Waking up this morning was like Christmas – you know that second when you remember it’s Christmas and your heart starts to skip a little with excitement? That was me upon realizing I hadn’t checked my email in at least 8 hours. I’m sure this has been my giddiest weekend since getting to go see Gowan at Calaway Park, even though it poured rain and Todd didn’t show up. I have to start giving stuff away more often. (Perhaps I’ll instigate Free Stuff Fridays? What are the chances of another FedEx guy showing up at my door with more kitchen bling?)
Instead of working on one of my many near-due (or overdue) assignments or prepping for a class or event (I have a hellish week coming up) or spending quality time with W, I went back and forth between reading comments (I will never tire of hearing what other people make for dinner) and building a social network that anyone can join. (Please don’t feel obliged, but I wanted to accommodate those who have been asking for one. Particularly Pat, who I’m so proud of for losing 106 pounds to date!) It’s connected to my other, far more neglected weblog, It Must Have Been Something I Ate, which is meant to focus more on healthier cooking/weight loss issues. So although it’s still a work in progress, it’s officially up and running. Here it is.
I decided to forgo cooking tonight and instead brought W to my sister’s for roast lamb. She picked up a frozen leg pre-rubbed with garlic and rosemary from the Superstore, which was pretty damn yummy, and pulled wee, stumpy carrots from the garden and glazed them, unpeeled, with butter and apple jelly my niece and I made that didn’t quite set. I did make a few varieties of Christmas cookie for an article I’m working on though, so I contributed some Turtle Bars and Fruitcake Brownies to the meal. And some Tim Horton’s coffees – so really, the most important part.
When I first heard about the potential marriage of fruitcake and brownies, I was far from convinced it was a good idea; I love both, but felt that one shouldn’t interfere with the other. It turns out they are great together: both rich, dense and moist, and combining the two takes care of your chocolate fix while saving the time and expense of baking large batches of fruitcake.
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup orange juice (or rum or brandy for grown-ups)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp. water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
In a large bowl or container, combine the cranberries, raisins and rum, and let soak for at least a couple of hours, or overnight. When you’re ready to bake, drain them well and preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, egg whites, vanilla and coffee and stir until thoroughly blended and smooth.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and stir by hand just until almost blended; add the soaked fruit and nuts and stir gently just until combined.
Spread the batter in an 8? x 8? pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, but center is still slightly soft. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 16 brownies.
Per brownie: 170 calories, 5 g fat (2.1 g saturated fat, 1.4 g monounsaturated fat, 1.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 28.6 g carbohydrates, 21.2 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 2.3 g fiber. 26% calories from fat
Turtle bars are much like the chocolates – rich confections full of caramel, pecans and chocolate, but in this case atop a chocolate shortbread base. Although these are lower in fat than most Turtle Bar recipes they are by no means low fat; but you can take some comfort in the fact that most of the fat is heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fat.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add flour, cocoa and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.
Press into the bottom of an 8” x 8” pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Don’t worry if the surface cracks.
In the same bowl (no need to wash it), stir together the brown sugar and flour. (Stirring the flour and sugar together first gets rid of any lumps in the flour.) Add the eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth.
Spread the pecans and chocolate chips evenly over the crust and pour the filling over top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 12 bars.
Per bar: 305 calories, 12.6 g fat (4.8 g saturated fat, 5.9 g monounsaturated fat, 2.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 44.2 g carbohydrates, 47 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g protein, 1.9 g fiber. 39% calories from fat