Monday, February 22, 2010

A New Kind of Brownie

Brownies are a great dessert mainly because of the dense consistency, rich chocolate flavor and its finger-food form. I've never met someone who has an aversion to brownies—even my friend who claims to dislike chocolate occasionally indulges in one. Brownies are the perfect treat probably because we've indulged in these chocolate squares since we were little. Slumber parties involved brownie-baking and birthday parties required a pan full of brownies for those who didn't like the classic celebratory vanilla cake—well, I somehow managed to always get both. Whether from a box or an old family recipe, you can never go wrong with brownies.
When my friend, Laken, spoke of red-velvet brownies excitement began seeping through my mind. This confection was foreign to me, so I did my research and found a great recipe. I've always been a fan of red-velvet cake, with its aesthetically pleasing rouge color and fantastic flavor. To top it off, a cream-cheese frosting makes this sweet treat even more spectacular.
After being introduced to red-velvet brownies, I feel like I've been upgraded to first-class. This recipe makes for an incredible dessert, which I just added to my leather-bound cook book (the one I will use for family gatherings, birthdays and the one I will pass on to my daughter). From now on, a ceramic plate of these velvety brownies will attend ALL of my soirées.

You must try this recipe from McCormik:


1 cup flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Mix flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Mix eggs, granulated sugar, sour cream, food coloring and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well mixed. Spread in prepared pan.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar

Drizzle on top of brownies or spread them evenly like you would for a cake (after they cool)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paper Hearts and a Box of Chocolate

Ah, I love this time of year. Everywhere I go, I'm reminded of Valentine's Day with chocolates stocked everywhere from coffee shops to convenient stores. Red and pink hearts are pasted on storefront windows and all I think is...does this day need to come? I know that when the clock strikes 12:00am on Febuary 15th, everything will change. Why can't every day be like the 28 days leading up to this occasion? I truly believe that days filled with paper hearts and a life full of chocolates would make for a better world...after all who doesn't like being tempted with assorted truffles?

I am absolutely dreading February 15th—not because I have a French exam—because the selection of chocolates will be minimal, the romantic jewelry commercials be gone and cut-out-hearts will be found only in kindergarten classrooms. Let's not forget that the only thing left in our red cardboard boxes will be a few chocolate caramel truffles (I save the best for last) surrounded by empty metallic candy wrappers .

Mark my words...If I own a restaurant or bakery one day, I won't mess with peoples emotions like this—A warm atmosphere, musique d'amour, heart-shaped linzer torte cookies and fantastic chocolate truffles are only a few of the temptations that will seduce my customers into returning for another spectacular culinary affair.

If you don't have a "valentine" this year, go buy yourself a box of chocolate. And if you do, remember that no one is making you share.