best ever brownies

Everyone needs a favorite brownie recipe.


I fell in love with Ina Garten’s “Outrageous” brownies. But found them impractical for sharing because of their super gooey constancy. Then, I came across David Lebovitz’s recipe for the “Absolute Best Brownies” (these celebrity chefs sure are modest…). And I fell in love.

{dense, fudgy center}

These only have a tiny bit of flour in the batter — which results in a chocolatey, moist center.

I am a generally open-minded person, but I really don’t understand the people who go crazy for a cake-like brownie. Why not just bake a chocolate cake? A brownie should be fudgy and dense — and that is exactly what these are — all the way up to the thin, shiny, tissue-paper crust on the top.

{crinkle-y tissue-paper thin crust}

This is also the perfect fool-proof recipe to experiment with different add-ins. I had bought a bag “Sweet and Salty M&M Trail Mix” (almonds, M&Ms and pretzels), and mixed that in. (I picked out the raisins).

Bring these to bake sales, stuff these in your purse, share them at work, eat them for breakfast. People love them.
Do you have a favorite brownie recipe?

With love,
Erica

{these transport beautifully}

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris
 David Lebovitz

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

optional: 1 cup add-ins (nuts, trail mix, candies etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 8-inch square baking dish with a sheet aluminum foil that
covers the bottom  up over the sides. If it doesn’t reach all the way up
and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a
large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Spray the bottom and
sides of the foil with cooking spray.
In a saucepan melt butter, add the semi-sweet chocolate, stirring
constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from
heat. Add in eggs one at a
time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour and nuts if using.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow cool completely.
.

Storage: These brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for 1 month.

Variation: This recipe
takes well to mix-ins. I’ll sometimes add 1/3 cup (45 g) chopped dried
cherries or 1/3 cup (45 g) cocoa nibs to the batter.

To make minty brownies, crush the contents
of one 50-g tin of peppermint Altoids in a sturdy plastic bag. Add the
crushed mints to the brownies along with the nuts (or omit the nuts). If
you like very minty brownies, add 1/2 teaspoon mint extract along with
the crushed mints.

carrot cake lara bar copycat

 Bars are one of my favorite snacks to pack myself during the day, they are compact, non-messy, and delicious! Lara bars are some of my favorite bars to carry around with me because of their simple, pure ingredients and delicious flavors (unlike the dreaded Power Bar!). The one downer about these bars is that they are so expensive (a $2 price tag per bar!). That’s why I learned how to make them even better and cheaper at home!

Sometimes I find Lara bars a little too sweet from all of the dates. Although these bars are sweetened with dates (no refined sugar!), dates are not the main ingredient. I used some of the huge bag of carrots (the same one that led to a carrot cake, carrot pancakes, carrot cake granola, and some moist carrot muffins), some spicy cinnamon, sweet plump raisins and some shredded coconut — and they  tastes just like big slices of carrot cake. 
These bars are moist, dense, and a little bit chewy. They have no refined sugar (naturally sweetened by dates and raisins). They are full of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and K, and potassium, thanks to the carrots.  These could also easily be made gluten free by subbing in GF flour. Are you sold yet? Oh, and they taste kind of like pumpkin pie. Now you’re sold. I was surprised that this homemade version ended up tasting much better than the packaged bars. Healthy has never tasted this decadent before! These little bites are perfect for a pre/post workout snack, 3-o’clock pick-me-up, or even breakfast, as they are natural and full of nutrition.
What is your favorite Lara Bar flavor?

With love, 
Erica

Ingredients

  • 10 medjool dates, pits removed (about 5.5 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (from about 5 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or gluten-free flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Sprouted Wheat Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)

Lightly spray or oil an 8×8-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 375F.
Place the pitted dates in a food processor and pulse until the dates
are chopped and begin to form a paste (or pound them with a rolling pin if you are like me, and don’t have a food processor). Scrape them into a bowl and add
all ingredients EXCEPT flour, baking powder, and pecans. Stir until all
ingredients are well-blended.
Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just
blended. Spoon it into the prepared pan, sprinkle with pecans if
desired, and press them lightly into the batter with the back of a
spoon. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into 12 bars and
serving.

Nutrition (per serving, including walnuts): 128 calories, 9 calories
from fat, 1.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 57.2mg sodium, 309.7mg
potassium, 30.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 18.5g sugar, 2g protein, 3.9
points.

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

five seed almond bars

I love to decipher and reverse engineer recipes — whenever I taste
something yummy out and about, I always say smugly to my friends “I bet I
could make this at home for much cheaper.” This is exactly what happened when my mom brought home a bag of Five Seed Almond Bars from Trader Joes. If you want to go out and buy these amazing bars of goodness, you can find them in a little white bag near the biscotti, but if you want to make them yourself… keep reading.

These bars are delicious and healthy.

Delicious: These bars are moist, nutty, with just a hint of cloves. They have a satisfying chewiness, kind of like a oatmeal cookie. Their warm, spicy aroma reminds me of gingerbread or spice cookies. Basically these bars are the love child of a gingerbread man and a chewy bar.

Healthy: These bars have 53 mg of omega 3 fatty acids, and each bar has only around 110 calories and is full of delicious, healthy fats.

Have you ever reverse-engineered a recipe?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
 
1 cup raisins
1 1/8 cup flour (I used sprouted whole grain flour)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup quick oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flax oil (or you could use olive oil, or any other oil you have on hand)
1 cup of seed mix: flax, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, sunflower (or any dried fruit or nut mix)
1/3 cup slivered toasted almonds

Measure out the seed and almonds in a small bowl, so that you can quickly add them later.
Put the first set of dry ingredients in a food processor or a mixer and blend for 30 seconds, until the raisins are finely chopped (if using a mixer, pound the raisins the old fashioned way in a ziploc to form a paste). Add the liquid ingredients next. Be sure to use melted butter, otherwise the mixture will be too stiff. Processor for about 30 seconds until a ball forms. Immediately add the nut mixture and lightly blend to mix (rather than pulverize).
Place mixture on in a 9×13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly to the corners of the paper.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. It will be very soft and harden as it cools. Let cool a bit, then cut into bars and let cool completely.

Adapted from Seed Sprout Savor