Thursday, September 24, 2009

Marble Magic Brownie Cake

Marble Magic Brownie Cake
(from “A Passion For Baking” by Marcy Goldman)

Marcy Goldman’s baking book is one of those books I bought on a whim. I wasn’t very familiar with her work as a pastry chef, but in skimming through her book, all the delicious bread and dessert recipes really caught my attention.

I’ve swallowed up her gorgeous photographs and have gone back to imprint some of her baking secrets into my mind. She is the first one I’ve read who talks about double sheeting –using double cookie sheets instead of one to keep from browning the bottoms of your cakes, cookies, breads, etc., from baking too quickly before the center is ready. After trying her tip the first time, I’ve never gone back. I use this method in all my baking. It really works.

One of the most mouth-watering recipes I read about in her book (well, actually an additional little booklet called, what else (?) “CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE” that came with my cookbook) was called Marble Magic Brownie Cake. It’s rich, it’s dense, it’s amazingly delicious and it’s not for the faint of heart, meaning if you can serve yourself a sliver, you’re OK, if not, expect a couple of pounds to be added on.

When I first try out a new recipe, I try and follow it to the letter. After that, I tweak it and make I my own. Aside from maybe making it in 2 smaller pans or maybe even as cupcakes, I’m leaving this one as is. This is a great recipe to have on hand for the upcoming Holidays. Enjoy everyone.

Look at those beautiful swirls of fudgy brownie and cake.

Marble Magic Brownie Cake

1 box yellow or white cake mix

2 cups unsalted butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups cocoa powder, measured and then sifted
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Generously spray a 1 x 9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and line bottom with a sheet of parchment paper.

In a large food processor, prepare cake mix according to directions. Spoon cake mix batter into a bowl. Do not wash food processor bowl.
(I did do this differently. I don’t have a very large food processor, so I used 2 mixing bowls and a hand mixer.)

For brownies, using food processor blend butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Add cocoa, flour baking soda and salt. Blend well to a thick smooth batter. Spoon half of brownie batter into prepared pan. Spoon half of cake mix batter over the brownie batter.
Dollop the remaining batters of the top of the cake mix batter and swirl with a knife.

Bake until done, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes (Mine took about 1 hour and 10 minutes.) It’s ready when cake has risen and springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertips.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow to stand 15 to 20 minutes and then spread the chips evenly over the top with a metal spatula. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

It was time for a delicious, chewy, decadent chocolate dessert with a buttery shortbread crust. El Paso has finally broken the heat wave and we’ve been getting some thunderstorms, resulting in slightly chilly weather, so I was ready for some baking.

I wanted to surprise Bob with a filling dinner and a yummy dessert when he got home from work. He loves Pecan Pie, but I usually only make it around the holidays, so I opted for these mouthwatering Pecan Pie Bars.

I’ve made them before with either a “dunk” into melted chocolate or just plain. Today I was inspired by a recipe I saw on the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog with her Chunky Pecan Pie Bars.

I sure hope you try these luscious bars. They’re not difficult to make and are rather tasty. Look at all those pecans and chocolate chunks!

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
(Inspired by The Brown-Eyed Baker)

For the Crust:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon


3 large eggs
¾ cup corn syrup
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chunks in a bag!)
I used chopped Mexican chocolate
1½ cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the crust, mix together the flour, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until crumbly. Press into the baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.
3. For the filling, beat the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a wire whisk. Stir in the chocolate chunks and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.
4. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if you live in a warm/humid area with no air conditioning).

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Black and White Pound Cake

I've been dying to try this pound cake idea since I made the Black and White Cookies.

From the first time I tried this recipe, I knew it was a keeper. It has got to be the most delicious, moist and rich tasting pound cake I’ve ever had and believe me, I’ve got a ton of pound cake recipes on file. Over the next two months I will bring them to you (perhaps with some variations) via this blog.

Pound Cake is one of those desserts that is so versatile. If it’s rich and moist, just slice it and serve it with a good cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk. If you think it needs a little something, top it with a scoop of delicious homemade ice cream, or make a simple, yet tasty sauce to go over it and maybe some fresh fruit.

The origins of the pound cake date back to the 18th century with its birth in the Northern European countryside. The name pound cake came about because of it’s composition of ingredients. 1 pound of flour – 1 pound of butter – 1 pound of sugar – 1 pound of eggs! Can you imagine making something like this today? No leavening was used. It was whipped until sufficient air was incorporated into the batter to make it rise. There is a truly fascinating timeline description of the history of Pound Cake at the Food Timeline site.

This site excited me. I love studying the history of foods and the Food Timeline delves into many foods that we eat today. They state that food was not invented, but rather has evolved and they give you a wonderful history lesson on just about any vegetable, fruit, dessert, beverage, etc., that you can think of.

So, if you’ve ever wondered where a certain food had its beginnings, check out their site. You’ll stay on it for quite a while, I did.

For now, enjoy this delicious Black and White Pound Cake. I took that delicious recipe I found in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, divided the dough, added some cocoa to half of it and layered it. Left over chocolate dough was spooned over the top in dollops and a toothpick run through it to give it some design.

This design looks like the Zodiac Taurus, doesn't it? Have a magnificent weekend everybody.

Classic Pound Cake
(BHG Magazine, May 2009)

6 eggs
1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) package cold cream cheese, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 ¾ cups sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons pure vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour
Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, but no more than 2 hours. Generously butter and flour 2 loaf pans or 1 10-inch tube pan. Set aside. Using large bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat cold butter for 2 minutes on low speed. Dislodge butter from paddle periodically.

Add cream cheese and beat on low speed for 3 minutes again dislodging from paddle a few times. Still mixing on low, add sugar in a slow continuous stream. This should take about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Add salt. Continue creaming for 5 minutes. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl halfway through. Increase speed to medium and continue mixing 2 minutes more, scraping once.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl after first 3 eggs. Beat in vanilla with last egg.

Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of the sifted cake flour on low speed, mixing until just blended. Turn off mixer and fold in remaining flour by hand with a rubber spatula, just until combined.

Turn batter into prepared pans and shake gently to distribute batter. Drop pans onto counter to dislodge large air pockets.

Place on center rack of cold oven. Turn oven setting to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes without opening door. Test for doneness with a cake tester or toothpick.

Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before serving.

* In retrospect, I think that instead of using 1/2-cup cocoa powder to flavor the “black” side of this pound cake, I will use melted chocolate next time. The pound cake was delicious, but the dark half was a smidgen less moist than the lighter half. Experiment for yourself and see which you think is better.


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