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!
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.
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.
Today is my dad’s birthday. I know, you’re thinking “all she’s posting are brownies??!!” But hey, it’s better than having a poached chicken mark your happy day on your daughter’s food blog.
It seemed appropriate given that my dad is the biggest chocoholic I know, and that he too is a maker of brownies. You could say he taught me everything I know about brownie baking…and now I’m taking things a step further and adding peanuts to the mix.
My dad is a simple guy, very easy to please. When I called him to ask what he wanted for his upcoming birthday, he replied, “make me something from your blog.” And I thought, why would I make you something you’ve already seen and that I’ve described in remarkably eloquent prose? Why not make you something mind-blowing that has yet to grace the webpages of Bashful Bao?
So that’s what I’m doing. I can’t tell you what I’m making yet, but it involves chocolate, obviously.
Luke and I are going down to CT this weekend, in part to celebrate a slightly belated birthday with my dad, but also because it will most likely be the only time all my bridesmaids are gathered in the same city. We’re going dress shopping, and I’m so glad that all I have to do is sit around and judge.
But more on that later. I hope you enjoy your virtual birthday brownies, Dad. And don’t worry, your actual treat is much, much better!
Salted Peanut Brownies
Adapted from Cinnamon Girl
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tbsp instant coffee granules (optional)
2 tsps vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 ½ tsps baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups peanut butter chips (or more chocolate chips)
2/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease/butter a 9” square baking pan. Melt butter, semisweet chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Whisk sugar, eggs, instant coffee granules, vanilla extract and cinnamon in a large bowl until just combined. Whisk in a few tablespoons of the warm chocolate to temper the eggs, and then whisk in the rest.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add it to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the peanut butter/chocolate chips and chopped peanuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 mins, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. It will still seem a little wiggly in the center, and that’s ok. Cool completely on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.