TWD: French Chocolate Brownies


*Note to self: Let brownies cool before taking pictures, they would look less messy!

Wow. Just wow. With all due respect to Ina’s Outrageous Brownies, these French Chocolate Brownies have trumped and become my all-time favorite brownie recipe. Many thanks to Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook for choosing this week’s recipe – what a fantastic job you did!!

These brownies were created in a pretty non-traditional way in terms of brownies. The eggs and sugar were whisked together in the stand mixture, and then the dry ingredients were added, followed by the melted chocolate/butter combination. In truth, Dorie states that when she created these she was aiming for a chocolate cake, not brownies. But wow, did she nail the brownies! These are dense, moist, insanely chocolatey, and just about everything you could want from a brownie. I couldn’t stop eating pieces off of them each time I walked into the kitchen!

This recipe says it yields 16 brownies, and after cutting these into 16 pieces I’m convinced that Laurie was right – these are French-size brownies, not America’s super-sized variety that we’re used to 😉

Oh, you will note there are raisins in the recipe, pretty a-typical for a brownie. I skipped these as I only had a handful of raisins left and wanted to hoard them for my oatmeal 😉

Recipe and some process photos after the break…

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Vanilla Cake + Chocolate Hazelnut Filling + Chocolate Frosting =

Happy Birthday to my sister, Lauren!!

After I started taking my cake decorating classes, my sister asked if I would make (and decorate, of course) a cake for her birthday. Of course I said yes! Then she saw the drunk clown cake and demanded that a drunk clown grace the top of her cake. Haha, okay, of course that can be done! Err, so I thought. I was pretty pressed for time yesterday as I was trying to run errands and get packed for vacation (incidentally, this post is brought to you courtesy of Charlotte Douglas Airport :)). I didn’t want to chance a clown catastrophe, so instead I gave her a cake of crooked writing and a martini glass. That’s drunk, right? 😉

Oh, and I added polka dots to the sides:

When I asked what flavors she wanted she said a yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and some type of hazelnut-flavored filling. The cake is a classic yellow cake, made using the Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (recipes for the cake, filling, and frosting follow below). I decided to torte the layers for a more “sophisticated” cake, and between them is a very thin layer of chocolate frosting topped with a hazelnut ganache.

I was really happy with this cake except that I would have poured the ganache into the cake and let it set there instead of at room temperature, as it got a little too hard and was nearly impossible to work with between the cake layers. Everyone thought that the flavors of the cake were great, and said it was really rich, so if you want to make something a little less rich, I would suggest not torting the layers and instead going with a traditional 2-layer cake.

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Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops

Or, in my case, Cheesecake Truffles.

And squares.

I love cheesecake. It’s my favorite dessert, and I will eat it in just about any form. Rolled in a ball and dipped in chocolate? Bring ’em on!

More about the challenge, and the recipe, after the break…

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TWD: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

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Wow, another successful Dorie recipe (not that I am the least bit surprised). I was treated to two in one week, with the Daring Baker’s Perfect Party Cake earlier in the week, and these Gooey Chocolate Cakes for dessert on Sunday. Thanks to Leigh of Lemon Tartlet for choosing such a fabulous recipe!

I scaled this recipe into one-third of the original and made them in two individual 6-oz. ramekins (the smallest size I have). I have a “standard” molten lava cake recipe that I have been using for years, but I have to say, I think these have it beat. I am not as big of a fan of the runny middle that is characteristic of the classic lava cake, and as a result usually end up overbaking mine so as to firm it up a little. Dorie’s recipe is absolutely perfect because the middle is just as the name implies – Gooey! It’s very soft and, well, gooey, yet not runny. I am in love!

You really have to be a chocolate lover to appreciate these cakes (no problem with that in this house!). There is just a smidge of flour and sugar in the recipe, so be prepared for the total onslaught of bittersweet chocolate flavor. These pair perfectly with ice cream and some fresh berries.

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Next week: Fresh Orange Cream Tart
Last week: Caramel-Topped Flan

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TWD: Almost Fudge Gateau

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Almost-Fudge… couldn’t really explain it any better myself!

I was beyond excited when Nikki of Crazy Delicious chose the Almost-Fudge Gâteau for this week’s recipe. I had already planned on making a flourless dense chocolate cake for dessert on Valentine’s Day, so this was perfect. I could kill two birds with one stone! In addition, I had recently picked up a cute set of miniature springform pans, and this was a perfect reason to bust them out. I decided to make two smaller cakes instead of one large 9″ one. The smaller sized cakes didn’t quite use all of the batter, but they were so cute, and I was able to freeze one whole cake for dessert another time. This cake was extremely dense and fudge-like, and was perfect with ice cream or a tall glass of milk. The perfect decadent dessert for a special meal!

Head on over to the Tuesdays With Dorie blog for a listing of the other Dorie bakers’ blogs and see how their cakes turned out. We are up to over 40 bakers now – welcome to all of the newbies!

Next week: Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
Last week: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

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TWD: Black and White Chocolate Cake

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This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Black and White Chocolate Cake, was chosen by April at Abby Sweets. Thanks April! This cake was an incredible combination of a moist yellow cake, a dark chocolate cream/custard, and white chocolate whipped cream. Let’s talk about each distinct part, shall we? This is the order in which I assembled this cake, making the dark chocolate cream and whipped white chocolate cream the night before since they needed to be refrigerated until completely chilled.

I’ll start with the dark chocolate cream because that was my favorite part of the cake. I had battled a fear of custard, curdled eggs, and undercooked eggs until I made Bostini Cream Pies for the October 2007 Darking Bakers challenge. It was a wonderful lesson in custard and boosted my confidence. I found this chocolate cream incredibly easy to make, it came together beautifully, and I had to resist eating it by the spoonful. I still have the leftovers sitting in my fridge – it’s perfect for dipping pretzel rods 🙂

Now on to the white chocolate whipped cream. This I did not have such an easy time with. The first time that I made the whipped cream I used my stand mixer and beat it just a hair too far and it separated. Crap. I ran back to the store and got more cream and white chocolate. In the meantime, I read on Epicurious that a hand mixer is best because the strong motor of the stand mixer makes it difficult to gauge the whipping progress and can quickly overwhip the cream. So I busted out my hand mixer. My second attempt was more successful in that it didn’t separate; however, I think that out of fear that it would separate again I didn’t quite whip it far enough. I didn’t get much volume out of it and as a result, I didn’t have enough to cover the finished cake. I ended up whipping the leftover cream I had and adding that to the outer layer. I know some other people have had problems with whipping cream and knowing when it is at “soft peaks,” “firm peaks,” and how to walk that fine line before it separates. I was able to find this video at Epicurious which demonstrates how to properly whip cream. I think it’s very helpful, so if you’ve run into any similar issues, take a peek!

The cake was a classic yellow cake that was easy to throw together, baked up perfectly, and was nice and moist.

Put it all together, and what do you get? A wonderful combination of flavors and once again, another Dorie recipe that produces an elegant dessert that is fit for the fanciest of dinner parties. The recipe suggests decorating the cake with shaved or curled chocolate, but I chose instead to dust the top of the cake with some cocoa powder.

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Our group continues to grow, and we now have 13 bloggers tackling Dorie recipes each week. How incredibly exciting! Check out my Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll to see what the others have made.

Next week: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
Last week: Orange Berry Muffins

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An OREO® Knockoff

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I am admittedly not really wowed so much by chocolate cookies. I’m not sure why, as I love chocolate, but an actual chocolate cookie usually doesn’t do much for me. Give me an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie any day. However, when I saw this cookie on Shawnda’s blog, I was reeled in. Yes, she had an awesome picture, but that wasn’t it. It was four little letters hidden in her description: O-R-E-O. I am a sucker for those little two-toned sandwich cookies… and my favorite cheesecake is an OREO® cheesecake. When Shawnda claimed that these tasted just like that little cookie, the deal was sealed. The post was starred, white chocolate was added to my grocery list, and off I went!

And let me tell you – these taste exactly like an OREO® cookie – a very moist, chewy OREO®. Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that there are no eggs, so go ahead and eat this dough straight from the bowl until your heart is content (I could be speaking from experience). I actually think that this dough would be wonderful frozen and incorporated into an ice cream cake or used in a million different ways. It’s just THAT good.

My cookies didn’t spread quite as much as hers did, which was a bit of a bummer because hers were so very pretty. But taste was not sacrified – these are fabulous! They take just a few minutes to mix together, so what are you waiting for? Go make them! Now!

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