Monday, August 11, 2014

The Best Brownies EVER - Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Rolo Brownies

So we've all seen on pinterest the numerous brownie recipes titled "the best" and I've tried many of them. But these, my friends, are THE BEST. The recipe is very unique, browning the butter until you see little red flecks. I didn't even know butter could do that. 

This is actually the third time I've made these brownies since June and I don't usually repeat a recipe that often. They are just that good. My quest for the perfect homemade version of boxed brownies is satisfyingly complete. And they are even better than boxed brownies. I've made these with regular cocoa but they are so much better with dark chocolate cocoa, its ridiculous.

And then this time I added rolos to the batter, because I was planning to make these salted caramel brownie bites. But the brownies were so roll your eyes GOOD that we ate them all before I could make them! 

The Best Brownies EVER - Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Rolo Brownies
Adapted from: Style Me Pretty
Yield: 12 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¼ cups pure cane sugar
¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use dark chocolate cocoa powder)
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 cold large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup (overflowing) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
16 Rolos (milk chocolate caramel candy), optional

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F placing your rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

To brown your butter, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Continue to cook the butter, while stirring constantly with a whisk or rubber spatula. Be careful not to let the butter come to a boil. After about 5 minutes, you should notice the butter foaming a bit and starting to turn a deep golden color. Keep stirring for another 3-5 minutes until the tiny reddish specks appear and your butter smells nutty and delish.

Remove your pan from heat and gradually stir in the sugar until incorporated. Next, stir in the cocoa powder, salt and baking powder until completely blended,. Let this mixture cool for 10 minutes. **Very important to remove mixture from heat source and let cool for 10 minutes

Add one of the eggs, stirring the mixture vigorously. Once incorporated fully, add the second egg, again stirring vigorously. The mixture should thicken a bit and have a glossy texture, but shouldn't separate or become difficult to stir. Add in the vanilla extract and the flour, stirring until combined. Now, beat them brownies! Stir vigorously for about 1 minute.

Fold in the chocolate chips or walnuts or Rolos or whatever else you can dream up. Traditionalists...stick to chocolate chips/chunks and you can't go wrong.

Pour batter in the lined pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 25-30 minutes. The edges will begin to pull away from the sides and the top will appear dry and set up. Once the brownies are completely cool, dig in. And maybe scoop some vanilla ice cream on top. They taste even better the next day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oreo Truffle Cupcakes

Last Ramadan we hosted our girls iftar and I made chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. Continuing with cookie cupcake inspiration, this year I shared these oreo truffle cupcakes with our friends.

I tested three recipes just to be sure I had the perfect oreo cupcake possible! My dad took the leftovers to the masjid. I'm told a guy said they were the best cupcakes he ever had. My brother said they were his favorite too.

I was trying to figure out which vanilla cake recipe was best to use as my base. I have previously made oreo cupcakes, but the cake tops didn't rise. They came out flat and crusty because I used too much baking powder. Or so I thought. I revisited that recipe, making sure I used the correct amount, but they still came out exactly the same. Now I think it has to do with the shortening. Maybe it works when you bake that recipe in a pan, but not in cupcake form.  

The winning recipe was from Sweetapolita. She even said she tried seven recipes to perfect her white cake, and I believe it. Whether you want to make plain vanilla cupcakes or add oreos to them, her recipe was the best, even after I added an extra egg yolk.

Then I made it a third time, just to see if I should go with the version with an oreo cookie baked on the bottom, or if I should bake each one with their own oreo truffle. They were both good, but an oreo truffle seemed more special, and I wanted to top each one with a cookie anyway. 

My previous oreo cupcakes were topped with a cream cheese frosting. They were really good, with a very cookies n creme flavor, but this time I wanted to try just an oreo buttercream. It has a stronger sugary flavor but I'm told it was delicious!

Oreo Truffle Cupcakes with Oreo Buttercream
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Oreo Truffles
1 regular size package of Oreo cookies
6 oz. cream cheese, softened

Dump the entire package of oreos in your food processor. Process until they are fine crumbs. Add your softened cream cheese and blend until its all mixed together. 

Roll into balls alittle larger than a tablespoon (see picture) and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Stick them in the refrigerator while you make the cupcakes. 

24 cupcake liners
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 whole eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and each tablespoon cut into quarters
12 Oreo cookies, processed in the blender to make crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the "stir" setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.

Add the butter a few pieces at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring the butter is cold. Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, mixing until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (You want to ensure that the batter is homogenous.) Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.

Prepare muffin pans with cupcake liners. Add an oreo truffle to each one. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, covering the truffle and filling about 2/3 full. 

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the edge of cupcake (away from the truffle), check after about 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake so that the truffle stays moist. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Oreo Buttercream
Yield: frosts 24 cupcakes

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

10 Oreo cookies, process in blender to make crumbs
24 whole Oreo cookies to garnish, optional

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add in the Oreo crumbs and salt, mixing just until combined. Pipe onto cupcakes. If you want, top each frosted cupcake with an Oreo cookie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops

Wow, Ramadan crept up on us and it feels like its almost gone!

Remember these cupcakes? Well I made little bite size cake pop versions of them to share at Samrena's iftar. I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but I'm told they were incredible. 

I made everything from scratch but you could certainly use a boxed chocolate (or dark chocolate) cake mix to make things easier, especially since you're going to crumble it up anyway. If you just want to make the cupcake version, be sure to look at the recipe here because its slightly different (the size of cookie dough balls and other measurements).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake Pops
Adapted from Recipe Girl

Cookie dough filling
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to stir together the butter, sugars, milk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough is firm. Make the cake batter in the meantime. When ready, scoop out the cookie dough by the teaspoon and roll into a ball.

Chocolate Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.

Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend to combine. Add the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides as needed a couple of times until all is well mixed. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners.

Drop a ball of chocolate chip cookie dough into the center of each cupcake.

Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake portion of the cupcake (not tested through the center where the dough is), comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cookie Dough Frosting
1 1/2 sticks salted butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour, milk and vanilla and continue to mix until all is well combined.

Cake pops
12 oz. of chocolate bark (I used 1 package of Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor)
mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, to garnish 
parchment or wax paper
20-30 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
mini cupcake liners, optional
Disposable rubber medical/exam gloves (non-powder)

After the cupcakes are cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of frosting and while wearing gloves, mix thoroughly with your hands. Mixture should still look alittle crumbly but moist enough to roll into balls. You can add more frosting if needed. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and freeze for 20-30 minutes until firm.

Melt 8 oz. of chocolate bark in microwave per directions on package. I melt the chocolate bark in three small portions at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot. Dip lollipop stick into chocolate and then insert into cake ball. Freeze for another 10 minutes so that the stick is firmly secure. 

Dip cake pops in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. You could use a spoon to roll the cake pop on to tap off extra chocolate. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

White Cake - Vanilla Cupcakes

I wanted to try this recipe because its titled "The Perfect White Cake" and I've had trouble in the past with vanilla cake recipes coming out perfect. They did indeed bake up quite perfect and they tasted like cake! Not like pancakes! Perfect! It's a very stark white cake, using only egg whites, so if you like white cake to be alittle richer like I do, I would keep in two of the egg yolks, like this recipe - just don't add the oreos. But overall, these were great, and the buttercream was tasty too.  

White Cake - Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from: I am Baker
Yield: 21 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup milk at room temperature*
6 large egg whites at room temperature*
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cold

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan with liners or grease two 8-inch cake pans.

Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into medium bowl and mix with fork until blended.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter, cut into cubes and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.

Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It will depend on if you filled the cupcake liners half way or 2/3 or 3/4 of the way, start out with 15-20 minutes and then check on them with a toothpick. 27 to 30 minutes for cake pans.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream

1 stick butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, blended to make about 1/2 cup puree

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the salt and powdered sugar, until combined. Add the vanilla and strawberry puree and beat until light and fluffy.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mini Nutella Cheesecakes

I've been wanting to buy a mini springform pan, maybe a 6 or 7 inch one from amazon but then came across these 4.75 inch springform pans at walmart. They are alot smaller, but they were too cute to pass up. So I made these little nutella cheesecakes with them. The cheesecake came out perfect, so creamy and smooth. I topped each one with a fluffy nutella mousse, which was my sister in law's favorite part. 

Mini Nutella Cheesecakes
Adapted from: The Baker Upstairs
Yield: 4 mini cheesecakes (4.75" springform pans) OR 20 regular sized cupcakes

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (process graham crackers in a blender)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together and press into the bottom of four 4.75 inch springform pans. Or line cupcake tins with 20 paper or foil liners and press about a teaspoon of crumbs into bottom of liners. Set aside.

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Nutella (I used 1/2 cup but I would suggest adding alittle more for taste)
Fresh raspberries, optional, to garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Blend in nutella until just combined. 

Divide the filling evenly between the mini springform pans or cupcake liners, filling nearly to the top (about 1/2 inch to the top). Tap lightly on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake 30 minutes for mini spring form pans and 20 minutes for the cupcakes. Cheesecake will be just slightly jiggly in the center. Open oven door and turn off the oven. Allow to slowly cool inside oven. Then remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. When fully cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for several hours. Keep in the refrigerator.

Nutella Mousse
Adapted from: Pretty Simple Sweet

1/2 cup Nutella, soft at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

In a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream just until stiff peaks form, do not over beat. Add 2 tablespoons of nutella and whisk. Add the rest of the nutella and gently whisk for a few seconds and then fold with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth.

Chill the mousse to set for at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

What can I say? There are no words for Nadijah. She's one of the best people I've ever known, and my heart will fill a void when I realize we won't be hanging out on weekends anymore. We are so proud of her, tabarakAllah, and may she feel ease and happiness in this new chapter of her life. Congratulations!!!!

These were everything a good cookie cake should be. Chewy, soft, alittle under-baked in the middle, and golden brown crispy on top..

You can't have cookie cake without frosting. But better than artificial, sickeningly sweet canned frosting is this homemade chocolate buttercream. It was smooth and luscious and a perfect crown to this celebratory cake.

I'm planning to make this again for Yusif and Naven, thats how good it was. They love cookies so I'm sure they will enjoy this. And this was one the easiest recipes out there. I like how there's no extra wait for these. You don't have to wait to chill the cookie dough and you don't have to make them a day early.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (careful not to over measure)
2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (reserve 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease with shortening a 9-inch pie dish or cake pan or use a nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs and vanilla on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add 1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips and mix for about 5 seconds until evenly disbursed.

Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top and lightly press in. Cover with aluminum foil to avoid heavy browning of the cookie cake. Bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a serving dish. (Or use can serve directly from the pan.)

Milk Chocolate Buttercream
1 and 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Sift or whisk together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

Decorate the cooled cookie cake with frosting with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Cookie cake remains fresh covered tightly at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*I prefer room temperature eggs for my cookie cake. Room temperature eggs incorporate evenly into your cookie dough – guaranteeing a uniform texture in each bite of the cookie cake. Simply set out the eggs when you set out the butter to come to room temperature. If you forget to set out your eggs, no worries. Place them into a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes, then use.

*For the frosting, heavy cream or half-and-half will give the creamiest texture. You may use milk instead, keeping in mind the frosting won't be as creamy or whipped.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Gooey Messy Brownies

I made these for Musa's first visit to our home. Welcome, baby!

We ate these with Breyer's tiramisu gelato and fresh strawberries. The slight coffee flavor from the gelato, the bittersweet chocolate from the brownies, and summerly sweet berries all paired so well together.

This brownie recipe is called, "The Best Brownies in the World." Which is a pretty big claim! They were delicious, but I'm still on the hunt for the very best. And the blogger said I would be if I want fudgy, cakey brownies, which is exactly what I'm looking for. These on the other hand, are gooey messy brownies. They're great with ice cream or gelato though!

Maybe I should stop using the same bittersweet chocolate (ghiradelli brand) when testing brownie recipes. Because I think maybe what my taste buds are looking for are brownies that are made with dark chocolate and dark cocoa and maybe dark semi-sweet chocolate chips. But I keep getting similar results in flavor and texture with the ghiradelli chocolate. Similar, but I would say Good Housekeeping's brownies were alittle better than these.

I like to store my brownies in a container with a lid as soon as they are cooled. This keeps them moist, chewy, and soft. 

Gooey Messy Brownies
Adapted from: Cravings of a Lunatic via Tasty Eats at Home
Yield: 12 brownies

8 tablespoons of butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs. beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini)
¼ cup flour¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together over low heat in a medium saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir well. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring until it’s smooth. Add chocolate chips, flour, cocoa powder, and vanilla salt. Stir until well blended.

Pour into pan and place in oven. I always tap my pan to get out any bubbles and make it even.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, toothpick inserted should come out clean when done. Remove and cool on a rack.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blue Velvet Cake Pops - Baby Shower Favors!

Today I am the proud auntie of Musa, born at 10:45 AM, 7 pounds and 19 3/4 inches long. He already has so many that love him, mA. I brought these to the hospital to share. Ibraheem (18 months now!) doesn't usually like cake, but he devoured one. I think he just liked eating something off a stick. These are my first real cake pops. I have only made them with oreos before. 

Make sure you use chocolate bark that tastes good. I thought I didn't really like cake pops in the past, but actually I just don't like that artificial waxy candy coating. I used Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor, which tastes like real chocolate but this formula hardens beautifully.

I'm thinking I could make these for a friend's baby shower next month. She's expecting a boy and I love that vibrant blue color! These would be cute shower favors.

I was originally inspired by this recipe to make these cake pops. But I read a few blogs and most mentioned to just make a boxed cake mix. Make it easy on yourself since cake pops are time consuming, and you are just going to crumble it up anyway so you don't need a cake that comes out with a gorgeous texture.

Speaking of babies, I also wanted to share the blanket I crocheted for my nephew. Pinterest inspired, and made with love. The center grey color is a basket weave stitch and the edges have a cute shell border.

Four more tips: 1) Be sure to dip the sticks in the chocolate before inserting into the cake balls and then freeze until firm so they are secure. This helps prevent the stick from falling out when you dip them. 

2) Melt the chocolate bark in smaller portions, about 6-8 ounces at a time, since its easier to work with when its hot.

3) Don't add too much frosting to the cake! Less is more. It should still look alittle crumbly, but moist enough to roll. You want these to taste like you're eating fluffy cake when you bite into them, not like a soggy mess.

4) Lastly, don't make the cake pops so big. They get heavy and could fall off the stick when you are dipping them. Alittle larger than a tablespoon should be good.The picture above is a good size, it fits into the mini cupcake liner. The picture below shows a huge cake pop, flattening the mini cupcake liner.

Blue Velvet Cake Pops
Recipe adapted from Bakerella
Yield: about 40 cake pops

1 box blue velvet cake mix (or your favorite cake flavor)
1 can (16 oz.) cream cheese frosting 
24 oz. of chocolate bark (I used 2 packages of Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor)
mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

parchment or wax paper
40 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
40 mini cupcake liners, optional
Disposable rubber medical/exam gloves (non-powder)

Bake the cake as directed on box for a 13 X 9 cake. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting and while wearing gloves, mix thoroughly with your hands. Mixture should still look alittle crumbly but moist enough to roll into balls. You can add more frosting if needed, but don't add too much. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and freeze for 20-30 minutes until firm.

Melt 8 oz. of chocolate bark in microwave per directions on package. I melt the chocolate bark in three small portions at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot. Dip lollipop stick into chocolate and then insert into cake ball. Freeze for another 10 minutes so that the stick is firmly secure. 

Dip cake pops in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. You could use a spoon to roll cake pop in to tap off extra chocolate. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
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