Maple Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans, Chocolate Chips, and Cacao Nibs

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I love that in the weeks leading up to Christmas day there are so many gatherings. There’s a certain effort made to be with one another, and calendars are filled with forthcoming dates of dressy evening parties, candlelit dinners, tea parties, maybe even a get-together created for the all-important purpose of showing off everyone’s prized tacky sweaters. December also brings with it flocks of travelers; (like wise men!) family and long-time friends drive many miles back and forth to visit one another, bursting through front doors with rosy cheeks as they lug mysterious bundles.

I also relish in all of the traditions of Christmas, the stuff that never seems to grow old, as it only comes around once a year. Lately, out of curiosity, I’ve been in a groove of asking my friends what their favorite family rituals are around Christmas. Lots of common themes here: bringing home and decorating the perfect tree, watching classic Christmas movies, caroling for the neighborhood, annual family outings to see Santa or have brunch or go ice skating. And of course, half of all traditions seem to revolve around food!

My baking-obsessed self is always excited for our family’s massive cookie tray that we put out on Christmas Eve after dinner for all to enjoy (and then snack on the leftovers for days). Every year, twin sis Maggie and I are prepared for our grandmother to look over at some point in the evening, and give us the go-ahead smile, signaling that the hour has come for our appointed task. It’s always been our job to deal with the cookie tray as the adults clean last dishes, stoke the fire, make coffee. We do our best to carefully unearth the festive cookie tins that hold a dozen or so varieties nestled in wax paper, line them on the counter, and tastefully arrange the assortment onto my grandmother’s three-tiered platter.

This year, I’m excited to contribute some of my own adaptations of cookie recipes to the spread. Of course, nothing can beat the classics, the cookies that show up every single year because they’re so darn good. (My personal favorites: snowball cookies and peanut butter blossoms.) However, I always like to bring at least one new cookie to the party—hey, the more the merrier, am I right? This year, I know I’ll be bringing at minimum my new favorite oatmeal cookies; they’re flavored with maple extract (WOAH that stuff smells amazing) and filled with pecans, chocolate chips, and cacao nibs.

I’ll go ahead and explain about the cacao nibs, just in case anyone has yet to cross paths with these beauties. Cacao nibs are basically just cacao beans that have been roasted and broken into pieces, with a similar texture to a roasted coffee bean. They aren’t sweet, but they have a rich, bitter chocolate flavor that works great against the sweetness of the cookie dough and regular chocolate chips. They also add a nice crunchy, textural element that I love. I definitely recommend! You can find them in most health food sections of grocery stores.

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What’s great about the cookie dough base itself is that it holds its shape. I find that lots of times, oatmeal cookies spread too thin and crispy as they bake, leaving me with massive cookie disappointment. These, however, stay thick and puffy due to some added cornstarch and a perfect ratio of flour to liquid ingredients.
To top it off, the cookie dough is flavored with two awesome power ingredients: maple extract and molasses. I decided to leave cinnamon out for the sole purpose of letting the maple/molasses plus pure butter flavor shine through. Shocking move for me, because I’m a total cinnamon fiend—I sprinkle it on my coffee, hot chocolate (Once Upon a Time anyone?), yogurt, oatmeal. . . Nevertheless, I wanted to skip on the spice in this case. The flavors are still so complex!
For all Christmas cookie bakers, I highly encourage that you whip these maple-flavored, mix-in filled, chocolate-y goodness of an oatmeal cookies together. Your family will likely down them as quickly as mine did.
I bid everyone the merriest of Christmases! May your days be merry and bright. And may all your cookies, be, uhhh, a delight. 🙂

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Maple Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans, Chocolate Chips, and Cacao Nibs

*adapted from Liv for Cake*

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Makes 24-28 cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time (includes chilling): 1 hour and 50 minutes

Ingredients:

¾ cup flour
1 ½ cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons molasses
1 egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon maple extract
½ cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons cacao nibs
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside.

2. In a separate larger bowl, beat butter on medium speed for a minute. Add both the light brown and granulated sugar, and beat for two more minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down sides as needed. Add the molasses, egg, vanilla extract, and maple extract and beat on low speed until fully incorporated.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three separate additions, beating each time until just incorporated and scraping down the sides as needed. Fold in the chopped pecans, cacao nibs, and chocolate chips by hand.

4. Chill the dough for at least an hour in the refrigerator. (This is important, don’t skip this step! It helps them retain a soft, puffy shape.)

5. When ready to bake cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Form balls of dough about the size of a tablespoon, placing around 12 balls on each baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until edges are slightly browned but center is still slightly softer or unset. (The cookies will continue to bake and firm up even out of the oven as they sit on the hot baking sheet.)

6. After cooling for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, remove cookies to cool fully on cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Imagine this scene: you’re kicked back on your porch accompanied by good friends and some lazy afternoon sunshine.  Also brought to the party are little pink glasses or raspberry spritzer (With mint leaves! Because it’s cute!) and a tray of toasted pecan shortbread cookies.  Sounds like summer right?

I hold a firm belief that shortbread is equally appropriate in the winter or summer (or whenever)–it all depends on what it’s paired with.

Another combination that would be great with these cookies? Lavender.  Whether you threw in a few teaspoons or so of dried edible lavender to the dough, or served them with lavender lemonade, or lavender iced tea, it would be a match made in heaven.  And it would be so perfect, again, for warm weather.  In fact, I realized this after cleaning the counters when I was testing the recipe…  The pecan cookie scent was still lingering because they had just been taken out of the oven,  and I sprayed some lavender scented cleaning spray on the counters and then promptly flipped out.  It was a-mazing.  I am going to have to try that lavender variation.  Yay for discoveries made…when cleaning?

Anyways, enough about flavor combinations.  These cookies by themselves are so darn good that simply eating them straight out of the oven will result in happy taste buds.

These shortbreads are firm without being overly crispy (however, if you have a taste for much crispier cookies, just leave them in the oven for another minute or two).  Toasting the pecans before adding them to the dough is key because it brings out so much of their flavor.  So. Good. Try them!

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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Makes 20 cookies

Prep time 30 minutes

Total time 2 hours

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecan halves

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Toast pecans for 5-7 minutes until slightly colored.  Take out and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a medium bowl.  When pecans are cooled, take about five pecan halves and chop into fine pieces.  Take the remaining pecans and break more coarsely into pieces with hands.  Add to flour and salt mixture and stir to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and pale in color.  Add a few tablespoons of sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, to combine.  Continue to add sugar gradually until all of it is incorporated into the butter.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  In four stages, add the flour mixture while beating on low and then medium speed.  Be careful not to overmix—stop mixing as soon as dough is combined.
  4. Divide the dough into two, place both halves of dough on plastic wrap and form disks.  Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour *see baker’s note (a)* (they can be refrigerated for up to two days before baking).
  5. Take one disk of cookie dough out of refrigerator and, with lightly floured hands, make about ten evenly sized balls.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, flattening down slightly with the palm of your hand to create disks that are about ½ inch tall.  Make sure cookies are evenly spaced apart.  Bake for 13-16 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing to a cool on a wire rack.
  6. Repeat process with other disk of dough.

Baker’s Notes:

a.) Make sure not to skip refrigerating the dough.  If you don’t refrigerate it, the cookies will spread and become too flat.  Any moisture in the dough will seep out of the sides.  I can’t stress this enough.

b.) Cookies will last for a week when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Good morning and a very Happy Easter!

Today a masterpiece of cuteness in the form of coconut cupcakes has graced this page.  I think they would even make Martha Stewart proud (If I do say so myself).

These cupcakes are fluffy, buttery, coconut-filled and moist, and then to top it off they have a Swiss meringue buttercream smoothed over the top.  Swiss meringue tastes slightly like a marshmallow, and so Swiss meringue + coconut = heaven.

Quick story: we had a Cupcake Wars competition on our family beach trip last year.  (Have you ever seen that show? It’s on Food Network and I’m a little obsessed with it.)  My cousins, sister, and I were grouped off into teams of 2 or 3, and then we had a legit competition with a time limit, theme, and mystery ingredients.  Guess who won? 🙂

To get to my point, I may have stolen this recipe from the opposing team because even though they didn’t win, their coconut cupcakes were amazing… We couldn’t stop eating the leftover ones.  I only changed up a few things in the cake batter, and instead of their regular buttercream I made the Swiss meringue.

Of course, the decorations are also different because well, Easter.  I did a rim of toasted coconut on the outside, and put Cadbury chocolate eggs in the center to look like a bird’s nest.  These would be perfect to decorate with little kids for an Easter activity!  I also made them in both mini and regular cupcake liners because it looks so cute when they’re assorted colors and sizes.

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Inside the batter, we have the usual suspects for dry and wet ingredients, along with some sweetened, shredded coconut and coconut milk.  You’ll add a tablespoon of vinegar to the coconut milk and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the batter, which is almost like making DIY coconut buttermilk.  Strange? Maybe.  But it works and it has two purposes: to add coconut flavor and add rise to the cupcakes.  (If you remember from those childhood experiments where you add vinegar to baking soda and it causes a reaction, this is the same thing here.  It’s just a part of the chemical leavening process for the cake.)  Ew, did I just say the word chemical in a post about cupcakes? Sorry, baking nerd here.

Once the cupcakes are in the oven you can make the buttercream.  It actually gets made over a double boiler in the first step, and just make sure to keep whisking it the entire time.  Don’t let it sit without whisking or you will end up with scrambled egg whites and sugar. :/ It happened to me and no, I don’t want to talk about it.

So that’s about it.  It’s not a hard recipe at all but it is rather time-consuming compared to others, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me when it comes to decorating!

Have a great Easter Sunday everyone!

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

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Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Makes around 30 cupcakes

Prep Time 65 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Eggs for decorating

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place 7 ounces of coconut on a single layer on a tray lined with parchment paper.  Place in oven for about 5 minutes, and then take out and stir.  Put back in oven until toasted, (some pieces will be more browned than others which is fine) which will probably take another two minutes.  Let cool on the tray.  Change the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until combined each time and scraping down the sides.  Beat in the vanilla.

3. Place vinegar in the cup of coconut milk, stir around, and let sit at least five minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients in three stages, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces coconut.

5. Line muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner ¾ full with batter, and bake for 22-29 minutes until the tops are golden brown, a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the tops spring back when gently touched.  Let sit on the counter for 10 minutes before removing to place on wire racks and cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make the frosting.  On a double boiler that is slightly simmering over medium-low heat, add and continually whisk the sugar and egg whites until the mixture is no longer grainy but smooth.  Remove from heat, while still whisking, and then beat with a mixer on high speed for 5 minutes until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Once the bottom of the bowl has cooled completely, add a few chunks of butter at a time and beat to combine until all butter is incorporated.  Mix on medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes—it may separate, but if it does continue to beat on until it smooths out.

7. Use a knife to frost a layer of icing on each cupcake, and then top with toasted coconut around the rim and candy eggs.

Baker’s Notes:

a. Cupcakes last for up to four days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The frosting can be made a day in advance by keeping it in the refrigerator and then allowing it to come to room temperature and beating it on medium-high speed for five minutes before frosting cupcakes.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

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Happy spring, people! Well, technically spring doesn’t start until March 20, but who cares? It feels like spring to me!  I went on a nice evening run today as the sun was setting, and I saw loads of pear tree blossoms, cherry tree blossoms, daffodils—even plenty of the so-called “weeds” growing on our lawn.  Do any of you just love those tiny flowers that start growing around this time but are actually considered weeds? Because I do! Ah, technicalities again.

And now it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! It’s really crept up quickly this year. (Um, wasn’t it just Valentine’s Day?) Anyways, I had time after school today to work on a recipe just for this everything-green occasion. And let me tell you, it is very much so, at the point of almost being over-the-top, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day! Cupcakes with swirls of green frosting, green and white sprinkles, and a surprise rainbow inside (channel the leprechauns’ path to gold pots)—could it get any more festive and cute?

It’s quite simple, really: creamy vanilla frosting tinted green, vanilla cupcake batter tinted five different shades and layered before baking.  These cupcakes turn out so moist due to all the buttermilk and melted butter!  Trust me, they are so worth the time to make when comparing them to store-bought or boxed-mix cupcakes.  These cupcakes are anything from bland or dry, and the flavors aren’t masked by an excess of sugar either.

So this is the run-down of the recipe: Make the batter.  Along with the dry ingredients, you’ll use melted butter, buttermilk, an egg yolk, three egg whites, and plenty of vanilla.  Hold up! You may be thinking, Why egg whites? Well, the egg whites are really just an extra step in the process to making these supremely fluffy cakes.  You whip them up at the end, and then fold them gently into the batter.  Extra air, extra fluff. That’s all!

Next you will divide the batter into bowls, color them, and further divvy into cupcake liners—more details on that when you read the recipe.

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While they’re baking, you’ll make the frosting: starting with cold butter, which will allow for the heavy cream to whip up when you add it later on.  The only other ingredients in the frosting are a little bit of salt to balance the sweet, some vanilla, and powdered sugar.  You can tint it your desired shade of green and then prepare the piping bag.

When you’re piping, be sure to pile that frosting on there.  No one likes cupcakes that have been skimped out on frosting! It may be messier to eat, but that’s okay—hey, if you wear your green frosting on your face nobody can pinch you! 😉

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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

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Makes 12 cupcakes

Prep Time 55 minutes

Total Time 70 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

1 ¼ cups cake flour

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk and 3 egg whites, separated and at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup melted unsalted butter

½ cup buttermilk at room temperature

Assorted food coloring

For the Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold

3 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream, cold

Green food coloring

Sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 12 paper cupcake liners in cupcake tray.
  2. Make the batter: Melt the butter in the microwave, set aside to let cool. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the egg yolk, granulated sugar, and vanilla on low speed for about thirty seconds, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the (now around room temperature) melted butter and mix until combined.  Being careful not to overmix, add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, scraping down sides as necessary.  Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined, and so forth with the rest of the flour mixture and then the rest of the buttermilk.  In a separate medium bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for about three minutes until fluffy.  Fold whites gently into the rest of the batter with a spatula until combined.
  3. Divide the batter into five separate small bowls, with about 2/3 cup batter in each bowl. Color each bowl with food coloring as desired, adding more drops to increase the intensity of color.  However, you don’t want to overmix the batter, so minimize stirring as much as possible.  (I did one bowl colored red, one yellow, one green, one blue, and one purple.)  Starting with the coolest color (for me it was purple), divide the bowl’s contents into the 12 cupcake liners.  You will use around 2 teaspoons of the given color in each liner.  Continue to add the other bowls of batter on top of the initial layer in the backwards rainbow order, until all the batter is used up.  (The second layer for mine was blue, then green, and so on.)
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 13-16 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. Let cupcakes cool in pan for several minutes and then remove to cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Make the frosting: Cut the butter into cubes and place in a large bowl. Beat the butter on high speed with a hand-held mixer or paddle attachment for 5-7 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add 1 ½ cups of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined.  Add the salt and vanilla and mix until combined.  Next, add the remaining 1 ½ cups powdered sugar to the frosting and beat for 3-4 minutes on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the whipping cream and mix for another 4-5 minutes to beat air into the frosting, and then beat in the green food coloring to desired shade.
  6. Frost the cupcakes: Place frosting in piping bag with desired tip. (I used a star-shaped one to acquire the ridges in the swirls.)  Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes by starting from the inside, and then swirling out and up to form a slight peak.  Top with sprinkles.

 

Baker’s Notes:

a. Frosted cupcakes, if to be served in the next 24 hours, can be left at room temperature in an airtight container. Otherwise, frosted cupcakes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and should be taken out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to bring back to room temperature.

b. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to three days in an airtight container. Frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Bring it back to room temperature and beat it for 5 minutes again before piping onto cupcakes.

c. If serving at an outdoors event, make sure to keep cupcakes out of direct sunlight and heat as the frosting will melt.

 

 

Soft-Baked Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So let me just get this straight. Chocolate and peanut butter is pretty much my favorite flavor combination EVER. I love it. You can find me on just about any given day sneaking a spoonful of peanut butter with dark chocolate chips on it from the pantry as a quick treat. If I had to choose one last meal, (but um, let’s hope I don’t have to) it would probably consist of some sort of peanut butter chocolate dessert.

I’m telling you, I’m obsessed with the stuff.

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Now let’s talk about these amazing cookies. They are sooooooo soft and bursting with peanut butter and chocolate chips. They’ve even got a sprinkle of coarse salt on top, because who doesn’t love a little sweet and salty?

Also, did I mention that they are naturally GF? So if you can’t eat gluten, or you’re baking for someone who can’t eat gluten, these are the way to go! Not to mention the fact that they’re made in just one bowl, which means less clean up time (always a winner for me). AND, there aren’t any weird flours you have to drive to a health store to find—it’s just eight simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

Okay, enough with the sales pitch—let’s get on to the recipe.

First things first, cream the peanut butter with some dark brown sugar. The dark brown sugar has about twice as much molasses content as light brown sugar, lending it a deeper flavor and making the cookies even moister. Then add an egg, vanilla, milk, baking soda, and cornstarch. Yes, cornstarch in cookies. You may think it’s strange, but it’s my favorite trick to making soft and puffy cookies!

After that, you just stir in some chocolate chips, form the dough into balls, and bake for ten minutes. When they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with sea salt and then let them sit for a good ten minutes so they set. (They’ll fall apart if you try and move them before then.) Then you can dive in to that peanut-buttery, melty chocolate, soft-baked goodness!

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Soft-Baked Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Makes 12-14 Cookies

Prep Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients:

¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter, such as Jif or Skippy *see Baker’s note (a)*

½ cup dark brown sugar *see Baker’s note (b)*

½ tsp baking soda

1 large egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ tsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp milk

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Coarse salt for sprinkling

  1. Position middle oven rack and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream peanut butter and dark brown sugar in a medium bowl with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Add baking soda, egg, and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine, scraping down the sides as needed. Next, add cornstarch and milk, beating until combined. Stir in ½ cup chocolate chips.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto a tray lined with parchment paper, leaving at least 2 inches of room between each ball. Press a few extra chocolate chips onto the top of the balls if you like—I think it makes them much prettier. Bake for exactly 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. The cookies will look underdone, but as they sit they will set. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and let the cookies sit on the tray for at least ten minutes—if you try to move them before that, they will fall apart! After the 10 minutes, remove to wire racks and let cool completely.

Baker’s Note:

a. For these cookies, you should make sure to use a creamy peanut butter brand such as Jif or Skippy.  Other peanut butters that are too oily will not work in this recipe.

b. I recommend using dark brown sugar because it has a higher molasses content which creates more moisture and flavor than light brown sugar.  However, you can substitute light brown sugar in a pinch: the finished product will just be slightly different.

c. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Browned Butter Brownies (aka Downton Abbey Brownies)

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A few years ago, when my family was on a Downton Abbey kick, my mom gave my twin sister Maggie and me a new brownie recipe to try out –an uneven magazine clipping that she had taken out of Bon Appetit a few days prior.  I’m pretty sure that when she read the words“browned butter” in that recipe, her heart did a flip or two!  Anyways, she gave us this recipe to make one Sunday evening about a half hour before the 8:00 Downton Abbey special coming on, and despite our initial hesitation to (what?) melt butter and brown it in a saucepan for the recipe, we followed through with it.  And once we did, we were so glad!  The heavenly scent from the oven began calling to us after a short while, and when the timer beeped we took our pan out and gazed at the shiny dark brown color of our treats.  After letting them cool (impatiently), we carried a plate of them into the den where the show was on, along with a few glasses of milk.  I think between the four of us (Mom, Dad, Maggie, me) we ate over half a pan that night! Despite their richness, these are seriously addicting.

Thus started a phase of watching Downton every Sunday along with our favorite signature brownie.  Sadly, now with my mom eating gluten-free, and my dad watching what he eats, I can’t say we make these every Sunday to accompany the show…  It was a great thing we had going while it lasted though!

So there you have it: Downton Abbey brownies = brownies the Boggs family traditionally eats while watching Downton Abbey.  However, though I’m not sure that Lady Mary and the rest of the gang would eat brownies at tea-time, I would imagine that if they did, these would be the ones.  These are just about the classiest brownies out there!  Full of dark cocoa powder, browned butter, and just a scant 1/3 cup +1 tbsp flour, these reach new heights of brownie perfection.  And the texture—definitely 10x better than the average boxed brownie mix—these are some of the softest, fudgiest brownies ever!

The extra step of browning the butter is most definitely worth it, too… It creates a nutty, aromatic layer of flavor and a decadent chewiness to the batch.  Do not skip this step!

Here’s a picture of what the finished browned butter should look like, in case you’re curious:

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After that, add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla and salt to the hot mixture taken off the heat.   Let sit for five minutes before adding eggs. This is important! You don’t want scrambled eggs in your batter!  Then add chilled eggs one at a time.

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Add flour, stir, put in prepared pan, bake for twenty-five minutes!

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Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into 16 squares.

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And of course, we can’t forget the powdered sugar on top! Add a light dusting. 🙂

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And here’s these little delights featured Crawley-family style.

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Browned Butter Brownies (aka Downton Abbey Brownies)

*adapted from Bon Appetite*

Makes 16 Bars

Prep Time 20 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

FullSizeRender (6)Ingredients:

1 ¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 ¼ cups white granulated sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite brand is Ghirardelli)

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 heaping teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, chilled

⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

¾ cup walnut or pecan pieces *see baker’s note (a)*

Powdered sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and position the middle oven rack.
  2. Place foil in an 8x8x2 metal baking pan, leaving a slight 1.5 inch overhang on sides. Use either softened butter or non-stick baking spray to grease the foil.
  3. Melt butter on medium heat in a medium saucepan, preferably one with a white interior so that the color of the butter is more visible. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the saucepan.  Once butter has stopped foaming and browned bits have formed at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat.
  4. Immediately add sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined and let sit for five minutes.
  5. After the mixture has sat for five minutes, add chilled eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with whisk.  Once mixture has a glossy sheen and has thickened, add flour and beat with wooden spoon for 60 strokes.
  6. Optional: Stir in nuts until combined.
  7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 22-27 minutes, until the middle is completely set and a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean (it’ll have a slight brown color, that’s okay).  Cool on a metal rack for 10 minutes, then use foil overhang to lift from pan.  Cut into 16 squares, and dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Baker’s Notes:

a. You can add either coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans to this recipe if you’d like. Personally, I think the richness of these brownies is perfect on its own, but for added crunch you can definitely add nuts.

b. These brownies last for up to five days, sealed in an airtight container at room temperature.