Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts

Monday, July 2, 2018

Blueberry Thyme Galette

Happy July! Have you already made plans for celebrating the 4th of July?  Wherever and whoever you spend the holiday with I hope it's fun filled. This year we will be joining my sister and her family for a few days at the resort in Michigan my brother-in-law's family has been staying at for more than fifty years. This 4th of July week tradition is so treasured in this family I have every reason to believe my niece and nephew will continue it when they have families of their own someday. 

On my way back home at the end of week I will be making numerous stops at the farm stands and fruit farms to bring home some freshly picked berries. Raspberries, blackberries, and especially blueberries are the three things on the top of my must-bring home 'souvenirs'. 

Because we are binging on blueberries here. And this is one heck of a bing worthy blueberry galette. One comprised of a dough made with vodka, a cream cheese layer hiding under luscious berries, and fresh thyme mixed in with the blueberries requires more than a dozen adjectives to describe it. And even that may not be enough do it justice. So I will simply say, with a high degree of certainty and a little less humility, this Blueberry Thyme Galette may be one of the BEST galettes I have ever made. 

A galette is a free form French pastry similar in concept to a pie or a tart. Neither fancy nor homey, a galette instead has a more rustic appearance. With homemade dough rolled out and draped over the filling, it is a forgiving pastry. Yet, there is an understated beauty in its' simplicity. Rather than make the rustic version of this Blueberry Thyme Galette, I decided to give it a bit of a tart-like, patriotic look. 

The cream cheese layer in this galette is pure genius. Hidden underneath a layer of berries tossed in lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, and fresh thyme leaves, it adds.....  But let me talk about the blueberry mixture for a second. The addition of fresh thyme leaves adds an incredible flavor dimension to the galette. If you are at all considering omitting them, please don't. Honestly, blueberries and thyme leaves are a match made in heaven. 

The supple, easy to roll out dough for this galette....well, let's just say I may never, ever, not in my lifetime use another dough recipe again. From it's unbaked to baked texture to its rich, buttery flavor, this dough (aka pate brisee) is nothing short of pastry perfection. The use of European butter (because higher fat content is always better in pastry) and ice cold vodka (don't we all keep our vodka in the freezer?) are two of its' essential ingredients. Even in this extremely hot weather, this dough rolled out beautifully after resting in the refrigerator for slightly less than an hour. Once it was rolled out and shaped into the pastry ring, I returned it back to the refrigerator while I made the cream cheese mixture and blueberry filling. 

This galette would be delicious without the cream cheese layer. But unless there wasn't any cream cheese in the house, I am not sure I could make this Blueberry Thyme Galette without it. 

Slightly more than one pint of blueberries are used to make the filling. Instead of making it blueberries, you could use a mixture of blueberries and blackberries.

After giving the dough an egg wash and sprinkling with sanding sugar, the tart bakes in a preheated 450 degree (F) oven for 40-45 minutes (baking time might be slightly longer if made in a tart pan or pastry ring).

Serve this galette slightly warm or room temperature. It's equally delicious either way. Serving it with some vanilla ice cream isn't really necessary. But don't let me stop you.

As hot as the weather has been here lately, this Blueberry Thyme Galette was definitely worth turning on the oven for. If you are hosting or going to a gathering while blueberries are in season, put this galette at the top of your must make-bring desserts!

Blueberry Thyme Galette (filling for this galette was inspired by the Summer Blueberry Galette recipe in the July/August 2018 edition of Yankee Magazine)
Serves 6-8

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for rolling out dough
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, very chilled or slightly frozen
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup ice cold vodka
1 egg and 2 Tablespoons water, cream, or milk (for crust)
2 Tablespoons Sanding Sugar or Demerara Sugar (for crust)

4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
15 - 16 ounces fresh blueberries
1 1/2 Tablespoons of cornstarch (or all-purpose flour)
Zest of one lemon
Juice from half of a lemon
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
4-5 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stems discarded

Vanilla Ice Cream, optional

1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Freeze at least 30 minutes or overnight.
2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to blend.
3. Add in butter cubes one at a time. Briefly pulsing until butter is size of very small peas.
4. Pour the vodka through the feed tube in a steady stream while constantly pulsing until dough begins to come together. Note: Without over mixing if the dough is not coming together, add ice cold water one Tablespoon at a time.
5. Turn dough out a lightly floured surface. From into a round disk. (Note: Dough is slightly wet and more elastic than most recipes.)
6. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. If dough is refrigerated overnight, remove and allow to sit out for 5-10 minutes before rolling.
7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to an 1/8" thickness, working from the center outward. Roll to a 13" circle (if making a free form galette) or roll out to a 11" circle if placing in a 9" tart pan or pastry ring. 
8. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator to allow the dough to slightly firm up while you are mixing the filling and berries. (Note: If making the galette in a tart pan or pastry ring, line with parchment paper before placing in the dough.)

1. Put the cream cheese in a medium sized mixed bowl. Beat briefly.
2. Add in the confectionary sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and pinch of sea salt. Blend on medium-high speed until smooth. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and thyme.
4. Pour and spread the cream cheese mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2" border at the edges if making a free form galette. Top the filling with the blueberry mixture.
5. Use your hands or a bench scraper to fold the edges of the pastry over the filling, folding and pleating the dough as needed. The free form galette will be approximately 9" across and look rustic.
6. Brush the dough with the milk/egg mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar or demerara sugar.
7. Place in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, approximately 40-45 minutes. (Note: Baking time for the galette made in tart pan or pastry ring could be as long as 50 minutes.)
8. Let galette cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature with or without vanilla ice cream.

Notes: (1) If you want your galette to look rustic, it might look like this one. (2) I made this galette using a 9" pastry ring. When placing the rolled out dough into the pan, I turned down the sides of the dough to create a more stable edge. There was just enough dough to make about a dozen small star cut-outs. (2) Instead of an egg and milk mixture for the pastry wash, I used an egg white and heavy cream. Thus my baked galette was not as 'dark' as I wanted it to be. Next time I will definitely use a whole egg and heavy cream, milk, and/or water mixture as the glaze to brush on the crust.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Blueberry Crumb Bars

The month of June is flying by, making me feel like my perception of time is a bit distorted. With Fourth of July already next week, store retailers will soon begin making us think about the fall and winter or social media posts counting down the number of days to certain holidays. Yikes! What ever happened to savoring the season we are in? Just last week all of the herbs and perennials were finished being planted, the hanging baskets filled with flowy ferns were hung, and candles were put in all of the outdoor lanterns. I don't know about you, but this year, I am going to give summer all of the love and respect it deserves. I refuse to be rushed. Which means, amongst other things, the really cool, comfy hoodie and sweatpants I bought (had to have actually) in Martha's Vineyard will just have to wait to be worn until there is a chilly summer night (fingers crossed we have a couple of those this year). And, if for some reason I can't wait to wear them, I suppose I could always put them on and hangout in our chilly basement. Considering I am usually dripping wet after yoga and running, I doubt seriously you will find me sitting out on my back deck wearing my yet to worn Martha's Vineyard attire. The concept of patience and common sense sometimes creeps into my life every now and then.

If there is one fruit I look forward to eating and baking with every summer, other than peaches, it's blueberries. Big, ripe, sweet, beautiful blueberries. It might be my imagination, but summer blueberries look and taste different than the ones found in the grocery stores during those other 'we won't mention their names' seasons.

Apparently I love blueberries so much there are already sixteen recipes on the blog using them! These Blueberry Crumb Bars will bring that blueberry love number to seventeen. The more the merrier for any and blueberry lovers!

There is nothing fussy about making crumb bars. They pack all of the delicious flavor of a pie but without all the labor of love involved in the making of and rolling out a homemade crust. Although sometimes the urge to make a pie is too strong to resist. However, on those days where you crave the taste of homemade dough and baked fruit, and you don't have the time to make pie dough, make a crumb bar. Hey, make these crumb bars!

These Blueberry Crumb Bars are made with FRESH blueberries. Which means you can only make and enjoy them for as long as the blueberry season lasts where you live. 

The crust for these Blueberry Crumb Bars has a kind of, sort of close resemblance to shortbread. Once baked, it's dense and melt in your mouth sugary perfect. The dough for the crust is made in a (large) food processor. If you don't have one, it can be made in a bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter. Whichever method you use, you want your dough to be slightly moist, yet crumbly.

The juice and zest of one lemon gives the blueberry mixture some tartness, the sugar adds a little sweetness, the cornstarch acts as the thickening agent, and the cinnamon brings some warmth to the flavor of the blueberry layer in these crumb bars. Personally, I love pairing cinnamon with blueberries, but it's a completely optional ingredient. If you are a blueberry crumb bar purist, skip it. 

Two thirds of the dough is pressed into the bottom of a pan lined with parchment paper. To make things easier, I usually weigh out the dough and then divide it out. Once two thirds of the dough is pressed into bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan, the blueberry mixture is spread evenly over it. Rather than drop handfuls of the remaining dough on top of the fruit mixture, I like to squeeze some pieces of the dough together to help create a more textured finish to the crumb bars.

The Blueberry Crumb Bars bake in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top layer is golden brown and the berries underneath are bubbling. Baking the crumb bars at a high heat helps to create a more 'crunchy' base and top. I had vacillated between baking them at 350 degrees (F), 375 degrees (F) and 400 degrees (F). After tasting them, I was so happy I trusted my instincts and went with the 400 degree (F) baking temperature. They came out perfect!

Allow the Blueberry Crumb Bars to cool completely before cutting them. They are actually easier to cut after they spend some time chilling in the refrigerator (at least four hours or up to overnight). 

I would say these Blueberry Crumb Bars are really good at room temperature, but they are GREAT chilled. So if you plan to make them for a picnic or next week's Fourth of July gathering, keep them well wrapped in a cooler. 

One of the best things about these Blueberry Crumb Bars is their versatility. They are great as an afternoon snack or dessert, but they are absolutely perfect for breakfast. Imagine starting one of your treasured summer days with a cup of coffee or tea and one of these heavenly Blueberry Crumb Bars. You may never want summer to come to an end. 

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Makes 24 two-inch squares

3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top of bars before baking)

4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Finely grated zest of one lemon
Juice from one fresh lemon
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1. Stir together the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl.

Crust and Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Prepare a 9"x13" baking pan with non-stick spray and parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt.
3. Pour dry ingredients into the bowl of a large food processor and add butter. Process until mixture looks crumbly.
4. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to the flour/butter mixture. Process until the dough starts to come together.
5. Press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan.
6. Pour the blueberry mixture over the dough layer.
7. Sprinkle the remaining one-third of dough over the top of the berries. Note: Squeeze small amounts of the dough as you sprinkled to create a bumpy textured finish to the bars.
8. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar over the top.
9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown and berries look thickened.
10. Place baking pan on a cooling rack. Let the bars cool completely in the pan. Cover and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
11. Remove the blueberry crumb bar slab from the pan. Cut into either squares or bars in desired size. 
12. Serve bars chilled. Store any uneaten bars covered in the refrigerator.

Notes: (1) If you don't want to make the full 9"x13" pan version, cut the recipe in half and use an 8"x8" baking pan. Baking time will be reduced to 30-35 minutes for this sized pan. (2) You can cut the bars after they have cooled to room temperature completely, but they are so much easier to cut after they have chilled.

Azaleas blooming in Little Compton, RI (June 2018)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

The towering stacks of unread and partially read books sitting on my nightstand are finally starting to dwindle down to less overwhelming piles. I wasn't much of a reader until my early twenties. Which may explain in part why I get as much enjoyment from reading a book as I do in holding it, tabbing the pages with passages I want to go back to, and keeping my place with a postcard bookmark. Yes, even in this digital age, I am a hardcover book holdout. I have tried downloading books before, however, the reading experience wasn't the same, at least it wasn't the same for me. The thought of lessening the weight in my carry-on travel bags hasn't been enough of an incentive to get me to abandon my affinity for hard cover books. Nor has waiting for a couple of days for a new book to arrive in the mail made my impatient self envious of those who get access to a book in a matter of minutes. 

Considering how many of my books are long past their 'should have already been read by now' due date, I have unilaterally imposed a conditional, temporary new book purchase moratorium. Which means if I discover a new book, one have a compelling theme or story, or learn one of my favorite authors releases a new book before I finish the books I already own, I will lift the book buying ban. But if a book doesn't meet either of those two standards, it goes on my Amazon wish list. A list that seems to have a taken on a life of its own. Thankfully there isn't a quota on the number of book titles one can save. Or if there is, I haven't hit it yet. 

Unlike books, bananas do have a shelf life. There was an excessive heat warning this past weekend, but when you have perfectly ripe bananas, turning on the oven on a brutally hot day isn't a deterrent. Throwing those ripe bananas away would have felt like I had committed a crime. There were three perfectly ripe bananas sitting in a bowl. Exactly the number I needed for this Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. Many of the recipes I post on the blog are slight adaptations to ones I have found, ones given to me by friends, or mash-ups of a multitude of recipes. Then there are some I can claim as my very own creations. Ones I can honestly say I have authored. It's a good day in the kitchen when the ingredients you put down on paper transform themselves into something so delicious, so close to (cake) perfection, you want to pinch yourself. I promise not to show you photographs of the bruises my body experienced in the making of this cake.

Cinnamon and cardamom, two of my favorite spice combinations, are one of things making this banana cake different than most others. I had tinkered with the idea of using only cinnamon, but my Swedish DNA wouldn't let me. Not this time anyway. 

The assembly of this cake follows along somewhat traditional cake making guidelines, but with a few caveats. Beginning with beating the butter and sugars together. If you allow at least 5 minutes of whipping time for the butter and sugars you will be rewarded with a light, fluffy, creamy mixture. One perfect the eggs to be added in one at a time. Instead of sifting the dry ingredients, they only need to be whisked together. The whisked dry ingredients and the milk are added in alternately (for a total of five additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture). The mashed bananas are not folded in until the very end. 

The result of, or I should say reward for following all of these steps will be a beautiful, thick cake batter. Based on the texture of the batter alone you know it's baked texture will be something to beholden.

Choosing the size and shape of the cake pan was a decision I didn't take lightly. I considered using a 9"x13" rectangular cake pan, a 10.5" springform pan, and a 10" traditional cake pan. All of these would work (with slight variations in baking times), but the 10" round one won out not for any good reason. Baking time for this sized pan was somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven. The color on the top of the baked cake was spectacular. 

With chocolate, peanut butter, mascarpone, buttercream, and cream cheese icings as possibilities for this spiced banana cake, there was yet another decision to be made. The cinnamon and cardamom actually helped to narrow it down from five to three. Had there not been any spice in this banana cake, there would have been five competing options. So why did I go with the cream cheese icing? Mostly because I do love its' flavor and texture, but partly because I had a healthy inventory of cream cheese in the refrigerator (the cream cheese someone thought would be put to best use in a cheesecake). But honestly, a mascarpone icing would be equally lovely on this spiced banana cake. So if you have a favorite recipe for it, go ahead and make it. Then, technically I suppose, you could claim this cake as one of your creations!

I got a little carried away decorating the cake. My initial vision was to ice the top, creating swirls with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula and topping with some fresh white flowers. And had my grocery store had some beautiful white peonies, I would have stayed with my first thought. But they didn't. So I went with Plan B: pastry bags and an assortment of pastry tubes. Depending on the 'look' you are going for when serving this cake, it can be finished simply or all gussied up. Ether way, this Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing will get everyone's attention when you bring it to the table. And if by chance it is sitting out with other cake options, everyone will be drawn to this one. 

This Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing is everything a great cake should be. It's flavorful, moist, has the most incredible crumb, the perfect sweetness offset by subtle spice, and a great frosting to cake ratio. And lastly, there is something irresistibly nostalgic about it. In other words, if you are a big fan of bananas, this is THE banana cake you want to make. If there was a county or state fair nearby, I would be entering this cake in it. I would use the blue ribbon as a book mark.

I would tell you this cake shouldn't just be eaten for dessert, but it could also be eaten for breakfast. For those of you who subscribe to the thinking 'if a cake is made with fruit' it qualifies as a breakfast food, you and I are kindred spirits. Who knows, we may even have read some of the same books! As a side note, here are some of my recent favorites: "The Great Alone" (Kristin Hannah); "A Gentleman in Moscow" (Amor Towles); "A Woman in the Window" (A.J. Finn); "Little Fires Everywhere" (Celeste Ng); "Before We Were Yours" (Lisa Wingate): "The Female Persuasion" (Meg Wolitzer)"Let Your Mind Run" (Deena Kastor); and "No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon" (Eric Weihenmayer)

Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
3 very ripe bananas (13-14 ounces in weight with skins on), peeled and mashed

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds confectionary sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Generous pinch of kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray a 10 inch round cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Alternately prepare a 9 inch x 13 inch cake pan or 10.5" springform pan. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 5-6 minutes).
3. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Mix in vanilla.
5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
6. Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, for a total of five additions. Mix until well blended.
7. Mix in mashed bananas.
8. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth top with an offset spatula.
9. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Note: Baking time for a cake make in a 9 inch x 13 inch  rectangular pan will have a shorter baking time. Begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
10. Remove cake from oven and set pan on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to rest in the pan for 10 minutes.
11. Invent the cake onto a cake stand and/or platter. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature before icing.

1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.
2. Beat in vanilla and kosher salt.
3. Initially on low speed beat in sifted confectionary sugar. Once the confectionary sugar is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium-high, beating icing until smooth and fluffy.
4. Spread a thin layer of icing over the top of the cooled cake. Using a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tips of your choice, pipe on remaining frosting. Alternately, spread icing evenly over the top and sides of cake, using an offset spatula or spoon to create a swirled effect on top of the cake.

Notes: (1) Instead of using both cinnamon and cardamom in this banana cake, can use only cinnamon. Increase cinnamon to one teaspoon. (2) Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled or remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving.

Little Compton, Rhode Island (June 2018)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies

Not every day is great, best ever, or outstanding. Some days are really, really good; some are just good enough;, some are not so good; and, some are downright bad. Just as in life, not every brownie is oh-my-god so crazy good; best-ever; mouthwatering; over the top; killer; drop the mic delicious; beyond amazing; or epic. Some of them are just okay; some leave us wondering why we even took a bite; some are overdone; some are underbaked; and, some are just not very good at all. So when we come upon a brownie encouraging us to plant our faces into the entire platter, we realize we have discovered brownie nirvana. And shortly after the first bite of what we consider a 'to-die-for' brownie, we start doing out best day ever happy dance. Who knew that simply indulging in rich, chocolately, fudgy brownies could shift how we perceive the day. These unicorn brownies are like magical 'makes everything better' bandaids. They can make a bad day good or turn a good day into a great one.

Last week I had one of those brownie inspired great days. And I am giving all the credit to these euphoria inducing Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies.

The day I discovered Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies, I thought I didn't need any other brownie recipe in my life. But then I made some Marbled Cheesecake Brownies and decided I could make room in my brownie loving life for another one. Mindy Segal's Chocolate Brittle Brownies (aka Barter Brownies) forced me to reconsider living a two brownie life. Then along came the Raspberry Truffle Brownies and Raspberry Brownies. Well, aren't chocolate and raspberries an almost irresistible flavor combination? With five brownie recipes already competing for my brownie loving attention, did I really need one more? Maybe it was my curiosity over the taste of sweetened condensed milk swirled through a brownie batter made with three kinds of chocolate that had me saying yes, yes, yes.

These Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies were either going to be an epic win or epic failure. There is no gray in my brownie world. In an effort to discount my personal bias, I decided to bring them to the Thursday night running group. My overly confident, tentative epic designation turned out to be validated by more than eight runners. Clearly I this used a highly scientific taste testing methodology for vetting these brownies! Based on both their feedback and my own personal high, persnickety brownie standards, I have decided to shift my favorite brownie recipe order of preference. Additionally, it would now be safe to say I have now reached my brownie recipe limit. 

Technically there are three kinds of chocolate in these brownies. Unsweetened cocoa powder and dark or bittersweet chocolate are combined with melted butter before being mixed into the lusicous batter. Dark or bittersweet chocolate chips add even more chocolate flavor and texture to the baked brownies. If you can, use a larger sized chocolate chip in these brownies (I like the Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips). Before assembling the batter, make the butter/chocolate mixture as it will need a little time to cool slightly.

The assembly technique is a bit different from all of my other favorite brownie recipes. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, the granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, kosher salt, instant espresso powder, and eggs are all beaten together until the batter is thick and fluffy. It will take at least eight minutes for the batter to achieve this consistency. After the butter/chocolate mixture is blended in, the flour is folded in (in three additions). Finally, the chocolate chips are hand mixed in. The brownie batter is much thicker than a cake batter but not as uber thick as I thought it might be. 

The idea for the addition of sweetened condensed milk to the brownies actually came from a Stella Parks brownie recipe. Although, originally I was going to make them using dulce de leche. Only I couldn't find the brand I wanted to use. In hindsight, I am glad I made these Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies using the sweetened condensed milk first. 

After dropping 12 large dollops of sweetened condensed milk on top of the brownie batter, I used a chopstick (you could also use a butter knife) to gently swirl it in. Some of the sweetened condensed milk will sink into the brownie batter (and you want that to happen). However, be careful not over swirl as you want some of the sweetened condensed milk to be visible on top of the brownies after they are baked.

In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, it will take somewhere between 45-50 minutes for these Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies to bake. When the edges of the pan begin to show some crackling and the center is set (not wobbly), the brownies are ready to be removed from the oven. Once cooled completely, they can be cut into squares or small bites. However, I would highly recommend you place the cooled brownies in the refrigerator to allow them to chill. Not only are they easier to cut, their texture and flavor increases exponentially. 

Some of the sweetened condensed milk will pool into the middle and bottom of the brownie. The taste of the creaminess of the sweetened condensed milk inside the dense, fudgy brownie texture is what makes these brownies so dangerously delicious. 

I tasted these brownies cooled to room temperature and chilled. It took all of my restraint and then some not to eat them warm right out of the pan. Honestly, I think they are at their bestest after being chilled. But I wouldn't refuse to eat one at room temperature.

As with any baked good, we all have our own definition of what makes something epic. Particularly when it comes to brownies. Case in point. My sister and I are perfect examples of two people who share the same DNA, yet who sometimes have very different opinions on cookies, cakes, candies, and, of course, brownies. In spite of not seeing whether or not she agreed with me about these brownies, I am still confident your level of brownie fussiness will permanently change after you take a bite of these. Whether you throw out all of your other brownie recipes or rearrange their order from bestest to goodest, you will want these brownies in your life. Especially if want to turn a bad day into a good day or a good day into a great one!

Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies

8 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa), chopped
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (52 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso
4 large eggs, cold from the refrigerator
1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 1/2 ounces) semi-sweet or bittersweet (60% cocao) chocolate chips 
1/2 to 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (approximately a half can of sweetened condensed milk)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9" inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized pan, melt the butter completely. Reduce heat to low and add in the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, instant espresso, and eggs. Beat until thick and fluffy (approximately 8 minutes).
4. Reduce speed to low and pour in slightly cooled, but still warm chocolate mixture. Mix until no chocolate streaks remain.
5. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture in three additions until well combined.
6. Mix in the chocolate chips.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
8. Dollop 9-12 Tablespoons of the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the batter. Using a chop stick or knife, create swirls by dragging the milk through the batter.
9. Bake the brownies for 45-50 minutes or just until center has set. Note: The center will not be as firm as the sides of the brownies. 
10. Let brownies cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into even squares. Highly recommend chilling the brownies before cutting and serving so they are at their fudgiest!
11. You can serve these brownies at room temperature, but they are at their epic best chilled.
12. Store brownies covered in the refrigerator.

Notes: (1) Instead of using sweetened condensed milk could also use Dulce de Leche and/or peanut butter. (2) I used Trader Joe's unsweetened cocoa powder. (3) I used the Ghiradelli bittersweet (60% cocao) chocolate chips. They are a slightly larger sized chocolate chip.

A harbor in Newport, Rhode Island on a gray day and a blue sky day. (June 2018)