I bring you to another one of my mail ready recipes! This was another one of the recipes that I tested out for mailing and according to the recipients, they made it through beautifully! I think the key to mail-able baked goods is both density and freezing! I made these twice because I made a few mistakes the first time. The second time that I made them was about a week before I mailed them and once they were cooled, I froze them in ziplock baggies until I was ready to ship them. Even from Baltimore, they only took two days to make it to the recipients on the West Coast which was fantastic! I was really excited to make these because they combine brownies and pecan pie, two of my favorite baked goods! I found these as a I was going through the New York Times Cooking website. I’ve featured a couple of their recipes now and I cannot stress how much I love their cooking section. In an effort to keep the New York Times alive, the cooking section was monetized and a subscription costs about $45 a year. If you’re able to pay, it is absolutely worth it. Some of their cooking recipes can be hard and unnecessarily complicated but I’ve found that the variety and quantity of recipes is unmatched. This specific recipe is from Melissa Clark, one of the many wonderful writers for the food section. These brownies took a little time to perfect but are a wonderful afternoon treat! As I’ll share below, the first time I made them was a little bumpy but I got the hang of it by the second time.
So what went wrong the first time that I made this? A couple things but the biggest issue was the pan size. This recipe calls for a 8 inch square pan, the typical brownie pan. However, the closest thing that I have to an 8 inch square pan is my 9 inch cake rounds. Instead of buying yet another pan, I decided to make the brownies in my rectangular cake pan (8 by 13) which caused them to burn pretty badly because I misjudged the baking time with the thinner layer of brownies in a larger pan. The second time, I used my nine inch cake rounds and cut the brownies into squares once they had cooled a little bit. I also didn’t bake as long on round two because I was worried about burning them. The original recipe said to bake up to 55 minutes for the topping to set. I only baked for fifty minutes and found the fudge-y texture of the brownies to be so yummy that I didn’t want to bake it any longer. Because I chose not to bake it as long, the pecans were liable to coming loose. So a bit of a trade-off but one that didn’t affect my brownies too much after I froze them. I also found the recipe to a be a little bitter both times I made it. The brownie batter itself is very sweet but the topping wasn’t. It may have been because I used whole milk rather than heavy cream in the topping and I think you may have better results if you add an additional tablespoon or two of light brown sugar. So let me know how it goes for you in the comments below and happy baking!
Heat an oven to 350F. Put the pecans onto a large sheet pan and roast for 8 minutes or until you can smell the nuts. Set on a rack and let cool.
Once ready to bake, heat oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8 inch square pan with two inches of excess parchment on each side to help lift out the brownies once they’re baked.
To make the brownies, place the butter and chocolate into a medium pot and place on the stove over low heat. Melt, stirring constantly. Once melted, scrape into a large bowl and mix in the granulated sugar. Let sit until cool to the touch, 4-5 minutes.
Once cooled, whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Mix in chips and scrape into the prepared pan. Smooth over the batter into an even layer and set aside.
Make the pecan layer by whisking together the melted butter, honey, brown sugar, heavy cream, and fine sea salt. Fold in the pecans until well coated. Once mixed, pour pecan mixture in an even layer over the brownie batter.
Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt and bake until the top is set and firm to the touch, 45-55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.
As always, I was on a hunt to find new things to do with my sourdough discard and came across this recipe on my Instagram feed. This recipe is from @bakingwithgina, a home based baker from Singapore! Gina is lovely and I’ve been following her account for a couple months. Her recipes are always beautiful and absolutely mouthwatering! At first, I thought that her account only showed bread recipes that used active sourdough starter until I came across these rolls! I was overjoyed! The first time I made it, I followed her recipe exactly. It didn’t come out as nice as I wanted but my boyfriend enjoyed the whole loaf regardless! I prefer the rolls which are really yummy as sweet breakfast treats. I’m still looking for some sort of filling, maybe with candied orange peel or orange marmalade so that might be added to this page as I continue to experiment with this recipe.
My second time trying this recipe went much better! I added another third of a cup of flour and an egg. By enriching the dough, I made a more American bread, one that is sweeter and has a longer shelf life. As a college student, I usually can’t eat my baked goods within the week unless I give a few away first! So baking these as pull apart rolls made more sense for me. You can shape it into a traditional sandwich loaf and it will rise just as well. The first time I made this dough, I also didn’t realize that yeast should be added if your discard is a little old. I keep my discard in the refrigerator for up to three weeks because I think it stays good for that long. Scientifically, you should use it within three to five days according to King Arthur Flour so take my word with a grain of salt! Discard that is older can be added to almost any recipe to add flavor and just a tablespoon or two can go into most recipes without a problem. Lately, I’ve been using my discard for these rolls or for crumpets (hopefully a blog post will follow about that but I’ve been eating them before I can get a good picture!). Let me know if you have any favorite discard recipes that I haven’t yet featured on the blog and I’ll be sure to check them out! Happy baking!
Chocolate Sourdough Discard Roll Recipe
200 grams (about 1 3/4 cup) sourdough discard
100 grams whole milk
290 grams bread flour
30 grams sugar
3 grams kosher salt
Pinch of yeast (about 1 teaspoon instant yeast) (This one depends on the age of your discard, it may need more or less depending on how long it has been sitting in the refrigerator
30 grams unsalted butter
1 large egg
40 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips (If you use bittersweet, add some sugar to balance the recipe out)
40 grams whole milk
20 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
In a small bowl, melt the chips in the microwave in thirty second increments. Mine took about 1 min 30 seconds to melt fully but I still did it in increments to prevent burning the chocolate. Add the cocoa powder, 40 grams whole milk, and espresso powder and mix to form a paste. Set aside to cool.
Mix together the discard, flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, egg, and the chocolate paste. Knead until smooth. The bread should spring back when touch and the dough should be brown throughout the whole dough, not just marbled in.
Set in an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise 3 hours.
Punch dough down and let rest 15 minutes.
Shape the dough. I made rolls like my other sourdough discard rolls. I rolled all the dough into a log and used unflavored dental floss to cut it into ten. I arranged those on prepared 9 inch cake pans in a circle to make tear apart loaves. This can also be made into a loaf like regular bread.
Cover and let prove 3-3 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Once the dough has doubled and is puffy, bake for 25-30 minutes. If baking a loaf, you may need to bake 35 minutes.
Remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy some yummy bread!
These cookies are a little more laborious than my preferred cookie recipes but it is totally worth it! I’ve never made button or thumbprint cookies but I thought I’d give it a try! I was super pleased with the way that these came out! Normally, molasses and other liquid sweeteners like honey have a tendency to spread the dough as it bakes and it can create really moist but very flat cookies. These cookies are fantastic and moist but hold their shape very well. I think they’re really cute and they’d make a great cookie for a holiday cookie exchange once we don’t have to worry about covid-19.
The trick here is the two-hour chill in between making the dough and baking it. It may be tough to wait if you’re impatient like me but I found that taking a nice long walk made the two hours pass by in a breeze! The cookie also uses two different kinds of sugar, brown and turbinado or raw sugar. The difference is that the “raw” sugar comes in large, golden crystals that the dough is rolled in at the end to create a distinctive “sparkle” on the outside. Rolling them in the “raw” sugar is an easy way to give them a little pizzaz. This “raw” sugar is available in most grocery stores in the baking aisle, you just may have to hunt for it a little bit. I also filled these cookies with two different fillings. If you look closely at the pictures, there’s a slight color difference that gives it away. For about half, I used leftover chocolate ganache from my Chocolate Cake recipe from a couple weeks back. For the other half, I used the filling from the recipe. Below, I’ve doubled this amount because the original recipe amount only filled half of my cookies… They’re easy to overfill so go easy on the filling at first, you can always go back in and refill if needed. I hope that you find this recipe as delectable as I did and happy baking!
Spiced Molasses Chocolate Buttons Recipe
For the Dough
195 grams (1 1/2 cup +2 tablespoons) All Purpose flour
35 grams (6 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
142 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
106 grams (1/2 cup packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
85 grams (1/4 cup) molasses
100 grams turbinado sugar to coat
For the filling
57 grams (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips and it seemed to not be too sweet)
28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped into smaller pieces
1/2 teaspoon molasses
Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and all spice in a medium bowl.
Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy in a separate, large bowl. Beat in the egg until well mixed then add and mix in the molasses.
In two additions, mix together the dry and wet ingredients in the larger bowl until well-blended. Scrape the bowl then refrigerate the dough in the bowl for two hours. To retain the moisture, cover with cling wrap.
When ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F.
Pour turbinado sugar onto a plate or bowl. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop and portion the dough into balls. Roll in the sugar until covered completely. Place on the baking sheet about 1 1/2 inch apart. (They spread while baking but not by much)
Bake until set around the edges but still soft in the middle, 10 or 11 minutes depending on the strength of your over. Remove from oven and using a spoon, create a deep indent in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake 5-6 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pans on a wire rack.
To make the filling, place the chocolate and butter together in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave in thirty second intervals until melted. Mix well between intervals (I have a terrible microwave and it only took me a minute to melt it) Once melted and mixed together, stir in the molasses.
Transfer the filling to a ziplock bag or a pastry bag. Snip a corner off the ziplock bag and fill each cookie. Let sit at room temperature until the filling is firm. Enjoy!
So I have to admit that the cover photo for today’s blog post was graciously taken by the recipients of this cake. Two of my friends recently celebrated their marriage and being a big baker, I asked if I could bake them a yummy if slightly messy cake. I had originally planned to do a butter cake with ganache frosting, a classic bumblebee cake. Looking around my pantry, I noticed I had a boxed mix of devil’s food cake that I had been dying to use and this seemed like a a perfect opportunity! Using a boxed cake mix meant that I was able to take my time with the other parts of the cake that added a lovely touch and taste. I should have taken a little extra time with the royal icing lettering but hindsight is 20/20! The royal icing was a little on the runnier side and smooshed together a little but I see that as protecting the privacy of the intended recipients!
This cake has everything! Two layers of delicious cake with a simple syrup for additional moisture with a ganache frosting and royal icing lettering! This cake was actually a two-day process which sounds daunting but I actually think it makes the whole thing much less stressful. Taking the time to properly chill the cake and the frosting allows for the icing process to be much more stress-free! I really enjoyed icing the cake, something I’m not sure that I’ve ever said before. I used to HATE icing cakes; it was always way more trouble than it was worth. I would get crumbs everywhere and could never get a smooth coating of frosting! Let me tell you that has all changed! Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, I’ve become much more at ease in the icing department. The decorations still need a little bit of work but we can’t all be perfect! To properly ice a cake, you really should use a rotating cake stand. I used to hear this all the time and thought it was a bunch of hooey but it really has some merit. It makes it so much easier to get the sides of the cake without taking off too much frosting. Using offset spatulas also helps a LOT. The funky shape to these spatulas helps to evenly distribute the frosting in an intuitive way. One word of wisdom is that the offset spatula should never actually touch the cake. The spatula is used to move around the frosting which ends up covering the cake for you.
This ganache recipe is also one that I have used for a few years but have never taken the time to use all the different bowls and pans that it calls for. Even though it makes way more dishes (which my father never appreciates), this recipe is an easy way to get lovely tempered chocolate frosting for a whole cake. The key to this ganache is the right combination of hot and cold. It’s not as finicky most tempered chocolate recipes but it does need to be warm while being made. The cacao percentage of the chocolate is also very important. The original recipe calls for 62% cacao but I’ve never been able to find that and I use 66% cacao. This is a pretty dark chocolate but doesn’t need much sugar to sweeten it. This recipe won’t really work with a smaller percentage of cacao because the ganache will be too sweet and a little oily. It’s worth the extra couple bucks to get a higher cacao percentage for this recipe. I made this ganache on the morning of the assembly of the cake and put it in the fridge to chill before applying to the cake. One super easy way to soften the ganache if it has chilled is to put in a tablespoon or two of hot water and mix it into the ganache. It helps to soften it without exposing it to the harsh temperature induced by the microwave. Not that I don’t love a good microwave but it doesn’t quite do it for this recipe. I hope that you try this recipe and let me know about your successes or failures in the comments below! Happy baking!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
For the Cake
1 box mix of chocolate cake or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
For the Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Ganache
10 ounces of 66% Cacao chocolate
75 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
170 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Royal Icing
113 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon egg white
Make the cake the day before assembly. Cut the pieces and wrap in cling wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
To make the ganache, combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
Put a medium pan of water on to simmer. This will act as part of a bain marie to melt the chocolate so make sure the heatproof bowl fits neatly into the top of the pot before you start the boil
In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm the heavy cream to a simmer. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until the sugar is melted.
Nest the chocolate bowl over the pan of simmering water. Heat the bowl and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add about a half cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously with a fork to temper. Once shiny, pour back into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Add butter to chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour hot ganache through a sieve into a heatproof container and chill for at least 1 hour.
While the ganache is chilling, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the water. Remove to a heatproof container and let cool. (This simple syrup works for cocktails as well so try to make some if you have leftovers)
Once the simple syrup and ganache have cooled, remove the cake from the fridge.
Unwrap and gently brush a conservative amount of syrup over each half of the cake. Make sure the cake is moistened but not soaked by the syrup.
Take the half of the cake that was the top and place on the cake stand. Take a generous dollop of ganache and spread it over this half.
Once thoroughly frosted, put the bottom half on top, with the side that was in the bottom of the pan on top. This ensures a flat cake.
Add dollops of ganache around the side of the cake. Using offset spatula, spread a thin layer of ganache over the sides.
Once a thin layer is created, chill the cake for at least an hour. While it is chilling, make the royal icing.
For the royal icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water until desired consistency. If too runny, add additional powdered sugar until it stiffens.
Once the cake has chilled, remove from the fridge. Place a generous dollop of frosting on top and cover. Once the top is covered, add ganache to the sides to fully coat the cake.
To smooth the sides, hold the offset spatula tight to the side of the cake and spin the rotating stand while holding the spatula steady. Push the excess frosting from the sides to the top of the cake. Once there, smooth off into the top layer with the spatula.
Chill cake for at least 30 minutes before adding words or serve immediately. It will stay well wrapped in the fridge for five days.
If adding words, put the royal icing into an icing bag with a small writing tip and write out desired message. Make sure the icing isn’t too runny or your cake may look like mine!
As the school year has started, I’ve been baking up a storm and am loving it! I’m hoping to come out with a book review in a week or so but I’m finishing up a monster of a book that I’ve been reading intermittently since April! While I finish that up, I thought I could distract you all with yet another delicious cookie recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour. Now, for my friends out there who are allergic to nuts, this recipe may not be for them but I always encourage recipe substitutions in the name of creativity so if anyone finds a good peanut or nut free alternative to the peanut butter in the recipe, let me know if the comments below! I was inspired to look for cookie recipes so that I could share some with my godmother Sue, who has been very kind in testing out several of my blog recipes.
This was a relatively simple recipe, I didn’t run into any huge logistical or recipe errors which is great! The recipe requires butter to be at room temp and unlike the brown sugar and maple cookies, the butter can be microwaved thirty seconds to forty five seconds to soften it. The recipe will be quite stiff with the peanut butter addition so the butter can be almost melted if you need to microwave it. To make these cookies less stiff, the recipe calls for a tablespoon or two of water. You could even add another tablespoon if you need to and don’t be alarmed when the dough gets really stiff after you mix all the ingredients together.
I normally mix my dry and wet goods separately but I know that some people along with myself sometimes just throw everything in the bowl and mix. In this recipe, try to use two separate bowls for wet and dry goods if you can because the peanut butter will cause everything to stick together and not mix well. Final note is that I used chocolate chips in the cookies because they were all I had on hand. They do taste great in the cookies but you don’t get as much peanut butter without using the peanut butter cups recommended by the original recipe. So if you like a more chocolate than peanut butter, use chips but if you love that PB then go find some mini peanut butter cups to use! I hope that you enjoy this recipe and follow any of the above mentioned tips!