Saturday, February 16, 2008

Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars

Oh, my stars. I’ve been dying to get a chance to blog for the past few days. I wanted to tell you all about the cauliflower recipe that I tried from the February issue of Bon Appetit. It is just the most divine side dish in the world and I want so badly to share it with you. But you know how it goes. I’ve had work to do all week, and two clients kind of breathing down my neck about it all. Even getting the work done was practically an exercise in futility though because Little Miss Piggy isn’t much for napping, which really gets in the way of getting, you know, ANYTHING done.

So, of course, writing took a backseat. Not just a backseat, more like a way-in-the-back-of-the-bus-seat. The list of priorities that comes before writing is a long one: family, cooking, exercise (gotta work all those desserts off), work, house-cleaning, and so on. And life happens, of course. But there is just so much I wanted to write about from that issue of Bon Appetit…

It was The Green Issue, you see, so pretty much every article in the whole doggone magazine was a sermon I wanted to hear. A cooking magazine focusing on environmental concerns – what more could I ask for, right? To top it all off, Orangette, one of my very favorite food bloggers had her inaugural column published in this issue (the reason I bought it in the first place) and it was worth the price of admission all by itself. See, I really like her, and the article, titled “Why I’m Not a Vegetarian,” was really, really funny. Mostly because, um, I am a vegetarian.

I tried four of the recipes from this issue over the past week, and two of those were enormously successful for us (read: both the vegetarian and The Carnivore liked the recipes, AND the cook had no trouble getting the recipe right, AND ingredients were easily obtained even out here in the boonies). So of course I wanted to write about at least one of those. The decision wasn’t that big really – I could wax poetic about the cauliflower (which was so unusual, yet so incredibly flavorful) or maybe the asparagus frittata (be still my beating heart…). But then a little tiny bit of time passed, and I never made it to the computer, and then the March issue came out. And all I can think about now is that I really want to get that issue so I can read Orangette’s new column. She only blogs once a week, and I KNOW that, but still I check her website every day, just hoping she has posted something new.

I’m trying really hard to NOT subscribe to Bon Appetit, because with my schedule I can barely keep up with my reading as it is, but just the thought of not reading one of Orangette’s columns makes me cranky. And I know I get hung up on the economics of virtually everything, but if I were to purchase six of these issues at the newsstand (which I would probably end up doing), I would have paid the same price as if I had subscribed for an entire year. And I do hate to waste money…

So here I am, all side-tracked (as usual), worrying myself over budgetary concerns and still I haven’t shared either of those two wonderful new recipes. And I’m pretty sure I’m not even going to now, because something wonderful happened this morning that overshadowed all that luscious cauliflower. And that pretty little asparagus, too.

I would love to build up the suspense for a while, because I just love to make people squirm, but I can’t hold it in any longer: I WON FIVE COOKBOOKS. Not just any cookbooks, but FIVE CHOCOLATE COOKBOOKS. Oh, hold on for just a moment while I wipe the tears of joy from my eyes. I’ve danced around the stove, I’ve called my mother, I’ve shouted out of all seven of our exterior doors trying to find The Carnivore and The Big Boy (who have vanished with the wheelbarrow and are totally unaware of this life-changing bit of news), and I’m still excited. I never win anything. Oh sure, a million dollars would be fabulous to win (but I would invest it and probably wouldn’t spend a dime). And I guess I could have won a car, but that would have only irritated me, because I would have sold it (at a loss, most likely) in order to pay the taxes on the prize. And I don’t really need a car anyway.

But cookbooks? Oh. My. Goodness. Serious Eats gives away at least one cookbook a week, and I enter every single time. I mean, I’m there at Serious Eat two or three times a day anyway. It’s the first place I go when I turn the computer on each day, and it is the last site I check before I shut down for the evening. I love the writing, the recipes, the food news, the irreverent tone. I love it all. It’s like the sorority I never rushed. Or the club I never joined. Or the family I never had (work with me here).

So forget the cauliflower. Don’t worry about the asparagus. All this talk (and dancing and singing and shouting) about chocolate has taken me into a whole other direction. Because the other recipe I tried this week was a macadamia brownie recipe from the December 2007 issue of Fine Cooking. And even though I’ve never met a brownie recipe I didn’t like, this particular gooey, sticky, fudgy, over-the-top, hunka-hunka burning love brownie is so scrumptious I’m going to make another batch today even though we haven’t finished eating the first batch yet. I just don’t want to run out – it’s THAT good. And then I’m going to take the whole pan of them, and I’m going to get my lawn chair and a bottle of water, and I’m going to park myself down by the mailbox and wait for my new cookbooks to arrive.

MACADAMIA DOUBLE-DECKER BROWNIE BARS (yields 48 bars - if you exercise considerable restraint, adapted from Fine Cooking)
  • Cooking spray (to grease the pan)
  • 12 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into large chunks (don't try to use margarine or some other butter substitute - when the recipe calls for butter, use butter - real butter, amen)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup (no, this isn't nearly as evil as high-fructose corn syrup and it has a rightful place in my baking supplies cupboard)
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped salted macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 cup sweeteened coconut flakes
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk 12 Tbs butter until melted.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the granulated sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk until well blended.
  3. To the pan, add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the 3/4 cup flour and stir with a rubber spatula until blended.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in a greased 9x13-inch baking pan, and bake at 325 degrees until the top is shiny and dry-looking and the brownie springs back very slightly when pressed with a fingertip (about 20 minutes). The brownie should NOT be completely baked - it will be going back into the oven with the next layer. Remove pan from the oven.
  6. While the brownie layer is baking, combine the brown sugar and 1/3 cup flour in a large mixing bowl, and whisk until well blended.
  7. To the mixing bowl, add the corn syrup, melted butter, and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Whisk until blended.
  8. Add 2 eggs and whisk just until combined. Do not overmix.
  9. Add the nuts and coconut and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined.
  10. Evenly (but carefully) spread the macadamia topping over the still-warm brownie layer.
  11. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top layer is golden brown (35 to 40 minutes).


yolie said...

mmmmm...can't wait to taste test some chocolate recipes!

Dee said...

PLEASE post the asparagus and cauliflower recipes! I am always looking for great veggie recipes!

Julie said...

These sound wonderful I can't wait to try them.

Dazy said...

Hey I too tried baking cup cakes and brownie just after my exams got over. I go weak in the knees with a mention of muffins and brownie.