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The Best Brownies

November 23, 2015

Brownies 1

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s hard to think about much else besides getting home and spending time with my family. One of the things that I love most about being home is spending time with my mom while we cook and bake together. I look forward to learning a new recipe from her and being able to try it out in a full size, not New York style, kitchen. This brownie recipe is one we’ve made together for a family gatherings since high school and is the only one I ever use because it is proven to be the best. It originated from a Hershey’s recipe (this recipe no longer exists online) and has grown into a super rich, extra chocolate final product.

You’ll Need:

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

2/3 cup melted butter – divided into 1/3 cups

1/2 cup of boiling water

2 cups of sugar

2 eggs

1 & 1/3 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of semisweet chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s chocolate pieces)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish. 

Stir together cocoa powder and the baking soda in a large bowl and add 1/3 cup of the melted butter. Once combined, add the boiling water and continue stirring until the mixture thickens. (My mom swears that the key to this recipe is mixing everything by hand. There is always a designated stirrer.)

Add the sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup of butter and stir until smooth. Add the flour, vanilla, and salt. This is where the stirring gets tough – make sure to blend completely. Add the chocolate pieces and spread evenly into the baking dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan placed on a wire rack. 

I think these are best served warm with vanilla ice cream, but they are incredible on their own as well!

Recipes

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

November 20, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls 3

With the holidays coming up (Thanksgiving is less than a week away!), I have sort of gone on a baking kick. I spent one summer a few years ago testing out tons of different cupcakes recipes, and now it seems like my choice of baked goods are of the breakfast variety. My absolute favorite breakfast baked good is the chocolate babka from Breadworks, a bakery in Pittsburgh. This babka is not like the New York version – it’s more of a sweet bread with chocolate pieces throughout. It’s only available four times a year (which is exciting because it used to be limited to twice!) and after the last time I had it, I thought about trying to recreate it. I had never baked with yeast before and I know that sometimes it can be tricky. This led me to searching for beginner-level recipes that use yeast and it seemed that cinnamon rolls were the answer.

After checking out a bunch of different recipes, I decided on this one from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Just like her post explains, these were really easy to make. I was extra careful to measure correctly since I had never made a real dough before. The only change I made was to the glaze. Instead of a tablespoon of strong coffee, I used a tablespoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup and two tablespoons of milk. I was really surprised at how easily they came together and how well they turned out. I made mine the night before I planned to eat them and this is what they looked like when I took them out of the refrigerator to rise at room temperature before baking.

Cinammon Rolls 2

 

Although most store bought cinnamon rolls are tasty too, the dough in this recipe is what makes it special. It ends up being perfectly fluffy and it holds its own up against the cinnamon and sugar. The glaze, especially with the coffee component, combined with the filling adds the perfect amount of sweetness. I haven’t tried other recipes, but with this one, I don’t think I need to.

Cinammon Rolls 1

Something about cinnamon rolls just feels cozy. These were the start of a perfect Sunday last week and the end result was so great that I’m thinking of variations that I could make this weekend. These cinnamon rolls would make the perfect breakfast on Thanksgiving and could only be made better by being paired with my family and the holiday issue of Real Simple.  Happy Friday!

Recipes

Ina Garten’s Cinnamon Baked Donuts

November 9, 2015

Donuts

 

A morning person at heart, a lot of what I love about the weekend is being able to have my coffee in a real mug, not a travel mug at my desk, and enjoying a pastry (any kind, I am not picky) from a great bakery nearby as the first activity of the day. Lately, my appreciation for the donut has grown with all of the great options in the city. After almost a year and a half of living on the Upper East Side, I finally made it to Glaser’s Bakeshop. Glaser’s is known for their black and white cookies, but their donut is what makes me go back weekly (at least). They make the best simple cinnamon sugar donut I’ve ever had. When given the choice, I will almost always go with chocolate anything and donuts are not exempt from that, but this is an exception.

After trying the donut from Glaser’s for the first time, the Saturday morning donut has become my go-to. I recently bought this donut pan to try to make some different variations at home. On a rainy Saturday in October, I tested it out with a recipe for a plain vanilla donut with a Nutella frosting. They turned out well, at first, but after a few hours, the icing sort of absorbed into the donut. The base didn’t seem to hold up to the glaze and it tasted a little bit more cupcake-y than I would have liked. It was a fun first try, but I knew that it wouldn’t become a replacement for the options I have in my neighborhood.

For my second attempt with my donut pan, I wanted to try something more foolproof, and I looked to the standard from Glaser’s. Theirs is fried, but the principles are the same – a light cake base with a cinnamon sugar coating. I figured a baked version wouldn’t be too far off. After a bit of research, I found this recipe by Ina Garten and Trial #2 with the donut pan was much more successful. Ina Garten’s recipe is pretty perfect (as always). The only differences that I noticed were that the recipe yielded 18 donuts, rather than 12, which was probably due to the size of my pan, and rather than dipping the donuts in the butter, I used a brush. I tried the dipping technique first, but it made the coating a little bit too thick. With a light coat of butter, the donut held just enough of the cinnamon sugar mix.

The donuts are light, but still feel like a treat. Whether it’s the bake time, the pan, the ratio of ingredients, or all three, something made the outside feel a little bit crispy, almost like the fried version. The sweetness of the topping and the flavor of the actual cake go really well together and when I served these at a brunch with friends, it was pretty much unanimously decided that this recipe is a new go-to.