By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
Last night my two fun-loving, double trouble Brittanys--Simon and Seth--joined me while we watched the film Marley & Me. It's a movie for authors, serious dog lovers, and dogs. Yes, I cried (again). (Read: One of my former canine companions was a Yellow Labrador. And losing a dog pal is one of the most difficult challenges to face in real life.) After the film, I got images of feel-good chocolate brownies to bake today. But I was fantasizing about giving these childhood favorites a different spin with a sophisticated Mediterranean touch. I was thinking dark chocolate, European-style butter, orange olive oil, and hazlenuts. I was imagining small cupcakes not big squares to keep with my "moderation" mantra. And yep, I just finished creating, baking, and eating one. I lied. (I ate two...froze the rest)...
California/Mediterranean Brownie Cupcakes
1 box of Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
1/3 cup water (I added 2 tablespoons because I live in the Sierras)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour because it's my choice of flour)
1 brown egg
2 tablespoons European-style butter
2-3 tablespoons orange extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup hazelnuts
Mix water, oil, butter, and egg in a bowl. Add brownie mix and stir till creamy. Drop brownie mixture into cupcake tins (I used foil ones which are doable; I suggest a nonstick cupcake pan). Top with nuts. Bake at about 325 to 350 degrees (it's higher for me because of my rustic but charming oven) for about 40 minutes. Cool. Dust with Confectioners' Sugar. Freeze to avoid eating more than two.
Note: I used a popular brand (Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix) and made adaptions for my own taste. Keep in mind, there are a lot of dark chocolate brownie mixes (from natural to organic) available both at the grocery store and online. You can make it from scratch, too. But as one who loves to take shortcuts with a health punch, and a San Francisco girl at heart, I am smiling with the end results.
The chocolately aroma lingers in the house. I am purchasing a nonstick cupcake pan--asap and sifter for sugar. (So many kitchen gadgets to get, so little time.) I turned 'em out on a white dish, dusted the cupcakes with the white, pretty sugar, and added fresh orange slices for garnish. (I wanted my brownie cupcakes to look like the photo above--and they do almost.) The texture of the cupcakes are rich, chewy, moist, and the note of orange flavor came through just enough to give me a that California/Mediterranean flair I was craving. The nuts added that oomph of crunch and the confectioners' sugar was a sweet addition.
These mountain-style brownies with white powdered sugar are a bittersweet reminder of the second storm of the season we have coming in on Tuesday. But snow may not hit Lake Level. If it does, a fire, curling up with Simon and Seth (and Kerouac, my black cat) and munching on a brownie cupcake teamed with a cup of hot chamomile tea will get me and my outdoorsy pooches through the rainy spell.