Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two-Bite Brownies


This blog post proves there is (almost) always a silver lining, even when a recipe decides to go pear shaped.

Today I attempted to make vanilla cupcakes with a brownie centre, using my very favourite brownie recipe.  Well, it didn’t pan out(pun intended). 

The vanilla cupcakes, a new recipe, were just plain bad.  Dense (more than a muffin), dry, and pretty much tasteless.  The brownie section was dry in some parts, and completely uncooked in others.  I was thoroughly disappointed, especially since I had just spent the afternoon mucking up the kitchen, and there was half a pound of butter down the drain.

I know, you’re wondering where does the silver lining come in.

Well I had a bunch of brownie batter leftover, but not enough for a full pan, so I had just quickly put the rest into greased mini muffin tins, and slipped them in the oven alongside the cupcake pan.

These turned out to be the little stars of the show.


These are my usual brownies, but this is the  first time I’ve ever made them mini, thinking they would end up tough and hard.  Instead they developed this wonderful chewiness (don’t take me wrong, its not like chewing chocolate bubblegum I promise!). The texture when baked in the pan is very fudgy, not cakelike, which might be why they didn’t end up drying out which I was afraid of.  If you would rather bake these in a pan then as minis, I’ve included a note at the bottom with directions.  These are very good even unfrosted, but I found as minis, they were almost elevated to miniature brownie cupcakes with a touch of frosting.

Two Bite Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 ounces chocolate, melted (two full chocolate baking squares)
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • Enough milk to make creamy consistency (approx. 2 to 4 tablespoons*)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Grease two mini muffin pans and set aside.

    In large bowl combine melted butter,  sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder.  Drop by teaspoonful into greased mini muffin pans.

    Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10-15 minutes (check at the 10 minute mark). Do not overcook.  Let set for 5 minutes in pans, then gently remove and cool on racks.  Store in airtight container.

    To Make Frosting:  Combine melted chocolate and butter.  Add icing sugar and mix.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Add just enough milk to make a smooth and creamy consistency. 

    *As icing sugars can differ in starch content, even depending on humidity, this amount can differ.  If you accidentally add too much milk or the frosting is too runny, you can slowly add more sugar.  Pipe or spread on cooled brownies.

    Note: To make in an 8 inch square pan: spread brownies in the greased and parchment or foil lined 8 inch pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, checking at the 15 minute mark.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

    Recipe adapted from “Best Brownies”  from



    My 6 year old nephew loves the store-bought two bite brownies, that come in the brown folded bag.  He hates cake with a passion so I dress them up for his birthdays.  I would love to see if these(without frosting of course) would pass his discriminating taste buds.

    I am still on the look out (and desperate) for a fantastic vanilla cupcake recipe.  If you have one you could point me to or would like to share, please let me know!

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Lactose-Reduced Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

    About a week or so ago, after many months of searching, my husband brought home a much welcome baby.
    Cuisinart ice cream maker 
    Its the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Yogurt, Sorbet and Ice cream maker.  I’m in love.  It just happened that the day it arrived home in my husband’s arms, was the day my copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop arrived on my doorstep fresh from Amazon.

    If you are a lover of frozen treats, I implore you to get your hands on an ice cream maker and this book.  His witty style fills the pages, along with gorgeous photos.  There is almost every icy treat you can think of…custard and non-custard based ice creams, sherbets, sorbets, frozen yogurts and even granitas.  There is an entire section at the back for “sweet accompaniments” which include cones and bowls, marshmallows, sauces, truffles, peppermint patties, and chocolate chip cookie dough,  all that are suitable for being swirled into ice cream.  I know, what am I doing with an ice cream maker and a book about ice cream, being lactose intolerant, right?  The section on sorbets has an impressive 33 different recipes, all dairy free.  There are also sherbets and frozen yogurts, which I’m in the process of testing using lactose-free dairy.
    This is where the Blueberry frozen yogurt comes in.

    blueberry sorbet-1

    The one thing that Mr. BotC absolutely loves(besides me of course)  is blueberries.  He also loves yogurt.  You wouldn’t know it though, because it is very rarely in the fridge…all because I really, really don’t, and he has to be prodded into buying things that only he will eat.  I used to eat it as a small child, but the older I got, the more I was put off by the sourness, the tang that I think makes people love yogurt.  I know that it is good for you, and all in the name of trying to push my boundaries a bit, I decided I would try out the Blueberry fro-yo in the sake of my husband (and because then it wouldn’t sit untouched in case I truly couldn’t stand it!). 

    I have read that regular yogurt is well tolerated by some lactose intolerants, but being that I haven’t eaten it since a child I didn’t feel like testing that theory.  We set out to find some lactose-free yogurt, and among the dozens of varieties offered, there was only one that was lactose-reduced, by 90%.  Unfortunately it only came in 1%, as every recipe in the book calls for full fat dairy products, to prevent iciness.  I threw caution to the wind as this was the only option available.

    After my husband devoured a few spoonfuls, he sighed, “you could sell this”.  You just can’t hear that often enough.

    blueberry sorbet-2

    Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

    Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

    • 1 heaping cup *strained lactose free/reduced yogurt (3 cups normal yogurt-I used one 750g container of Astro BioBest 1% Lactose Reduced yogurt) –see note on making strained yogurt
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 cups wild blueberries, frozen (you can also substitute fresh)
    • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    In a blender or food processor, blend together the yogurt, sugar and blueberries.  Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice.  If you’re using frozen blueberries, you can proceed directly to the next step as the mixture will be very cold.  If using fresh, chill for at least an hour.
    Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.  It can be served immediately if chilled enough to your liking or transferred to an airtight container and placed in the freezer.

    *Straining yogurt makes it much thicker and richer.  I found using the brand of yogurt I did, that I needed about 3 cups (750g container) of normal yogurt to make 1 heaping cup of strained yogurt.  Simply put a colander or mesh strainer over a bowl (you don’t want it to sit directly in the bowl, as you need it to drain), line with cheesecloth or strong paper towel and then pour the yogurt on top, wrap the cloth/towel around the yogurt and place another bowl, or something moderately heavy on top for pressure.  Leave 6 hours or overnight in the fridge to strain.

    blueberry sorbet-3

    Being that Mr.BotC knows more about how yogurt and blueberries should be, I asked him if he found it icy.  He shook his head emphatically “no”.  Being as he is my tester for all the recipes posted here, he will eat said food, and then offer up what was good (or bad), or what could be done to improve it.  This though…all that was left was a bowl that was swiped clean (and my husband isn’t really a bowl licking kind of guy!).  He even said it was better than a popular ice cream shop near his parent’s cottage, and he loves their products.  He couldn’t tell that the yogurt was almost lactose-free.
    And what did I think?   It wasn’t half as sour as many fruit fro-yos I’ve sampled, and had a nice smooth finish.  The lemon juice really brightens it up, and it wasn’t overly sweet.  I am looking forward to trying this out when the blueberries come into season in the summer.  As a yogurt skeptic I still  don’t think I’m at a place where I could eat big bowlfuls, but I actually did thoroughly enjoy a scoop or two, sans stomach ache.
    I am now really looking forward to playing around with chocolate and vanilla flavours…the bowl is in the freezer just waiting for me;)

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Dinner & a Movie: Wedding Crashers –Look at Them Melons… Sorbet

    Dinner and a Movie is co-hosted by Marc of No Recipes and Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, where a new movie is picked each month to watch and inspire you to create a dish based on said movie.  I’m excited as this is my first month participating, and this month’s movie, Wedding Crashers, proved to be quite a challenge!

    I wanted to stay away from anything “wedding-y”, as I figured that would be too easy, but food isn’t a large feature of the film…unless you count Owen Wilson’s character sickening his love interest’s fiancé with Visine! (my Visine is staying safely in the medicine cabinet, thanks!).

    One of the actresses in the movie is Jane Seymour, playing the part of Kathleen (“Kitty Kat”), the mother of the Crashers love interests.  She is not so much the cooking-baking, knitting, book circle type of mom though.  She likes the drink, and although married, takes a heated interest in Owen Wilson’s character, John. 

    In the scene that inspired my dish, Kathleen walks into the room where John is putting on his shoes and announces to John she’s had certain “aesthetic” work done.  She refuses to let him leave amid his protests until he inspects the work for himself.  Of course, with him being amazed how “realistic” the aesthetic work is,  he doesn’t give the response she had hoped for, and with disgust calls him a pervert and storms out!  Given that Jane Seymour was 54 when this scene was shot, where in Hollywood anyone past 25 seems to be deemed “over the hill”,  I say kudos for her!  So without further ado, and without need for further explanation, my recipe:


    Honeydew Melon Sorbet


    • 1 pound, 5 ounces diced honeydew melon, seeded and peeled (about 3/4 of a large melon)
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 cup white granulated sugar


    Place the seeded and peeled melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; if you don’t have a thermometer, this will most likely take a couple of hours, you want the mixture thoroughly cold.

    Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.  It can be served immediately if thick enough or transferred to an airtight container and placed in the freezer.

    (Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats, episode: Melondrama)


    This sorbet has a gorgeous bright flavour, and a creamy texture that would have you believing it contained dairy of some kind.  The sugar can be adjusted based on the sweetness of the melon you choose and your personal preferences.  When choosing a honeydew, you want to get one that feels heavy for it’s size and is a creamy yellow colour…green most likely means it is not mature yet.  You also want to avoid any with overly soft or brown parts.  California honeydews are not in season right now (our melon was from Costa Rica) so I would care to bet this would taste even more delicious when they are.


    This went perfect with the gorgeous warm weekend we just enjoyed, inspiring the coming days (and not soon enough!) of summer.


    You can check out the April Dinner and a Movie Round up for all submissions over at Marc’s blog.  Hope to see you at next month’s Dinner and a Movie!   Happy Eating!

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Super Easy Easter Nests

    pretzel nests1

    I know that by this point, most of you are probably in a sugar filled haze and maybe ready to swear off chocolate forever regretting one(or 10) too many Easter eggs.  But before I can lay this wonderful chocolate-filled holiday to rest, I wanted to share an extremely fast and easy candy of sorts that would be perfect for the kiddos(or just for those of us that need something cute, tasty and better yet – fast).

    First I lined a cookie sheet with parchment so the nests wouldn’t stick.  Then I simply broke some pretzel sticks into smaller pieces  into a bowl and mixed with enough melted milk chocolate to cover evenly.  The whole point being that you want the pretzels to stick together in a little bundle.  I then dropped small circles of the mixture onto the parchment, using the spoon and clean fingers to press it together (as you will find some pretzels will try to make a run for it).  Before the chocolate set, I nestled a couple of Cadbury Micro Mini Eggs onto the top.  These would be really cute with some small jelly beans as well. Pop into the fridge to set, and once completely set you can store in the fridge in an airtight container. Ta-Da!

    pretzel nests2

    Mr. BotC had never tasted chocolate covered pretzels before and was most pleasantly surprised that he liked it.  The saltiness of the pretzels really balances out the sweet of the chocolate.  You could of course add extra goodies to the mix such as coconut, peanuts, dried cranberries or marshmallows.

    pretzel nests3

    Hope everyone has had an enjoyable Easter weekend!

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Hoppy Easter and Cake Pops!

    Cupcake pop1 Phew I’m exhausted!  Lots of spring cleaning and baking this weekend, along with making a full roast chicken dinner with all the fixings today.  Friday I made the bachelorette cake, and a certain specific area of the cake was refusing to cooperate as the kitchen and my hands were just too warm.  Finally  I got everything to stay put and It was picked up Saturday with no problems.  I was told today it was the centre of the party!  I would love to post pictures but unfortunately for obvious reasons I can’t ;)  Which reminds me, I have leftover Twinkies if anyone is interested!  Since this party was only for about 12 people I had leftover cake, and hating to waste food I knew the perfect way to use it.

    I have been admiring the gorgeous cake pops over at Bakerella for some time, and have been just looking  for an excuse to attempt the sweet gems.  Easter and leftover cake gave me the perfect reason!  Bakerella has generously included her instructions for cake pops and Cupcake Bites on her site, which was really useful, because it was trickier than it looked!

    I started with the cupcake pops, using the method of chocolate peanut butter cup moulds.  I made up the cake balls (crumble prepared cake, mix with frosting, and ta-da!) and popped them in the freezer.  While they chilled I melted milk chocolate chips and poured in the mould for the base.  I then took out the cake balls and pushed them into the chocolate mould and stuck them back in the freezer. 

    When the chocolate was set, I popped them out of their moulds (which you have to do very carefully I found out, or the cake balls will break off from the base very easy!)  I stuck lollipop sticks right through the chocolate bottoms, and then put them in the fridge to firm up once again.

    Candy Melts package

    While they chilled I mixed white and red compound chocolate to make pink for the top.  When they were chilled and firmed up  I dipped them in the pink chocolate.  This was the tricky part, as its hard to keep the chocolate from dripping down everywhere and coating the cake ball evenly.  I found spooning the chocolate over the one side to be helpful for completely coating it.  Then you patiently leave them to set, before digging in.


    Cupcake pop2

    Cupcake pop4 eaten

    I also tried simple cake pops by shaping them into eggs (although I must admit they only bare a very vague similarity to eggs!)

    egg pops4

    egg pops3

    I had a lot of fun with the Wilton sprinkles I found at Michaels…


    Although decorating them made me appreciate how truly talented Bakerella is!

    egg pops1

    egg pops2

    My sister brought my niece and nephew over today for an Easter egg hunt around our living room and a sugar-high filled afternoon with the Wii.  My sister and niece loved the pops, though my 6 year old nephew didn’t partake because he hates cake (apparently that IS possible!).   They are rather sweet depending on your cake/icing combination but very yummy…as my niece can attest to, as she had two while my sister was busy (Sorry sis!)

    Hope you all had a Happy Easter!