Tag Archives: dessert

Pumpkin Brownies

12 Nov

After the Pumpkin Spice Cake and the Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins, here’s my last pumpkin recipe to share with you: Pumpkin Brownies! I’m not sure what goes better with pumpkin than chocolate. After looking through a million versions, I finally settled on a recipe from Delishhh.com.

Mmm... look at that swirl

I thought these were exceptional, and the addition of Ghiradelli chocolate chips was a stroke of genius. They were slightly more cake-like than fudge-like, and while I usually prefer the latter, they were amazing. Especially when warmed and topped with a scoop of ice cream, which I must admit I enjoyed probably 5 out of 6 nights last week. As I mentioned with my previous pumpkin recipes, I used pumpkin pie filling instead of regular pumpkin puree, which the original recipe called for. But I think you’re good either way — the pie filling makes the brownies a little sweeter and richer in the end.

Oh my goodness, look at that chocolate chip right there.

I baked these in my brand-new Bake and Store Baker from Crate and Barrel — a highly convenient wedding gift. After they cooled, all I had to do was snap the lid on and throw them in the passenger seat to take to a party. Perfect.

Oh, and by the way — one can of pumpkin pie filling is the perfect amount for this recipe, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins, AND the Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Buttercream. Just to give you a heads up there.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from Delishhh.com

¾ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup butter (melted)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup pumpkin pie filling
1tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in each egg one at a time. Add in the flour mixture a little at a time, and mix until combined. Divide the batter in half evenly into 2 separate bowls.

In one of the bowls, blend in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. In the second bowl of batter, stir in pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Spread the chocolate batter into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the pumpkin batter over that. Drag a kitchen knife or spatula through to mix it a bit. (This creates a mostly chocolate base with a mostly pumpkin top. If you want a more marbled brownie, pour half of each batter in at a time for a total of four layers, and then swirl the knife through it.)

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.

Linking up for:
YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Linky Party with Fine Craft Guild

Brownie Pecan Pie

14 Aug

I listed ‘brownie’ in the title first because that is way more important. Obvi.

This super delicious pie comes from Bakerella. I have been wanting to make it ever since she posted it years ago, and I finally got around to it. My family loved it! I took it to my sister’s “last supper” — she had corrective jaw surgery, so we had a big meal of her choice the night before since she won’t be able to eat for a while. Coincidentally enough, my brother had a motorcycle accident and ended up being scheduled for surgery to fix his smashed-up hand on the same day, so we were all together for a nice family meal full of anxiety and brownie pecan pie. (Good news: they’re both okay, just drugged up and cranky.)

Pecan pie is one of my favorite Southern dishes, but of course chocolate is my all-time favorite. So mixing the two sounded like a no-duh move. And being semi-homemade, it was super easy too.

Bakerella gives instructions for how to make either a thicker brownie version or a gooier fudge version. Both sounded delicious to me, and I couldn’t decide, so I split the difference. My mom cut into it and said, “Uh oh, it didn’t bake in the middle.” And I said, “Nope, it’s supposed to be gooey and delicious like that!”

I started off preheating the oven to 350 F. I put 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon flour in a big mixing bowl. I stirred that together until there were no lumps and the flour had disappeared. Then I added 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, stirring that until combined. Next, 1/4 cup melted butter, stirring that in until combined. And then in a separate bowl, I beat 1 egg and then added that to the mixture, stirring until combined. Last I stirred in 1 cup pecans and set the bowl aside.

Pecan Goo

In a separate bowl, I prepared brownie mix according to the package directions. I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate with chocolate chips – YUM.

Brownie Layer

I rolled out 1 refrigerated pie crust into my pie pan and then poured half the brownie batter into it. Then I gently poured the pecan mixture on top of that.

I baked the leftover brownie batter in a loaf pan to make a mini batch of brownies for my brother, who prefers his chocolate unmarred by nuts.

Pecan Layer

I baked it for about 40 minutes, and that was that.

Gooey Deliciousness

Sooo good. I totally should have added a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Mmmm

Chocolate Mmmousse

22 Jun

Get it? Mmmousse because it is so delicious you will be like “MMMMM.” Yeah.

Mmm... look at THAT

I needed a good dessert for a dinner party, and I must say that my first attempt at mousse was pretty much perfect. (There’s no room for humility here. It was that delicious.) Not like I can really claim much from it anyway – I followed Ms. Martha Stewart’s chocolate mousse recipe to a T. I cannot understate how amazing it was. I actually doubled the recipe so I would have it for two different occasions. But I will share the recipe below in its original dimensions, which would serve about 6 people for dessert.

Some mousses use raw eggs, and one thing I like about this recipe is that you cook the eggs. Makes me feel better. Raw – blech. I separated 4 eggs and then in a medium saucepan, I whisked together 4 egg yolks2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 cup heavy cream. I cooked it over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until it thickened up to the point where it would stick to the spoon a bit (but don’t let it boil!).

While that cooked, I melted 8 ounces semisweet chocolate by heating it at 30 second intervals in the microwave and stirring well in between each session. I used some semisweet chocolate chips but didn’t have quite enough, so I added in pieces of random chocolate bars I had stashed around the apartment and in my purse. (That’s not weird, right?) When the egg mixture was done, I stirred in the melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

I strained the chocolate mixture through a fine mesh sieve to make sure no chunks stuck around. I popped the bowl of chocolate into the fridge to chill for a bit.

While the chocolate chilled, I worked on the whipping cream. I beat another 1 1/4 heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl with a hand mixer. I added 2 tablespoons sugar and continued beating. I was supposed to stop when it formed “soft peaks,” but the weird thing about whipped cream is that it looks not quite done forever and then BAM it’s suddenly past done. But it worked out okay. I mixed about one third of the cream into the chocolate mixture. Then the original recipe says to gently fold the rest of the cream into the chocolate. But I was having trouble getting it to mix evenly, so I ended up stirring somewhat vigorously, which broke down the too-whipped whipped cream perfectly. See? Worked out okay.

That's a nice looking glass you got there.

I scooped them into individual serving dishes, covered, and chilled them. Excellent presentation and more importantly, soooo delicious. (They need to chill for at least 30 minutes, and then Martha says it will last up to 3 days, though I ate mine a week later and was fine.)

Now just imagine that Ryan Gosling is holding that spoon offering you the most delicious mousse in the world. Mmmm.

ALT TEXT FTW.

Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes

4 Mar

My mom is nuts for marshmallow fluff. Whenever I think of it, I picture her eating it straight off a spoon with a giant grin on her face. My mom is an excellent role model. She also demonstrated burping the alphabet and how she could squirt water through the gap between her two front teeth, both at the dinner table. The latter didn’t go well when my sister, who was about five years old at the time, attempted to do the same. She didn’t realize it wouldn’t quite work the same if you’re missing your four front teeth. That mess put an end to our water squirting at the dinner table, even if my dad was away on business.

Surprisingly, I never got on that much with marshmallow fluff. Maybe because I would always prefer to have chocolate. But this frosting changed my mind. I’ve never had a fluffernutter sandwich, but my mom always spoke of them fondly. To make a classic fluffernutter sandwich, you spread peanut butter and marshmallow fluff between two slices of soft white bread. I was thinking about this when dreaming up a new cupcake idea, and I decided that adding banana to the mix would be pretty awesome. Plus, I had some brown bananas I really needed to use. Thus, the concept for banana fluffernutter cupcakes was born: banana cupcake with peanut butter filling and marshmallow frosting. Unfortunately, these cupcakes disappeared before I could take one to my mom, but I might have to make another batch for her.

Cupcakes & Flowers

I started with a basic banana muffin. I thought something more muffin-like rather than cake-like would balance out the crazy sugar dose in the frosting.

I used applesauce instead of butter to be slightly healthier, and honestly, if you subtract the frosting, the banana/peanut butter portion of this recipe makes for an excellent and fairly healthy breakfast muffin. But if you wanted to go all out, by all means, use butter instead of applesauce.

A note about the applesauce: The first day, the paper completely stuck to the cupcake when I tried to peel it off. I recommend using butter or at least half butter and half applesauce. But if you do want to go applesauce all the way, not to worry. I took these to work on the third day after making them, and not only were they still moist, but also the paper peeled right off, no problems.

While they baked, I set out to make the marshmallow frosting. This stuff is SO GOOD. It’s just sugar with sugar, really.

After letting the cupcakes cool completely, I used my cupcake corer to remove the centers from each cupcake. This little guy is only 5 bucks and is seriously handy. You can get through a whole tray of cupcakes super fast. I definitely recommend it. But if you don’t have one, you can use a paring knife.

Not a happy day to be a cupcake.

Hardcored. Ha.

Instead of making a sugary peanut butter filling, I decided to fill them with plain peanut butter right out of the jar. I thought making a sweet filling might be too sweet when paired with the frosting. And most brands of peanut butter (like my favorite, crunchy Peter Pan) include a significant amount of sugar already. I used a little spoon to smush the peanut butter down in there.

Then I topped them with the marshmallow frosting, and there you go.

One Cupcake...

Super delicious. The blend of banana, peanut butter, and marshmallow is to die for. The flavors mingle so well together.

Two Cupcakes! Two! Ha Ah Ah. (Sorry. I just watched a video of The Count from Sesame Street. Don't ask.)

 

Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 individual serving) applesauce (OR 1/3 cup butter)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add sugar, egg, and applesauce. Mix on low until just combined. Mix in flour mixture on low until just combined.

Pour the batter into the cupcake pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes. They should spring back slightly when tapped.

Let cool completely. Core each cupcake and fill with peanut butter. Top with marshmallow frosting.

Marshmallow Frosting

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tub (about 8 oz) marshmallow cream

Sift sugar and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in 1/2 the sugar until combined. Add vanilla and the rest of the sugar and beat until combined.

Stir in marshmallow cream.

 

Aerial View

1 Cake, 3 Ways

24 Feb

I promised a cake to a friend because of a competition we held at work, and when the time came around, she wouldn’t tell me what kind of cake she wanted. But I owed it to her, so I didn’t want to back out or forget. So since I didn’t know which cake to bake for her, I just baked three.

But I thought this through. Mixing up three different batters seemed like it would take up a lot of time. Obvi. So I made up a basic batter without any flavoring, divided it into three bowls, and then added separate flavorings to each one. And while the cakes were baking, I made up 3 different fillings for each cake. And then I made one vanilla buttercream frosting to top everything off. Game plan: coconut cake with coconut cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting, lemon cake with lemon filling and vanilla buttercream frosting, and almond cake with chocolate filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. Hells yeah.

I started by mixing up the base. I sifted together 2 1/2 cups flour2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, I mixed 2 cups white sugar3/4 cup butter, and 3 eggs with an electric mixer for about 1 minute. Then I alternately mixed in the flour mixture and 1 cup milk to the sugar mixture.

3 Cake Batters

I divided this base into 3 bowls.

  • Bowl 1: I added 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup coconut flakes.
  • Bowl 2: I added 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Bowl 3: I added 2 teaspoons almond extract.

With my batters ready, I baked them at 350 F in batches, as my cake pans allowed. I used Wilton’s Mini Tasty-Fill Cake Pan Set. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s cool. It makes mini cake halves with a depression in the center of each one so that when you stack them, there’s a hollow center to add filling to. Of course, if you don’t have a smaller cake pan like this, you could make cupcakes and fill those. My small cakes baked 22 minutes or so. Cupcakes would probably take 18-20 minutes, but just keep checking with the toothpick test until they’re done.

3 Cakes Baking

While my cakes baked, I made the fillings.

  • For the coconut filling, I made up a half batch of the same filling that I used in my Simpler German Chocolate Cake, except I omitted the pecans.
  • For the lemon filling, I made a slightly different version of the original recipe I found here. In a saucepan, I mixed together 2 teaspoons lemon zest2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon flour. I mixed that until it was smooth, and then I added 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 3/4 cup sugar. While I brought that to a boil, I whisked 2 egg yolks in a bowl until smooth. I put a small bit of the lemon mixture into the eggs and stirred until smooth, then I added the egg mixture to the lemon mixture, stirring well. Do this part quickly so that the lemon mixture doesn’t boil for longer than a minute or so. Then I reduced the heat to low and stirred constantly for about 5 minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and let it cool. (Note: Don’t skip the step of stirring the eggs with a small amount of the lemon mixture first. That’s so you don’t cook egg chunks into your lemon filling.) (Other Note: I thought this was a little too thick. If I made this again, I would follow the original recipe more closely. I think I had too much sugar and not enough liquid.)
  • For the chocolate filling, I melted 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of a broken up Hershey’s Bar with Almonds in the microwave, stirring well every 20-30 seconds until smooth.

While my fillings cooled, I made the frosting. You can find the original recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting at savorysweetlife.com.

Then it was time for assembly. I matched the cakes to their fillings and filled the center of each one. After I sandwiched them together, I frosted them all with the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

So that the recipient would be able to tell what’s what, I topped each with something to represent what was inside. Coconut flakes on the coconut cake, chocolate bar bits on the almond-chocolate cake, and yellow and white sprinkles on the lemon cake. I stacked them all on one cake tray, and that was that. 1 cake batter 3 ways!

3 Cakes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

31 Jan

O. M. G. This is so good, and so worth the hassle. Bear in mind that since it calls for fresh strawberries, the quality of your strawberry is going to be really important. You may want to save this one for the summer time. But, one reason I wanted to post this now is because it’s pretty common for grocery stores to get shipments of decent quality strawberries for Valentine’s Day. So if you’re looking for a seasonally appropriate frosting, this may be a great pick.

First, set out a stick of butter to soften and prepare your strawberries. I first cup them up, discarding the stems and slicing the rest into manageable pieces.  My pieces measure up to about 1/2 cup strawberries. (I would buy at least a pint, but probably two, just to make sure you have enough.) Then I use the back of a spoon to push the strawberry chunks through a fine-mesh sieve. The strawberry goo that comes out the other side of the sieve is exactly what you’re looking for.

Start out with 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter. Add it to your mixing bowl with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Beat with a hand mixer until soft and creamy. Then alternately add 4 cups powdered sugar and the strawberry goo, using the hand mixer to incorporate the new additions. That should do it, but of course you could add extra sugar, strawberries, or vanilla to your taste preference.

The frosting is a beautiful light pink color, usually with some pink specks in it. But since you pressed the strawberries through the sieve, it’s nice and smooth.

I topped vanilla cupcakes with this frosting for a pink-themed bridal shower:

Strawberry and Coconut Cupcakes

And I topped my rainbow tie-dye cake with some strawberry frosting:

Rainbow Cake with Strawberry Frosting

Fresas deliciosas!

Seasonal Ingredient: Blueberries (mid May – mid July)

26 Jun

Of any one food, blueberries may be the quintessence of summer. With these 95 degree days and Independence Day just around the corner, blueberries and strawberries are where it’s at. All the home magazines profile blueberries for their July issues, and people just go blueberry crazy. I’m not a huge fan of just eating plain blueberries, but I do appreciate a good blueberry cobbler or some such.

And, blueberries are super healthy for you. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, this superfood has a huge amount of antioxidants, which “help to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s.” And they’re low-fat and have a lot of vitamin C and fiber. (The Council website has a bunch of health tips, and even better, tons of blueberry recipes. Check it out!)

Blueberries!And now, so you can impress everyone at your next cocktail party, Blueberry Trivia!

  • While Maine is the leader of lowbush blueberry production in the United States, (and possibly the world, but Wikipedia didn’t seem to be very clear on that), Michigan is the leader of highbush production.
  • Different species of blueberries are found all over the world. North Carolina has pretty good ones.
  • My dad loves blueberries! He has a huge blueberry bush in the backyard, but they’ve already ripened and been picked.
  • Although blueberries are not among the most contaminated and therefore aren’t officially part of the Dirty Dozen, there’s still a lot of question about them. It’s probably best to just buy organic.
  • Sorry, you missed the North Carolina Blueberry Festival, which is held annually in Pender County every June. Don’t worry, more are still to come! The Blueberry Council keeps a list of upcoming blueberry festivals. And if I have any readers up north, happily for you, blueberries and their attendant festivals are still in season for a couple more months.
  • Color layering technology was just being developed when Denise Nickerson, the actress who portrayed Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, needed to be blown up like a blueberry. They were able to turn her face blue, but not her hair.
    • Trivia Bonus: Where Is She Now? Denise Nickerson is an accountant and single mom in Denver, Colorado.

North Carolina’s blueberry season lasts only a couple more weeks. If you can find any left, try out these recipes:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

20 Jun

What up, homeslice?Before I headed to my Grandma’s for Memorial Day weekend, I baked a couple loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread. I toted them all the way to Asheville while we lunched and shopped downtown and the bread waited in the stifling hot car, and then the rest of the way to Hendersonville where the BF and I joined my family. By “my family,” by the way, I mean about 17 people. I just knew Grandma and my dad would love this bread, and I was so pleased to have thought about bringing such a delicious gift with me. As we left on Monday, I noticed my chocolate chip zucchini bread, on the counter, still whole and wrapped in my tasteful packaging of tin foil and a Ziploc bag. And damn if I was going to leave that loaf behind for a bunch of ungrateful relatives — none of those 17 people could even bother to taste my bread? Psh. So I took it home with me and enjoyed it myself for the rest of the week.

That afternoon I got a call from my mother, who got a call from Grandma, because she was upset. She knew no one else had tasted that bread, and apparently she was planning on enjoying it herself for the rest of the week, starting that day when she returned home from church. Too bad, Grandma. I got it.

Because I am a wonderful granddaughter, when she returned this weekend for my nephew’s 4th birthday party, I prepared another batch. I brought a mini loaf for her and a mini loaf for my dad. Both of them were so excited they each tried to keep both loaves for themselves. I intervened and decreed they each receive just one loaf. That was only Saturday, so I’ll give them a couple more days, but when I call, they better have enjoyed them.

Make this, and find out for yourself why people will fight over it. This batch will make 2 regular loaves or, in my case, 3 mini loaves plus 3 muffins.

First I set the oven to 325 F and greased and floured the pans: two loaf pans or 3 mini pans and a few paper-lined muffins. Then I set up the food processor and grated 2 1/2 zucchinis, until I got 2 cups grated zucchini

Zucchini is GRATE for you.

In a large bowl, I beat 3 eggs with the hand mixer until they were a light yellow color and frothy. Then I mixed in 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 cups sugar. I stirred in the grated zucchini and  2 teaspoons vanilla

Zucchini in the batter

In another bowl, I whisked to combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips. Once they were well mixed, I slowly stirred the flour mixture into the egg mixture.

Zucchini Bread Batter

I evenly divided the batter into the two prepared loaf pans, and then I baked them for about an hour.

Into the oven!

Gorgeous, delicious, and easy.

Just loafin' around

Fresh Strawberry-Lemon Bars

11 Jun

I was joking in my last post about how I don’t really like strawberries, but I actually do. I was just joshin’, y’all. They’re just not my fave. But if I thought I didn’t like strawberries, this dessert would totally change my mind. It took a bit of time but was way worth it. I found the original recipe in an issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and it actually called for raspberries. But I thought, Hey, strawberries are in season, and they will probably work just as well. And damn was I right! These are good!

I started off by preheating the oven to 350 F and preparing my baking pan. I lined a 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure I had enough to hang over the edges to make handles for later.

I threw 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter into a large bowl, and then beat them with my hand mixer on medium about 30 seconds. Naturally, maybe because I forgot to cut them into chunks first, the butter got all stuck in the mixer and I had to push it all back into the bowl.

Then I added 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I mixed that on low speed for another 30 seconds.

I added 2 cups all-purpose flour and beat on low speed until incorporated. Then I increased the speed to medium and continued mixing until it formed a dough. For a long time, it stayed really crumbly and seemed like it wasn’t going to form into a dough. I turned off the mixer and scraped the mixer and sides of the bowl. When I started mixing again, it came right together into the dough. I don’t know if it needed a break or if I just needed to keep going or what, but it worked. Since you want a bar crust and not just a crumble bottom, it’s better to over-mix then under-mix, so don’t stop too early.

Now there's a dough

Once I had a dough, I dropped it in chunks into the foil-lined baking pan. This made it easier to smooth it out into an even dough. I popped it in the oven for 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to clean up and then chop 1 pint strawberries into quarters.

Dough chunksDough layer
Once the dough finished its 20 minutes, I let it cool for 5 minutes and then brushed the exposed foil with butter. Then I spread a small jar (10 oz? I don’t remember) strawberry jam evenly over the crust.

Jam layer

For the next layer, I spread the quartered strawberries evenly.

Strawberry layer

Now for the custard filling. In another large bowl, I mixed 4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese and 4 oz. goat cheese with a hand mixer on high for about 30 seconds. Then I added in  1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Of course when I tried to get just the egg yolk, I accidentally poured the whole egg down the drain. But take two worked just fine. And then I beat the whole mixture on medium until smooth, about one minute.

Custard

A tip or two about lemon… To zest a lemon, use a flat grater to grate the lemon peel directly into the bowl. Grate the yellow, but stop when you see white — you don’t want to use that part. To juice a lemon, roll it around on the counter under your palm, putting a bit of weight into it. This will loosen up the juices a bit. Then cut it in half and squeeze each half directly into the bowl. If you have trouble keeping seeds out of your bowl, wrap a paper towel around the lemon and squeeze the juice through it. The paper towel will hold back the seeds and any pulp.

Custard Layer

I poured the lemon custard batter evenly over the strawberries and then baked it for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I pulled them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes. I asked the BF to help me remove them from the pan — we each took an end of the foil and lifted it out, pulling it tight so it wouldn’t slide in on itself. Since I wanted to serve them for dessert and dinner was already halfway through, I stuffed them in the fridge to cool a little faster.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

When I was ready to serve, I cut them into bars and served a little piece to everyone, and omigod they were soooo good. Lots of strawberry, very lemony, really rich, and oh so sweet. But even though the goat cheese and cream cheese made it rich, the lemon also made for a pretty light, summery flavor. Deelish.

Strawberry Lemon Bar

Notes:

  • Wow, these are good. I am actually kind of surprised how much I like them considering they don’t have any chocolate.
  • I was a little skeptical that these would hold up as bars. I’m guessing I didn’t chill them long enough because they were a little runny at first. But when I chilled them again and sliced the other half the next day, they held up really well. And I figured that even if they didn’t, this would make just as delicious and satisfying a dessert if it were called a cobbler, crumble, or custard. Try them the first day with a spoonful warm out of the oven and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Then refrigerate the rest, and after they’ve chilled, try them the next day as a firm, chilled bar. Both are pretty delicious!
  • This recipe could be made the exact same way but with a variety of fruits. I’d love to try raspberries, blueberries, peaches, anything really. Maybe I’ll try this again with other seasonal produce.

Broccoli Brownies

20 May

Sounds disgusting, right? But much like the spinach cupcakes, they were actually pretty good! Since I committed to creating one meal and one dessert for each seasonal crop in North Carolina this year, I was again at a bit of a loss for broccoli. I Googled “broccoli dessert” and had very little success with fitting results. A search for “Broccoli cake” turned out a little better. My favorite result was this Broccoli Forest Cake, which I may have to try out one day. But from reading the recipes, I wasn’t quite convinced that any of my findings would be sweet enough if I truly focused on the broccoli.  So instead I decided to pull another Jessica Seinfeld and just hide that broccoli in a delicious dessert. Brownies it is.

Fresh Broccoli

I started off by pureeing fresh broccoli florets in my food processor (best kitchen purchase EVER). It resulted in a consistency kind of between powder and sand. I pureed enough to make 3/4 to 1 cup broccoli and set it aside. I preheated the oven to 350 F and got to work on my batter.

About to get processed

In a large bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Dry Ingredients

In a separate bowl, I combined 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. I stirred it by hand till it was just blended.

Ew, Wet Ingredients

Then I slowly added the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring by hand till it was just blended. Last, I stirred in the chopped broccoli and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

Broccoli & Chocolate

Broccoli Brownie Batter

I greased an 8×8 pan and poured the batter in evenly. I baked the brownies for about 25-30 minutes. When you poke it, the brownies should indent just slightly. I let it cool in the pan before I cut it into slices.

Broccoli Brownies

How Sue Sees It:

  • Since the broccoli was pureed super fine, these look like normal brownies. You can’t see any green at all, just chocolate. Perfect!
  • Everyone who actually tasted them really liked them. I’d say about half of my tasters thought they were good and didn’t have any comment at all. The other half thought they were good, but did ask something like, “Hmm… this is good, but what is that?” They couldn’t quite place what they were tasting, but they did like them.
  • For a couple people, including my 16-year-old drama queen of a sister, the thought of broccoli was too much of a barrier. She ate the first half of it just fine and told me it was delicious, but when I told her there was broccoli in there, she refused to eat the rest. My brother was a similar story. I think they were being babies, but it was a good lesson: just don’t mention the broccoli at all.
  • Definitely take the time to completely puree the broccoli. If you don’t have a food processor, go get one. I got mine at Walmart for 30 bucks. The broccoli is pureed so small that you can’t taste or see it. It barely alters the flavor, and it doesn’t affect the texture at all.
  • I thought they were very tasty, especially with the chocolate chips added in for good measure. I just tasted chocolate. But similar to the spinach cupcakes, though they tasted relatively normal, they did have a bit of a funky smell to them. Store them in an airtight container to keep them moist, but open the container and let them air out a bit for a few minutes before you serve them. If someone gets a whiff of these as soon as you open the container, they may not be willing to taste them.
  • A perfect dessert for picky kids and spouses who aren’t getting enough vegetables in their diet!
  • If you would rather incorporate zucchini instead of broccoli, follow the same method, but increase the amount of flour to 1 cup to balance out the extra water content.