Category Archives: Desserts

Blizzard Brownies

What’s a girl to do when she is stuck inside during a snow storm? Well clearly make a batch of brownies that is so completely delicious that she can barely keep her hands off of them! Introducing my Blizzard Brownies. This is not your average brownie. It is studded with salty peanuts, has a layer of peanut butter frosting, and is topped off with chocolate ganache. Trust me when I tell you this might be the best brownie recipe on the face of the Earth.

Blizzard Brownies

Brownie Ingredients

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
10 ounces bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used a mixture of both)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting & Ganache Ingredients
1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned. I used Peter Pan)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation for brownies:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325˚. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang, spray foil with Pam.

Place ¾ cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center come out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack to cool.

Preparation for frosting & ganache:

Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and ¼ cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and ¼ cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread until surface is covered. Chill until set, about 1 ½ hours.

Using foil as aid, transfer brownies to work surface. Cut into squares. Bring to room temperature before serving (with a big glass of milk!).

A version of this recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit, January 2007


Holiday Cookie Making Extravaganza

For the first time this year I decided to give homemade presents to my co-workers, friends, and the workers in my apartment building as a special holiday treat. I must confess that up until recently my usual course of action when it came to cookie making was walking down the street to the grocery store, purchasing cookie dough that comes in a log, and placing it in an oven. But this year I decided to make Martha Stewart proud and make all my cookies from scratch. I was helped out quite a bit from the December issue of Real Simple magazine where they gave a simple sugar cookie recipe and 10 different ways to prepare the cookies. There is nothing like spending a snowy weekend (Snowpocalypse 2009!) elbow deep in flour and colored sugar to really bring in the holiday spirit.

These recipes are both delicious and a lot of fun to make.  Happy Holidays!

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for shaping the cookies
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2.    Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
3.    With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). Shape into a disk and refrigerate, wrapped, for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Use the dough as directed below.

Note: All the cookies here use 1 recipe of Basic Sugar Cookie Dough. Bake the cookies at 350°F on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 1 ½ inches apart. Cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Holiday Cutout Cookies

Divide the dough in half. On floured surface roll each piece out ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters (I used stars). Refrigerate on baking sheets until firm. Sprinkle with decorating sugar and bake until just beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes.
Makes about 40 cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Wafers

Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each piece out ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares with a 2-inch cookie cutter (I used one with scalloped edges). Refrigerate on baking sheets until firm. Bake until just beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes. Dip cookies in 4 ounces melted chocolate and sprinkle with ½ cup crushed almonds, peppermint candies, edible pearls, or crushed pecans. Chill until set.
Makes 45 cookies

Linzer Cookies

Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface roll each piece out ¼ inch thick. Cut half the dough into regular rounds with a 1 3/4-inch cookie cutter. With the second half of the dough cut into rounds and cut the centers with a smaller shape. (Or you can use a special linzer cookie cutter). Refrigerate on baking sheets until firm. Bake until just beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes. Spread raspberry jam on the solidly round cookie piece and sandwich with the rounded cut-out piece. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 32 cookies

Martha Stewart’s Brownie Cookies

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.    Preheat over to 350°. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set in microwave until melted (should take 1-2 minutes, watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Let cool.
2.    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. With mixer on low, alternately beat in chocolate and flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not over mix).
3.    Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cookie comes out clean, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies

I have recently become pretty obsessed with the flavor combination of cream cheese and chocolate. These brownies bring together all your parts of two well-liked desserts: the creaminess of cheesecake mixed with the richness of chocolate brownies.  A big glass of milk is highly recommended when enjoying this special treat.DSC00774

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies

For brownie batter:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For cheesecake batter:
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make brownie batter:
Put over rack in middle position and preheat over to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately, low heat, whisking occasionally, until just melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter and bake brownies:

DSC00764Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth (I used a handheld mixer to make it smooth. It also works faster, especially if the cream cheese isn’t super softened.) Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.

Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 16 brownies

Gourmet Magazine, June 2007