dessert

Southern Fried Chicken Dinner

As I may have mentioned before, my mom’s desert island food is fried chicken (as is mine which would be really convenient if we ended up stranded on the same island) so in honor of her birthday today I thought I would post a menu all centered around my Fried Chicken Perfected – this has your weekend plans written all over it.

For this comforting, Southern themed meal I was inspired to use my vintage oyster cans as decoration.  I have been collecting these for several years – they are a symbol of the oyster industry that used to dominate the Chesapeake bay region.  I have them all over my house year round but they act as great vases for hydrangeas that I gathered from my front yard.  Since they were the center piece, and its almost summer, I figured just pull out all of my nautical gear and run with it.  How adorable is this row boat salt cellar??

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Paper placemats are my jam and great for a casual dinner party like this – I have several nautical themed ones (#ihaveaproblem) like this or these rope ones.  I used these rope napkin rings we got on Nantucket and the rattan chargers remind me of their famous baskets.  Seersucker napkins top off the preppy vibe.

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Food and Wine Curried Cashews

To start with I just wanted a couple of things to nibble on since the dinner is pretty heavy.  These curried cashews are easy to throw together and great with a beer or glass of rose.

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Broccoli Slaw 

I make this broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen ALL THE TIME.  It is so healthy and so addictive.  People will think you are nuts, shaving down whole heads of broccoli but they will be converts once they have tried it.  The dried cranberries give a little nod to my New England upbringing at this Southern meal and the slaw is a nice crunchy foil to the fried chicken’s tenderness.

Fried Chicken Perfected

I can’t say better things about this fried chicken that hasn’t already been said by my friends.  Years of research and lots of mediocre fried chicken (which lets admit is still pretty good) led me to the perfect recipe that I share with you.  Eat it and be happy.

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Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

Probably the second most requested thing I make right after the fried chicken so why not pair them together?  The Southern tradition of mac and cheese with fried chicken has been around forever and for good reason.  The velvety cheese sauce some times picks up crunchy bits of the chicken skin on your plate and then you are in heaven.

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Bourbon Peaches with Ice Cream and Candied Pecans

You need a sweet treat at the end of this meal and a nice simple fruit dessert is just the ticket.  I make these bourbon peaches just like I do in my pancake bar post – sauté them with a little bit of butter, sugar and bourbon.  You can use frozen peaches or fresh ones if they are ripe enough.  Either way paired with vanilla ice cream and candied nuts (I had Southern appropriate pecans on hand) they are delicious.

So happy birthday mommy and I hope you all celebrate this weekend with fried chicken!

Individual Tiramisu

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In keeping with last week’s “mini” theme I thought I would post a great individual dessert you can serve to a crowd.  These were the perfect sweet ending to an engagement party I threw that I will post about next week.  The best part is that they have to be made in advance, so while there are a lot of layers, they are easy to do and can all be made a day before.  I used 8 ounce glasses from Ikea but any small vessel will do, even plastic.  Grab a bunch of these mini spoons and you are good to go.  If you don’t want to do individual tiramisus then just follow the instructions without breaking up the lady fingers and layer in one large pan.  The special couple had a sentimental attachment to this dish but it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser – almost like coffee and dessert in one!

Individual Tiramisu

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of espresso (or 2 cups hot water with 6 tablespoons of espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur (like Kahula)
  • 36 lady fingers (found in the Italian section of your grocery store or in the cookie aisle)
  • cocoa for disting

Place the egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  In a saucepan add several inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the water (make sure its not touching) – this is called a double boiler.  Using a handheld mixer beat the egg mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggs have tripled in volume.  The mixture will be light in color and thickened.

Take the bowl off the heat (carefully) and fold in the mascarpone cheese, trying not to deflate the mixture (room temp is very important here so it incorporates easily).

Set aside.  In a shallow baking dish combine the espresso and the coffee liqueur.  Break the ladyfingers into a couple of pieces (I broke them into quarters).  Spoon a small amount of the mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the glass.  Dunk two ladyfinger pieces into the espresso mixture, quickly so they don’t fall apart, and pile them into the glass.

Repeat for 2 more layers and then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat with the rest of the glasses (I did it in assembly line style which worked well).  Chill overnight and serve.

Portuguese Dinner Party

Patrick and I recently took an incredible class on Portuguese wine at our favorite local wine shop, DCanter.  Neither of us know a ton about wine, basically just what we like and don’t like, but wine classes are a great way to learn more about certain regions and what they are known for.  One you know you like certain varietals from a certain country it makes shopping a lot easier!  We love the classes at DCanter (what a cute name right??) and this one was no exception.  We stopped in Portugal over our honeymoon and drank some great wine while we were there so the class really helped us identify different labels that we like.  Of course we brought several bottles home that were part of the class (the Marcolino Sebo QP Colheita Seleccionada Red and the Quinta da Raza Grande Escolha Alvarinho white).  I decided that a dinner party was in order with Portuguese foods to match the wine.  I already had some great Portuguese olive oil on hand and Spanish chorizo sausage which is very close to the chorico that they serve in Lisbon.  I found these great almonds from a region called Douro (that also makes great wine) at Whole Foods so I was on my way to a menu!

It was a lovely night out so we decided to do the first course out on the deck.  The chorizo thinly sliced served along with some Spanish cheeses (no luck on Portuguese cheese!) and those lovely Douro almonds.  I also marinated some green olives and set those out which went really nicely with the crisp white wine.

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Saveur Shrimp Mozambique

In addition to the cheese board I knew I wanted some seafood on the menu.  Portugal has gorgeous fish markets all over and the influence on their food from global trading is really evident.  These shrimp are the prefect example – they get their name and flavor profile from Mozambique which used to be a Portuguese colony.  This recipe is incredibly easy to make and actually comes from a restaurant in Fall River, Massachusetts where there is a huge Portuguese community.

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Portuguese Style Garlic Roasted Pork

Arguably the most famous person to come out of Fall River, MA is Emeril Lagasse.  Most people assume that he is from New Orleans but actually he is a proud son of Massachusetts.  Listen to his cooking shows and every once and a while you will hear his accent!  While he became famous for his Southern cooking, he has many family favorite Portuguese recipes that he has made very accessible.  This pork dish is unbelievably flavorful.  It takes forever to make but it’s really hands off and the smell of your house will be incredible.  Also the left overs made an amazing sandwich.  I served this along fluffy white rice.

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NYT Sauteed Kale

Kale is ubiquitous in Portuguese cooking, especially their famous kale soup.  This quick side comes together at the last minute and is a good foil to the rich pork dish.

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Bon Appetit Strawberry Marscapone Tart with Port Glaze

If you are having a Portuguese dinner party then you have to end it with port right?  We had a great time when we were in Lisbon trying out different ages and styles of port at their Solar do Vinho do Porto, an actual institute of port.  To serve with a nice glass of port this dessert also makes use of it in the sauce drizzled over the strawberries.  Absolutely delicious and the perfect way to end a tour of Portuguese wines and food.  Where to next??

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Individual Peach Crumbles

Years ago when Patrick and I were registering for our wedding at one of our favorite local shops, Hill’s Kitchen, I spotted these precious mini cast iron skillets.  What does a girl who already has everything register for??  Ridiculously cute and not very sensible baby sized pans.  Leah, the owner, convinced us both of their utility (she is a genius like that) and on the registry they went.  I will admit I don’t use them daily but when I do they put a smile on my face.  This peach crumble would of course work in ramekins or in one large pan (I would think a 8 by 8 inch baking dish) but just like how cupcakes are more fun than a cake, these individual crumbles will really wow your guests.  If you aren’t near Hill’s Kitchen you can also find them online.  They are also great to use as serving dishes for nuts, olives and the like or doing mini frittatas.  Buy them first and find more uses for them later!

This crumble recipe is super easy and could be adapted for whatever you have on hand – berries, apples etc.  Just keep on eye on how much liquid your fruit is giving off.  Since I used frozen peaches they were wetter than say fresh ones – another splash of bourbon or a knob of butter should fix that problem.  Basically you want the fruit to have a nice glaze on it but not be sitting in liquid before you add them to the pan.  Also sharing another good hint here – grating butter.  For a simple topping like this where you want the butter to distribute evenly through the dry ingredients you can use a food processor and pulse them together or just pull out the handy box grater and grate in super cold butter.  Do it quickly and you will get small pieces of butter that works perfectly in this topping.  Make them up to two days in advance, keep them in the fridge and then just pop them in the oven (don’t forget the ice cream!).

Individual Peach Crumbles 

  • 1 pound frozen peaches thawed and drained
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • vanilla ice cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high.  Add the peaches and 2 tablespoons of sugar and cook for 7 minutes until the peaches take on a little color and the butter and sugar melt into a syrup.

Carefully add the bourbon and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and equally divide the peaches among the 4 mini skillets on the baking sheet.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Take the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter cold butter and grate the butter into the bowl.  Add the oats and stir to combine.  Equally pile the crumble topping on top of the peaches, making sure to cover all exposed peach.  Some will fall off on the baking sheet which is fine (that’s what the foil is for!).

At this point you can place the skillets in the fridge for several hours before baking them off if you want to make them in advance.  Bake for  30 minutes at 350 degrees until the crumble is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes then top with ice cream and serve.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are like me you are trying to eat a bit healthier in the new year.  Eating healthy and being a food blogger are hard to reconcile but I have learned that everything in moderation is the key.  If I just drink green juices and have kale salads after a week you will find me gorging myself in the cheese section of Whole Foods swigging from a bottle of Malbec.  So in the spirit of moderation I bring you these amazing cookies.  Banana and oatmeal make them feel like breakfast in a cookie but the really good stuff (butter, sugar and chocolate) mean a little bit of decadence.  The perfect treat for those of you that have found your way back to the gym after a brief (ok two month) hiatus.  A former colleague used to make these for the office and I always thought she was ruining perfectly good cookies with bananas.  That was until I tried them and realized they are perfection and the banana makes them even sweeter while ensuring they are nice and chewy. And remember, moderation – have 2 instead of 3!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal – not quick cooking
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 bananas, cut into ¼ to ⅓ inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.  In a small bowl stir flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.  In a  large bowl cream the butter and sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix (mixture may look curdled).  On low speed add the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Mix in oatmeal and then chocolate chips.

Use a large spoon to mix in the banana until evenly distributed and some are mashed but most are still visible, about 20 second.  Place heaping tablespoons of dough on cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned and tops look dry about 18 minutes (cook one sheet at a time).  Cool on the sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to a rack.  Cookies can be stored in a covered container for 3 days.

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Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a confessed saltaholic.  Have been since I was a kid – sweets just didn’t have the same allure as a nice salty snack.  So a couple of years ago when everyone started putting sea salt on desserts I knew I was going to have to add more spin classes to my schedule!  Salted caramel ice cream, yes please.  Crunchy Himalayan salt on your brownie?  Of course!  These cookies are incredible but it’s not just because of the addition of the sea salt.  A pretty exacting and somewhat complicated cookie (at least compared to the Toll House version) somehow all of the elements come together to create a nice chewy on the inside, crispy on the edges, decadent chocolate chip cookie.  A former colleague shared the recipe with me and as first I was off put by the different kinds of flour, the 24 hour chilling and the milk powder (???) but they are seriously worth it.  If you are a baker you probably have cake flour and bread flour on hand already – if not you can store flours in the freezer in plastic baggies to keep them fresh if you don’t use them often.  I went online and found this milk powder which supposedly lasts for years.

I guess you could bring it camping if you are into that kind of thing – my guess is once you make these for your friends and family they will request them so often you will work your way through these ingredients pretty fast.  The amounts here are very specific so I am going to recommend again you go out and get yourself a kitchen scale (reminder I like this one).  Even with a baking recipe that isn’t this specific you will always get a better result if you weigh your ingredients.  A cup of flour can vary a lot depending on how much you pack it down, if you fluffed it before you measured or if it’s not exactly level.  This small investment will pay real dividends.  This recipe makes pretty big cookies but don’t cut down on the size or you won’t get the right texture.  It’s actually better that they are so big as it can help you from eating multiple cookies in one sitting (I am not promising anything).  So bake up a batch, leave some for Santa and you will be assured everything on your list!  I will be taking Christmas day off but will be back in action next week with ideas for New Years.  Happy holidays!

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 8 1/2 ounces cake flour
  • 8 1/2 ounces bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 20 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt

In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, milk powder and salt with a whisk.  Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes (or use a hand mixer).

Add the eggs, one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low so you don’t cover yourself with flour and add the dry ingredients.  Don’t overmix here – do it just until combined, then add in the chocolate chips and mix for another couple of seconds until they are mixed in.  Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.  When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  Make the cookies about the size of golf balls and space them apart with at least an inch in between.

Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then use a spaulta to transfer them to a baking rack to cool a bit more.

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Holiday Bark

Every year I try and find new things to gift that are edible.  At some point no one really needs more stuff and food gifts are a great way to tell people you care.  Second only to my spiced nuts, this bark always gets top ratings from my friends and family.  Bark is by far the easiest thing to make and you can mix up what kind based on the person you are giving it to or what is in your pantry.  This method makes bark even easier as it entails almost zero clean up.  Most recipes will have you “temper” the chocolate, which means slowly melting it over a double boiler while adding more chocolate as it melts to keep a steady temperature.  This keeps the chocolate from getting a gritty texture and a grey color (no good!) but is kind of a pain.

Years ago I saw a tip in Southern Living magazine about just putting the chocolate on a cookie sheet in a low oven.  The heat just barely melts the chocolate so you don’t run the risk of grey bark and it’s already spread out on the sheet so all you have to do is spread it out a bit more and sprinkle on the toppings.  Once the bark is hard you throw away the parchment paper which means only 1 spatula to clean.  Here I give you 2 different variations but use whatever kind of chocolate you like – other good bark toppings are crushed candies like peppermint, chopped dried fruit such as apricot or cranberries, you could even throw on mini marshmallows and graham cracker cookie shards and make smores bark.  The options are limitless so next time you get invited to a last minute holiday party, within an hour you can have the perfect hostess gift.

Holiday Bark 

  • 4 four ounce bars of good chocolate – I used 3 dark chocolate and 1 white chocolate bars
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 a pomegranate, seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and line with chocolate pieces.  If you are going to use two chocolates like I did with the dark and white break up the pieces and mix them together so you can swirl them when they are melted.  Otherwise you can just unwrap the bars and lie them next to each other like I did with the 2 other dark chocolate bars.

Bake for 5 minutes – the chocolate should still be holding its shape but when you press it with a spatula its melted inside.  Using a spatula swirl the two chocolates together and spread them out so the layer is even (if you use one kind of chocolate just use the spatula to spread it out and make sure no logos remain).

Sprinkle with toppings evenly (I did one tray of dark and white chocolate with pecans and sea salt and one dark chocolate with pomegranate seeds and sea salt).

Place in the fridge and chill for at least 1 hour.  Break up the bark into smaller pieces and serve or gift.  If you use a fresh ingredient like the pomegranate seeds you should serve them right away or store at room temp for no longer than a day.  Any other topping stored in the fridge will last at least a week.

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Individual Apple Crisps

MMmmmmmm…baking apples with sugar and cinnamon is 100% guaranteed to make you and the rest of your family happy.  Even better is that putting these crisps together takes about 2 minutes and they can be made ahead.  This is a great recipe for apples with some fun additions (pecans and cardamom really make them special) but really you could do pears if you wanted (or peaches in the summer).  Please don’t forget the ice cream though – the cold hot thing is one of the best parts of a fruit crumble.  Make these a couple days before thanksgiving and totally forget about them until you have finished digesting and then you can just pop them in the oven.  Even the most stuffed guest won’t be able to resist once they smell these.

Individual Apple Crisps 

  • 3 apples, cored and chopped into bite size pieces (I like Gala or harder to find Macoun)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • ice cream for serving

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (if baking right away).  In a large bowl combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest, orange juice and 2 tablespoons flour.

In your food processor pulse the sugar, butter and salt until the butter is in little pieces (if you don’t have a food processor just use a mixer on low to combine the butter in with the sugar).  Put the butter mixture in a bowl (if its not in one already and stir in the oatmeal and pecans.  Use your fingers to smoosh it all together – it should be like wet sand.  Fill the ramekins with the apple mixture.  It’s ok to overfill them, as the apples will slump when cooked but just make sure you don’t fill them so high you cant get the topping on.

Press handfuls of the topping on each ramekin (you may have some excess) covering the apples.  Place the ramekins on a lined sheet pan (parchment paper or tin foil are best).

At this point you can store these in the fridge for a couple of days and then just bake them straight out of the fridge.  When you are ready to cook them bake them at 350 degrees for 50 minutes until bubbling at the edges and the topping is browned.  Let them cool off for a minute and then serve them with a scoop of ice cream.

Peanutty Oatmeal Cookies

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Ok there is plenty of candy around at Halloween – dessert seems like overkill.  But this cookie has oats in it!  Don’t you feel virtuous already??  We get a million trick o’ treaters so having something to snack on while drinking wine and passing out candy is a good thing.  You can also make these cookies with peanut butter chips but the Reese’s gave them a nice Halloween look.  Two important tips to take away from these cookies that work for all drop cookies – first make sure to really cream the butter and sugar together.  I used to just mix the two until combined but once I started really letting my mixer go to work until the butter and sugar gets light in color and fluffy, my cookies are much lighter and softer.  You cannot over beat the batter before the flour has been introduced so really work the butter and sugar for as long as your arm can take it if you are using a hand mixer or about 3 minutes if you have a stand mixer.  Second tip is to chill your dough.  At least 20 minutes is good but you can also store the dough in the fridge for a couple of days.  Drop cookies if the dough is too warm will spread when they bake and you will end up with a flatter, crunchier cookie than you want (or perhaps even the dreaded one giant cookie melted together).  Wednesday I will be posting the perfect dinner to go along with these cookies and trick or treating and then Friday will be a special cocktail to wash it all down with.

Peanutty Oatmeal Cookies 

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 9 ounces Reeses Pieces

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl or a stand mixer – mix for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

While the butter and sugar is mixing combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl with a whisk.  Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar and mix until combined.  Stir in the oats and Reeses Pieces with a spoon and then refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Drop the cookies on sil pat or parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes until golden.  Let cool on a baking rack – the cookies can be stored for several days.

Smores Bars

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or this!

I don’t do camping.  I am what you call a city girl – too many trees and fresh air I say.  One previous misguided attempt at camping was derailed by a leaf falling on the tent which sent me running.  So I was a little late in the game on the whole smores thing. but I am catching up quickly.  I mean who wouldn’t like gooey melted marshmallow partnered with luscious chocolate and that snap of graham cracker??  Thanks to the proliferation of fire pits one doesn’t need to venture into the forest to enjoy a good smore.  I like to enjoy them on our back patio with a nice glass of red wine.

But what if it’s too hot or buggy out?  What if the thought of your children holding sticks over open fire makes you nervous (or your husband for that matter)?  Then these bars are for you.  My BFF and I thought about wpid-20150524_195514.jpgways to make these even easier by using brownie mix and fluff or marshmallows – I am proud to say she even experimented with it herself (Kar – share in the comments section!).  However, the base recipe is actually pretty easy, especially if you have a stand mixer.  Meringue can take some getting used to if you havent made it before but hopefully the pictures help  Just be careful to not set your broiler to high like it did – 5 more seconds and the whole thing would have been up in flames!  Also make sure to have some milk on hand, as these bars are super rich.  They can sit for a couple of days too so make them today and enjoy tomorrow.  Best way to test a new recipe?  Find a willing taste tester – as you can see these were a hit with the younger crowd.  Since its a holiday I am going to take a break from the menu calendar but never fear the shopping list and menu suggestions will be back next friday.  Happy 4th everyone!

Smores Bars 

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (almost an entire box – the rest are perfect for snacking)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the sides.  This is an awesome way of baking things, especially sticky things, as you can just pull the whole thing out using the tabs and not have to worry about the sad odd-shaped brownie.

In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix the crumbs, butter, sugar and salt until everything is combined. Press the crumbs evenly into 
the bottom of the prepared pan.  Dont worry if it’s not perfectly even, just make sure the crumbs cover the entire bottom.

Bake for 8 minutes and then take it out and let cool completely but leave the oven on.   Create a double boiler – that is a fancy way of saying placing a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Fill the pot with water but not so much it touches the bottom of the bowl.  This is the best way to melt chocolate – it can scorch pretty easily so you want to use indirect heat.

Put the butter and the chocolate in the bowl and melt them together over medium heat, for about 5 minutes.  It will go much faster if you chop the butter and the chocolate into small pieces and stir it a lot.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Pour the batter over the crust and use your spoon to even it out. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges look fully baked. Turn off the oven and let the bars cool, meanwhile preheat your broiler to medium or the lower setting.  Recreate the double boiler with a clean bowl and add the egg whites and sugar.  Whisk them together until the sugar has dissolved, a couple of minutes.

A good way of figuring out if the sugar is dissolved is to dip your fingers into the mixture and rub them together.  If you can still feel the grit of the sugar, keep it on the heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved transfer the mixture to your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and then start beating the mixture.  Start slowly and then increase the speed to medium for a couple of minutes until the mixture starts to firm up (almost like whipped cream).  Continue to beat at a high-speed until super glossy and pretty, about 6 or 7 minutes.  It should be able to form “stiff peaks” meaning when you pull the beater out of the mixture and turn it upside down the egg whites should be able to stand on their own.  Mound the meringue on top of the bars and smooth with a spatula (it doesnt need to be perfect, in fact the more texture the better the browning).  Put it in the broiler for 1 minute.  Check and see if it’s got enough color for you – do not walk away or these will burn!  Take it out of the broiler and let cool.  Use the tabs to pull out the bars and then cut and serve (it’s a little messy to cut so use a really sharp knife).  If serving later put them in an airtight container.

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