March 23, 2010

Thank you Heather: these brownie buttons are for you

The other day I finished my shift at school and when I entered the office the director told me there was a wedding gift for me from Heather Gatti, the President of the Board of Directors of the school. On a chair, there was a huge package wrapped up with beautiful dish towels, a red silky ribbon and a few miniature kitchen tools. I was so excited! Once I opened, I went from excited to esthatic. There were two baking pans (one for mini muffins that I always wanted but was still in my wish list), measuring cups and spoons from Sur La Table and duh duh duh duh....THE most amazing book I could have ever received: Dorie Greenspan's "Baking. From My Home to Yours". OMG! In that moment I didn't know whether to faint for the emotion or to go home and start baking. Of course, I chose the second option :-)

Once I got home, I really didn't know which recipe to choose first. They are all soooo! I want to try them all and I will. In the meantime, these were part of my Thank You note (I kept only a couple for me too....well, I have to try all my recipes, right? :) )

So, THANK YOU Heather!

Brownie Buttons

Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
For the Glaze (optional)
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet.

If you’re using the orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend; set aside. Whisk together the flour and salt.

Melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.

Stir in the vanilla, egg and the zest, if you’re using it, into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.

Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup three-quarters full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

To Make the Optional Glaze (not so optional in my opinion!):

Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly and don’t leave the chocolate for even a minute- white chocolate scorches easily. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, remove from the heat.

One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the center of each one and the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Refrigerate the buttons for 15 minutes to set the glaze.

Playing Around:
Substitute lemon zest for the orange, or try and equal amount of very finely chopped ginger instead of the zest.

Makes 16 cookies.

Serving: serve these with milk, coffee or even sniffers of single-malt scotch
Storing: covered, these will keep at room temperature overnight. If you wrap them air-tight you can freeze them for up to 2 months, glazed or not.

Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking. From My Home to Yours.

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