Monday, January 16, 2012

Malbec Brownies

This is a post that's been long awaited, promised before Christmas, but lost in time. Since this week has been balls to the walls busy (hehe)...I didn't get a chance to bake anything blog worthy, so I said to myself, "self, why don't you post about those brownies you promised you would share?"

"OOO, that's a good idea. I should do that."

"Bravo, bravo."

The bravo comment made the conversation weird so I just turned and walked away.

So what makes a "balls to the walls" busy week? Well my night job consists of cake decorating for the the super fabulous and this week's superstar cake was a 3-tier silver beauty with 3 electric guitars! It turned out great but really, really tested my cake faith. I had to rebake 3 of the 4 cakes (3 tiers take 4 batches of cake). The first batch, I dropped a tiny, little bottle of butter rum candy oil into my mixer whilst it was whirring away. That caused a bit of raucous. The bottle's top broke off and made a butter rum chocolate cake (which I'm going to try sometime for real), I would have just baked this one, but some of the glass actually broke in the mix. Down the garbage disposal it sad. This calamity also messed up the beater blade! Dang it!!!!!!! Luckily KitchenAid has a warranty, so new blade is on its way. Thank you KitchenAid.

Nextly, the other 2 cakes I had to rebake were because of the untrustyworthyiness of my oven. Oh well. Cake faith tested and I made it through. Yeah me. Booya!

Ok, on to the recipe. This is based on a brownie recipe I found on (great site), but I wanted to add a little somethin' to it. I've been drinking malbec's lately and had this one from Layer Cake Vineyards. Besides being called Layer Cake, it is really outstanding. I really thought the brownies would pair well with the wine, but instead of just adding a teaspoon or two, I really wanted a strong flavor. I researched a bit and decided on reducing a cup of the wine by about half on the stove. That did the trick. It made a delicious sauce that was perfect in the brownies. I suggest the Layer Cake Malbec, but I can see many wines being very beautiful in this recipe.

The M is actually for Mason.

Malbec Brownies

adapted from

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.), melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup reduced malbec wine*
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s works very well)
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish, two mini muffin pans or two square cupcake pans. If you use the muffin pan or cupcake pan, you will have a little batter left over. Perfect for making a small pan for yourself to stash in the freezer.

Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix in the reduced wine and beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish or scoop into muffin/cupcake pans.

Bake in preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for pan or 20 - 22 mins for mini muffins and 18 mins for cupcake pans. Remove, and cool pan on wire rack before cutting. Brownies will need to cool completely in muffin/cupcake pans before they can set up enough to be easily removed from pans.

*Simmer 1 cup of malbec wine (Layer Cake Vineyards) for 15 mins or so over medium heat until you have reduced it by half. If you have reduced it to less than a ½ cup, you can add water to the wine until you reach the ½ cup mark.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Raw Buckwheat Honey in my treacle tart.

What is that you ask? Well it's a $7.95 honey bear full of this crazy, pungent honey. It's like a really stout cheese, there is a love/hate relationship. You like it, but you about gag when you first smell it.

I came across this honey at Silver Dollar City at Christmas time. We had received free tickets and decided to go the busiest day of the year and look at the lights. I saw a lot of lights, camera lights. Don't go on the busiest day of the year (I think that might be any day).

The honey came from a little shop that sold honey from a store in Springfield. MO. I think it was Honey Heaven, fitting name. They have a lot of interesting honey blends and after finding out that there was honey that wasn't clover honey, I decided that honey would be my friend. Clover honey isn't tasty.

This buckwheat honey might not be tasty either, verdict is still out. It can best be described as molassesey, it's very dark with a weird pungent flavor. I like what this site says about it:

"I like to think of buckwheat honey as the tall dark stranger in the honey crowd.  There will be many who are beguiled by its unique charms, but to others its pleasures will remain an enigma." 

I'd say that's a tall dark, stinky stranger.

Verdict is still out.

Ok, so what to do with old stinky...well with it's molasses undertones and my hankering for treacle tart, this seemed like a perfect match. Treacle tart (Harry's fav) requires golden syrup. It's not easy to find in the states, but many sites suggest light corn syrup with some molasses as a nice substitute.

So this is what I did for the required 18 oz of golden syrup, I used 12 oz light corn syrup, 2 oz of buckwheat honey and 2 oz of molasses. That buckwheat is strong and expensive, so after squeezing about $1.32 into the corn syrup I opted to finish off with less expensive, less pungent molasses.

In the end, I did like the buckwheat honey in the tart, but I'm don't think I'm a tall dark stranger kind of girl.

Here's the recipe, it's adapted from


Prepare the crust first, it will need to rest in the fridge for at least 45 mins. BTW you'll need vodka for the pie dough, it sounds crazy and it is.
Prepare the fool proof pie dough from Cook's Illustrated, roll out and place into a greased tart pan or 9 inch pie plate. Prick the bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 mins, bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees.

Treacle Tart Americana

12 oz. light corn syrup combined with  2 oz. honey* and 4 oz. molasses
2 eggs
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (whole wheat and even multi-grain works)
2-3 pinches of salt (this is literally taking your finger and thumb and pinching some salt and tossing it in)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and p
our filling into tart/pie pan and finish baking for 30 mins at 350 degress, cool and serve with fresh whipped cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.

*regular honey would be outstanding in this, so I suggest maybe don't go for the tall dark stranger and use a nice, good guy instead.