When Sourdough Surprises announced that this month’s challenge would be sourdough brownies, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I had been thinking lately about trying a Buckeye Brownie and conveniently I was now being told that I had to make brownies for the challenge! I had already made plain sourdough brownies from the recommended recipe, and while they were good, I wanted to try something different. I had been reading through Joy the Baker’s blog recently and was attracted to her Peanut Butter Ball Cookies, but I had been thinking I would like them better as a brownie than a cookie. Hence, these Buckeye Brownies.
Buckeye Candies are a Midwestern treat and are basically peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar mixed together, rolled in a ball and dipped halfway in chocolate. They are certainly delicious on their own. However, they are also delicious when submerged in a brownie! To make these brownies, I modified and whipped up a half recipe of a really delicious Vegan brownies using my white 100% hydration sourdough starter discard straight from the fridge. When the brownies were fresh out of the oven, I gently pushed 16 previously made peanut butter balls from Joy’s cookie recipe into the surface of the brownie. I let them cool to room temperature and then refrigerated the whole pan for about an hour. When the brownies were thoroughly chilled, I spread a little circle of melted chocolate on top of each peanut butter ball. I let it set up and then cut the brownies into squares.
For a chocolate and peanut butter fan, these brownies are heaven. A cookie and candy all at once! The sourdough flavor is actually pretty noticeable in the brownies and it complements the dessert nicely. I suspect the sourdough flavor comes through better because I didn’t use butter or eggs, but that’s just a guess. I also like these brownies because the way they look makes me smile!
¾ cup sugar (use 1 cup if you’re not adding the candy on top)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. extra dark cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
½ tsp. espresso powder (optional)
½ cup 100% hydration sourdough starter
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
Mix together the peanut butter, 6 Tbsp. of softened butter and the powdered sugar to make a stiff dough. You may need to use your hands to knead the mixture together.
Roll the peanut butter mixture into 16 large balls and set them aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line an 8×8 baking pan with foil and spray with baking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powders, baking powder and salt. Dissolve the espresso powder in the water. Add the espresso water, starter, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes n the preheated oven. The top should be just set and no longer shiny.
Set the pan on a rack and let it cool for 5 minutes. Press the peanut butter balls into the top of the brownies in a 4×4 grid.
Allow the brownies to cool completely and then chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Melt the tsp of butter and the ½ cup of chopped chocolate together in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until the mixture is just melted and combined.
Using a small spoon, spread a circle of melted chocolate on top of each peanut butter ball.
Allow the chocolate to set up before cutting the brownies.
The buckeyes are pretty big so these are very decadent brownies. You can certainly divide the peanut butter mixture into more smaller balls and either eat the extras alone or double the brownie batter and bake it in a 9×13 pan for more brownies. If you want to make this whole recipe Vegan, use a Vegan margarine in place of the butter and be sure to buy a Vegan chocolate.
The We Should Cocoa challenge, managed by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot, is a great excuse to make a chocolate treat once a month and be a bit creative about it. May’s challenge is hosted by Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen and the special ingredient is mango. Shaheen admits that she is not a huge lover of chocolate. I have the opposite problem, I am not a huge lover of mango! However, my sweetie loves mango as well as chocolate so I had to give it a try!
I really enjoy making chocolate candies, so I decided on a simple buttercream filled chocolate heart candy. I flavored the buttercream by using powdered freeze-dried mango in place of some of the confectioner’s sugar and it worked very well. The flavor really matured by the next day and the mango flavor was a pleasant combination with the chocolate.
I also used a new (to me) technique for tempering chocolate in the food processor and I was very pleased with the results! This was far easier than any other home tempering method I have tried. I didn’t get it perfect, there are a few streaks of bloom, but overall the chocolate is firmer and shinier than I have been able to achieve before. I will definitely be trying this method again.
½ cup freeze dried mangoes, processed until powdered (1/4 cup powder)
1 – 2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream or non-dairy creamer
1 drop orange food coloring gel (optional)
For the coating:
1 lb couverture grade chocolate, tempered
To make the buttercream, cream together the butter/margarine, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a small mixing bowl.
Place the powdered mangoes in a ¼ cup measuring cup. Fill up any remaining space in the measuring cup with sifted confectioner’s sugar. Add this and an additional 1¼ cups of confectioner’s sugar to the creamed mixture.
Mix the ingredients together with a spoon as well as possible, then use your hands to gather the mixture together and knead it until it is smooth and malleable.
With a fork, whip in 1 to 2 Tbsp. of heavy whipping cream or non-dairy creamer and the food coloring (if using) until the buttercream is the desired texture. It should be similar to a very thick frosting. The texture of the buttercream at this stage is exactly how it will remain in the filled chocolate, so adjust it as necessary to your liking.
Cover the buttercream with plastic wrap until ready to use. It will keep for a day or two at room temperature.
Temper the coating chocolate using your favorite tempering method. Coat the wells of a chocolate mould with some of the chocolate, tapping to release air bubbles, and then allow it to set for 3-5 minutes.
Place the buttercream in a piping bag and pipe a small amount into each chocolate shell being careful not to overfill it.
Spoon some more chocolate on top of the filling and tap the mould gently to settle the chocolate and release any air bubbles. Use an offset spatula to gently scrape away any excess chocolate from the top of the mould.
Allow the chocolate to set up completely before releasing the chocolates from the mould. Using a paring knife, trim away any unwanted edge bits.
I don’t know about you, but I was a little disappointed recently when Starbucks changed their baked goods selection with the acquisition of La Boulange bakery. Nothing against patisseries, but I really prefer a nice quick bread or cookie or loaf cake with my drink than a croissant. One of my favorite baked goods that disappeared recently was the chocolate cinnamon bread. It was a fine crumbed, dark chocolate pound cake type loaf with a hint of cinnamon in the cake and a lovely crunchy and sparkly cinnamon and spiced sugar crust. Originally a holiday item, it was popular enough that my local Starbucks carried it regularly until the bakery switchover.
When I searched for a similar recipe online, I was delighted to come across the recipe on the Starbucks website. The recipe makes two very large loaves and I very nearly halved it. I’m glad I didn’t, because the loaf is fantastic. It’s just as good as I remembered, perhaps even better because it was fresher. I think I will slice it up and freeze individual slices so I can take them to Starbucks myself to enjoy with a drink the next time I go. I didn’t change the recipe at all, but I’m going to include it here anyway just in case Starbucks decides that they have to remove it from their website as well as from the store.
Just one note – I wasn’t expecting the sugar topping to crackle the way it did, so don’t be surprised. It slices just fine and any little bits that flake off are a cook’s treat!
Fine crumbed dark chocolate pound cake with hints of cinnamon covered with a crunchy spiced sugar topping.
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups flour
1¼ cup dutch processed cocoa
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
Cocoa Spice Topping
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp dutch processed cocoa
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
¼ cup sparkling decorator sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans with parchment paper.
Mix the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, water and vanilla.
With the mixer on low, begin adding the contents of each bowl (starting and ending with the wet ingredients) to the butter mixture, alternating between the two until the mixture is fully blended but not overly whipped.
Split the batter between the two loaf pans. If the batter is uneven, lightly shake the pan to even out the top.
Make the topping by combining the granulated sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ginger and cloves. Evenly layer the decorating sugar over the batter, followed by the spice mixture.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The sugar topping may crack, so don’t be alarmed.
Let the bread cool in the pans on a wire rack. Gently lift the loaves out of the pans using the parchment paper.
I finally finished my homework! It’s only 3 or 4 years overdue. This little hummingbird is pattern from the (soon to be extinct) QuiltUniversity.com class Upside-down Applique by Susan Brittingham. I never got around to doing it when I was actually taking the class, but a recent round robin project involving flowers and hummingbirds was the right chance to finally make this block. I was able to use a hand-painted sky background that I made years ago as well. I did wonder whether hummingbirds came out that early, and then I saw one just the other day feeding on my honeysuckle plant early in the morning. Good timing!
Upside-down applique is a great technique to use with sheers and whenever you want a quick machine applique but don’t want the weight of a fusible changing the hand of the fabric. It’s a pretty easy technique. Trace the design on stabilizer, make a note of what order to put the pieces down and pin the stabilizer to the back of the fabric. Place a piece of fabric large enough to cover the element you’re appliqueing on the top of the fabric, turn the whole thing over, and stitch on the lines from the back through the stabilizer, the background and the piece you’re stitching down. Turn it over and trim the appliqued fabric as close as you can to the stitching line. Then go over the edges with a small zig-zag stitch. Repeat until all the elements of your applique are sewn down. Other than changing out the thread colors a lot, this is a really quick technique. I finished this little bird in just over an hour.