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Thursday
Jul252013

Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cookies

Every month or so, the irresistible urge to make a pan of brownies creeps into my mind. Often only a day or two passes before the craving turns into a reality. Despite my regular hunger for brownies, I have yet to create a brownie that suits my tastes. Each month I try out a new recipe, finding myself discouraged by the rubbery texture or the lack of chewiness. I have tried the most popular recipes, from names both big and small, only to find disappointment in the pan that emerges from the oven.

Three years and two dozen batches later, I'm still looking for the one.

Brownie Cookies Brownie Cookies

The dirty truth is that I love box mix brownies. I love the crackled top, the chewy texture, and the dense nature of the bars. I love box mix brownies so much that I feel that the homemade version pales in comparison. As a baker, I feel somewhat ashamed to admit these truths, to admit that I cannot match the box when it comes to this criteria (though it isn't for a lack of trying).

Every so often, I sneak a box mix into my red basket at the market, feeling deliciously guilty about my purchase.

Brownie Cookies

When the obligatory brownie craving struck this month, I searched around for another recipe to try. After so many disappointments, I have become wary of homemade brownies, especially those making bold claims of box mix similarities. When my search came up empty handed, I decided to try something completely different. A cookie. And, surprisingly, it worked.

These cookies are the closest I have ever come to the perfect brownie. Dense and endlessly chewy, a handful of cookies disappeared before they completely cooled. Though they may be missing the classic crackled top, I can assure you that it won't be missed. If you are a box mix brownie lover like me, I know you'll love these, too.

Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cookies take the classic pan of brownies and turn them into individual servings. The cookies are made with both melted chocolate and chocolate chips, which lend a deep, satisfying flavor. Brown sugar makes the cookies undeniably chewy—a feature I look for in all of my brownies. The cookies are so good warm and straight out of the oven that they may not survive to see the next day.

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Sunday
Jul212013

Nutella Espresso Rolls

Nutella Espresso Rolls

I sat down to write this post a half dozen times, deleting the words once I recognized the meaning wasn't exactly what I wanted to express. The first rendition took on a serious tone, the second became an anecdote, the third a thoughtful observation. Yet, none of them communicated what I really wanted to say, which is you should make this recipe and soon. Though it is not usually in my nature to make bold statements, today I am making an exception. The truth is that these Nutella Espresso Rolls are easily one of the best dishes to come out of my kitchen. Ever.

I would never lie to you, dear friends.

Nutella Espresso Rolls Nutella Espresso Rolls Nutella Espresso Rolls

As a recipe developer, there are often several iterations a recipe goes through before I deem it good enough to share with you. While two iterations seems to be standard (with three or more sliding into second place), a single iteration is a rarity. These recipes are the four leaf clovers of the recipe development world, where modifications and tweaks happen ad infinitum.

In my own kitchen, I stumble across these rare gems perhaps once or twice a year, reveling in the moment before taking a fork after the sweet treat.

Nutella Espresso Rolls

Since my recent discovery of nutella, it has become a “banned” ingredient in the apartment because it has a tendency to disappear in a few blinks of the eye. However, the lack of nutella in the cupboards doesn't stop me from thinking about it. While recently browsing recipes online, I spotted a roll filled with chocolate. Running with the idea, I made the idea my own, filling the rolls with nutella and the subtle flavor of espresso.

After pulling the rolls out from the oven, piping hot and steaming, my boyfriend declared them one of the best things he's ever eaten. I agreed. I think you will, too.

Nutella Espresso Rolls

Nutella Espresso Rolls will leave you scraping the plate clean and wishing for more. The dough is made with espresso powder, which lends a subtle coffee flavor to the finished product. Spread with nutella and brown sugar, the dough is rolled up, sliced, and baked. When hot from the oven, the nutella becomes melted and gooey, given a unique texture from the brown sugar. These rolls are easy to make and are sinfully delicious. Make these for holidays, for friends and family, or just because it’s Monday—you won’t be disappointed.

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Thursday
Jul182013

Cherry Almond Crumble

Cherry Almond Crumble

As I walked into my apartment late last night, kicking off my shoes and tossing my keys on the kitchen counter, I asked my boyfriend to step out on the balcony and smell the air. Though an odd request, he did as I asked, moving the window blinds aside and sliding the door open. After taking in several breaths of the air, he turned around to look at me with a puzzled expression across his face. It just smells like night, he said.

Exactly, I told him. It smells like night.

Cherry Almond Crumble Cherry Almond Crumble Cherry Almond Crumble

When dusk falls, the air takes on a new scent. While the aromas of the day are subdued, drowned out by heat and car exhaust, the disappearance of the sun pulls out the scents hidden deep within the earth. Night air has an undeniable sweetness, as if a thousand quiet flower blossoms are blooming at once. The smell is earthy, the dirt kicked up during the day finally settling back to solid ground. Once the humidity of the day begins to wane, the dampness of the air holds the aromas in place, helping them grow stronger as the dew settles onto the leaves in the trees.

When I walk through the grass, looking up at the starry sky above me, I wonder if the stars rain their own fragrance down from the heavens.

Cherry Almond Crumble

Growing up in a state marked by pastures and endless blue skies, the unique scent accompanying the night was something I took for granted. Perhaps it wasn't until that late night walk into my apartment that it dawned on me that it was something to appreciate. The light breeze keeps the aromas of night unspoiled—never to grow old, always to remain familiar. I wonder if the night carries its own scent elsewhere, in cities big and small. I wonder if it has the same sweetness, the same feeling of grass underneath your bare feet and dirt beneath your fingernails. I wonder if I am the lucky one.

As I sit out of my porch with twilight long past, the darkness of the sky pure and unyielding, I breath in the night and hold it in my lungs until my chest aches. I know I am the lucky one.

Cherry Almond Crumble

Cherry Almond Crumble has a flavor as pure as the night air. Dark sweet cherries are mixed with a little brown sugar and baked until bubbly and fragrant. A dough of cinnamon, oats, and almonds is sprinkled over the top and continues baking until golden. The fruit crumble allows the simplicity and sweetness of the fresh cherries to shine, the other components deepen and support the bright flavor. This crumble is a celebration of summer fruits and long summer nights.

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