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  • My Favorite Brownie Recipe

    Brownies

    This brownie recipe has become my favorite brownie of all time because it’s easy to make and has the most incredible texture. I bake it in my toaster oven, and the top becomes a thin, crunchy layer that gives way to chewy brownie underneath. Best of all, there’s healthier ingredients like whole wheat flour and sucanat, but still, it’s a brownie so you can’t go overboard. The only thing I don’t recommend this brownie for is bake sales, since you’re only using an 11×7 pan so the yield is fairly small … which is a good thing if you’re going for portion control, LOL!

    CFO’s Favorite Brownie
    adapted from Spoonful.com

    4 tablespoons butter
    2 ounces (about 2 tablespoons) responsibly sourced semi-sweet chocolate chips*
    1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
    1/3 cup fair trade Dutch-process cocoa powder*
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup sucanat
    1/2 cup organic sugar
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 11×7 baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

    2. Combine the butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, or until the butter and chocolate have melted enough that you can stir them into a smooth liquid.

    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

    4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sucanat and sugar until thickened, about five minutes. Mix in the chocolate mixture, oil, and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl once to make sure everything is mixed well.

    5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

    **The chocolate doesn’t have to be responsibly sourced, but read this Baby Toolkit post to find out why it should be. I was very happy to find bags of responsibly-sourced chocolate chips at Costco!

    Recipe: My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

    The first time I made the chocolate cookie recipe in Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, I followed it exactly. It was good, and surprisingly easy. But not easy enough. I’ve since adapted the recipe to make it even easier (no chopping chocolate), but my favorite tip is to mix up multiple batches of the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) and store then in sandwich-size baggies in my cabinet. With that done, I can be eating a warm chocolate chip cookie approximately 45 minutes from start to finish!

    Chief Family Officer’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
    Chocolate Chip Cookies from Chief Family Officer

    1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 cup white whole wheat flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 cups responsibly-sourced chocolate chips
    2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1 cup packed dark brown sugar (or 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup sucanat)
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk or fork until well-mixed. Set aside.

    3. In a large mixing bowl, beat one stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the other stick of butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Mix until the vanilla is incorporated.

    4. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and mix just until the chips are distributed.

    5. Form dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place 12 balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until tops are no longer shiny.

    Note: I like to refrigerate the dough until thoroughly chilled, then form the dough into balls. I put the dough balls on a lined baking sheet and freeze until hard, then transfer the balls to a zip-top freezer bag. Although Ad Hoc says to thaw the dough in the fridge before baking, I bake the frozen dough 360 degrees (my oven knob is between 350 and 375 degrees). The cookies are beautifully puffy, and crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Baked cookies freeze well too!

    Recipe: Overnight Caramel French Toast

    The wonderful thing about this decadent breakfast is that you can get everything ready the night before, and then just bake it the next morning. Add a little powdered sugar, some breakfast sausage, fruit, juice and coffee, and you have a guest-worthy feast.

    Overnight Caramel French Toast
    Adapted from this Food Network recipe

    Overnight Caramel French Toast from @cfoblog

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1 loaf of Challah or egg bread, cut into 1-inch slices (no heels)
    5 large eggs, lightly beaten
    3/4 cup half and half
    3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    zest of 1 small orange
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar, stirring frequently until the sugar has melted and a smooth liquid has formed. Pour the caramel into a 13×9 baking dish.

    2. Cut the crust off the bread slices and arranged them in one layer over the caramel sauce, squeezing to fit them in as necessary. (The whole caramel layer should be covered.

    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, orange zest, and salt until combined well. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours and up to one day.

    4. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. Serve hot or warm.

    Note: You should never put a cold baking dish in a hot oven because the sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack. I share this technique, with the caveat that I can’t guarantee its safety: Remove the plastic wrap and place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. My theory is that the glass warms as the oven warms, but I won’t be responsible for any messes in your oven – only mine!

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    Basic Butter Cake

    This recipe is adapted from the May 2003 issue of Health magazine (I can’t find the original recipe on their site, though). I hadn’t made it in a long time but found it when I was transitioning my paper recipes to Pinterest (where I’ve pinned over 450 recipes now!). This is the recipe promised in the C&H Light review.

    Basic Butter Cake

    Butter Cake

    nonstick baking spray (not cooking spray; baking spray contains flour and works better with baked goods)
    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup whole milk
    1 teaspoon powdered sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper and generously coat the bottom and sides with baking spray.

    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after addition. Add vanilla.

    3. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt with a fork or whisk until well-mixed. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, scraping and mixing until just combined.

    4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then remove from the pan.

    The cake is a nice afternoon accompaniment to a cup of coffee, but is a little plain by itself. I recommend sprucing it up with whipped cream and berries for dessert.

    Super Easy Apple Tarte Tatin

    I love this recipe because it’s so easy to make, and requires so few ingredients, yet it’s delicious and impressive. I really like the puff pastry from Trader Joe’s, which has a pretty minimal ingredient list and no trans fats.

    Easy Apple Tarte Tatin

    Apple Tarte Tatin from @cfoblog

    6 large Gala apples
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    pinch of salt
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

    1. Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into 8 wedges, and toss with the lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl.

    2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 10-inch oven proof skillet (preferably nonstick), melt the butter over medium-high heat.

    3. Add the sugar to the butter and stir until the sugar start to melt. Remove the skillet from heat and place apple wedges in the pan rounded side down, in a circular pattern. Fill the middle with apple wedges rounded side down. Add the remaining apples to the skillet, rounded side up. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

    4. Roll out the puff pastry and place over the apples to cover. Tuck corners under and make 3 slits in the middle to release steam. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

    5. Using an oven mitt, remove the skillet from the oven and let cool on stove top for 15 minutes. Cover with a plate and invert the tart onto the plate to serve. (You might want to do this over the sink in case any of the liquid falls out during the flipping process  – yes, I’m speaking from experience.) Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.


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