Dense Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

IMG_6852How many chocolate brownie recipes can two dessert bloggers named Caroline offer to you……more than you might think! If you click the “brownies and bars” category on the lower right column of our site you will get literally DOZENS of incredible square shaped treats.  There’s the super basic but practically perfect Kristin’s Brownies, my personal obsession Spelt Brownies and some extra fun layered bars like Buckeye Brownies, S’mores Brownies or Butterscotch Brownies – all of which I very enthusiastically recommend.  Some might think adding to this category is superfluous – those people just don’t understand the chocolatey magic of a perfect brownie!  I was in the mood for some really SERIOUS chocolate, like the dense, rich, dark and melty kind that urgently pleads for a large draw of milk with every bite.  These came from “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson.  I halved the recipe and baked them in an 8×8, which I recommend because this recipe is massive so double if you’re feeding a crowd or if your doctor told you to gain a lot of weight as fast as you can (I can’t imagine a more delicious way to do that) because I halved it some of my measurements look a little wompy, like if it’s 1 & 2/3 in the original recipe it’s 1/2 & 1/3 halved – but they worked out perfectly in an 8×8.  After a day, heat them in the microwave for 10 seconds to get maximum brownie gooeyness – that is, if they make it to day two (not likely~).  -CK 2.0

  1. 1/2 & 1/3 cups soft unsalted butter (1 stick and 5 1/2 tablespoons of another stick)
    6.5 ounces of dark bittersweet chocolate
    3 large eggs
    1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 & 1/3 cups sugar
    3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon (scant) coarse salt
    2/3 cups chopped walnuts (I used less than that because I only put walnuts in half – kids are so lame about nuts!)

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 and line your brownie pan with parchment.  I lined it both ways, but you can pull them out easy enough if you just line is one side, and you can even just spray it without parchment and cut them out of the pan too! Whatever works for you.

  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together – either in a double boiler over the stove or slowly in the microwave (20 second increments until they loose their shape and you can whisk it all smooth).  In a bowl beat the eggs with the vanilla and sugar.  Measure the flour and salt into another bowl.
  3. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour.  (I added the nuts on 1/2 of the brownies last on top and just pushed them in and smoothed the top).  Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the bowl into the lined brownie pan.
  4. Bake for about 23-25 minutes until the top looks dried to a paler brown speckle but the middle will still be dark dense and gooey.

Recipe adapted from “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” Nigella Lawson.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Birdnests

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Chocolate coconut macaroon bird nest by twocarolines.com

Coconut Macaroons are the little bit messy fun and tasty sister of the French Macaroon.  The French version is always put together with expensive accessories and fancy words but the coconut macaroon is more fun and tasty, a beautiful mess of chewy goodness which makes for an ideal bird nest to hold everyones favorite seasonal candy, Cadbury mini eggs.  I was inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe that used shredded wheat and melted chocolate for nests, which was cute, but a macaroon nest is yummier and more fun.  In my first batch I baked the eggs which made them really melty and good but they cracked so in my second I put the eggs into the nests when they were right out of the oven which worked perfectly because the hot cookies still made the eggs nice and creamy and with the chewy chocolatey cookie it’s like a little Easter miracle!

4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sweetened dried coconut shredded or flaked.
Cadbury Mini Eggs

  1.  In a heatproof bowl melt your chocolate.  I do this in a pyrex using the microwave on defrost until the chocolate looses it’s shape and I can whisk it smooth.  If you don’t have defrost only melt in 20 second increments or you will burn your chocolate.  You can also use a double boiler if you prefer.  Set aside to cool some while you assemble the rest of your cookie ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites.  Add cocoa powder, sugar, salt and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.  Stir in the coconut and melted chocolate, making sure the coconut is completely coated with the chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until firm (doesn’t have to be completely firm, but at least firmed up enough to handle and shape).
  3. Preheat oven to 325.  Line 2 baking sheets with sil-pats or parchment paper.
  4. Place small mounds – I used a cookie scoop – on to your lined baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart.  Once they are on, shape them into nests using hands or dipping a spoon into the center.  I wore some gloves and shaped them by hand.
  5. Bake 13-15 minutes or until macaroons are shiny and just set.  Remove from oven then put your eggs in while the macaroons are still hot.  Wait about 15 minutes to serve and keep leftover cookies covered.

Macaroon recipe adapted from Joyofbaking.com 

 

Toasted S’mores Cake

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Toasted Smore’s Cake by twocarolines.com

I am dubbing this “the cake of summer” with it’s toasty outsides and chocolate graham crackery insides.  It’s such a classic combo and in this cake, the messy, campy, summery dessert we think of as “smores” gets all dressed up and really puts on a show.  I made this for my now 3 year old’s first birthday and people went nuts for it, but I wanted the cake itself to have more flavor and I also felt that using a darker more fancy chocolate for the ganache filling would create more of a flavor sensation.  I decided to make it for my Summer themed dinner party last weekend and I adjusted accordingly resulting in knockout flavor and jaw dropping beauty in it’s presentation.  Original recipe is linked below, but I had a few people who tried both versions and were absolutely blown away by my more flavorful smores cake v2.0.

cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup honey graham cracker crumbs food processed into a fine crumb (85 grams or around 7 of the 4 piece sheets)
1 cup speculoos or biscoff cookies processed into a fine crumb (85 grams)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1 1/3 cups milk and 2/3 cup sour cream)

filling:
1/2 pound dark chocolate chopped small (I love the trader joes 72 percent pound plus)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches salt

frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. First make the cake.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray or butter two 9 inch round cake pans (this cake is high volume, so if you have 9 1/2 it might work a little better, but 9 inch works, just keep an eye or put them on a cookie sheet to avoid spills).  Line your cake pans with circles of parchment paper, with most cakes, you can skip this step, but this is a moist and sticky cake and lining with parchment makes a big difference in how they come out so please do this.  Coat parchment and pan with more cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cracker and cookie crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition.  Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined.  Scrape down the bowl, and mix again briefly if needed.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, smoothing tops.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack, then run a knife between the cake edges and pans before turning out onto a rack to cool.  Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge.
  4. To make the filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer.  Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.  Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency.  You can let it cool down in the fridge, but it works best if you stir it every now and then so it cools evenly.
  5. To prepare the cake arrange a single layer on a serving platter, cake stand or cake board.  For a neat looking cake, use a long serrated knife to level the top gently – they don’t puff up super big as some cakes do so it won’t be a lot, and you will find plenty of people willing to eat your cake scraps.  Spread the chocolate thickly over the bottom layer.  Place top layer over it and level this one too if you would like.
  6. To make the frosting place the egg whites, granulated sugar and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer.  Set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch – about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat starting at a low speed, gradually increasing to the high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.  You will want to use this frosting right away, it won’t keep well.
  7. Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake covering all the crumbs.  Transfer cake to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to let it set.  Next generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting making a pretty pattern.  You could even pipe on big pretty peaks, but I just made it look artistic and delicious.  Remove any flammable objects and people from the cake area and with a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the outside of your cake creating a toasted marshmallow effect.
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smore’s cake by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from S’more layer cake – Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman