Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies with Goat Cheese Swirls

My dear, most darling readers.  

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I baked so people would love me.

It’s been a busy time for Ye Olde Insomnibaker.  Things are blissfully chugging away at Ye Olde Brand New Job, which is going quite well.  I have already broken my baking cherry there, by bringing  in a tray of Browned Butter Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting for Valentine’s Day.  It was one of those recipes that sounds much more difficult than it is.  Browned Butter is just absolutely magical.  

Speaking of Ye Olde Dreaded Holiday, your Insomnibaker has once more attempted to dip her  dainty toes into the muddied pool that is Online Dating.  The theory being that since The Ex’s Death, it would probably be a good idea to go on at least a few “practice dates” so that if by chance I happen to meet someone out in Ye Olde Real World, I won’t be a complete psychopath.  

The good news is, I’m not a complete dud at a dinner table.  The bad news is, I’ve now been out with a couple ripe ones.  

I shan’t get into the gritty details, but needless to say there have quite a few first dates, with nary a second in site.  

The Ex is still missed though.  Whatever the many, many, many pitfalls of our tumultuous relationship, he got more than a few things right.  He opened doors, he always gave me his umbrella if it was raining, and he always made sure my seltzer glass was full.  Cheers to him.  

Once, while we were in our 8 year non-speaking period, I happened to be dining in a restaurant where he happened to be the manager.  We didn’t exchange many words, but apparently when I excused myself to the restroom he zipped over to our table and folded my napkin with an intensity that unnerved the rest of my dinner guests.  He placed it lightly on my plate, and strode off without saying a word.  I returned to find the table all staring numbly at the perfectly folded fabric, not sure what to say.  When I questioned him about it years later, he said, “I wanted to be sure everything was perfect.  I even stayed in the kitchen when your food came out to be sure they hadn’t missed anything.”  An odd duck with a big heart, that one.

Moving on. Tomorrow night is Oscar Night.  Ye Olde Brother In Law will be liveblogging from Television Without Pity, and I, Good Samaritan that I am, offered to bring a treat.  I have yet to see The Artist, but I thought something in a black-and-white theme, with a touch of the old school, would work out best.  Thank goodness then, for this exquisite recipe I found for Brownies with Goat Cheese Swirls.  

  1. I pre-het an oven to 350 degrees, and sprayed a 9×9 pan with cooking spray.  
  2. In a smallish bowl, I mixed together 6 ounces of chèvre, one tablespoon of powdered sugar, one large egg, and one tablespoon of flour.
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    Om nom nom chèvre nom.

  3. In a medium-ish bowl, I mixed together 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar, some hefty grinds of sea salt, 1 cup flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, and 1 cup chocolate chips. 
  4. You’re supposed to add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, but I forgot.   
  5. I’ve been watching Grimm on Hulu.  It’s so . . . so . .  remarkably bad.  And . . . I can’t stop. 
  6. Why can’t I stop?  There are literally no characters I care about, or even casually like.  
  7. But I keep watching . . . and watching.  This episode wasn’t even about fairy tale characters, it was about gladiators.  SERIOUSLY?!??!
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    So much better than Grimm

  8. Into the dry ingredients, I mixed in three large eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 sizable dollop of vanilla paste. 
  9. It was black as tar, but chocolatey good.  Not that I sampled.  
  10. I spread 2/3rd’s of the tarry chocolate goodness into the pre-sprayed pan, then glopped the chèvre mix on top, then glopped the rest of the brownie mix on top.  
  11. I slid a knife through the batter to create some lovely lil’ swirls.  
  12. I made myself a single cupcake. 
  13. You know, to taste.
  14. I baked the delicious mess for about 35 minutes.  
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BEHOOOOOOLD!!!

VERDICT:  Just lovely.  There is a nice balance between the chocolate and the creaminess of the goat cheese.  It’s almost like a cheesecake brownie, but with a gorgeous tangy aftertaste.  It probably helps if you’re ga-ga for goat cheese already, which your Insomnibaker most certainly is.  It’s not overpowering (honestly, I would pump up the goat cheese a little bit if baking again), but is overall just a lovely solid brownie.  Hurrah for the Oscars, and late-night baking.  

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Browned Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Browned Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

I baked so people would love me.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brown Butter Coconut Oil Monster Cookies

Oh, my most darling sleepy readers,

What a wondrous couple of weeks it has been.  I’ve now worked a nice solid week at Le New Job, and it is Le Frickin Awesome.  I don’t tend to discuss specifics of my life on this here bloggity blog, but it involves film production and education and science and giant robots.  And the great circle of life continues.

Go, mixer, go!

For those who have been following for a while, you’ll know that I got walloped right in the gonads by life about 6 months ago.  And you know?  I’m darn proud of how I’ve bounced back.  It took a lot of hard work.  I did individual therapy, group therapy, anti-depressants (which was very helpful in the midst of my trauma, but I’m happy to say I’ve tapered off them this month), I worked out, I did exercises from What Color is Your Parachute?, I read books on grief, I ate healthy and worked out when I could, and sobbed on the floor of my living room and ate chocolates when I couldn’t.

And you know what?  I lived through it, I walked through it, and while life isn’t perfect, it’s pretty damn incredible.  I’m grateful for every second.

Now that the inspiration part is out of the way, we get to the part where I’m cranky and cramp-ridden and deep in thought.  I’m back out on the rollercoaster ride of Dating for the first time since The Ex’s death.  And I forgot the thing about dating– meeting someone who you don’t like can be an awful disappointment.  Meeting someone you do like is constant screaming torture.

Such circumstances require some big metaphorical guns.  Therefore, I’m dragging out an old recipe– Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  You can read the original recipe here, and my first attempt here.

  1. I pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan, I browned 7 tablespoons of butter.  You’re supposed to use 8, but I only had 7.
  3. Stop judging me.
  4. In a medium bowl, I mixed together 2 cups of flour.  Again, you’re supposed to use 2 1/4 cups, but I only had 2 cups.
  5. STOP judging me.  Stop it.
  6. Into the flour, I mixed in 3/4 teaspoons of baking powder. You’re supposed to use baking soda, but I used it up deodorizing the catbox.
  7. STOP. JUDGING. ME.
  8. I also added 1 teaspoon of activated yeast, and several mighty grinds of the sea salt mill.
  9. In the cherry red Kitchen Aid bought for me by my parents for my last birthday, I mixed together the browned butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.  I let ’em mix together on medium speed for about one minute.
  10. I added one egg, and a dollop of the exquisite vanilla paste my sister purchased for me.
  11. Getting baking-related gifts from family and friends is one of the great joys of my life.
  12. Still on medium speed, I let the egg and the vanilla work into the sugars for a good 7 minutes (a trick suggested by Milk Bar’s illustrious Christine Tosi).
  13. Reducing speed to low, I added in the flour mixture and let it mix.
  14. You’ll notice I haven’t done anything bone-headed in at least 7 steps, so hopefully you’ll have actually stopped the judging by now, you judge-y bastards.

    I am delicious just as I am. I believe in me.

  15. I added a cup of peanut butter chips, and a cup of chocolate chips.  This dough is a bit stiffer than normal cookie dough, so it requires s bit of kneading to fully distribute the chips.
  16. I balled the dough and put them onto two sheets sprayed liberally with baking spray, popped those suckers in the freezer, and settled in for a nice half-hour of Netflix.
  17. Current show?  Frasier.  No kidding!  It’s not a bad little show, ya know?  This episode features Mercedes Ruehl, star of one of my all-time favorite films The Fisher King.
  18. I have not one, but two kittens curled up on my lap.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Too effing cute.
  19. After 12-14 minutes, I took out the cookies and allowed them to cool.
  20. No, really, you need to allow them to cool.

BEHOOOOLD!!!!

VERDICT:  You guys, this is undoubtably one solid cookie recipe.  It may be a little sweet, but the dough is firm, the inside is chewy and giving, and the nutty taste of browned butter permeates the whole shebang.  Dear Jeebus, this is a tasty cookie.

And now, to bed, my darling sleepy fellows.  May dreams of peanut butter ships dance in your little heads.

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