Red Velvet Buttermilk Brownies with Chocolate Chunks

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Diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend. They are said to put a twinkle in any girl’s eye.

Perhaps that is true for most, but not for me they’re not. Cold stones do nothing for me. Sure they might be pretty and shiny but that’s all it is good for – sparkle. Pfft.

Give me brownies over bling any time of the day. Brownies. Oh how they make my heart flutter. I’ve been baking brownies since I started this blog and every time I bite into a warm piece, I feel that all is right in the world.

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Brownies, especially fudgey ones, are very uplifting. The same way a mother bakes cookies and serves it with milk to their children, the way a brownie crumbles in my mouth after going past my lips is absolutely comforting and ethereal. A good rocking brownie can turn any dull day bright.

I’m constantly trying to find a brownie that I can live with for the rest of my life. I’ve come close, but the search continues. My next venture is to try new fangled brownies.

Last Sunday I started with Red Velvet Buttermilk Brownies. My itchy fingers swapped the white sugar for dark brown sugar, and I added chocolate chunks. I also halved the sugar and red colouring. Because I didn’t use the frosting, I should not have reduced the sugar. But my chocolate chunks balanced it off pretty well. Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chunks are pretty sweet anyway so the balance was there.

Texture-wise, I felt these were rather fudgey. I expected moist crumbs since I was using buttermilk. Perhaps I did something wrong. These were not my favourite brownies, but they were rather novel. Mahogany-hued, and rich, they were just what I needed on a Sunday afternoon.

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What respite it brings me, carrying out pans of baked goods like brownies out of the oven on a perfectly relaxing day. I really wouldn’t mind doing it for a living. It’s been my dream for a long long while.

My zest for whipping up more glorious bakes has amplified. My mind (and hands) is itching to do something about it. I want to do a project. Something is up my sleeves I’m telling you that. You will know in due time.

Meanwhile, have a brownie instead of a diamond today 😉

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Red Velvet Buttermilk Brownies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ounce bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons)

(*My modifications: 1tbsp red food colouring and 1cup dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chunks)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water. Bring mixture just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add the cocoa mixture to flour mixture; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and red food coloring. Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake about 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Posted on 11th Mar 2014 in baking, brownies, cakes, cocoa  |  6 comments

Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies

How big a chocolate fan are you?

If you love chocolate as much as I do, then I’m sure you would have thought about how pure chocolate tastes like. When I mean pure, I mean straight from the source. You know, the cocoa beans from the glorious cocoa fruit.

The last time I saw a real cocoa fruit was eons ago. I was at a zoo or a park and they had actual cocoa fruits. The guide opened one up and boy oh boy, you can really smell the euphoric scent. Well it’s pure euphoria to me of course, because I love chocolate.

So imagine my excitement when I got a box of unopened Scharffen Berger cocoa nibs from my boss. She thought I would probably put it to good use in my baked goods. So that’s what I did! At the risk of sounding totally nuts, I’d say that it’s the first time I’ve ever seen and used pure cocoa nibs and that box was like pure gold to me.

Okay, yes I like to exaggerate, so sue me 😀

But seriously, I’ve only ever tasted cocoa nibs in chocolate bars. It was really cool to actually have actual cocoa nibs to play with. So I got down to googling recipes that used cocoa nibs. There were a few, and most of them involved nuts, and cookies. That was perfect because I love nuts. I mean, how can a nutty person like me not love nuts? But that’s another story.

In the end, I decided to use this Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies recipe from Tartelette.

I was rather delighted to be finally baking again after so long. I’m sure you’ve noticed how my recent posts never have any new recipes or baking endeavours. No, it’s not that I’ve lost my baking ‘touch’. haha, god no, I will always love baking. I’ve just been too busy. And I need a new oven! It’s tiring to keep going to my aunt’s place when I want to bake. I’m going to save up and try to get a decent oven soon. As much as I treasure my Dad’s trusty Moulinex oven, I know I can make do with a bigger better one.

And so, back to my cookies! Yes yes, baked using my aunt’s excellent Brandt oven. They turned out great – loved the taste but I think it was a bit too crumbly. Too much butter perhaps?

Nonetheless, they’re great when eaten with coffee or tea in the morning

It is really intriguing how the taste from the cocoa nibs actually matches the nutty undertones of the pistachios. At first bite, I only noticed the crunchiness but as I ate more, I realised that the light bitter notes of the cocoa nibs actually balances out perfectly.

That said, all this reminds me of how baking is really a science and how fun it can be when you play around with new ingredients and learn how it works. And that Eureka moment that comes along when you marry two or three or four ingredients together and it actually works! That’s pure bliss. Yes, these are words spoken from a person who truly loves to bake and has an equal passion for consuming baked goods.

MMmmm…

Now these rock. Time to find other delicious cocoa nibs recipes. I still have some left. Or if you have a great recipe, do email or leave a comment!

By the way, Happy Lunar New Year to you all!

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Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies

1 cup raw skinned pistachios, finely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tb. Cognac

Combine the butter and sugar, in bowl of electric mixer and beat on high speed until smooth and creamy (1 minute). Add the vanilla and Cognac. Beat in the pistachios and cocoa nibs. Add all the flour at once. Beat on low speed until flour is incorporated.
Form dough into 12-inch log about 2 inches thick. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. At this point you can freeze the log for up to 3 months.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Let cookies firm up on the pans for about 1 minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Try to save some for the day after, they taste even better 24 hours later. The cookies can be stored in airtight container for at least 1 month.

Makes about 2 dozens

Posted on 8th Feb 2008 in cocoa, cookies, nibs  |  12 comments

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