Spotlight On: Baking

by Cate on November 13, 2006

When I get an e-mail asking if I want to review a new-to-the-bookshelves cookbook, I don’t need to be asked twice. The big fat Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook landed on my porch with a thud. And when I say big and fat, I mean it.

Now, truth be told, although I love to bake, if I saw this cookbook on my own, I most likely would have passed it up, because at first glance, the recipes look long, really long. Long take-all-afternoon recipes are just not my style. Sure, I’ve got plenty of them in my library and my tried-and-true pile, but I keep those types of recipes at a minimum. Believe me, I’m not in the Sandra Lee camp either, just somewhere in the middle. While I like for a recipe to have that cooked-all-day taste, I’m not going to cook all day. All that being said, while the recipes in this book may look long, truth be told, they weren’t really. Well, ok, some are, but there’s a happy medium. There’s snippets of conversational pieces intermingled with the recipes (i.e., “don’t worry if the batter looks grainy”), that while that takes up space, it doesn’t take up your time (and the reassurances and things of that nature are nice to have, because I was worrying about the grainy texture in the batter I made!).

That aside, this cookbook will still get a happy, big, fat spot on my bookshelf and will definitely get used – I might have missed out on this one had it not been for the opportunity to review it. A whopping 528 pages, it’s one of those all-purpose cookbooks that has its place. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here, and it’s a great go-to source, even filled with anecdotes throughout, and that’s usually my favorite part.

The author is Dorie Greenspan. You might recognize the name from the best-selling book, Baking With Julia, and a plethora of others. She’s also been featured in Elle Magazine and the New York Times plenty, and remains a contributor to Bon Appetit. If you don’t know her, you probably know her work as she’s seemingly everywhere.

We went to dinner at The Newlywed Neighbors house tonight, and I promised to bring dessert. I made one recipe that is a favorite of The Husband’s, Gooey Butter Cakes, but knowing that The Newlywed Neighbor Husband is fond of chocolate, I wanted to make sure to include something that had that as an ingredient, and turned to this new cookbook.

Once I spied the recipe for Quintuple Chocolate Brownies, the search was over. With cocoa, semisweet, bittersweet and white chocolate, how could it go wrong? Well, it didn’t. Though I will say, even after refrigerating for twice the recommended time, they didn’t cut very neatly, but they were fudgy, chocolatey and downright delicious. There was more than a hint of either cocoa or the bittersweet chocolate in the brownie though, so when making again, I might experiment with a slight change.

The picture on the cover of the book is Devil’s Food White-Out Cake. You’ll also find recipes for Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, Midnight Crackles, Granola Grabbers, Ginger-Jazzed Brownies, Brownie Buttons, World Peace Cookies, Cocoa Almond Meringues, Tiramisu Cake, Peanut Butter Torte, Peppermint Cream Puff Ring, Tarte Tatin, Thanksgiving Twofer Pie, Honey Almond Fig Tart and hundreds of others.

Happy reading!

There’s a little of every kind of chocolate in these sweet, more-fudgy-than-cakey brownies. Following tradition, the batter is made with unsweetened chocolate, but it’s got bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate chips and a soft white chocolate glaze too. And there are nuts – any kind you’d like, but I hope you’ll try salted cashews or peanuts at least once.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons strong coffee
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.

TO MAKE THE BROWNIES: Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted-you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously-you don’t want to add air to the batter-and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack-it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 21/4 inches on a side.


SERVING: Serve straight up- whipped cream or ice cream is unnecessary with these. Well, a little ice cream is nice-why not?

STORING: The brownies can be put back in their baking pan, wrapped (without touching the glaze) and kept at room temperature for about 3 days or frozen-glaze and all-for up to 2 months.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michele November 13, 2006 at 6:37 pm

I’m glad to hear that you like this book. I am dying to get it, but will wait until Christmas. I’ve read lots of good things about it. It’s even being talked about on E-gullet. A lot of the bakers on that site really like the book and are discussing the recipes they are trying from the book. The author is also commenting and answering questions!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: