Cooking with kids is a total sh*t-show. As much as I would love to put a cotton candy twist on it, cooking, baking and eating with my two children is a challenge. Kids are messy. Most are picky. They eat the chocolate chips out of the bag before we can add them to the cookies. They want to ‘help’ with E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And they quickly lose interest once the initial excitement wears off. I feed my kids the finest ingredients but cooking with my wee ones is the greatest food-lover challenge I have faced thus far. Yet, at the same time it’s worth every bit of the chaos that ensues.
So when I was heard about Alice Medrich and Artisan Books sent me a copy of her latest book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. I decided that the most rigorous test of their cookbooks would be to see if I could make their recipes with my kids without losing my mind.
A few days later I received Alice’s masterpiece in the mail. I was floored by the beauty overflowing the pages. The photos are as if you are walking through a museum of fine, food art. And the recipes are gourmet but wonderfully simple, hence the name. Most dishes only rely on one bowl or the use of a food processor. Truly, any busy mama’s sweet dreams come true. Or as Alice relishes in her blog, “Love to cook,hate to bake?” It is also the perfect fit for us savory toothed, non-bakey types.
With Alice’s book in buttery-fingered hands, we set up our learning tower. We found a recipe for which we had all the ingredients. Cocoa brownies with walnuts and brown butter seemed like the perfect fit. We gathered plenty of snacks to keep the troops interested. I drew a fresh batch of patience from my mother’s well. And we boldly set out to where most moms dare not bring their kids, the kitchen counter. Dunn. Dunn. Da. Dunnnn…
Credit: “Excerpted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012.”
with Walnuts and Brown Butter
Makes 16 large or 25 small brownies
Deeply chocolate walnut-laced brownies with the fragrant flavor of browned butter. The batter is thick enough to spread with deep swirls and the result is soft, gooey brownies with slightly crusty tops. These brownies are thin, and I like them that way.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup (2.4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
8-inch square baking pan
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and all 4 sides of the baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick vegetable spray (or use nonstick foil).
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and continue to cook, whisking gently, until it is golden brown and the milk particles suspended in it are reddish brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stop the cooking by immediately adding the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, water, and vanilla. Stir to blend. Let cool for 5 minutes; the mixture will still be fairly hot.
(photo credit: definingdelicious.com)
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula after adding each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add all of the flour and stir until you no longer see streaks of flour, then beat vigorously for 50 to 60 strokes with the wooden spoon or the spatula. Stir in the nuts.
4. Spread the batter in the lined pan, swirling the surface if you like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges almost clean (the brownies will still be soft and gooey even if the toothpick looks clean). Cool in the pan on a rack.
5. Lift the edges of the foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Slide a metal spatula under the brownies to detach them from the foil (or invert the brownies and peel off the foil, then turn the brownies right side up again). Cut into 16 or 25 squares. The brownies keep stored airtight, for 2 to 3 days.
At the end of the adventure we made
it out alive gooey, buttery brownies. Keeping in mind we made these little brown-beauties with 4 sugar-coated, “helping hands,” under the age of 4, ours turned out like this…
But they tasted like this…
(Photo Credit: Sang An of Artisan Books 2012)
Needless to say it was an experience…*cough*And I would do it all over again. Those brownies were well worth it.
A few side notes:
– Ironic as it is, I highly recommend the use of snacks while attempting to make more snacks. These little gems work well and don’t be shy, give yourself the fermented version.
– If you get distracted and add double the amount of butter. Yes, DOUBLE. Whoops. I encourage you to become crafty and make buttered popcorn out of the leftover browned butter. True Story. Again, it’s all about the snack to get to the snack.
-If you are trying to become a famous gastronome photographer, don’t try to win your Pulitzer with brownies. In fact, just eat them and leave the photos for the honest pros. Personally, I cannot take a picture of brownies that doesn’t look like a pile of cow dung.
# 1 FAIL
My personal brownie-dungish photo. I’ll spare you the other 200. Just remember if your brownies don’t look exactly like the ones in the book, if you follow Alice’s recipe, I’m sure it will at least taste like a cloud in sugary heaven.
-And at the end of the day, your kitchen floor may have seen better days.
-Your counters will be covered with crap (speaking of crap).
But who gives a hoot? You can clean-up any mess, right? It will be worth the mommy brownie points and the thumbs up from your little loves.
And as if that wasn’t enough to get you out there baking with your family and swooning over Alice Medrich, enter here to win a copy of Alice’s Sinfully Delicious Cookbook. Yes, YOU! And trust me you want this book. Here’s how to enter…
-Leave a comment below about your best and/or worst family-baking moments.
–Subscribe to our email updates.
Winner will be chosen on June 30th 2012. We want to ensure Delicious goodies being a part of your 4th of July picnics.
Thank You. And remember if you are what you eat, be Delicious.
* Full Delishclosure- I was given a copy of Alice Medrich’s book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts . However, all opinions are my own. In fact, I was so inspired I have already bought 4 more copies and her cookie book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy…Ps. I love you, Alice.