White Chocolate Brownies with Meringue

We have officially acquired a house.  Though we crossed the threshold yesterday as its new owners, it doesn’t feel like ours yet.  Maybe it’s because it’s vacant, its open spaces like a daunting, gaping maw ready to swallow us whole and envelop us completely in adulthood responsibility.

I think once we put some of our stuff in there it’ll feel homier.  I’ll think about the black hole of adulthood later, when the plumbing backs up, or a tree falls down on the house. (Knock on wood.)

Even though we’re not moving out of our apartment until the 14th, there’re already two realtors coming by today to show the place to potential lessees.  Anyone ever had their place being shown while they were still in it?  Like physically there.  I’m going to sit in the dining room and pretend nobody is judging how messy I am.  Sigh.

I’ve heard that baking cookies before showing property is beneficial, as the smell is welcoming and inviting, making people feel at ease.  Since we don’t own this apartment though, I’m not baking cookies.  Maybe I’ll set out a plate of these brownies, or maybe having people look upon my adorable house bunny will suffice.

More brownies for me that way.  While these bars aren’t the most photogenic (yeah, my meringue is a little strange looking) they’re still mighty tasty.  Imagine a dense, chewy brownie flavored by white chocolate and ground almonds.  Plus a crispy, slightly sweetened meringue shell on top.  You know you want to.

White Chocolate Brownies with Meringue

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes one 9×13” pan (about 30 brownies)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup finely ground almonds or almond meal

½ tsp salt

1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest (I used lemon zest)

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the meringue topping:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

pinch of salt

½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×13” pan and place the pan on a baking sheet; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, and salt.  Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of only-just simmering water.  Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir frequently until the ingredients are melted.  You don’t want them to get so hot that the butter and white chocolate separate, white chocolate can be finicky, so keep an eye on it.  Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan of water.

Working in another large bowl, rub the sugar and orange/lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  Add the eggs and beat for about 3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla.  Carefully blend in the melted butter and chocolate, then mix in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they disappear into the batter.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Set aside while you make the meringue.  (Or skip that step if you wish.)

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until they are foamy and just turn opaque.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream.  Whip the whites until they form firm, but still glossy peaks.  Gently spread the meringue over the brownie batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine ended up in the oven for close to 50), or until the meringue is browned and crackly and the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.  To make sure mine were done, I looked at the bottom of the pan to see if the bottom of the brownies were uniform.  This will obviously only work with a clear pan.  Once yours are done, transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature in the pan, then cut and serve!

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White Chocolate Cashew Dulce de Leche Bars

In honor of Memorial Day, I’m posting about a certain dessert that I cannot stop thinking about.  I know it might not be the same concept as Memorial Day, but I felt that if I didn’t post about a dessert that I’ll remember forever (or at least a long time) I’d have no other way of acknowledging the holiday.

Besides saying Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and to thank the men and women who have served our nation.

So what makes these bars so darn good?  Well, it’s the flavor combination.  Three things I can’t get enough of (white chocolate, dulce de leche, and cashews) all in one delicious package?  Umm, yes please.

Yes please times a billion.  These bars are essentially a dulce de leche flavored blondie studded with chopped cashews and white chocolate chips.  Their texture is denser than that of a traditional blondie, and therefore even more dear to me.

I am one of those people who likes the gooey center pieces of brownie, not the firm, crispy edges, so to me, the soft chewiness the dulce de leche adds to these bars is ethereal.  Please excuse me, I’ve made myself hungry.  Time to hit the bars, if you catch my drift.

White Chocolate Cashew Dulce de Leche Bars

Adapted from The Capitol Baker

Makes one 8X8” pan

1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche (store-bought or homemade)
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews, roughly chopped

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 x 8” pan and set aside.

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the brown sugar to the saucepan and whisk until mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the egg then add the salt and flour and stir until fully combined.  Add the dulce de leche to the batter and stir until it is uniformly combined, then fold in the cashew pieces and white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly in the greased pan and bake for 35 minutes or until set in the center and golden brown at the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.  Cool the bars completely in pan before cutting and serving.


S’mores Cheesecake Bars

So a strange thing has started happening.  My former student’s prom pictures are popping up in my facebook news feed and…it makes me feel so old.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  It’s nice to be mature and independent, and I get to put on a big, poofy dress in a few months anyway, so I don’t really miss prom or high school life.

Going to Luke’s reunion was a reminder of our age as well.  I didn’t post yesterday because we decided to come home Saturday night instead of Sunday afternoon so Luke had a day to relax before work.  We didn’t get back until really late, and well, I was tired.

But the reunion was nice.  We had a good time, and reconnected, or in my case just connected, with some awesome people.  Luke even got told what a lucky man he is (to have me) by a former classmate 🙂  I knew I was armcandy!

Before my ego swells uncontrollably, let’s move on to the foods.  S’mores are a traditional summer snack, but with no campfire in sight (although I’m contemplating using that baking spices scented candle.) I’m finding other ways of working the summer staple into our dessert rotation.

Enter the s’mores cheesecake bar.  A crumbly graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallows sandwiching a creamy chocolately cheesecake layer.  Let’s call them fancy s’mores.  Let’s call them super amazing s’mores.  I just hope they can power me through my first GRE practice test.

S’more Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Sugar Plum

Makes one 8X8” pan

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6-7 graham crackers)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate, melted

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

melted chocolate for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well combined.  Pat into the bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and set on wire rack to cool.

In another medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and marshmallow cream until fluffy – about 1 minute. Beat in cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs until combined.  Stir in melted chocolate until combined. Pour filling over crust, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set, and no longer wobbly. Remove from oven.

Preheat oven broiler. Evenly top cheesecake with mini marshmallows and broil for about 10-20 seconds until marshmallows start to brown. Cool on a wire rack and drizzle with additional melted chocolate, if desired. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until well chilled, about an hour or two, and enjoy.


Dulce de Leche Brownies

I am a sucker for anything caramel-related.  I’d probably eat the foods I hate the most if they were drenched in caramel sauce…though I guess vegetables (because whose least favorite food isn’t a vegetable?) in caramel sauce would be kind of weird.

Ok, so that example got away from me.  Obviously, I am trying to convey my adoration for caramel, be it a sauce, in a candy bar, or swirled into another baked good. I love it all.  Luke does not.  How am I supposed to marry this person?!?!

Just kidding.  It means more caramel for me of course!  And to keep myself from sitting around eating dulce de leche from the jar with a spoon, I decided to put it to better use, wrapped up in chocolate, so that maybe, just maybe, the man who’s not so crazy about caramel will enjoy a great dessert with me.

Mission accomplished.  I was surprised that the dulce de leche on top baked into a hard crust, but a caramel crust is better than no crust.  Maybe it was because I used store-bought (I know, I know, but I was lazy and the jar was already open).  To make your own dulce de leche for this recipe, click here.  These brownies are sure to please the chocolate-caramel lover inside us all.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes one 8X8” pan

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (or in morsel form)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

¼  tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dulce de leche, store-bought or homemade

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over medium heat until smooth. Stir in cocoa powder and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla. Fold in flour until just combined.

Pour half of the brownie batter into a greased 8×8″ baking dish.  Spoon 1/2 of the dulce de leche over the brownie batter in small clumps. Use a butter knife to swirl it into the brownie batter.

Pour the remaining half of the brownie batter into the pan and smooth. Scoop the remaining dulce de leche in small clumps over the surface of the brownie batter and swirl with a butter knife.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center is just set or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.


Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Yesterday Luke and I attended our first and only wedding expo.  We were there for one specific reason: to sample the cake of a certain bakery so we could make a decision on where to get our wedding cake.

We accomplished this task about 10 minutes after the expo started.  Then we decided to nibble on a few of the provided hors d’oeurves and wander around carefully.  I say carefully because we just wanted to see what other kinds of booths there were, and not be assaulted by the salespeople attending them.  We already have all of our other vendors set, so we were just there to look.

 The woman at the front table was quite surprised to see us leave so early, but no reason to hang about needlessly since our decision was made.  With our extra time, we decided to go to the mall, looking for a new pair of corduroy pants for Luke.  I ended up getting a pair of jeans at the Gap for $7, but there were no corduroys to be found.  We also went to Trader Joe’s, to stock up on some of Luke’s favorite frozen food, as I’ll be away for a few days starting this coming weekend.

Ok, so that’s the life update, now onto the food.  I’m sure I must have proclaimed my love for pumpkin baked goods at some point, but here’s another out-of-season recipe to prove it.

These bars are thick and chewy, with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor.  I also like the pumpkin/white chocolate combination.  The original recipe called for semisweet chocolate, but I wanted to do something different.  Maybe next time I’ll use butterscotch morsels.  Oh goodness….to the kitchen!!!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes one 9X13” pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cups white chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture will look somewhat curdled, but don’t worry about it.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake bars for 35-40 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool bars completely in pan. Cut into squares and serve.


Almond Green Tea White Chocolate Bars

Check out this sweet screen shot.  You see that awesome muffin photo?  Yeah, I took that.  And now it’s on a website that doesn’t belong to me.  Living the dream.  (Oh, and thanks KA!)

Yesterday Luke called me from work to tell me his boss had just brought in some parsley for our little Izzy.  Goodness knows that rabbit would eat her weight in parsley everyday if she could.

I told him to keep it in the work fridge then bring it home with him.  Upon his arrival at the apartment, he promptly dropped a supermarket sized paper bag in my lap.  It was half full of parsley.  Packed parsley.  Oh my, the rabbit will feast well.  Even though I had just fed her, we gave her some anyway.  Seeing her chomp on a big sprig of parsley is just about the most adorable thing ever.

Watching me eat these bars, however, is not so adorable.  Like Izzy, I’d very much like to eat my weight in these bars…if I could figure out how many times I’d have to make the recipe to accomplish that.

Or maybe I’ll just make them over and over and over. This is the second time I’ve made them, and I swear they taste better this time around.  Green tea, almonds and white chocolate is one of those interesting, but amazing combos.

The flavors are distinct, yet complimentary, and meld together in your mouth like nothing else.  I’m definitely going to try playing around with these flavors more in the future.

Green Tea Almond White Chocolate Bars

Adapted from Hungry Rabbit 

Makes one 8X8” pan

For the almond batter:
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

For the green tea batter:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp matcha (green tea) powder
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang and grease.

Whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts; mix until combined. Add flour mixture, and mix carefully, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Fold in white chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, granulated sugar, butter, flour, green tea powder, egg, and extract until fully incorporated.

Pour half of the almond batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon 3/4 of matcha mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour remaining batter on top and spread slightly. Top with dollops of remaining matcha batter, about 1 inch apart. Run a knife through layers to create a swirl pattern.

Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45-55 minutes. Cool bars in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, lift bars from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.


Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

Last night, Luke and I went to Finale in Cambridge.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this magical place, it is a “desserterie,” or a restaurant that specializes in desserts.  You can get savory food there too, but I’m all about the dessert.

We ordered a sampler platter since it was so hard to choose just one dessert, and boy was it tasty.  If you’re ever in the Boston area, I would definitely recommend a stop at Finale.

Now on to the brownies.  As you can see, there’s a lot going on with these guys.  It’s a layer of brownie, topped with marshmallows, then topped off with a peanut butter chocolate crisp rice cereal mixture.  The contrast of flavors and textures is out of this world good.

Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Makes one 9X13” pan

For the Brownie Base:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Toppings:
1 bag (10½ ounces) miniature marshmallows
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

For the brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and ¾ cup of the semisweet chocolate chips over medium heat. Stir occasionally while melting. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl , whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Stir the melted ingredients into the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in the dry sifted ingredients and mix well. Fold in the remaining ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the corner of the pan comes out with moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over them. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes, then remove from oven.

Meanwhile, place the milk chocolate chips, peanut butter, and tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Remove from heat, add the Rice Krispies and mix well. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.

Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallow layer. Refrigerate until chilled before cutting.