Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day

If you don’t have time to make Chocolate Cherry Trifle  for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, I have something else for you to try.   These Browned Butter Brownies are really easy, and they taste great.  I was telling my friend Sandy that these brownies are almost as easy to make as brownies from a box mix, when I think she snorted at me in disbelief!  Okay, maybe these brownies are not quite as easy as making brownies from a box mix, but they are worth the extra effort.  And, they have the wonderfully chewy texture of box brownies with a much better flavor.

I didn’t believe cocoa powder brownies could taste so chocolaty!  In fact, when I went shopping for ingredients for this recipe, I bought a dark chocolate bar and chocolate chips to add to the brownies if I found them bland.  Well, the chocolate is still in my cupboard waiting for another use.  I’m a big fan of browned butter because it adds a complex toffee flavor to baked goods.

I’ve tried a few different homemade brownie recipes, but I think these are the brownies I like best (especially the chewy corner pieces!).

Browned Butter Brownies
Adapted from Bon App├ętit
Nonstick vegetable spray
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spoon into measuring cup, and then level)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, chilled
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups walnut pieces

Position oven rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F.  Line 9X13 baking pan with aluminum foil letting the ends overhang the pan by 2-inches.  Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Continue cooking until the butter stops foaming and has formed brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat, and add sugar, cocoa, salt, vanilla and 4 teaspoons of water.  Blend well, and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.  While the mixture is still hot, add the eggs one at a time.  Beat vigorously after adding each egg.  When the mixture is thick and shiny, add the flour and stir until well blended.  Beat the mixture vigorously for 60 strokes.  Stir in the nuts, and pour into the prepared pan.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.  Cool in pan, and cut into 1-inch squares.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lynn’s Valentine Table Setting

Here is another Valentine’s Day table courtesy of Lynn this time.  Lynn always sets a beautiful table, so I asked if I could bring my camera to take pictures of her table when we joined them for dinner Sunday night.  I know, no pressure there! 
Lynn took the challenge and ran with it.  She also discovered a HomeGoods truth we all learn at some point.  She bought two valentine plates she liked at HomeGoods.  When she got them home, she realized that she really liked the dishes and should have bought more, but when she returned to HomeGoods, the plates were gone!  She had to buy a couple of the other valentine plates instead.  She said to me, “When you find something you like at HomeGoods, you have to buy it right away because it won’t be there when you get back.”  Sage advice.  But, you have to be careful because hunting at HomeGoods will become addictive!
 Lynn made a delicious dinner of short ribs from Dorie Greenspan’s From My French Table, brocollini and mashed potatoes.  I was supposed to take pictures of the food as well as the table, but my camera took a tumble, tripod and all, and ended up lens first on the floor, so no pictures of food.  You will have to take my word that dinner was great as usual.  (My camera lens should be all better after a couple of weeks of R&R at the Canon spa).

 Lynn outdid herself as usual on her table.  The red heart plates had matching bowls, and Lynn has had them for years.
 The cream plates with hearts came from HomeGoods.
The silver is Provence by Tiffany.

The crystal is Waterford – I don’t know the pattern.
We had a great time with Dad and Lynn, and Lynn’s table was beautiful as usual.

Check out Between Naps on the Porch for other great tablescapes.


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