The “perfect” Brownie…

 

Comfort food…I think that’s what we Minnesotans need because we may be dealing with more snow tomorrow! Good grief… :)

Evergreens after snowfall

 At least it melts quickly this time of year!…Melting spring snow on tulip leaves

What makes the perfect comfort food? Brownies, of course!

 Here is a recipe for what I think is the perfect brownie! Moist, not too sweet, thick and a bit chewy, and of course filled with a decadent deep chocolate flavor!

 

chocolate browniesI served these for Easter with a dolip of Malted Chocolate Whipped Cream. I’ll be giving you the recipe for that  sometime in the future… :)

 Nigella Brownies

 Place into a heavy saucepan:

      8 oz ( 8 squares) semi-sweet chocolate

      4 oz. ( 4 squares) bittersweet chocolate

      3 sticks salted butter ( 1-1/2 cups)

Slowly melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. When the chocolate is lukewarm, whisk in one at a time:

      6 eggs (* see note at bottom)

Whisking well after each egg addition.  Then add:

      1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

      1 teas salt

      1- 3/4 cup sugar

Whisk well. Then add:

      1 1/2 cup flour

Slowly whisk just until flour has been incorporated. Then add:

       1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Gently stir in the chips in, then pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 An inserted toothpick into the center will not come out totally clean.  (These can be tricky to know when they are done. At around 25 minutes,  when the center appears puffed, I stick a toothpick into the outer edge and use this as a guide to know when the center is done. When the toothpick inserted into the center appears like the outer edge toothpick, I know the brownies are done. The toothpick will have some chocolate smears on it, but it will not be gooey…)

* When adding the eggs, crack the eggs into a cup first before adding it to the batter. This will prevent a disaster if you happen to crack a bad egg or get an eggshell into your chocolate.

Aahhhh, spring…

spring flowers

Aaahhhh, spring…

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to be outdoors and not have to wear all that heavy winter clothing? I love that feeling in the springtime when I can finally shed my heavy winter coat and just wear a light jacket outside. To me it feels like a new start, a feeling of lightness and new birth.

spring flowers

The kids and I went down to visit Grandma and Grandpa last week in Nebraska during my daughter’s spring break. Although it’s still a little brown and barren up here in Minnesota, Spring has definitely arrived down in Nebraska.  I was able to go out and snap a few pictures while I was there.

spring flowers

It never ceases to amaze me how much beauty can be stored up in something so small. Take the blue and white flowers pictured above. They are actually only about an inch across and are so small, they are easily stepped on without even being noticed while walking in the yard.

spring flowers

I thought I’d share a recipe with you that contains a special memory for me every year around this time. Years ago, there was an Easter where  my mom and I were both having company, and even though I talk to my mom pretty regularly on the phone, that year we’d call each almost everyday and ponder what we were going to make for our guests for Easter.

We both were trying to decide what we wanted to serve for dessert.  I was making several desserts for that Sunday, as we were going to be a large crowd that day with close to 60 people. I was serving a variety of sweets and wanted at least one of them to be very light and not very filling. I was having trouble deciding upon something and was coming up empty handed. Then Mom called and told me she had found a recipe for a whipped cheesecake. It sounded so good, we both decided to go with it!

We kept the phone calls going between each other that day while making that dessert! It’s not a hard recipe but for some reason we just kept in touch throughout that day as we each made the dessert…

“Have you made the crust yet, Mom?”  

 ”How long did it take for your gelatin to thicken? I almost let mine get too thick…” 

“What serving dish did you decide upon?”  

“Are you garnishing yours with fresh fruit?”

Even though we weren’t together that Easter Sunday, that particular Easter still has special memories for me because of this delicious dessert and all the phone calls between Mom and I talking about it…

Happy Easter to all of you! :)

spring daffodil flowers

 Summer Breeze Cheesecake

 In this recipe, you will be whipping evaporated milk into a thick froth. The milk, beaters and bowl must be very cold in order to do this. After the milk has been whipped, it will want to fall so please fold it immediately into the gelatin mixture for the best results.

 

The day before or several hours before you begin to make this dessert, place:

      1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk

into the refrigerator, along with a mixing bowl ( if your mixing bowl will allow it, placing it into the freezer is best). Then set out on the counter to soften:

      8 oz. pkg cream cheese

Into a small mixing bowl place:

      1 – 3 oz. box lemon flavored gelatin

and add:

      1 cup boiling water

Stir this until the gelatin has dissolved then place into the refrigerator to thicken. Meanwhile, put into a mixing bowl:

      1/4 cup melted butter

      1/4 cup sugar

      1/3 lb. ( or 1 pack) finely crushed graham crackers

Mix well and pat into a 9×13 inch pan or serving dish. Then place into another mixing bowl:

       the softened cream cheese

      4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

      1 teas vanilla

      1 cup sugar

Beat this until light and creamy. Put a few ice cubes into a medium-sized mixing bowl along with some cold water. Set this aside. Then, check your gelatin…when it has reached a consistency of thick syrup, whip it well and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture. Clean off your beaters and then stick them into the ice water to quickly cool them down ( this will only take about 20 seconds or so). Dry them off.

Then take the milk and bowl out of the refrigerator. Pour the milk into the cold bowl and beat this until it is thick and frothy. Fold this into the gelatin/cream cheese mixture. Pour this mixture over the graham cracker crust and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or until it is set. Garnish with fresh fruit and a dolip of whipped cream, if desired.

This dessert is very light and airy and will make a beautiful addition to any brunch or special occasion!

 

Little Doll cake

doll cake

Our little girl had a birthday recently and she asked me to make her a Barbie cake (the kind with the doll stuck in a dome-shaped cake that becomes the doll’s skirt). I thought “Okay, I’ll just go to the store and get one of those “half dolls” to put in the cake…” So, I went to the store to buy one. Ummm, I haven’t seriously looked at one of those dolls before and all of the dolls’ expressions struck me as…well, sort of…creepy. Do you think so too?  Maybe it’s just me…Well anyway, I decided to try and come up with something else and still keep the “Barbie cake” theme…

But what were my options?  The half-dolls were out of the question, so I went to Walmart and searched the toy aisle for a regular Barbie doll. The only dolls they had were $19.99  Okay, I refused to spend almost $20 on a doll that is going to be covered with frosting. Then I saw this cute little doll in a package that my little girl would not only want to play with, it would look adorable as a princess and it was only $4.00.  So I bought it and went to work transforming the doll into something I could use on the Barbie cake.

I thought I’d share with you what I did in case some day your little special someone comes and tells you that  she would love a birthday cake that has a Barbie inside and “lots and lots of flowers”( and you too, are “creeped out” by the expressions on those half-dolls’ faces!!)

Okay, so the first thing I did was style the doll’s hair by twisting it into a knot and hot gluing it to her head…

doll hairstyle

Then I attached a bow…

doll cake

I made the cake layers and then used a portion of the cake batter to make one giant cupcake. I frosted the cake, then set the cupcake upside down onto the top of the cake. I then hollowed it out and slid the doll’s body inside. I frosted the cupcake skirt then added the ruffles down the front and then piped on the pink dots with a cake decorator’s star tip…

ruffled doll skirt

Then I piped on her bodice and carefully positioned her arm to hold a tiny  basket ( found at a craft store) and filled it with tiny frosting flowers. In the package, she was initially cradling a teddy bear, so it was the perfect set-up for the basket. ( I kept the teddy bear and gave it to my daughter after her party was over…)

doll basket

For the candles on the cake, I bought miniature clay pots (also found at the craft store) and filled them with fondant to secure the candles and then piped on little purple flowers and leaves…

candles

The cake was a success! She loved the cake, it was fun to make and the doll was not only a decoration but a toy to play with after the party was over!