Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sea Salt Brownies

Be careful with these:)

I'm serious, people, they're dangerous. If you're a lover of the salty/sweet/chocolate combination *handraise*, then let me tell you from experience, these are heavenly and ridiculously addictive. Chocolate Brownies with a Sea Salt Crust? Oooooooh Yeah :)

I made these a few nights ago for the reunion party for the cast of *The Butterfinger's Angel*, the show I did for Christmas 2010. I wanted to make scratch brownies, but spice them up a little. To give credit where credit is due, I did not invent these. I was first exposed to them by one of my dearest friends, Stephanie, who is a phenomenal baker :) The interplay of the sea salt with the chocolate is downright sensual, or, dare I say it? Sexy, even. More *chocolatey* than *sweet*, these would be great on the couch with a tall glass of cold milk (which is how I first had them), at a potluck, and they'd be right at home in a fancy dessert spread. Think of these as the classy older sibling of chocolate covered pretzels:)

- When I made these, all I had in the house was finely ground sea salt, so that is what I used. Coarsely ground sea salt would be more visible and therefore make for a nicer visual presentation, and probably punch up the salt flavor just a titch more.

The following was adapted from the Domino Sugar recipe for *Valentine Brownies*

Sea Salt Brownies
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 6oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. instant coffee granules, dissolved in some hot water
- Sea Salt (coarsely or finely ground) for sprinkling over brownies

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease 9x13 baking pan.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, cocoa and coffee and mix well.
- Add sugars and salt and mix well.
- Add eggs one at a time.
- Add flour and mix well.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Spread evenly into baking pan.
- Bake 30 minutes or until edges pull slightly away from pan/ when toothpick inserted in center of brownies comes out clean.
- As soon as brownies come out of oven, sprinkle them with the sea salt to taste. The salt will embed itself in the crust of the brownies, creating brownie Nirvana :)
- Let brownies cool (yeah, right, that's never happened in my house) and Enjoy :)

UPDATE 11/18/11: In my successive versions of this dish: I've come across several intersting/important points:
One: If you're using this particular recipe, DON'T OMIT the chocolate chips!!! It messes with the consistency and the flavor. It doesn't make them inedible or anything, but the brownies will taste and feel like there's something's a
Two: On the flipside, in my experience thus far, the sea salt treatment can be used for pretty much any brownie recipe, including just doctoring up boxed brownie mix.
Three: You don't have to wait until the brownies are done cokking to add the sea salt. For the most recent batch I made, I sprinkled the sea salt over the batter in the pan right before it went into the oven. The sea salt didn't form as much of a crust, but the salty/sweet combo was more present throughout the whole brownie :) WIN :)

Looking back over my recent posts, I realize that I've done a lot of posts about sweets lately. As spring arrives, I promise there will be plenty of fresh fruits and veggies being featured here :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Coffee

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!

     Here is the Irish Coffee recipe I promised you in my last blog post. Irish Coffee is one of those things that I have always known existed, and I know many that love it, but for some reason it never really came up on my radar to attempt myself. I wanted to post something festive in honor of the Emerald Isle, but I didn't want to do a lot of baking in the house, as my mother gave up baked goods for Lent and I didn't want to tempt her. Irish Coffee seemed like a good balance :)
    Let me tell you, my friends, making Irish Coffee was a rather large culinary risk for me, where my own palate is concerned. As some of you probably know, although I love the smell of it, I don't really care for coffee (unless it's iced and flavored to the point that it no longer tastes like coffee). Also, with very few exceptions, I don't care for whiskey either. So, Lynn doesn't like coffee, and Lynn doesn't like whiskey, what on earth would posses her to make a drink that contains both? The hope that the resulting concoction would be more than the sum of it's parts. That kitchen alchemy would take place and the resulting brew would be, pardon the pun, *magically delicious* (I'm sorry, I had to).....

I was not disappointed:)

     My Dears, Irish Coffee is YUMMY. Smooth, warm, sweet, creamy, comforting, and with just the right kick. (I'm sure some of you already know this, but I'm a newbie, let me revel:). To my taste, it's a cold weather drink, but I can see it being enjoyed on a chilly or rainy night any time of the year. It is traditionally an after-dinner drink, but I doubt it'd be out of place on the breakfast table.
   I did not go out to any bars tonight because, frankly, I have better things to do than be groped by an inebriated frat boy. Instead, my Michael came over after I got out of work, we had a quiet dinner and an Irish Coffee nightcap. It was absolutely perfect :)

    This drink goes together really fast and it is ridiculously easy. Also, if you're interested, there is a video tutorial on how to make Irish Coffee on the Food Network website (the ingredient proportions I list here are based on that recipe) that was filmed in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, view it here :)

Irish Coffee
For each cup of Irish Coffee you will need:

- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (because we were drinking this in the evening, I used decaf coffee, and the flavor of the drink was unaffected)
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar or to taste (some recipes call for white sugar, but really, I wouldn't. The brown sugar gives the drink a rounded, deep sweetness, white sugar would be too cloying in this case. At any rate, they use brown sugar in Ireland, and that's good enough for me:)
- 1 jigger Irish Whiskey (A jigger is 1-1/2 oz. or 3 tbsp, or, if you don't feel like measuring, it's about a shot of whiskey) I used Jameson, but use what you like :)
- 1/2 pint of heavy cream, softly whipped (I only used half of the container, but I was only making coffee for three people)

* If using the traditional glass Irish Coffee mugs, be sure to pre-heat the mugs by filling them with hot tap water while you prep the rest of the ingredients. This is to ensure that the mugs don't crack when you pour the hot coffee into them. If you're using regular coffee mugs, you can skip this step.

-Brew a fresh pot of coffee
-While the coffee is brewing, pour the cream into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until the cream is thickened, but has not yet started to form peaks. Ideally it should just be thick enough to coat the beaters, like this:
- When coffee has finished brewing, empty the warm water from the mugs (see * above) and place about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in the bottom of each coffee mug.
- Pour hot coffee into each mug until the mug is about 3/4 full.
- Pour whiskey  into each mug and stir to dissolve the sugar (when I did it, I actually did this backwards and put the whiskey in before the coffee and everything was fine, so the coffee/whiskey order doesn't seem to matter).
- Top with whipped cream. The easiest way to do this is to pour the cream over the back of a spoon into the coffee so that the cream rests on the top of the drink and doesn't mix into it. The video tutorial shows you how to do this, they also suggest that you warm the spoon before pouring the cream over it. I did not this, but go for it if you like. When the cream settles on the top it will look like the foam head on a glass of beer. Ideally you should drink the coffee through the cream topping.

May the saints protect you, may sorrow neglect you, and bad luck to the one who doesn't respect you :)

Slainte :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whiskey (Cake) in the Jar

Hello Friends :)

 I'm back!!! I am getting better every day and I have returned to my day job as well as performing with the Avon Repertory Company (whee!). It is my fervent hope that the Flu was the final illness of this winter, and God Willing, I will stay healthy :) The only downside to recovering is the fact that I have to wade through everything that went undone while I was sick. So, alas, I've had very little time to cook, or blog, but I'm getting back in the swing :) As my offering for Saint Patrick's Day, I was going to post a recipe for Irish Coffee. However, yesterday I was checking my blog roll and the amazing Heather over at Sprinkle Bakes (a blog devoted ENTIRELY to baked goods *swoon*), had posted a recipe for Irish Whiskey Cake baked in canning jars, thus making it *Whiskey in the Jar Cake*. I'm sorry folks, but for this week, Sprinkle Bakes wins over me. These cakes look adorable and delicious. I'm reposting this here because, frankly, I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn't call this cake and this yummy blog to your attention. I looove the idea of baking individual cakes into jars. As Heather points out, they're very convenient to give as gifts. However, if you don't have canning jars on hand, she also includes instructions for baking the cake in a 10" bundt pan. In a few days I'll post my recipe for Irish Coffee, but for now, go bask in the glory of Sprinkle Bakes :)

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Hello Friends,

I am so sorry to do this, but I have to suspend blogging for a few more days. For the ninth time in 4 months, I am ill again, this time with the Flu. Even though I had a Flu shot, I still managed to contract Influenza B at the daycare. I am on Tamiflu, so hopefully it won't be quite as severe and will clear up a little faster, but I can only sit up for short periods of time, so blogging will be suspended until I am better, which hopefully won't be too long. I'll be the same message up on my other blog. Send me all the the health vibes you can spare.

Hopefully I'll be back soon :)