Friday, February 28, 2014

Billy Joel and Brownies

My husband is a huge Billy Joel fan. He has been to now four Billy Joel concerts, including the Billy Joel and Elton John concert, which quite frankly, makes me a little jealous. So when I heard that he was on tour again and coming to our hometown, I knew we would be going! We were lucky enough to get tickets to the concert for Christmas, and headed up to Pittsburgh this past weekend to see the concert with my sister and brother-in-law. Now, I am nowhere near as big of a fan as my husband, but I definitely know and like his music. I must say that this concert was excellent. He sounded great and even added in some humor. My favorite part was during "Piano Man" when I swear every person in the stadium was singing. It was really like no "audience now you sing the song lyrics" I had ever experienced before. It was really pretty cool. And, of course, it was nice to get to spend time with James, my sister and her husband. We always have so much fun together!

I had been wanting to try this red velvet-cookies and cream brownie recipe for a while, so I decided to make and bring them with us to share! This way I got to try a new recipe and could ensure that I would not eat the entire pan (it's been known to happen)! They were definitely a hit!

These two (or three or more) desserts-in-one recipes have always intrigued me. I've made several that have turned out great. Really, who doesn't love red velvet and Oreos separately, imagine what they would be melded together with a cream cheese icing and topped with more chocolate!

I was, however, a bit skeptical when I looked at the recipe about whether the brownie part would taste anything like red velvet, but there was definitely a flair of red velvet flavor! I was also a bit put off by all the red food coloring as the original recipe called for 1 Tablespoon...eek, that seemed like a lot, especially for a small pan of brownies (as opposed to a layer cake). I significantly decreased the red food coloring (to 1 tsp or less) and made sure to use non-Dutch processed cocoa powder because its reaction with the vinegar in the recipe is supposed to produce a red hue. In the end, they turned out red enough for me. Sure, they weren't the bright red result that all that food coloring would have made, but I felt a lot better about it! The brownie layer is also very fudge-like, which I liked. Just be warned that this recipe will not result in the cake-like brownie consistency you may be used to--different, but good!

I was also excited about these brownies because this would be the first time I ever actually told anyone who did not live in my house about the blog I had been writing. I know it's probably weird of me, but even though I have enjoyed writing the blog, it was quite another thing for someone to actually read it! I guess it has to do with putting a piece of myself out on the internet for all to see...and judge. And while I have been trying to not let what other people think about me affect me so much, it is still intimidating! My sister helped me to put things in perspective, though, mainly by pointing out how silly I sounded. Plus I definitely want to improve, and will need readers and comments for that! I hope as you find this way to the blog that you find it helpful and fun. I sure have!  Enjoy the recipe!

Red Velvet Oreo Brownies
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

For the Brownies:

2 Large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp (or slightly less) red gel food coloring (I used Wilton's no-taste red)
3/4 tsp white vinegar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare an 8x8 brownie pan by lining it with aluminum foil. leaving some hanging over the sides so that the brownies can be easily removed. 

Whisk the two eggs together in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl.  Add in the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring and vinegar.  You should be able to see a slight red color to the batter.  Add in the whisked eggs and stir to fully combine. Add the flour and stir just until fully combined.
Pour the batter into the baking pan.  Bake for 22-24 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean (a few small crumbs are ok).  Allow to cool completely.

For the Cookies and Cream Frosting:

2 Tbs butter (softened)
3 oz cream cheese (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs heavy cream
3.5 oz cup of mini Oreos, crushed (I used this to avoid having left-over Oreos tempting me in the house, but feel free to just crush up some regular oreos as well).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until mixed and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar a little at a time and mix on low speed to avoid covering your kitchen in powdered sugar. Add the heavy cream until your icing reaches its desired consistency (it should be thick). Stir in 1/2 of the crushed oreos.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate  ( I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Baking Bar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened

Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Heat the cream in the microwave until hot, checking every 30 seconds.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted.  Stir in the butter until it is fully melted and incorporated.  Set aside to cool.

Spread the frosting over the brownies.  Pour the ganache over the frosting and spread evenly with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator.  Serve chilled.

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