Monday, April 11, 2011

Fudgy, Classic Brownies with Rich Chocolate Frosting

When serving a variety of desserts, you always need a little chocolate somethin' somethin' don't you? These fudgy, classic brownies are simple to make and never fail me. I "whipped them up" for a special occasion recently.

I have been making this recipe, which I adapted, for so long, I can't remember where I originally found it. I know there are many similar versions of these brownies; however, I hope you find my tips in making them helpful. In addition, I offer the option of frosting these brownies with my recipe for Rich Chocolate Frosting which I recently posted with my Very Happy Birthday Pound Cake. Also, you can make these brownies with or without the nuts. (I prefer the variation in texture the nuts offer, but I don't suffer from nut allergies or have an aversion to nuts.)

When a chocolate craving overcame me, I used to say to my husband (he'd bake when I was too busy)...."And just why aren't there any brownies in the house?" Should that serious chocolate craving hit, you'll find these fudgy brownies fit the bill perfectly!

                             Guaranteed to Satisfy Chocolate Cravings


Approx. 25 ea. 1 & 1/2" Slices


For the Batter

  • butter-flavored cooking spray for greasing pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. butter (important to use the real thing!)
  • 4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


Tip: If you make them the day before you serve them, they will slice easier. I use a serrated knife which I dip into a glass of tepid water before slicing the brownies. If the brownies come apart a little, you can just press them back together (I won't tell).
  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. Spray a 9" square pan with a butter-flavored cooking spray.
  3. Beat the eggs until light (don't overbeat or the crust will separate from the brownies), then gradually mix in the sugar and salt.
  4. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave on medium heat for about one minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until fully melted and combined. Thoroughly mix into the egg mixture.
  5. Stir in the flour and then the vanilla.
  6. Fold in the nuts (optional) and pour into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. The top will appear crusty, but the inside should be moist and fudgy, and an inserted toothpick should come out barely wet, almost dry.
  8. Cool overnight for easier cutting. 

    From the oven...sorry, I "snuck" a piece and slightly scored them before I remembered to photograph for you.


    Someone had to taste one...right?

    For the Topping (optional)

    Sift confectioners sugar over some or all of the brownies right before serving and/or frost some or all of the brownies with my Rich Chocolate Frosting (one-half recipe should cover a whole pan of brownies), which was recently posted with my Very Happy Birthday Pound Cake. (If you want to make a "wow" presentation, swirl the frosting on each piece with a pastry bag using a large #4 tip and place the brownies in paper cups.)

      Watch their eyes roll back in their heads when they taste one of these rich brownies..."Oh (fill in your name here), these are amazing!" Enjoy!

      Printable Recipe

      Monday, April 4, 2011

      Classic, Creamy New York Cheesecake with Cookie-Dough Crust

      I mentioned in my last post that March is the month of birthdays.  Well, we celebrated my son's birthday last week with his favorite cake--New York cheesecake with cherry topping!

      I have to share with you a little story about my first making cheesecake.  On my second date with my husband, he took me to a special, local "in-the-know" restaurant.  He told me I had to try their cheesecake because it was the best!  I proclaimed..."I can make cheesecake."  Then of course, I had to make it for him.  After our date, I frantically called my mother..."You have to teach me how to make cheesecake!"

      Mother took a lot of pride in her cheesecake, but she used a graham cracker crust (really good).  She was always a little envious that I made her cheesecake with a cookie dough crust.

      The cookie dough crust sets this New York cheesecake apart from the rest.  It takes some effort, but I've made it a little easier over the years.  It's putting the crust on the sides of the pan that is the most time-consuming...oh, I used to measure it, roll it out, measure it.  Now I don't put near the effort in all that rolling out and measuring.  Are you ready for a dessert that will make a huge presentation?  Here's the recipe I've made a little easier with which you'll really wow everyone...

                                                The Way to His Heart

      Hint:  Read all ingredients and recipe before you make and be prepared to devote your full attention to this project.

      Approx. 12 Large Servings


      For the Cookie-Dough Crust
      • 1 c. sifted all-purpose four
      • 1/4 c. sugar
      • grated rind from one lemon (save lemon for juice for cake batter)
      • yolk from 1 large egg (save white for that omelette you're going to make in the morning)
      • 1/2 c. butter softened at room temperature (do not melt!) plus extra for coating sides of pan
      • Butter-flavored cooking spray (to help with rolling and handling the dough)

      For the Cake Batter
      • 1 & 3/4 c. sugar
      • 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
      • 1/8 tsp. mace
      • 1/4 tsp. salt
      • 5 pkg.'s (8 oz. ea.) premium cream cheese
      • 5 large eggs
      • yolks from 2 large eggs (add whites to the one you saved from the crust for your omelette)
      • juice from the one lemon you used for rind
      • 1/4 c. premium sour cream

      For the Topping
      • 1/2 c. premium sour cream
      • one approx. 21 oz. can premium pie filling (cherry, strawberry or blueberry)
      • 2 TB very finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)

      On the Side
      • Whipped Cream (about 1/2 c. per serving)


      First Things First
      1. Pull out your springform pan: 9" for a tall, extra creamy cake as pictured above or 10" for more slices (crust will be a little thicker w/10" pan).
      2. Bring all eggs (8 total) to room temperature.
      3. Make dough and chill.
      4. After removing chilled dough from refrigerator or freezer, *bring cream cheese for cake batter to room temperature.
      The Cookie-Dough Crust
      1. Mix flour and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Chill in refrigerator about 45 min. or freeze about 15 min.
      2. Preheat oven to 400º.
      3. *Bring cream cheese for cake batter to room temperature.
      4. Separate dough into thirds.
      5. Roll one-third of dough to cover bottom of pan (this is with the sides of the pan off).  You may use wax paper over the dough to help spread...just spray the paper first with a butter-flavored cooking spray; then with a rolling pin (I use a pizza roller), roll over the paper spreading the dough evenly as possible over the pan bottom.
      6. Bake in preheated oven (400º) for about 4 to 8 min., or until a very light brown--Watch Closely--will overcook easily!
      7. Butter (just do it the old-fashioned way--really use butter) the sides of the pan well!  Attach the sides of the springform pan to the bottom with the precooked crust.  Cool.

                                           Pan bottom with prebaked crust

      8. This is the tricky part...adding the dough to the sides of the pan.  Roughly roll between saran wrap, separately, each half of the remaining dough into about 2" wide strips.  Don't worry about the strips being perfect.  Spray your fingers with the butter-flavored cooking spray and just pick up the dough in about 2-3" pieces at a time and press about two-thirds of the way up, distributing evenly as possible, onto the sides of the pan.  I find using a plastic knife and spoon (sprayed with the butter-flavored cooking spray) helps in pressing the dough to the sides of the pan once you have the dough in place.

      (For clarification, at this point you will not put the pan with the crust back in the oven until you fill it with the cake batter.)

      Prebaked crust in assembled pan

      Assembled pan with dough on sides (and prebaked crust on the bottom)

      The Cake Batter
      1. Preheat the oven to 475º.
      2. Mix sugar, flour, mace and salt.  Set aside.
      3. Beat the cream cheese well until soft.
      4. Gradually blend the dry ingredients into the cream cheese, keeping the mixture smooth.
      5. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time.  This is one of my best tips:  for a cheesecake that does not crack...don't overbeat the eggs.  I avoid overbeating by cracking an egg into a cup or saucer (to make sure the egg is okay, of course), adding the egg to the mixture and without stopping, cracking the next egg into a cup, then adding to the mixture...repeating these steps until all the eggs and yolks are in the batter.  Then I give the batter a quick little extra beating and blend in the lemon juice and cream.  Give the batter one last quick little extra beating.  The cake will probably settle a little after it cools, but should not crack using this method.
      6. Pour batter into pan.
      7. Bake in preheated very hot - 475º oven for 10-15 min.  Watch closely to avoid overbrowning!
      8. Leaving the cake in the oven, reduce the temperature to very low - 225º and bake 1 hour longer.
      9. Turn off the heat and leave the cake in the oven for about 1/2 hr.
      10. Remove the cake carefully from the oven and let stand away from drafts until cool (about 2 hrs).  Remove the sides of the pan very carefully.  I don't bother removing the bottom of the pan from the cake before's not worth the effort or the risk of upsetting the cake.
      11. Refrigerate overnight.
                                           From the Oven - No Cracks!

      The Topping
      1. Spread 1/2 c. sour cream over the top of the cake within about 1" inch of the edge.  Refrigerate until set (about 1 hr.).  Place on a serving platter.
      2. Spread the pie filling over the entire top of the cake...let it drizzle as it may.  Sprinkle the very finely chopped nuts over the pie filling (this is mostly for effect...just makes a better presentation).  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

      Serve with a pretty swirl of whipped cream on the side of each plate! Be prepared for all the ooh's and ahh's you'll receive on this tall, eye-tempting cake and enjoy!

                           Guaranteed to Make Tastebuds Bask in Delight!

      P. S.  Don't forget your omelette in the morning!

      Printable Recipe