Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raspberry brownies

In lieu of my usual verbose introduction, I will just say this: if you like chocolate and raspberries, you will like these brownies. They're thick and moist, and they have a definite raspberry flavor. It's a little time-consuming to strain out the raspberry seeds, but it is definitely worth it. No photograph, once again, but you know what brownies look like, right?

Raspberry brownies
adapted from Fine Cooking and words to eat by

To substitute semisweet chocolate for unsweetened chocolate in this recipe, use 4 oz. semisweet chocolate and reduce the amount of sugar by 1/4 cup.

4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, plus some for the pan
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) flour
2 Tbs. natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
12 oz. frozen raspberries
optional: about 1/2 cup chocolate chips to sprinkle on top

1. Put the frozen raspberries in a small pot over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and the volume has reduced somewhat, 20-30 minutes.

2. While the raspberries are cooking down, place an oven rack on the middle rung and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan (so that the parchment will stick), then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.

3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double-boiler or in the microwave. Cool slightly, then pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated.

4. Pour the cooked raspberries through a strainer to remove the seeds. Use a spoon or a spatula to force as much pulp as possible through the strainer; this should yield about 1/2 cup of raspberry pulp. Discard the seeds and thoroughly stir the pulp into the chocolate mixture.

5. Add the flour and cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture and stir until just incorporated.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the top, if you like. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs, 35-45 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool, then cut into squares.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lychee lime granita

Hello, internet! I haven't forgotten about this blog, contrary to all appearances. I've just had a combination of lack-of-inspiration, lack-of-actually-cooking, and lack-of-photogenic-food in the last few months. I still don't have any food photos, but I do have a super-easy summery recipe. And I swear I won't wait three months before I post again.

I don't have an ice cream maker, so granita is my homemade frozen dessert of choice. This is a little surprising because descriptions of granita tend to make it sound completely uncompelling. Its Wikipedia entry says it is a "semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings", and I think I've read that "granita" means "grainy" in Italian. Mmm, grainy. But once I got over my skepticism and tried making it, I discovered that it was a perfect light dessert. It's also incredibly easy to make: you just have to make a syrup, put it in the freezer, and remember to stir it up every half hour or so. The final product is something like shave ice, but with the flavoring in the ice instead of poured over it.

Recently, I was inspired to make granita by this recipe on the Pioneer Woman Cooks (possibly the only vegan recipe I've ever seen there), plus a giant bag of limes that we got for about a dollar. Instead of making a syrup, I used the syrupy liquid from a can of lychees, because I love lychees even though they look like what you'd get if you applied a melon baller to a raw chicken breast. They have a unique, sort of floral flavor. You could use another kind of canned fruit syrup, but I'm pretty sure that you can buy canned lychees at Safeway, even though they're an exotic fruit. If not, I think they're definitely worth a trip to an Asian grocery store.

Lychee lime granita
Two notes: 1) I have to be annoyingly imprecise here because the lychee can was not an American standard size, and I don't remember exactly how big it was. But the exact proportions aren't too important. If it tastes good before you freeze it, it'll be fine. 2) In the past, I used a glass pan to freeze granita, which was fine except that the granita tended to freeze onto the sides. This time, I accidentally discovered that this is not a problem if you use a plastic container, like a reusable ziploc food storage box.

1 can of lychees (about 20 oz.)
3-4 limes

1. Drain the liquid from the lychees into a freezer-safe container and reserve the lychees. Juice three of the limes into the container, then taste the mixture. Add the juice from the fourth lime if you like.

2. Cover the container and place it in the freezer for about an hour. Remove the container from the freezer and stir the granita with a fork to break up the ice crystals, then return it to the freezer.

3. After half an hour, remove the granita and scrape it with the tines of a fork, using a raking motion. Continue to scrape the granita every half hour until it is completely frozen (2-3 hours, depending on the size and shape of the container). If it hardens too much to scrape easily, which may happen if you store it overnight, just let it warm up a bit.

4. Serve with the reserved lychees or other fruit.