Friday, October 14
Today I have a Mexican brownies recipe for you. And it’s fair trade. And it’s delicious. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I love Mexican chocolate. I was first introduced to this wonderful flavor by my Mexican college roommate Estela. She brought me Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate tablets from home and I hoarded, um, I mean cherished them. (Okay, hoarded. I would not allow anyone to use that chocolate willy nilly!) Fast forward to today and basically if we go anywhere and anything is Mexican chocolate flavored, I order it. The hint of cinnamon and chile peppers paired with chocolate just makes me happy. (And it reminds me of Estela, too, which also makes me happy!)
Fair Trade USA approached me to help celebrate their Fair Moments campaign this month, which is all about showing how our small everyday decisions can have a huge impact, something I really believe. For the post I wanted to share a recipe that used lots of great fair trade ingredients, but for some reason I was having a hard time settling on something. Then, as I was sitting in my kitchen staring at a pile of fair trade goodies with the kids, discussing what we could make, Cate mentioned brownies. Then the cinnamon started chanting, “Abuelita, Abuelita, Abuelita” and I knew Mexican brownies had to happen. (Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen, but whatever. Close enough.)
Brownies are one of our family’s favorites and probably the most frequently baked item around here, after chocolate chip cookies, of course. Anna and I decided to make the Mexican brownies together and had a great conversation about what fair trade means. We talked about which ingredients in the recipe were fair trade and about how they are ingredients we use all the time. It was really cool neat sharing this with my daughter and I was grateful I could show her how we actively support such a great cause day to day.
The best part was taste testing with Anna and my mom, trying to get the perfect amount of cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the brownies. In case you’re wondering, we succeeded. The brownies came out awesome and everyone in the family loved them (even my mom who was most certainly suspect when I used the words “cayenne” and “brownies” in the same sentence). The cinnamon and cayenne flavors come through but in a subtle way and without too much heat.
Before we get to the post, let’s do a Fair Trade giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected winner will receive a package from Fair Trade USA with the following goodies:
- Wholesome Vanilla Frosting
- Cascadian Farm Organic Soft Baked Squares
- Marich Chocolates
- Mighty Leaf Tea
- Chuao Chocolates
- Honest Tea
- Larabar Chocolate Cherry Bites
- Frontier Natural Products Co-Op Cinnamon Sticks
- SunSpire Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
- Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Arrowhead Mills Organic Coconut Flour
- Immaculate Baking Co.’s Organic Chocolate Chip Mix
- Lundberg Family Farms Organic Jasmine Rice
- High Brew Coffee Cold Brew
To enter this Fair Trade giveaway, please do the following:
- Leave a comment on this post! (Optional: Tell us your favorite fair trade ingredient that you use all the time!)
- Bonus entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on October 31, 2016.
And now, the recipe! I basically just used Ruth Reichl’s “A Better Brownie” recipe, which is one of my most favorite brownies. The brownies come out super fudgy and rich with this amazing crusty top that is to die for. Click here for the original non-spicy version. If you want to try the spicy version, here you go!Mexican BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis is one of my favorite brownie recipes, originally written by Ruth Reichl. I've given the recipe a Mexican twist with sugar and spice and everything nice...and Fair Trade!Author: Ruth Reichl (with Jane Maynard adaptations)Serves: 16Ingredients
- 5 ounces unsalted high-fat butter (I use regular old salted butter!)
- 5 ounces unsweetened fair trade chocolate
- 2 teaspoons best-quality, fair trade vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons fair trade ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fair trade cayenne pepper
- 4 farm fresh organic eggs (Jane note: my eggs are not farm fresh, everything turns out fine!)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour (spooned into a cup and leveled with a knife)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Butter a 9x9 or 8x8 square pan and line the pan with parchment paper. Butter the bottom and sides once again.
- Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
- Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned very light and thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
- Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350ºF. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
- Lift the brownies out of the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Set on a cutting board and cut into pieces.
The little plates in this post are from Q Squared NYC, in case you need to buy them because they are the CUTEST.
Thursday, May 12
It’s time for another podcast! Today I share my secret tip for cutting brownies (okay, it’s not that secret and you can find it on the blog, but whatever…it’s such a good tip it needs repeating!). In addition I interview NYC-based family photographer Ahna Tessler. Ahna is a mother of four-year-old twins and wife to a 35-year-old man. 😉 Ahna’s background is in comedy and screenwriting but she found it was kind of hard to work the stand-up circuit with 67,000 diapers to change and two noses that needed constant wiping. Photography has given her the opportunity to explore the beauty, humor and grit of human interaction on a new stage… the family. Her most recent project with Babble, Motherhood in Focus, was so beautiful that I just had to get her on the show to talk more about it. And, of course, get her to share her favorite recipe and a few food memories about her own mother, memories that take an unexpected turn!
- Grandma Blomquist’s Brownies (although, all of the brownie recipes on my site are awesome!)
- Ahna’s Photography Website
- Motherhood in Focus on Ahna’s website
- Motherhood in Focus kick-off post on Babble
- Short video about the Motherhood in Focus project (that will make you tear up!)
- Meredith Carroll on Babble
- Ahna’s pictures where she photoshopped herself into family photos
It’s easy to listen to the show!
- Via the web: Just click play below!
- Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.
- If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a rating and/or review on iTunes!
- Big thank you to d&m for providing the music for the podcast!
Tuesday, September 1
The very first recipe I ever made on my own was my Grandma Blomquist’s Brownies. I was in 5th grade and the experience was very memorable for me, not just because I burned both some chocolate and my arm in the process, but also because the brownies came out great, starting a lifetime of brownie baking.
Last week when Cate was in charge of dinner, she asked if she could bake something for dessert on one of the nights. Of course I pulled out my grandma’s brownie recipe. I’ve never written a post about the brownies, but I did put the recipe on the blog ages ago with a cute picture of 2-year-old Cate stirring the batter. Last week when Cate baked her first batch of brownies, I took a few photos for a Babble post I’m working on. Today, as I got this post ready, I stuck the photos side by side and it made me smile. It also made me a little sad. Where did my baby go?!
I needed to take some nice photos of the brownies for this post, so I asked Cate if she could whip up a batch for me. She happily complied. I’m kind of loving this whole Cate cooking thing, especially since her “thing” is brownies.
These brownies are on the fudgy side of the brownie continuum, with a delicious crispy crust on top. It’s a basic, reliable and wonderful brownie recipe. Although, the brownies always taste best when my Grandma Blomquist or Cate bakes them!Grandma Blomquist's BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeMy grandma's recipe that my family has been making FOREVER. Fudgy with a crusty top!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces baking chocolate (substitution: 6 tablespoons cocoa + 2 tablespoons butter)
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 well beaten eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease/butter an 8" x 8" baking pan.
- Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add corn syrup and baking chocolate and stir until all melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in sugar.
- Stir in eggs after the sugar has been mixed in.
- Stir in baking powder, vanilla and salt. Slowly stir in the flour until well combined.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until fork comes out clean.
Dishes from Q Squared NYC.
Thursday, June 4
It’s Friday! Woohoo! I’m all happy and giddy and stuff because we are finally painting our walls after replacing all the plumbing in our house last summer. Yes, that means we’ve had 38 patches on our walls for almost a year. I feel like we’re making good time, no? Anyway, the colors are coming out wonderfully, so I’ll have to do a follow up “how to pick paint” post to let you know what colors I used.
I just have one thing to share today. BROWNIES. For Parade’s Community Table this week I pulled together a roundup of 15 creative, amazing, wonderful brownie recipes. You should go check them out. For those of who might want a more basic brownie, this brownie recipe from Ruth Reichl is hands down my favorite, which is saying something because I actually have a lot of “favorite” brownie recipes.
Now, go forth and make brownies. And have a marvelous weekend. And share your stuff with us in the comments for Show and Tell!
Thursday, November 21
This giveaway is now closed, but the recipe is awesome so keep reading!
Ready for another awesome cookbook? If you have someone in your life who loves avocados, this is the PERFECT holiday gift for them.
First off, my friend Gaby from What’s Gaby Cooking is awesome and my little Owen is also completely smitten with her. It’s the cutest thing ever – he loves Gaby! Unfortunately for Owen, Gaby is already spoken for. For some reason he hasn’t noticed the ring on her left hand and I haven’t had the heart to break the news to him. 😉
Gaby recently published her first cookbook Absolutely Avocados. The book is a great avocado resource, well designed, beautifully photographed and features all kinds of scrumptious avocado recipes, including a really delicious Caesar dressing that I love and, today’s featured recipe, brownies!
We need to talk about these brownies. They are DELISH. Super rich and fudgy, these brownies have a wonderful crust on top that actually stays crispy the next day. It’s like a brownie miracle. The brownies taste nothing like avocados and, by replacing half of the butter with a healthy avocado, a little bit of the guilt can be alleviated when enjoying this tasty treat.
Since it’s the Gifts & Giveaways time of year here on This Week for Dinner, you better believe we are giving away a copy of Gaby’s book! Here is how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Tuesday, 11/26.) Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! That’s it! Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow me on Pinterest, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow me on Pinterest, that counts!)
I asked Gaby if, at any point along the way of writing her book, she got sick of avocados. She exclaimed, “Of course not! I love them!” That is one dedicated woman.Avocado Brownies (Say What?!?) and a Very Gaby Giveaway!From Absolutely Avocados by Gaby DalkinAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- 1 Hass avocado (4.5 ounces)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix until the avocado is mashed and smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the granulated sugar and beat until full incorporated.
- In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Add the chocolate mixture to the stand mixer bowl and mix until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, followed by the espresso powder, vanilla extract and salt.
- Add the flour and mix until there are no streaks of flour showing. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes. The brownies will be dense and moist. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting. Dust with confectioners sugar just before serving if desired.
Thursday, February 14
Happy Valentine’s Day! You know I couldn’t let this day go buy without a little chocolate, right?
Before we get to the chocolate, though, I have a question. Why has no one ever told me how great cake pans with super square edges are? My sister Anne’s 8×8-inch baking pan has those super right-angled edges. Cate’s giraffe birthday cake this year was cut from an 8-inch square cake. I borrowed Anne’s cake pan knowing the squared-off edges would work better for cutting the pieces for the cake. Well, the pan worked fabulously for the cake…and then, last week, I used it for brownies and loved it! I had to return the pan, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be buying one of my own, in the 8″x8″ and 9″x13″ sizes!
On to the chocolate. I tried Ruth Reichl’s “A Better Brownie” recipe last week. Awesome recipe, people. Nate, who does not have a sweet tooth, said to me that night, “Jane, these brownies are dangerous.” If you’ve got Nate jonesing for a dessert item, you know it’s good. They are super chocolatey and moist but still light in weight and texture. Such a great combination of qualities that you rarely find in a brownie. (PS…Ruth has lots of “How To Make a Better XXX” recipes on the Gilt Taste website. Definitely a good read!)
I’m putting the recipe here because in the past when I’ve simply linked to recipes, I’ve run the risk of the links disappearing for various reasons and forever losing recipes I love. Not that Ruth Reichl is going anywhere anytime soon…but who knows what those pesky links will do! I didn’t change anything about the recipe and I have absolutely nothing to add. Except that the recipe works beautifully as written.Ruth Reichl's "A Better Brownie"Author: From Ruth Reichl on Gilt Taste (link is no longer live, glad I kept the recipe!)Ingredients
- ⅔ cup (5 ounces) unsalted high-fat butter (like European or European-style butters)
- 5 ounces unsweetened excellent chocolate
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons best-quality vanilla extract
- 4 farm fresh organic eggs (Jane note: my eggs were not farm fresh, everything was fine!)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour, sifted (Jane note: I just now realized I forgot to sift the flour - whoops!)
- Butter a 9x9 square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the bottom again and lightly dust the pan with cocoa powder.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned quite white. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
- Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
- Invert the pan, remove the parchment paper and invert again onto a cutting surface. Cut into squares.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 9:59 am 32 Comments
Categories: fab faves, featured recipes, Recipes, sweet things, the goods Tags: a better brownie, baking, brownies, ruth reichl, ruth reichl's a better brownie |
Tuesday, May 10
Nate’s Grammy lives south of Boston in a perfectly scenic, coastal New England town. Her home is on a lovely little gulf where you can watch the tide and the plethora of birds go about their daily business. I have so many memories there, of time spent with Nate and his family, experiencing all the emotions and rites of passage you experience with family, including our own wedding reception.
Of course, as is often the case, there are many food associations with Grammy’s home. The two food items that are always in abundance when we visit are blueberry muffins and brownies, both of which we all eat far too quickly!
Nate loves Grammy’s brownies. There are a few things in Nate’s mind that I think no one will ever live up to in comparison with Grammy. Her brownies are one of those things. I, of course, am always trying oodles of different brownie recipes, so I actually rarely use her recipe. Not because I don’t love them. I’m just into comparing brownie recipes! So, on Mother’s Day evening, after Nate had cooked up a divine filet mignon dinner, he said, “Do we have stuff to make brownies?” To which I replied, “Yes!” And then he said, “Okay, I’ll make them, but I’m making them my way.” Which means Grammy’s way, of course.
The brownies tasted exactly like Grammy’s. Nate was beyond happy with the result. And it was a great Mother’s Day present for me…delicious brownies and happy memories of days and nights on the gulf. Who could ask for more?
A note on this recipe. Yes, she uses shortening. And, yes, Nate used it, too. And, to be honest, these brownies come out with a great texture – not gooey at all, but not dried out, either. They are the texture you expect a brownie to be and have a nice crust on top. Also, they are not uber chocolatey. If you have Julia Child’s brownies on one end of the spectrum (i.e. the super duper gooey moist chocolatey end of the spectrum), then these are on the other end. Chocolatey enough, but not overwhelming. Nikki, my anti-chocolate friend, might even give them a try!
Oh, one more thing, unlike most brownies in my life, I actually think I like these better the second day.Grammy McCarthy's BrowniesFrom Grammy McCarthyAuthor: Jane MaynardCuisine: DessertIngredients
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate (Grammy uses Fleishmans, we used whatever was on hand)
- ⅓ cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler over hot water. Take off heat and add sugar. Add eggs when mixture has cooled a bit. Mix dry ingredients together then add to the wet ingredients. Mix in ½ C broken (wal)nuts. (Since it was Mother’s Day, Nate left these out for me. Because we all know how I feel about walnuts.) Spread in well-greased, 8″ X 8″ pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for ~20-25 mins.
- There will be a dull crust when almost done – take out. You also want your fork or toothpick to come out clean.
- Cut when cool.
Thursday, April 1
First off, I think I might need to change the name of my blog to This Week for Dessert. Goodness, ‘someone’ has a sweet tooth lately. I recently made Julia Child’s Best-Ever Brownies from Baking with Julia.
I know the question on all your minds….are these brownies really the best ever? If you like rich chocolate desserts, then they are. I am warning you, though – these brownies are not for the faint of chocolate heart. They’re hard core, gooey, rich. But in the best way possible.
When I first read through the recipe, I almost didn’t make them. A self-professed gooey brownie is tasty enough, but most often those recipes taste underbaked more than anything. Not so with Julia’s recipe. These brownies are gooey, but on a different level – a completely intentional, delicious-hot-or-cold level. The recipe is very similar in composition to the mini molten chocolate cake recipe I love so much, and these brownies are quite reminiscent of the flavors in that recipe.
Bottom line, I love these brownies. They were amazing hot out of the oven, and they were amazing cold the next day. They also have a great crusty top that stays that way over time. The recipe is a bit labor intensive, but I think worth it. Kind of what I expected, honestly, with Julia.
Remember, I do have an otherworldly tolerance for chocolate, so keep that in mind when considering my recommendation. Nate liked the brownies too, so you can probably trust me. 😉Julia Child's Best-Ever BrowniesFrom Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and Julia Child Excerpt from the book, by Julia Child: Those who are passionate about brownies argue in defense of their favorite type, cakey or fudgey. If you’re a cakey fan, go on to another recipe. These are the epitome of soft, dark, “baked just until barely set” brownies. Their creamy texture makes them seem wildly luxurious and very much a treat to be metered out in small servings (just small enough for a scoop of ice cream and some chocolate sauce). The mixing method is unorthodox for a brownie. Half of an egg-sugar mixture is stirred into the melted chocolate and butter, while the other half is whipped until it thickens and doubles in volume. The lightened eggs are folded into the chocolate with a delicate touch, as are the dry ingredients–tricks that enhance the brownies’ lovely texture.”Recipe type: DessertIngredients
- 1¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
- Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye on the pot to make certain the chocolate doesn’t scorch (Alternatively, you can melt the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over, not touching, simmering water.) Add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
- Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a bowl and mix or whisk by hand just to combine.
- Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don’t set from the heat.
- Fit the whisk attachment to the mixer and whip the remaining sugar and eggs until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. (Jane note: I let it go for about 5 minutes)
- Using the rubber spatula, delicately fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture.
- When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.
- Pour and scrape the batter in to an unbuttered 9-inch square pan. (Jane note: I did use an UNbuttered pan. It was actually kind of hard to get the brownies out. I have no idea if using a butter pan will change the way they cook or not. I just trusted Julia and went with it.)
- Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes, during which time they will rise a little and the top will turn dark and dry.
- Cut into the center at about the 23-minute mark to see how the brownies are progressing: they’ll be perfect if they’re just barely set and still pretty gooey. They’re still awfully good on the other side of set, so don’t worry if you miss the moment on your first try.
- The brownies will keep, covered, for 2 to 3 days at room temperature and can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. These never freeze solid, so you might want to think about using them as a mix-in for ice cream.
- In the words of Julia…Bon Appétit!
Wednesday, January 31Grandma Blomquist's BrowniesAuthor: Jane MaynardCuisine: DessertIngredients
- 1 square butter
- 2 squares baking chocolate (equiv: 6 tablespoons cocoa and 2 tablespoons butter)
- 2 tablespoons karo syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 well beaten eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- Melt butter, chocolate, karo.
- Add sugar.
- Add eggs.
- Add dry ingredients.
- Bake 350 degrees for ~ 25 mins in a greased 8X8 pan.