Friday, January 6, 2012
confessions and the best brownies ever
Confession #1. I used to hate, with a capital H, shredded coconut, bananas, and yogurt. I think it was textural thing. I've grown out of it, evident by my love for flaked & toasted coconut, banana bread (I made two different kinds on NYE, by the way) and banana cake. Also, fat free Greek yogurt? With honey? Uh, best "healthy" snack/quick meal ever.
Here's another confession. I was dreaming about these brownies in English today. (Sorry, Mrs. Cap!) While the class was murmuring about chapter seven in The Great Gatsby, my mind was absorbed with an image of brownie.
A sweet piece of dense heaven that has the richness of a chocolate bar. What would go on top? A salted caramel sauce? Mm. Oh wait, no heavy cream. Hm, what if something went inside? A cream cheese swirl? With... uh, hm. Coconut? Yes! Coconut and chocolate. Like those chocolate macaroons. Never had one though.
And that's how this baby came into creation.
I first found the recipe for cocoa brownies at one of my favorite daily blogs, The Actor's Diet. (It was in her archives. In the car, when I'm bored out of my mind, I go back to her old posts. Very entertaining.) After a quick Google search, I found the recipe again on the first food blog I ever encountered, smittenkitchen, and a very charming one, sophisticated gourmet. They had nothing but praise for it. PLUS, I didn't need the work of a hand/stand mixer. Perfect. So I got to work, making the cream cheese filling as I went along. Sorry. The next time I PROMISE I'll take notes and update. But seriously, how can you go wrong with these?
Best Cocoa Brownies with a coconut cream cheese middle
brownie recipe adapted from Alice Medrich, cream cheese middle by Bread & Silk (me)
makes 16, 20, or 25 brownies
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar (if you are allergic to coconut/are crazy and decide to omit the middle, add 1/4 cup to that 1 cup)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened natural or Dutch-process powder
1/4 heaping tsp flaky salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (AP is good, too!)
3 oz cream cheese
1 tsp milk (I used fat free.)
4-6 tbsp powdered sugar
4-6 tbsp heaping toasted, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (totally optional. I added it so there would be gooey element when these babies get heated up. If you omit, be sure to add the first amount of sugar.)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 8x8-inch square baking pan bottom with parchment. Spray sides with EVOO or PAM.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Like a double boiler. Stir frequently.
In the meanwhile, mix the cream cheese and milk until liquid-y. Use a whisk so there won't be lumps. This might take a while. Add in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add in the coconut. Set aside.
Make sure the cocoa/butter mixture is smooth and set it aside so it's warm, not hot. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time. When the mixture is velvety and well-blended, add in the flour and stir until there is no more flour lumps or specks. Beat for 40 strokes.
In the baking pan, pour in half the brownie batter. Then, pour all of the cream cheese and try to smooth it out on one level WITHOUT mixing it with the brownie batter. Top with chocolate chips. Pour the rest of the brownie batter on tp.
Bake for 25-45 minutes. The original brownie recipe was supposed to take 20-35 minutes. However, my brownies took 45, probably due to the middle. Stick a toothpick in there. It should come out with moist crumbs, not wet batter.
Cool before cutting. Enjoy!