil leaf and cherry tomato, if you desire

Preparation:

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the tomatoes and basil in the simple syrup. Add the tequila, sherry, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and shake with ice until chilled. Double strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a coupe glass.

To create the garnish, pierce a small hole in the top of the tomato and insert the stem of the basil leaf like a flag. Make a slit in the bottom of the tomato and perch the tomato on I the rim of the glass.


Source: The Craft Cocktail Party by Julie Reiner [Grand Central Life and Style, 2015]

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies from There’s Always Room for Chocolate

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I just reviewed a new chocolate book There’s Always Room for Chocolate. Here’s the review. And here’s the best thing we’ve made, so far, from the book. How do describe these cookies? Oh, how about the best chocolate cookie ever. Ever. These are quite decadent, a bit brownie-like, lovely to behold and chocolate intense. Need to pull an all-nighter? Well, a half dozen of these and some coffee will do the trick. Except, you don’t need the coffee.

As I was laying out the ingredients here, my wife Suzi said, “Can I help you?” That is code for “I don’t trust you and you’ll screw these up if I don’t do it for you.” Suzi was right. I am an impatient baker and there is a step here calling for an egg mixture to triple in volume over a span of 12 minutes. Me? I woulda stopped short of tripling and never gone the full 12 minutes. I learned my lesson. Follow the recipe and you will make this cookie a family favorite year round.


Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (preferably 60% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (preferably 100% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone liners. In a small bowl, mix together 3 ounces of the dark chocolate and the walnuts. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set both bowls aside.

Melt the butter, the remaining 3 ounces of dark chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate together in the top of a double boiler, stirring to keep the chocolate from burning, or microwave them together in 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until they become liquid. Whisk the butter and chocolate briskly until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs, sugar, instant espresso, and vanilla together on medium-low until the mixture comes together, then whip on high for 12 minutes; the mixture will nearly triple in volume. Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the melted chocolate mixture in; mix until just incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the chopped chocolate and nuts to the dough, and fold everything together with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Add half the flour mixture to the bowl and fold it into the batter until it is just incorporated, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Use a tablespoon or a 1-ounce (1-tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out the batter, using about 2 tablespoons of batter per cookie, and place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. You should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, then let the cookies cool completely on the pans. To remove them from the pans, run a small offset spatula or a thin knife between the cookies and the parchment paper or liner.


Source: There’s Always Room for Chocolate by Naomi Josepher, Jon Payson, and Georgia Freeman [Rizzoli, 2016]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/11 for 1/30th second at ISO‑3200