From the book THE GREAT BROWNIE TASTE-OFF (THE YOLANDA’S YUMMERY SERIES, BOOK 1).
I haven’t made these brownies in a couple of years, so when I followed the recipe, I rediscovered the joy of a very rich and decadent buttery brownie. I took a lot of photos of the process and have turned them into a cool video that shows you the various steps.
Even if you’ve only made brownies from a mix, this is an easy recipe to make.
Here are some tips to make your buttery brownies taste even better!
♥ Your butter should be a good quality and unsalted is recommended. For the record, I used Plugra.
♥ Use eggs from chickens that are free to roam around, as they taste better.
♥ I used an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish. You can use a 9″ x 9″ glass or metal baking dish if you prefer but the brownies will be slightly flatter. Instead of using cooking spray, just use the butter wrapper to grease your baking dish.
1/2 cup [1 stick] butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs [room temperature]
1/4 cup [2 ounces] dark chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease your pan with either cooking spray or butter.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until combined.
Add an egg, mix in well, then add the second egg and mix well.
Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
Gently fold in flour, until combined.
Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares. Enjoy.
You can get a copy of THE GREAT BROWNIE TASTE-OFF (THE YOLANDA’S YUMMERY SERIES, BOOK 1). Best of all, the eBook version is FREE!
I had a bag of organic California pistachios and decided to make macarons with freshly ground pistachio flour. So, I read how the flour was made and spent several hours going through the steps. The pistachio nuts were removed from the shells, boiled in hot water to remove the jackets, dried out in the oven, and then ground and sifted. Adding some powdered sugar to the food processor [or spice grinder], prevented the pistachios from turning into pistachio butter. This was the same process for making almond flour out of whole or sliced [preferably blanched] almonds. And this was why I’ll pay about $12 per pound for finely sifted almond flour; which I still have to sift four more times!
After all that sifting, the baker encountered whipping the meringue, the exacting macaronage process, piping round discs of macaron batter, and then getting those delicate little cookie shells in and out of the oven.
Making the buttercream filling is the easy part.
I thought I’d spend part of my Saturday afternoon baking macarons with aged egg whites that were weighed out the night before. The recipe called for 100 grams of egg whites. The scale read 189 grams. I double checked it, subtracting the weight of the small glass bowl yet again. Still over 178 grams. So I subtracted more than half the egg whites until the scale read 109 grams. Okay, that was close enough.
But something didn’t seem right when I mixed the egg whites and added the sugar. The whites weren’t getting glossy. Peaks weren’t forming. Almost 18 minutes later, I had something that seemed like meringue but as soon as I added half the flour/sugar mixture and worked up a sweat trying to incorporate the ingredients, I knew I had a failed batch. The batter would be dumped in the compost heap instead of poured into a piping bag.
My first failure that never made it into the oven. I’d read of that happening and wondered what had gone wrong. Now I knew.
I’d left 3 eggs on the counter, along with the butter I’d use for the filling; some foresight in case I needed more egg whites. I thought I’d try the empty plastic bottle egg separation method I’d seen on a couple of YouTube videos. It looked so easy, but I accidentally jammed the top of the bottle into the yolk and there went that egg. I’d be having an omelette for supper that night! I had two eggs left and fortunately another dozen in the fridge. I used the warm water soak method to get them to room temperature. That took about 10 minutes.
I colored the batch green because of the pistachio flour. It also contained that marvelous vanilla bean paste which gave it more intense flavor and added interest to the shells. The shells came out flat but with feet. The surface was incredibly smooth and shiny, even with the added spots resulting from the two types of nut flour and the vanilla bean specks.
My day of macaron baking began at noon and I finished cleaning up just before 7:00 PM. However, I had 35 completed macarons with light brown vanilla bean filling that tasted very rich and scrumptious.
Want the recipe for vanilla bean shells? The amounts are the same except you can use 55 grams of almond flour and 55 grams of pistachio flour, which is what I did. You won’t taste the difference but you’ll get a more speckled effect with pistachio flour.
Yolanda Carter is preparing for Valentine’s Day as romance and macarons are baking in Yolanda’s Yummery. But things take a dark turn when the body of someone she knows is found dead in a nearby dumpster.
Teaming up with Detective Winston Churchill to find the killer, some employees are suspects, including Yolanda’s boyfriend, Nigel Garvey.
A February 14 appearance on the TV show, America’s Best Bakeries, and the yummery’s upcoming first anniversary are overshadowed as she strives to run her business and help the detective.
Macarons of Love also contains recipes for French macarons and cupcakes.
As the sun had finally shown its rays and brightened the day, she was about to return to the kitchen when the front door opened. There stood a handsome young man in his mid-twenties wearing an elegant hunter green jacket and tan corduroys. He beamed upon seeing her and she noticed that he was the one to initiate the first move by rushing across the store and behind the counter, where he greeted her with a big hug and kissed her gently on the lips. She felt the strong attraction and stared into his penetrating dark eyes. Beneath the light of the shelving units filled with bagged and boxed sweets, she saw that his natural golden brown wavy hair had more gold than brown. He had been in Miami for three days, which explained the difference.
“I missed you, Nigel,” she said as a way of greeting her boyfriend.
“Darlin’, you know I missed you. But I can’t wait to spend tomorrow night with you. There’s something very important I want to discuss with you—after we see ourselves on America’s Best Bakeries, of course!”
Making a pound cake from scratch is the most advanced baking I’ve ever done. This dessert contains the most basic ingredients found in your pantry and fridge: eggs, butter, flour, sugar, vanilla extract and baking powder. As long as you have a hand or stand mixer and measure your ingredients correctly, it’s not difficult to mix and bake.
Macarons also require few ingredients: two types of sugar, egg whites, almond flour, and color. That’s it as far as the cookies, a/k/a shells go. The fillings can be diverse: readymade jams or jellies, caramel, Nutella, butterscotch, lemon or lime curd, etc. You can make your own whether it’s buttercream, chocolate ganache, or a jam/fruit spread.
I’d tasted macarons a few times and loved them. They were decadently sweet and rich. From an Etsy store, I ordered an array of pastel colored macarons that were photographed for the cover of my novella, Sweet Dreams.
I needed a picture for the cover of my forthcoming sweet romance/cozy mystery, Macarons of Love, #4 in the Yolanda’s Yummery series. So I bought macarons in various colors and flavors. Average price: $2.25 each. I took 300+ pictures and they were good, not great. I cherished each macaron and decided that having these delicacies handy whenever I wanted them was a very appealing idea. Even if they didn’t turn out looking great, I’d get a better education about the art of baking macarons and would understand my characters even more. I had most of the ingredients and equipment, I reasoned. Well, not almond flour, but sugar was in the cupboard and fresh eggs in the fridge. I’d watched more than a dozen how-to videos on YouTube. I read numerous blogs, many of them showing step-by-step directions. Some bakers claimed they were easy to make; other bloggers despaired of ever being able to create them. One confessed that several batches never even made it to the oven.
I spent $12 for one pound of almond flour! This is one of the reasons why macarons aren’t cheap. I also learned that almond meal, almond powder, and almond flour are the same thing. Only when making macarons, you needed to sift or sieve it. The more you sift, the finer it gets, the better lookin’ those macarons.
Macarons weren’t spooned onto a baking sheet—they were piped on. Piped with one of those piping or pastry bags? I thought that was for decorating cakes or cupcakes. My experience with a piping bag? Zip. I couldn’t just neatly spoon them on? Nope.
Separating eggs and whipping the whites into a meringue didn’t seem too difficult to someone who’s whipped thousands of gallons of shea butter. But there’s a difference between the two ingredients: shea butter can’t be overwhipped, egg whites can. I also had a major oopsie that first day after picking up the egg and instead of separating it the entire egg splatted into the bowl. Great, I’d have to wait another 24 hours so the egg would be aged enough for high quality macarons. At least that’s what many of the bakers suggested.
Since I knew my piping skills were nonexistent, I had some foresight: I made a template the size of the baking sheet and had 1.5” circles neatly spaced on the back of the paper that was adhered to the baking sheets.
I put the required amount of almond flour [Bob’s Red Mill] through a small sieve. Correction: I attempted to sieve the flour. Thirty minutes later, I’d managed to get about 1/8 of a cup from sieve to mixing bowl. I grumbled about how time consuming it was, recalling people on videos doing it in seconds. I tried smacking the sieve and just spilled more flour. The spatula didn’t work. My fist, wanting to punch it through… nope, that sieve was too small.
I interrupted my macaron making “festivities” and drove to the store to buy a larger sieve. Finally, the almond flour was able to make it through the larger size mesh, as did the powdered sugar.
Meanwhile, I had no difficulty whipping the egg whites, granulated sugar, and adding the magenta gel color.
Folding the flour and sugar meant the dry ingredients had to be sifted again. Good thing I didn’t have to use that mini sieve. The egg whites would’ve deflated or whatever happens to old egg whites. Macaronnage is the term for gently folding the dry ingredients into the egg whites which results in a batter that’s not too stiff and not too runny. There are ways of determining when it’s done such as counting the number of strokes to testing the batter to see how it falls from the spatula—the term molten lava is frequently used. Well, I guessed it was like molten lava because my arm was starting to feel like it with all that mixing, um, folding.
Before I encountered my first run-in with the pastry bag with the plastic nozzle that I’d hopefully inserted correctly, I had to get the pink batter from bowl to bag. Those baking experts showed how easy it was—the same people who could probably pipe blindfolded—insert piping bag in a glass, fold the top over like a cuff, and make sure the nozzle was pointing up rather than down. Also, twist the bottom of the bag a few times so the batter won’t escape. Okay…
Theoretically, easy. I plopped the pastry bag into the glass and added the first scoop of batter with my spatula…but I’d forgotten to make the cuff so the batter got stuck on top and some of it fell on the counter. Way to go, wasting batter and making a mess. Eventually, I got most of it into the bag and the batter started escaping from the bottom, too. I’d be lucky if I managed to make one macaron shell!
I won’t describe the horror of piping except that part of my face was pink from batter oozing out the top as I tensely gripped it. Some dropped onto my hand. Good thing it wasn’t red! Each of the discs was a different size with only a few of them being round. Getting the batter onto the parchment paper was a messy feat but in the end I managed to get 24 various sized discs onto each tray.
I baked each tray separately and used the bottom oven rack after reading and watching the tales of staying away from the middle rack.
The result can be seen to your left.
Itsy bitsy feet on some, a single mega cracked shell, but the taste of the shell was sweet. I added jam rather than attempt to do a buttercream filling which would need to be piped—I really didn’t fancy that word!