Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Spring!

Hi there, friends!

Just a quick note to say, Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Sunshine! (Can you tell I'm feeling happy right now?!)

Kate and I have been busy, but more posts will be coming soon. For now, I just wanted to share some photos of some Easter cookies I made this year. We first posted the recipe for Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies on Easter Sunday of 2011. Much has changed in the two years since then - the Music Man and I got married, we all moved into new apartments, and exciting new things have taken place in the greater world beyond.

But much has also stayed the same - Kate and I still love to bake, the Music Man still loves to eat what we bake, and at the end of a tough day when I need a little pick-me up, I always know that I can find it in flour, butter, and sugar.

And I'm grateful that spring is here - it's a time to take a deep breath of fresh air. It's a time of renewal and rejuvenation. And it's a time of sunshine and blue skies! If that doesn't get you going, what will?

I was feeling so rejuvenated by the sunshine this weekend that I made not one, but three batches of these Easter lemon sugar cookies to celebrate the season and share with friends. They turned out mighty cute, if I do say so myself. :-)

Happy Spring, everyone!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bailey's Brownies

Bailey's Brownies

Hey y'all,

It's been ten months since I last posted here. Ten months! And my post before that one was a full year ago. Whaaaat?!

It's not that I haven't been baking during all that time, or that I haven't thought about you readers a lot, it's that life got a little crazy for a while. Becky and MusicMan got married. That was kind of a big deal. I moved into my own apartment. Also a big deal. Becky and I took over co-direction of a dance company. Big deal. I acquired some books at work, became chair of a board, and joined a leadership program. All big deals. Becky, Music Man, and I turned 30. Big deal x 3.

And I baked these Bailey's Brownies.

Okay, so maybe that last one doesn't seem like a big deal compared to all those other things, but stay with me: These are possibly the best brownies I've ever made in my entire life.

Yeah. Totally a big deal.

It's no surprise I liked these brownies so much--Bailey's is one of my great passions in life. But the fact that they turned out so well was a bit unexpected, because rather than follow someone else's recipe, I improvised one of my own--I riffed off the Classic Brownies recipe from way back when, which is still my go-to brownie recipe after all this time.

Not that adding a couple tablespoons of Bailey's and tweaking a couple things is all that risky...but I'm proud that following my intuition yielded such great results.

It makes me wonder...if trusting that I've got the base recipe down and then tossing in what I'm passionate about made the most satisfying brownies ever, what could that approach do for the rest of my life? Are the best moments of my life still to come?

Realizing that is a pretty big deal.

Cheers, y'all.

Bailey's Brownies
Adapted from Classic Brownies
Makes 12-20 brownies depending on how large you cut them

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2-oz (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

2. In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter, espresso (if using), and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, Bailey's, and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips, then pour brownie batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake 35-40 minutes, until brownies are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, not batter, attached.

5. Cool in the pan on a wire rack completely. Lift brownies out by foil onto a cutting board and cut into squares.