January 14, 2014
So I talked about wanting this past weekend to be a quiet weekend on Friday, and sometimes you get just what you ask for! My husband was on the road, and a packing snafu left me with an dead laptop battery and no charger. We also finally made the decision to ditch cable tv since we use netflix/hulu more anyway and it got turned off a few days ahead of schedule. So no computer, no tv.
I was a little grumbly at first, but realized in the end how good it was that I was forced to REALLY unplug. All I had was my iPhone and Netflix and that was more than enough. (And should be more than enough!) I read a lot, caught up on old British dramas and spent lots of time with good friends. The boys and I got some one on one time and a special Mommy date to celebrate good report cards. A nice reminder that shutting down that laptop a little more often is in all our best interests…maybe something I should've added to my goals list for the year!
I volunteered to bring dessert to one of our get togethers this weekend, and since the kids outnumbered the parents I needed something that would appeal to the kids but also be a little bit different for the grownups. And of course, something that didn't require me to go to the grocery store with 2 small children in tow!
These brownies are an old favorite of mine. They are based on a brownie made by the Baked bakery in New York City, which is known for putting new spins on old classics. The spice is subtle and not "spicy" despite the use of the smoky paprika. It just elevates and adds a slight sophistication so that it works just as well at a dinner party as it does a kindergarten class party. The texture is that sweet spot between fudge and cake. They taste good with coffee or tea and wine, which is why I love to have a stash of these in the freezer for those moments when I need an emotional snack. I'm much more likely to be satisfied with one great brownie than I am with a handful of 'meh' oreos!
adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Baked Bakery
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp smoky paprika
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
12 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick butter, sliced
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, paprika, cinnamon and cardamom. Set aside.
Melt the butter, espresso powder and chocolate together in a glass or metal bowl placed over a pan of gently boiling water. Once the mixture is completely melted and smooth take it off pan and add in the sugars. The mix should be cooling slightly at this point. Add in 3 eggs and whisk together. Add the last two eggs and then the vanilla and whisk until just combined. This is point where you don't want to over mix or the texture will be more like cake.
Fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture with a spatula until it's all just mixed together. There should still be a touch of flour visible.
Pour into a 9"x13" pan that has been buttered or sprayed with a non-stick spray. Cook for 28-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, rotating the pan half way through. If you insert a skewer into the center it will be done when just a few crumbs come out on it, not when it is completely clean. Wait until completely cooled before cutting into squares.