Archive for the ‘Tuesdays with Dorie’ Category

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

There are times when no excuse is necessary to make something sweet (read: most of the time). And then there are times when something sweet becomes an excuse in itself, not to mention a bit of procrastination, particularly when one has little time and a pressing need to pack for an impending holiday.  These brownies were whipped up as a “breakfast snack” for the train trip to Cornwall bright and early on the Saturday morning of a bank holiday weekend. Because, really, what better way to both polish off a Tuesdays with Dorie assignment and bake something “nutritious” and “perfect for travel?”  I was licking my clever fingers all the way to Polperro (admittedly because, while delicious, these brownies turned a bit gooey over the course of the 4 hour train trip) while we munched happily on these brownies, swirled with a rich and creamy espresso cheesecake (the slightest hint of espresso, really) and topped with a sugary sour cream icing.  There are few things finer than eating such a brownie for breakfast, staring out the window watching the green rolling hills of England pass by in the sun, all while beating your noble Uno opponent time and time again.

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
(From Baking: From My Home to Yours)

For the brownies:

1/2 cup ap flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9″ square baking pan placed on a baking sheet and set aside.

Whisk together the first three ingredients. Put the butter and chocolate over a double boiler with water simmering. Stir until the ingredients melt, but don’t overheat so that the butter separates. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside.

Stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture with a whisk, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg, then beat in the vanilla. Next, gently stir in the dry ingredients until they disappear. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ap flour

Allow the espresso to cool to tepid. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium until it’s completely smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat for 3 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla and espresso before adding the eggs one at a time. Beat for 1 minute after each egg, then reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream, then the flour. The batter should be smooth.

Pour about 3/4 of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth it out, then pour the cheesecake layer over the top, taking care to make it even. Place spoonfuls of the rest of the brownie batter on top, and use a knife to swirl the dark and light batters together. Be careful, however, not to plunge the knife into the base brownie layer. Swirl only as much as necessary.

Bake for around 30 minutes. The brownies should come away from the sides of the pan. The cheesecake will puff and turn lightly browned around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wrack to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until well chilled.

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Warm the sour cream and sugar in a small saucepan over very low heat. You need to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the chilled brownies, then return them to the refrigerator and chill for at least another hour. Cut the brownies into squares and serve.

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies


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Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Linda of Tender Crumb made the excellent choice of Dorie’s Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie for this week’s episode of Tuesdays with Dorie and my sweet tooth and love of any recipe featuring curd thank her. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect dessert to accompany a barbecue in the Fields. This pie was perfectly tart, deliciously rich and I can attest that the lime cream was truly the creamiest I’ve ever tasted (Dorie certainly doesn’t lie when it comes to her recipe titles). Coupled with a helping of cake batter ice cream and a trip to admire Audrey and Coco in Coco Avant Chanel, it made for the sweetest summer evening.

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie
(from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

For the filling:

1 9-inch Good for Almost Everything Pie Crust, fully baked and cooled (see recipe below)
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 limes
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)
A 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 ½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or a food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest between your fingertips for few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lime is strong. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the juice, ginger and cornstarch.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lime cream until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. As whisk—you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting it to the temperature can take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the cream from the heat and strain the cream into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high speed (or turn on the processor) and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If you find the machine is getting really hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate the cream for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream can be packed airtight and and frozen for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

Whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the pie shell. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.

For the meringue:

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

Working in a clean dry mixer bowl with the clean whisk attachment, whip the egg whites at medium speed until opaque. With the mixer running, add the sugar in a slow stream and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and form firm peaks.

Spread the meringue over the lime filling, swirling it if you’d like. Make sure the meringue comes all the way to the edges of the crust, because it will shrink when it bakes.

Brown the meringue with a blowtorch. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough (single crust)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 ½ tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About ¼ cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing — what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tablespoons of the water if making a double crust, 3 tablespoons if making a singe crust — add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened of form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)

Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured.

If you’ve got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.

Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a ¼- to ½-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.

Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

Yield: 8 servings.

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Bonus Tuesday Recipe: Cake Batter Ice Cream
(adapted from Recipezaar)

I blame Cold Stone (Stone Cold if you’re B&R) Creamery for my infatuation with cake batter ice cream, which is replicated perfectly in this recipe. One thing to note: I substitute single cream/half and half for milk, because I don’t believe in using anything but cream in my ice cream (calorie counters be damned).

1 cup single cream/half and half, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups double/heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup cake mix

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste.

Stir in cake mix, making sure there are no lumps.

Pour mixture into the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker and let mix until it has thickened (about 25-30 minutes).

Remove ice cream from freezer bowl and place into a separate container.

Place freezer bowl and the ice cream into the freezer to further harden.

Yield: 10 or more servings.

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

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Brownie Buttons

I thought it was high time I quit admiring Dorie Greenspan from afar and get into the action at Tuesdays with Dorie, a community whose contributors aim to bake something from Dorie’s mouthwatering book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, once a week. And so, without further ado, here are Dorie’s Brownie Buttons: bite-sized brownies with a hint of orange, dipped in melted white chocolate. They are heavenly, just like Ms. Greenspan herself (and, it should be noted, FDW, who, after pausing only once to tell me “this cookbook is huge!”, lugged Dorie’s book across the Atlantic without question, all the way from New York to Prague and finally to London, just so I could bake from it). They are also addictive. In fact, I will most assuredly be doubling the recipe next time around and also trying a batch sans the orange, because the English have run me ragged when it comes to chocolate and orange flavoured confectionary. But, for now, here’s to the first of what my tastebuds can only hope are many more sweet Tuesdays to come…

Brownie Buttons

Brownie Buttons
(from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

For the brownies:

grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
½ stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
2 ½ oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Valrhona 64%)
⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract (I used tahitian vanilla this time around)
1 large egg

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet.

If you’re using the orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend; set aside. Whisk together the flour and salt.

Melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats and burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.

Stir the vanilla, egg and the zest, if you’re using it, into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.

Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup three-quarters full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

For the optional glaze:

2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped

Melt the chocolate n a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly and don’t leave the chocolate for even a minute – white chocolate scorches easily. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, remove from the heat.

One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the center of each one and the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Refrigerate the buttons for 15 minutes to set the glaze.

Yield: 16 pretty little buttons.

Brownie Buttons

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