That’s what I’m talkin’ about! – Kip, Napoleon Dynamite
Last week we were in Kansas birdwatching at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. If you love to birdwatch, this is the Disney World of birdwatching. We saw about 85 different species of birds plus a lot of other wildlife. We stayed in a 105-year-old house which is a part of the Henderson House bed and breakfast complex, in the lovely little small town of Stafford, KS. If you ever find yourself in Stafford, be sure to eat at the Curtis Cafe and have some pie. We tried their cinnamon cream, fresh strawberry, and pecan pies. Evidently, cinnamon cream pie is a Stafford specialty. It was a vanilla cream pie topped with a thick layer of cinnamon. Eating it in tandem with the fresh strawberry pie, which was one of the best I’d ever had, was a true treat! The pecan pie was made with maple syrup. Yum!
My real prize from the trip was a new lunch pail I bought from two sweet Amish girls sitting in a buggy selling baskets by the side of the road in Missouri. Isn’t it beautiful? I also bought a fabulous pie carrier with a little wooden table that fits inside it to make it two levels.
Once home, I could tell I’d been away from my kitchen for a week and had some cooking and baking to get out of my system. On Sunday morning I made biscuits for breakfast with some of Hudson Cream Flour I had brought home, milled in Stafford County, KS. I then made bread for lunch, and, of course, French chocolate brownies for dessert.
This week Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook chose French chocolate brownies. Thank you Di! If I had to come home from vacation, at least I could console myself with chocolate.
These are my favorite kind of brownies, with a texture almost like a flourless cake. But, Dorie, I’m begging you. Raisins do not belong in brownies (IMHO of course)! I substituted mini chocolate chips for the raisins, added a teaspoon of rum extract, and called it a day. This recipe reminds me of a fudge cake recipe I have. You want the batter to puff up and then collapse. This is caused by the air whipped into the eggs when you make the batter.
These brownies are out of this world
But they’re out of this universe with butter pecan ice cream. Now that’s what I’M talking about. I just wish I could take better food photos.
Next week is La Palette’s Strawberry Tart, chosen by Marie of A Year in Oak Cottage. I hope I can fine good strawberries. Spring is a little late here in Minnesota.
French Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you’re using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed. (I left the raisins out and added a tsp. of rum extract).
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
– makes 16 brownies –