Nothing in Particular (but Eating, Reading, Gift-giving, and Baking)
My mom often leaves me voice mails to call her back. When I do I ask if what she wanted to discuss. She often answers “nothing in particular”.
This post is about “nothing in particular”, a little eating, a little reading, a little gift-giving, a little baking,… ya know, my exciting (happy) life.
Derek and I went to Baker Street Cafe (385 Richmond Road) for lunch yesterday. I’ve been there many times for crazy busy good weekend breakfast, but have never had a savory sandwich/salad lunch there. It was good! I had a wrap and salad. You pick your own combination of bread, sauce, protein, and veggies. The wrap alone was $7.95. With a big salad and fruit salad it was $12.95. Then, during the week, they bring you a complimentary dessert. Yesterday it was a mini chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting (real buttercream frosting!). Service was fast, efficient and the place was not busy. I highly recommend it!
Over the last two weeks I finished a couple of books, both very good: The Midwife of Venice (Roberta Rich) was a really fast entertaining read (2 days) about a Jewish midwife in Renaissance Venice. The Little Princes (Conor Grennan) was also a good read about a guy who plans on volunteering in a Nepal orphanage to have good stories to tell “the ladies” but ends of founding a non-profit, re-uniting trafficked children with their families, meeting his wife, and becoming a Christian (actually the last part is very inconsequential in the book).
Derek’s parents and mine keep asking me what Derek wants for his birthday. He says he doesn’t want anything. I suggested to them that they get him Lululemon gift certificates if they really want to buy him something. Then I can use them (ha).
Actually, he needs some spring sporty stuff and every time I buy him something from there he wears it all the time, though he never goes in and buys himself anything. And frankly, the stuff lasts even with the heavy washing and wearing he does.
I think I’m just gonna take him somewhere fun. Any ideas? Not overnight… just a really fun afternoon/evening date. Help me out here.
Since Sunday I’ve been on a bit of a sweet baking kick. I’ve made Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and this new recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker. My thoughts and modifications on this latest treat after the recipe:
Chocolate Chip Cookie-Topped Brownies
Yield: 40 3-bite brownies
For the Brownie Layer:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
For the Cookie Layer:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan, line it with parchment paper and butter the paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. To make the brownie batter, put both chocolates and the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, heat just until th ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolates and butter together in 30-second increments, stirring well after each one.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, still on low speed, add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the batter. Using the spatula, fold in the walnuts, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set aside.
4. To make the cookie dough, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Working with the stand mixer in a cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter and, using a spatula and a light touch, spread it evenly over the batter.
6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cookie top is deep golden brown and firm and a thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
7. When the brownies are completely cool, carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper and turn right side up onto a cutting board. Cut into 20 bars about 1.5 inches by 1 inch.
My thoughts on this decadent dessert: This is a very rich brownie recipe made with butter and dark chocolate. I halved the brownie recipe and made this in an 8 x 8 pan. I used the extra chocolate chip cookie dough (made the recipe as written) to make chocolate chip cookies (flat, crispy, good).
Update (April 9, 2011): I initally said I would not make this recipe again with this brownie recipe because it was too rich and dark for me. I have changed my tune. Now that they are no longer warm and gooey, they are devine! I would (and will) make these again like this, but I might also try them with this recipe from Nanny Marion’s brownie recipe which is made with canola oil, a bit of chocolate, and cocoa powder (but I would reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup).
Here it is:
Nanny M’s Brownies
¾ c flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c canola oil
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c sugar
½ c chopped walnuts (I omitted these)
1 tsp vanilla
Cream eggs and sugar. Add oil. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into greased 8” square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.