Monday, August 4, 2008

Martha Stewart

I am in the process of forming my own definitive cookbook collection. This means that I own about 15-20 cookbooks, half of which are truly useful. The other half are gifts or hand-me-downs or book sale purchases that are pretty to look at, but haven't provided me with any solid recipes. Among the good ones I own: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, The Joy of Cooking (a battered 1964 edition), Moosewood's Simple Suppers, and The New Food Lover's Tiptionary.

Books I still want to aquire: Heidi Swanson's cookbook, The Cake Bible, and Baking from My Home to Yours.

This post is about Martha Stewart! I have been desirous of her book, "Martha Stewart's Cookies," for so long, and have dropped so many hints, that my mother finally bought it for my birthday. I am in love with Martha's system of organization, and the beautiful pictures that accompany each recipe. While I'm not crazy about her level of perfectionism (I.E., "beat the eggs in electric mixer on medium until pale, or 4 minutes,"), these are some amazing recipes. This is the first one that I attempted, slightly revised.

Double Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

6 Tbsp butter
6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter an 8-inch round cake tin. The original recipe calls for a square pan, but I wanted a sort of brownie-cake I could cut into slices.
3. Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a pan. (TIP: I find that, when melting chocolate for baking purposes, it's sufficient to use a little butter and just melt it over a burner or in the microwave. The butter keeps it from scorching. Martha wants you to use a double boiler, or a "heatproof bowl over simmering water." In my opinion, this is totally unnecessary. As long as you keep stirring and make sure the butter has coated the pan, you'll be fine.)
4. Beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. Add cooled chocolate mixture.
5. Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork. Add to the rest of the batter.
6. Spread the batter evenly into pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out with a few crumbs, but not wet. Allow to cool, and slice!

Here's another TIP: when you're making something like brownies, where the chocolate is the most important factor, use the best quality ingredients. Baker's chocolate will suffice if you're experiencing a major craving, but I would opt for something like Scharffen Berger, if possible. This goes for the butter and eggs, as well. You want to use fresh, good quality ingredients. Trust me. When I was in Mexico, I was persuaded to buy a giant glass bottle of pure vanilla extract. It has lasted me over a year and half, and has an incredible taste. I wish I could carry it everywhere with me. Anyway, the better your ingredients, the better the final product. This seems so simple, but I'm always forgetting it...

Next up on the brownie front: finding the best vegan brownie recipe out there!

1 comment:

shanna said...

I found your blog through Is My Blog Burning and immediately clicked over when I saw you were from Boston (which I LOVE and would happily move to, if someone would offer me a job there).

I'm enjoying your site and have added it to my reader.

BTW: I totally agree about Martha's cookie book. Love it.