A Sarcastic Appetite


Alice Medrich’s Brownies with Sea Salt
April 27, 2013, 2:42 pm
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You guys, I bought flour today. And sugar. I actually can’t remember the last time I purchased either. There has been cooking in the Sarcastic Appetite Kitchen since my little (long) hiatus, but baking sort of fell to the bottom of the list. I think of it as a Saturday afternoon activity, and, well, I’ve been spending my Saturdays doing other things.

But I spied this recipe in so many places that I could no longer ignore it. Cue a lazy Saturday with nothing on the agenda and I was off.

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You talk about brownies with serious bakers, and everyone starts talking about the (high-end) chocolate. Callebaut, Valrhona, Mast Brothers…you name it, someone’s got their favorite and it is the reason why their brownies are the best. I love this recipe because it flouts that: all you need is cocoa powder, plus the usual suspects (flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla). Not sure if you have Dutch process or regular? It doesn’t matter! These brownies are so easy-going, I want to date them.

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My favorite part is the sea salt sprinkled on top. A very wise friend once introduced me to ice cream sundaes with sea salt and I’ve never looked back. These brownies do the same thing; the salt just makes the chocolate pop. Being gluttonous, I also added chopped semisweet chocolate chips (ok, ok, from Mast Brothers, guilty as charged) and the result was out of control.

If you’re feeling peppy, brown the butter beforehand. Add walnuts if you like. I upped the vanilla; you should too. These are gorgeous. I’m a little worried they’ll all be gone by tonight…and I’ll only have myself to blame.

Alice Medrich’s Brownies with Sea Salt

From Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet; adapted from the Amateur Gourmet, Smitten Kitchen, Bon Appétit….and probably elsewhere, too.

10 Tbps. salted butter (1 1/4 sticks) (it’s ok to use salted butter….trust me)

1 1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. plus 2 Tbps. cocoa powder – Dutch, natural, whatever you have

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large, cold eggs

1/2 c. flour

2/3 c. chopped chocolate, or walnuts

nice flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 8″ x 8″ (or similar sized) pan with cooking spray; layer a sheet of parchment paper in and then spray that, too.

In a large bowl over simmering water, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. It will look like it’s not doing much of anything, so turn the heat up a bit and eventually it will melt into a thick, dark paste. Set it aside and wait for it to cool a bit.  Use a wooden spoon to stir in the vanilla. Stir in each egg, one by one, letting the first blend completely before you add the second. Stir in the flour until it disappears, then stir for 40 strokes (it won’t take as long as you think).

Sprinkle the top with some really nice sea salt. Don’t be shy. Bake at 325°F for about 20-25 minutes (in a different sized pan, mine took closer to 30) until a toothpick shoved in there comes out not quite clean. Don’t overbake!

Cool on a rack. Try to have some restraint.



Homemade Oreos
February 15, 2011, 10:12 pm
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Homemade Oreos? Come on. Dough that needs to be chilled for 2 hours, and re-rolled every 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t sink? Who has the kind of time for that?? Oh, wait. This kid.

I had seen homemade oreos elsewhere in the blogosphere, but had always held off making them for fear they were too much of a production to be worth it. Now I need to hold off making them again, because they are really freaking good. All I needed were a few hours of quality HGTV to while away the hours. (It was incredible.)

Ok, ok, so it’s true: they need a lot of love. And Valentine’s Day has come and gone, so I’m assuming you’re all out of said love and back to your usual snarky self.  That’s fine, since these cookies come together very easily and don’t require a hand-mixer. I love that. Melt some butter, melt some chocolate, throw the dry ingredients into a bowl, and in just a few minutes the dough comes together. Chang notes it gets to a point where it’s easier to work with your hands, but I never found that; it came together with a wooden spoon without a problem. Just wait for an afternoon when you can lounge around watching House Hunters marathons while the dough chills. Oh – does that only apply to me? Fine, I’ll make a batch for you.

Side note: I doubled the amount of filling required, because in my world, it’s Double Stuf or bust. I frosted some of these with varying shades of pink in honor of the, ahem, “holiday,” so omit as your cold heart desires.

Homemade Oreos

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang. Makes 16 to 18 sandwich cookies.

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

3/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 heaping c. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1 egg

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I could only find a blend of regular and Dutch-process and it was fine)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the cream filling:

2 sticks salted butter, softened

3 1/3 c. confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. heavy cream

pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate; add the egg and whisk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the flour together with the cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine. If you need to use your hands, go for it. Let the dough rest at room temperature for an hour.

Transfer the dough to a large square of wax paper. Roll it into a log about 2 inches across, and 10-12 inches long. Roll the wax paper around the log, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours, rolling every 15 minutes or so to maintain its shape.

Preheat the oven to 325º. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Slice the dough log into 1/4″ slices, and place on the cookie sheet about one inch apart. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 16-18 minutes. Let cool on the sheet.

For the filling, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and milk and beat again until smooth. Spread a few tablespoons of filling onto a cookie, and sandwich with another one.



Raspberry Streusel Bars
December 14, 2010, 10:06 pm
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I spent Sunday morning flipping through cookbooks again, hellbent on finding a recipe for which I already had everything I needed. I wanted something mildly breakfast-y – or at least something I could vaguely justify eating all day long. This is really none of those things; I had to run out to get the butter, sugar, and the jam – and because it contains so much butter, sugar, and jam. (Not that it has stopped me from stealing bites every chance I get.) It reminds me of those Pepperidge Farm cookies – remember those? The sandwich cookies with jam in the middle and powdered sugar on top?  They were always far too dry and crunchy for my liking, not that it ever stopped me from downing 4 at a time. These are softer and slightly chewier. I am a fan.

Actually, the Ninja and I are both avid fans, as evidenced by the photo above. I have only myself to blame for the bizarre swath of sugary destruction I cut out of the pan. (The middle is always the best part!)

If I made these again, I’d slather even more raspberry jam on top – and I went overboard as it was. I’d also swap out the sugar in the streusel topping for brown sugar, since brown sugar makes everything better.

Raspberry Streusel Bars

From Joy of Cooking. Makes 20 bars…so they say.

For the shortbread:

2 c. all purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375º and butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the milk and vanilla in a small dish and add to the flour mixture, bit by bit, until the dough starts to hold together. Press the dough into the baking pan, evenly. Bake about 12 minutes, until just firm in the center. Put on a cooling rack but leave the oven on.

For the topping:

1 1/2 c. seedless raspberry jam

1 3/4 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1 large egg

2 tbsp. milk

Once you take the shortbread out of the oven, slather the jam over the still-hot crust. Meanwhile, pulse the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor until it’s blended. Turn out into a small bowl and add the oats. Mix the milk and egg together and beat lightly. Add that to the flour mixture and blend until the streusel is moistened and forms small crumbs. Scatter these crumbs across the raspberry jam, spreading evenly. Bake another 25ish minutes, until the raspberry jam is bubbling and the streusel is lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.