Sunday, March 11, 2012
Chocolate Revelations: Mounds of Brownies
I was delighted that Janet asked me to submit a guest post. I love CHOCOLATE and I am a mystery reader…a wonderful intersection of her blogging. I also maintain two blogs; www.texasjot.blogspot.com and www.yourfashionplate.blogspot.com. Texas Jot is about my life in Texas (and my reading list) and Fashion Plate has recipes and retro Barbie fashions that I have been designing for my grand-daughter. I am the author of Texas Manners: A Guide to Gracious Living, an avid quilter and have an Etsy store. I hope you enjoy my baking tips and recipe for Mounds of Brownies. My cookbooks are available on the blogs or at www.chocolatecrimes.com
Mystery of the 9x13-inch Pan
As the author of two cookbooks, Chocolate Crimes and Chocolate Rehab, I spend an inordinate amount of time in my kitchen. While researching for my first cookbook, I stumbled upon the mystery of the 9x13-inch pan. If you started baking in the 1960’s, you probably have a Pyrex pan that measures 7 ¼ x11 inches. Maybe you have one from the 1980’s measuring 7 ½ by 12 inches. If you are a modern baker, you probably own a real 9x13-inch pan.
Despite the dimension change of the “9x13-inch” pan, there has been no recipe adjustment over the years. If your mom’s recipe is over-cooking in your modern-day size pan, reduce the baking time by five minutes and check at one minute intervals to achieve your prime result.
Most of my recipes will work in any size “9x13” pan, but occasionally there is one that I indicate must be made in the full-size pan.
Who Lied About the Microwave?
I do own a double boiler, but I have found that melting chocolate in the microwave is faster and makes less mess. JUST GO SLOWLY. Even though the chocolate may look like it is still formed in a solid piece, give it a stir to see how soft it has become. Be sure to use a high heat spatula. (Yes, I’ve melted three of the other kind.) White chocolate is a little more temperamental, but it will work if you are patient. The safest method for melting chocolate is to put the chocolate (white or dark) in a glass bowl on a heating pad and let it melt while you are doing something else. It is also a good way to keep chocolate at the correct temperature for dipping or drizzling.
Passion in My Pantry
With chocolate, you get what you pay for and the difference will show up on your taste buds. In some recipes, a generic chocolate won’t make much difference. When chocolate is the featured performer, you will be happy that you used a premium chocolate bar.
For years I baked exclusively with Hershey’s cocoa powder, but if you want a real chocolate jolt, try European dark cocoa. It makes a jet black frosting, so don’t go overboard.
I have numerous recipes that call for mocha powder/espresso. You can use any brand you like. You’ll be surprised at what a boost this gives chocolate items without imparting any coffee flavor. Finally, I must divulge the truth about white chocolate. Unless you purchase a product containing cocoa butter, your “white chocolate” is just sweet white stuff, guilty of impersonation.
Mounds of Brownies
Cut these into tiny pieces. They are so rich—one bite is all you need. I make these for cookbook signings and they are a crowd favorite.
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (one stick) butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
Until combined. Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
Beat until smooth. Add:
1 cup flour
Place in 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350° for 27 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with a mixture of:
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2¼ cups shredded coconut
Return to oven and bake 20 more minutes. Top with chocolate icing.
In microwave, melt:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
for 1 minute. Add:
½ cup whipping cream
1 cup confectioners’ sugar