Mini Cappuccino Brownies

I love the combination of coffee and chocolate; I like to add espresso powder to regular chocolate desserts. While browsing Martha Stewart’s website these brownies caught my eye. I was intrigued by the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg. Usually, recipes just call for adding espresso or espresso powder to make a dessert cappuccino flavored whereas, this recipe also called for spices. I was anxious to make them and finally I felt well enough yesterday to make a simple dessert. They had great coffee flavor with hints of warm cinnamon; moist and almost fudgy. Even better the next day.

Mini Cappuccino brownies
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4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp oil (I used flax seed oil, but canola would also work)
¾ c sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ c flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch salt
½ c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F, with rack in center. Butter two 4 ½ inch spring form pans, and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Coat paper with butter. Set aside.

Microwave butter 20-30 til mostly melted. Whisk in cocoa and oil until smooth. Then, whisk in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture, and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly wet, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely. Run a knife around edges of pan before removing from pan. I used a small circular cookie cutter to cut my brownies into small, bite-sized pieces.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart

Berry Crumble

I really haven’t done much cooking recently because I have been too sick to eat, let alone cook. I have wanted to post this crumble recipe for awhile, but haven’t because I can’t get a good picture. So here is a half-hearted post with a ho-hum photo. Once I’m better I’ll replace this version with a better post and picture. These are so good; I wish the picture did them justice.

I’m so glad spring is here and the weather is warming up. I love fresh berries and will be making these crumbles a lot. The topping makes too much, and I usually store the remainder in the fridge in an airtight container and make 2 more crumbles the next night. Or, sometimes, I’ll reduce the amounts in the topping to cover just the two crumbles. I left the original proportions in the recipe below.

I had trouble finding 12 oz ramekins. I have some Emile Henry ramekins (I think they are technically called soufflé dishes) that were only 10 oz. After much searching, I finally found 12 oz ramekins at Williams-Sonoma. They are Apilco #3. I had to ask a sales associate for the 12 oz size and he found some in the back for me. I could not find them on the website, but if you go in to the store they should have them in the tableware section with the other Apilco porcelain. Again, I think it may be called a 12 oz soufflé dish. Just look for the #3 on the bottom. Of course you could just divide it among smaller ramekins and have smaller portions if you don’t want to buy new ramekins.

The lemon/lime zest is optional, but it really brightens up the flavor. In the future I may experiment with an orange. I top with either ice cream or freshly made whipped cream. Delicious.

Berry Crumble
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¼ c (1¾ oz) granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
2 c (10 oz) fresh berries* (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or a mix)
1 lemon or lime, zested
1 tsp juice from lemon or lime
½ c (2½ oz) flour
1/3 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant/quick)
¼ c packed (1¾ oz) light brown sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled

Preheat oven to 375F. Put berries in a medium bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch, pinch of salt, and zest and juice and add to the berries. Gently toss to coat berries. Divide evenly between two 12 oz ramekins (or in a 8½ x 5½ inch baking dish).

Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until you get dime-sized clumps. Pinch together any powdery parts and sprinkle over berries.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375F until filling is bubbling around edges and crumble topping is a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Rotate sheet half way through baking.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

*Note: Cooks Illustrated editors recommends not using frozen berries because they give off too much liquid and therefore will make the crumbles soggy. However, I have used frozen berries and had it turn out fine. I just completely thaw the berries in a strainer before adding the sugar and cornstarch. And if it seems too mushy, I add a bit more cornstarch to absorb the excess liquid.

Source: slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

Jamie Oliver delivers another great recipe. Easy, simple, flavorful, and healthy. I used to watch his show “The Naked Chef” on the food network when I was in college. I remember upon first hearing the name of his show I pictured some gorgeous guy, wearing only an apron, making food. Hmmm maybe unsanitary, but definitely worth checking out. I admit I may have been a bit disappointed when I discovered the term “naked” referred to his simple, unadorned approach to food, not being physically naked. (Oh, how young and naive I was). However, his show did inspired me, I would watch and say to myself, that looks like something I could do. I love him and his recipes. Now that I’m attempting to eat “clean“, I have been getting into his recipes even more. Every time I make this chicken I wonder why I don’t make it more often. It is relatively easy and the chicken comes out really moist and flavorful. If my boyfriend is around I will sometimes have him cut the chicken breasts into strips so I can make chicken tenders. I have prepared this both ways, baked and fried, and I prefer baked (this also makes it more “clean”). Both methods yield the same tender chicken, but when I fry them, I find the coating comes off the chicken too easily. Maybe it’s because I don’t pat the crumbs onto the chicken breasts with my hands. I try to do it with tongs, since I cannot and will not touch raw meat, which probably isn’t the most effective method. Hopefully you are a stronger person than I am and will be able to do it with your hands and as a result have a beautiful coating that doesn’t slip off the chicken.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
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Serves 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested
1/3 c bread crumbs
2 Tbsp butter
4 sprigs fresh parsley (or about 1 Tbsp dried)
1-2 Tbsp fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (opt)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 generous Tbsp flour
1 egg

Combine garlic, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, butter and parsley, cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper; pulse til mixture is finely ground and well combined. Pour onto a plate.

Add the 2 Tbsp flour to another plate. Crack the egg in a bowl, and lightly beat with a fork.

Take the chicken breast and dip into the flour to completely coat both sides. Then dip into the egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture. Push the crumbs onto the chicken so they stick.

Either fry or bake your chicken. To fry, just add some oil (I use grapeseed, but olive oil would be fine) to a pan and add the chicken. Cook 4-5 min on each side, until well browned on each side and cooked through. To bake chicken, preheat oven to 450F and cook chicken on a pan for about 15 minutes, until done. I like to put a wire rack on my pan and place the chicken on the rack, that way the bottom gets nice and crispy like the top.

Squeeze lemon juice over chicken before serving, cut into strips if desired.

Source: adapted from Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver

Low Fat Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

My GI doctor has requested that I eat more sugary foods to try to gain some weight, so I have been eating a lot of desserts. It’s killing me; one can only take so many brownies or chocolate cake with ice cream and whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong, I do like sweet things, but usually a square of bittersweet chocolate does the trick. When I eat a lot of desserts I get a ‘too sweet’ feeling, and my teeth ache. I decided I needed to make a ‘healthier’ dessert. Immediately this recipe came to mind.

I haven’t made this cake since I made cupcakes years ago for a friend’s birthday. After one bite I could have kicked myself. Why did I wait so long to make this? Dense, delicious and divine, that’s how I describe this cake. I have tried other carrot cake reicpes (including this version) but I always come back to this recipe as my ultimate favorite. My mom cut it out of a magazine years ago, I think it was actually from a Ford advertisement of some kind; weird I know. But who cares where the recipe comes from with cake that tastes this good. Mr.Surly, who hates cream cheese, actually said that this frosting was amazing. Of course I didn’t let him know it was cream cheese based, I need him to help me eat these things. In college I would make this recipe in cupcake form and they were always a huge hit. I only have one cupcake pan and still had left over batter after filling it. I didn’t feel like baking in batches so I divided the rest of the batter into two 4 ½“ springform pans.

Here are the cupcakes:

The frosting is green for two reasons. First, St. Patrick’s Day was this week, and second, my alma mater, Ohio University, is playing in the NCAA basketball tournament this year, and green is our school color. OU is known more for it’s Halloween Bash and bar riots than for its sports, so anytime they even make it to a tournament I get excited. They actually upset Georgetown last night, go Bobcats!

The cupcakes took about 20 minutes, the cakes went a little longer. The recipe yielded 12 cupcakes and a mini 4 1/2″ cake. If I were to make this again I would double the frosting; I had enough to cover everything but I wasn’t able to add a nice, thick layer of frosting. Make these today and your friends and family will thank you.

Low fat frosted carrot cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
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for the cake:
1 ½ c all purpose flour
2/3 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
2 c grated carrots (I buy matchstick carrots from the grocery store because I’m lazy)
1/3 c golden raisins
1 whole egg
1 egg white
¾ c nonfat buttermilk
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
3 Tbls applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
Vegetable cooking spray for greasing pan

Combine first 8 ingredients (the dry ingredients: flour thru raisins); set aside. Combine the wet ingredients (buttermilk, pineapple, applesauce, and vanilla) in large bowl. (I mix by hand with a wooden spoon, no need to get the mixer out for such a small job). Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring til well blended. Pour into 13×9 inch pan coated with cooking spray (or into a cupcake pan, or smaller cake pans, greased with cooking spray). Bake at 350 for 30-35minutes (or til wooden pick inserted comes out clean). Cool completely on wire rack. Spread with orange cream cheese frosting. Cover and chill. Keep refrigerated.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz light cream cheese, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla (for fun I used my bourbon vanilla)
1 tsp grated orange zest (usually zest from a whole small orange)

Beat cream cheese til creamy. Gradually add in powdered sugar, beating til blended. Stir in vanilla and orange zest.

Note: If you like a lot of frosting, and/or are making a layer cake, I would recommend doubling the frosting so you have enough.