Monday, February 09, 2015

Extreme Brownies: 50 Recipes For the Most Over the Top Treats Ever by Connie Weis

On cold blustery days I like nothing better than firing up the oven and baking.  It warms up the house a bit, I feel productive, and the benefit is wonderful baked goods for family and friends. Especially with Valentine's Day coming, it's a great time to consider making special treats. There could be nothing more delightful than a plate of brownies from any of the fifty different recipes in the book Extreme Brownies by Connie Weis.  Connie is a local pastry chef and many of you may already have been lucky enough to have sampled her wonderful brownies that she sells through her business, Brownies & S'more, at Old Beach Farmer’s Market.  Now you can make these popular beauties right at home.

For years she has worked diligently to perfect her batches of luscious brownies. Weis believes that if you are going to indulge in a sweet treat, that it must be calorie worthy.  I don't know Connie personally but in Extreme Brownies: 50 Recipes for the Most Over the Top Treats Ever she really shows her generous nature with her willingness to share her recipes for the much coveted sweets.  As a home baker I have similar standards.  I want to know the recipes, when perusing cookbooks that might look wonderful, are worthy of my hard earned dollars.  Thanks to Weis' book, not only does she share her recipes but gives such complete, detailed instruction and advice that even a novice baker can feel confident about the end result.

Connie's advice starts with ingredients or types of products to use for best flavor results, equipment, mixing steps and baking tips as well as tips for cooling, slicing and storing the brownies and blondies.  She has some great advice about packaging them.  She suggests sending any brownies through the mail on a Monday so, no matter which mailing service you are using things don't languish over a weekend before being delivered.  I feel that this tip comes in handy particularly in our military area since many family members and friends may be far away.  It's an added bonus to know your brownies will arrive promptly and are fresh.

I was taken with the Peanut Butter Cup Brownies after watching the clip of Connie on the Today Show.  Watching Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford attempt to make the brownies was a hoot.  Also, my family happens to love peanut butter cups.  As Connie suggests, I always begin by reading through a recipe, copying it down and making a grocery list so I have everything I need before I get started.  I followed her advice of using only good ingredients for testing purposes.   Peanut Butter Cup Brownies contain three different types of chocolate and the peanut butter cups.  I got right to the recipe after purchasing the peanut butter cups so they wouldn't disappear from the kitchen.  

The recipe was well laid out, and may have seemed a bit fussy but the steps were necessary and easy to follow. I also liked her pan prep section.  The technique on how to line the pan with foil made the brownies easy to remove from the pan.  The cooling process took 7-8 hours in the fridge to insure ease of cutting.  I varied here from the suggestion of cutting with a knife, to be cleaned after each pass and used a bench scraper instead with a vertical motion to make precise even cuts. I also cut mine in smaller portions to let more folks at work try them.  They were as promised, dense, chewy and full of chocolate flavor and were a big hit with my co-workers.
 I purchased supplies to make the Caramel Stuffed Sea Salt Brownies that are also a favorite of the customers of Brownies & S'More. I was also impressed by the rich darkness of the Oreo Cookie Extreme Brownie so the jury is still out on which one I will try next. 

The Oreo Cookie brownies won!  Happy Valentine's Day!

I do admire Ina Garten's presentation of the Skillet Brownie in her latest book Make it Ahead. It was baked in a tiny cast iron skillet and had a generous dollop of good quality vanilla ice cream served on the top of the warm brownie.  If you like a more cake-like brownie or having them warm from the oven then Ina Garten's book might be for you.

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