Archive | July, 2012

Cream Cheese Brownies

22 Jul

These brownies make me want to cry.  I’m eating them right now, and I am going to eat all of them, because wow.  Wow.  I took them out of the oven just in time, so they’re soft without being dry, rich without having the consistency of pudding, firm on the edges and spongy on the inside, with not a charred crumb in sight.  Oh yeah.  It’s on.  Me, these brownies, and Newsroom.


I got this recipe, by the way, from a lovely book called Baking Illustrated, which one of my friends swears by.  I was at her house, and we were making an obscene amount of chocolate chip cookies, and she handed me the book and told me to look through it because it was her baking Bible.  I took pictures of some of the pages, including the page on which this recipe featured.  (Also cheesecake, so…  You know what to expect.)


For the brownies:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • (you could also just use 6 oz of bittersweet, which is what I did)
  • 1 stick butter, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs

For the cream cheese:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk

The recipe makes about 16 brownies in an 8×8 pan.  The pan I used was slightly larger, so I apportioned the brownie and cream cheese a little differently.  But know that layering will be involved, so don’t use a pan that’s too much larger, or you won’t be able to properly layer.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, in other words.



I’m sorry.

Get it done:

For the brownies:

Stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Then, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat, or in two pots nested together if you don’t have one of those fancy contraptions.

Stir every once in a while to let it know you haven’t forgotten about it while you’re standing at the stove reading a book or watching a movie.

Remove the melted chocolate from the stove.


You don’t have to use a copper bowl, but I had one lying around and I like how it looks.



Add sugar:

Add vanilla:

Now whisk.  And while you’re at it, whisk in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before moving on to the next one.

Then, whisk in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.


It should not look like this, for example, when you’re done with it:

Now, for the cream cheese bit:  Throw all the ingredients for the cream cheese bit in one bowl.  Blend until blended.  The mixture should be nice and smooth.  I actually whipped the hell out of mine, but that is not necessary.  Just fun.

Now take your pan, which should be appropriately greased, and pour in about half your brownie batter.  Add dollops of cream cheese mixture on top.

Take the back of a spoon and marble that.

Just so.  Now add a layer or brownie.

Keep doing that until you run out of things to marble.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 50-60 minutes (according to the recipe), but as always, be vigilant!  It took mine maybe 40 minutes.

They will look like this (minus the crater on top that I created from sticking knives in the middle to check for doneness), and they will make you happy to be alive.

Look it’s me!

Okay, anyway.  My sister sent me these rad little plastic stencils that you can put on top of baked things to make patterns with sprinkles and sugar and whatnot, so I tested one out on these:

Maybe I went overboard, but who are you to tell me whether I can put sugar mountains on my brownies or not.



This is what the layering looks like on the inside.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I have little Batman symbols painted on my thumbnails in honor of The Dark Knight Rises.  Which brings me to your book recommendation of the week!

I don’t, um… have one.  Sorry, but I haven’t read anything new for the past few days.  BUT.  I want to recommend to you The Dark Knight Rises.  It is a beautiful movie, and a wonderful conclusion to a goddamn great trilogy.  That trilogy.  Has created the best superhero movies ever made.  Superhero movies that went mainstream and got people to pay attention to the superhero genre in a serious way.  Nolan’s Batman made superhero movies something worth pursuing.  Something that could be artistic and beautiful and full of grand potential to people other than comic book fans.  I’m sad to see it end, but pleased with how it did.













The Amazing Spicy Nutella-Covered Bacon

17 Jul

Yes, that is a very vague Spiderman reference.  I loved the new movie.  Loved it.  So much.  I will stand by Garfield’s Peter Parker for the rest of the Marvel Universe’s life.  A Spiderman with Richard Feynman as his computer background, and who skateboards, is a Spiderman I am happy to call my own.

Anyway, you’re probably here for the bacon?  Not the Spiderman rant?  Well here you go.

I noticed, recently, that I had some bacon in my fridge, and after hearing about the wild flavors and crazy delights of Bacon Fest from one of my friends, I thought maybe I’d try some creative baconing.  I searched around on Punchfork until I came to this recipe, and I do not believe I’m using that much hyperbole when I say it just might have changed my life.

This stuff is a beautiful blend of sweet and salt/spicy, but it’s a lot more than that.  You’ve got your basic chocolate-bacon combo, which is the obvious way to get at this sweet/savory blend.  But because you use Nutella, the coating is creamier, which adds texture contrast.  There’s also the hazelnut factor, which makes the chocolate far more in-ter-est-ing.  The chili powder is strong, but only as an aftertaste.  It’s rather like an enormous aftershock that makes you go, “Shit, it’s not over?”  But in a good way.  Just.  Wow.


  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder (and for God’s sake keep your hands away from your face and your various and sundry orifices when using this stuff)
  • 1 tsp black pepper.  Or whatever pepper makes you happy, really
  • 6 pieces of bacon
  • 3 tbsp Nutella

All right, folks, here’s what you do:

Mix together all of that sugar and spice and set it aside.

I think I’m going to experiment with different spices this week, and maybe coat the bacon in chocolate, or possibly peanut butter.  I’m thinking nutmeg, cinnamon, and peanut butter.  But I get ahead of myself.

Bacon.  Know it.  Love it.  Consume.  ALL OF IT.

In the meanwhiles, bake the bacon at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

Then, flip the bacon and coat with the sugar and spice mix.  Liberally.

Return to the oven and bake again for 8 minutes or however long it takes.  Keep close watch over your bacon, because this shit’s easy to burn.  As I’m sure you know.  I used microwave bacon, which doesn’t need to cook for very long, so I was extra vigilant.

Now let these things cool all the way down before you slather on the Nutella.

Once it’s cooled down, microwave the Nutella for 15 seconds so that it’s nice and spreadable.

Don’t be afraid to get it everywhere.

You know, I am sort of a freakishly efficient person and it irks me to no end when things don’t run smoothly and neatly.  I don’t know how it happened, but it’s just the way I am.  So even when I’m baking, I’m reluctant to make too much of a mess.  I do end up making quite a disaster, but I am reluctant to do so.  I wash dishes as I bake, for example.  I clean counters several times during the process.

In short, I am still learning that it’s okay to make a mess.  It’s okay to get absolutely covered in Nutella and leave the cleaning up for later without freaking out.  In fact, it feels good to grab a bowl with a hand coated in Nutella, feeling the chocolate ooze around your fingers and stick you and the bowl together like the best of bros.  This is new to me.

I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Now, slather the bacon.  I mean it  Do not skimp out on this part or you will be sorry.  Lay it on thicker than Richard Feynman’s Long Island accent.

Refrigerate until it hardens, which should take maybe half an hour.

And then eat.

Eat all of it.

Eat it like a fiend.

Eat it like you’re starving.

Eat it like it’s going out of style and you are the sort of person who cares about what’s in style.

Eat it like it’s the night before the Trinity test at Los Alamos and you don’t know if the Universe will still be there when you detonate the atom bomb (it’s the anniversary of this event today, by the way.  Also of Apollo 11’s launch.)

You’re welcome.



Okay, now this week’s book recommendation?

Either Genius, by James Gleick, if you want a hearty helping of quantum physics with your biography of Richard Feynman, or Feynman (the comic book) if you just want the biography part.

Either way, you will not be disappointed, because Richard Feynman is a Seriously Cool Guy with a very interesting life and personality.  He is equally famous for his enormous contribution to quantum electrodynamics (sharing the Nobel Prize for his work in 1965 with Julian Schwinger and Shinichiro Tomonaga) and for playing a mean bongo.  When you think of a superhuman, someone above and beyond ordinary folk, think of Feynman.  He would probably hate it if you did, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.  I highly recommend finding out about this guy, whether you do it through the above books or not.  I think it’s safe to say that you’ll feel very fortunate having learned about this man.