eclipse fudge brownies

Is an eclipse even an eclipse without eclipse-themed desserts? Probably not. I spent yesterday teaching my little sister how to make a pinhole camera (science major, check), and staring at lights sources to ensure it worked. Although we only got a sliver of the eclipse up here in Portland, you could still see it through the pinhole camera. Too cool.

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For these guys, I first decided to not use any recipe, to test my merit in the kitchen with brownies…using only what I remembered about the best brownie methods – melt the butter, use cocoa powder, pray to the pastry gods, etc.

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I then decided to play with only light and dark.. because you can only take an eclipse dessert so far before it’s just a sugar cookie dressed up like a moon. Mint and white chocolate ganache is swirled into the fudgiest brownies of all time. Almost too fudgy to even call them brownies. For a second, when they came out, I was ready to call it a relative failure, since they were undoubtedly too dense and too fudgy. And then, my family descended upon them, stealing slices and half moons and crumbs. And a full moon is all that remains, and so the fudge brownies are movin’ onto the blog.

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All jokes aside, these brownies are melt-in-your-mouth fun. They’re not very sturdy, but they are really pretty. Plus, they lend themselves nicely to being cut into shapes – but beware, they will leave a bit of an oily stain behind. They’re an excellent snack to stress-eat out of the pans as you worry about Game of Thrones (I’m worried about everyone in the whole show, quite frankly), and an excellent snack to insta and pretend you’re cool.

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For my next iteration of these, I’m planning on including a little less oil/butter, and seeing if that leads to a more traditional brownie…. but these were an excellent pit stop along the way. Let me know if you try any tweaks.

eclipse brownies

6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
Drops of mint extract, to taste

1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3-1/2 cup oil (fudgy vs. super fudgy)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Drop of mint extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

how-to:

Place the chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream up until steaming, add the mint leaves, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, heat the cream up until bubbling around the edges, and strain over the white chocolate. Nudge all the chocolate pieces down into the cream, and let sit for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, using a spatula or whisk, start stirring in small circles in the center, and you’ll see it all come together into a glossy ganache. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8×8 pan, and fit one piece of parchment into the pan, having it drape over two sides. To make the brownies, place the butter and the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until the butter is melted. Turn off the heat.
In a separate, medium bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Add sugar mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to combine. It will look a bit grainy. Add the vanilla and mint extracts and stir well. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to combine after each addition. Add the flour and stir until combined. Then, stir quickly and vigorously for about 40-50 strokes. Brownie batter should look delicious. Pour into the prepared pan. Drizzle the ganache (I didn’t use all of it) on top in stripes, and stir around with a butter knife to make pretty swirls.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and it’s pulling away from the edges a bit. Let cool for a while, then enjoy still slightly warm.

 

bittersweet chocolate pudding with earl grey cream

There comes a time where we all must revert to childhood and eat pudding. Even better if the pudding could possibly exist in a pudding cup-type ensemble, and possibly eaten with the foil top because oops you have no spoon. All jokes aside, though, I honestly don’t actively crave pudding most of the time because I’m too busy craving bread and whipped cream and rose italian sodas. Correction – I didn’t actively crave pudding, because now I sure as hell do. It’s on the list – for good. Here’s why.

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It’s at the point in summer where everything feels like one of those fast action videos – things are moving far too quickly and there’s also far too many things to do. Between real-life work, this delightful blog baby of mine, a temperamental sourdough starter and the impending return of a school year where the lab hours seem to keep multiplying… I’m ready to move to New Zealand for a while just to calm down. No joke – been researching working holiday visas and requirements and plane tickets.Let me know if you’re feeling like New Zealand is where you’re headed too. We can hang.

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In a snap back to reality yesterday, I was forced to stop googling New Zealand and instead had to make something to share with you all. Probably good, because I’ve been in such a whirlwind lately that blog baby has taken a hit because temperamental sourdough starter has taken all of my free time because there’s so much real life work so there’s limited free time…..okay okay okay breathe. Think of New Zealand. Loop back around. I decided to make you all pudding. Because pudding is easy and it is good and it is pure of heart.

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To class it up – add earl grey cream and swirl and feel as much like an adult as you can considering you’re moving to New Zealand. To summer it up, add peaches, which I’m sure grow in New Zealand. To enjoy fully, share with friends, to convince them to move to New Zealand. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.

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bittersweet chocolate pudding with earl grey cream 
adapted from salt fat acid heat

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 cups half and half
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 heaping fine sea salt
3 eggs

earl grey cream:

2 tablespoons earl grey leaves (about 4 teabags)
1 cup heavy cream, separated into 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Splash of pure vanilla extract
Sliced peaches, for topping
how-to: 

Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl and place a mesh strainer over it. Crack the eggs into another medium bowl and whisk lightly to break up and combine a bit. Mix the cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt and sugar in yet another medium bowl. Place the half and half in a medium saucepan – and now we’re good to go.

Heat the half and half on low heat until just steaming and simmering. Don’t boil this – it won’t ever be the same. Pour the half and half into the cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine. Return to the pot and cook over medium-low heat, constantly stirring, until visibly thickened and the pudding can hold a trail on the back of a spoon. While whisking, stir about two thirds of the half and half mixture into the eggs, and then return all of it to the pot. Cook on low heat until visibly thickened again. You’ll know when it’s ready. It might take a minute, it might take ten. Just keep stirring and let it take it’s own sweet time.

Pour thickened pudding through the mesh sieve and onto the chocolate. Use a spatula to push the pudding through. Let the heat melt the chocolate, and then blend with a stick blender (or a normal blender, do your own thing), until silky and smooth and it looks like you want to eat it up. Adjust salt as needed, and pour into whatever cups for serving. Let come to room temp, or put in fridge for cold pudding.

To make the whipped cream, heat 1/2 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, until just steaming. Turn off the heat. Steep the leaves in the cream for 10 minutes, and strain. Add the rest of the cream and chill until very cold. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip up to soft peaks.

Pile earl grey cream on pudding cups and top with sliced peaches or other fruit. Breathe in, eat pudding, breathe out.

 

tahini chocolate chip cookies

I’m a recent lover of tahini and I’m never going back to the dark days of no tahini – no way.

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I put tahini sauce on everything from big bowls of roasted veggies to sweet potato fries to salad. I put tahini in cake (thanks molly yeh!) and I put tahini in frosting. I’ve yet to introduce my friend the choco chip cookie to tahini…. but that sad streak ended when I made these beauties!

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Tahini and butter pair up to play a fluffy game in the mixer, and then it’s same-old chocolate chip cookie game from there on out. These bake up nice and thin, with crispy edges and chewy centers (cliche cookie words, I know, but they still mean exactly what we want them to and we’re happy when we hear them). These cookies are the perfect thing to bake for your family when they’re done with the fancy stuff.

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They truly are best when they rest in the refrigerator overnight – but – in order to bake these guys I took pictures of I stuffed all the dough in my overcrowded freezer to firm it up, then scooped balls and froze those for a bit – and guess what? They were delicious! If you’re in a cookie rush I don’t judge you or blame you – every single shortcut you can think of I’ve probably done.  We’re in this together. Plus – Andrew can vouch for these lovelies – he doesn’t volunteer to hand model for any ole cookie. See below for photographic evidence.

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tahini chocolate chip cookies
recipe adapted from david lebovitz
makes about 25 cookies, depending on the size

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2ish cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chunks, or chocolate chips (I did a blend of chocolate chips, chopped up dark and milk chocolate – including all the little bits!)

coarse sea salt, for topping.

how-to

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, tahini, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy looking – maybe 3ish minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl well, and then add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add that in to the mixer while it is running on low speed, and mix until just barely combined. Stir in the chocolate using a spatula or wooden spoon – being very careful not to overmix. Leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight (or, if you are feeling desperate like me, stick in the freezer).
Preheat the oven to 325F and line baking sheets with parchment. Scoop out any size cookie (I did a 1-2 tablespoon cookie scoop), and bake for 12 minutes, flipping the pans halfway. Bake until edges are starting to get golden brown but the middle still is very pale. Remove from oven, and cool on a cooling rack (I let them firm up a bit on the pan before I moved them to the rack). Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Enjoy with friends and family and maybe some milk.