Smitten Kitchen’s Favourite Brownies

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, these chocolate fudge brownies can be made in one bowl and don’t need any frosting.  With a crackly/sugary top and fudgy brownie texture, they are best sliced after being chilled for a few hours.

Ingredients:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water (double boiler), melt chocolate and margarine together.

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Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt.

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Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into the prepared pan.

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Bake for 25 minutes and chill before slicing.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Fudge is a gooey substance made of sugar, butter and milk. These brownies use margarine and sugar to get that same creamy texture with ease.

Fudgey Brownies

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If you are looking for a brownie to please a crowd, give these a shot. They are quick, easy and delicious! This recipe is from Half Baked Harvest.

Ingredients:

2 sticks margarine
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant coffee (espresso powder)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and spray with canola oil.

Microwave margarine and 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir at 30 second intervals.

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Whisk the eggs for 1 minute. Stir into the chocolate margarine mixture.

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Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir until combined. Add the last 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

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Spread out the mixture in the baking pan.

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Bake for 28-30 minutes (until set).

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Cut once cooled.

Science Fact of the Week:

Softened and melted butter act differently in baking. Using melted butter makes it easier for the batter to mix. It can also be substituted for oil.

Chocolate Chunk Oat Bars

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, these bars tasted even better than I would have predicted when I was just testing the recipe.  They freeze well and are easiest to slice when chilled.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. chilled unsalted pareve margarine (14 tbsp.)

For the filling:

½ cup unsalted pareve margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup demerara style brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
½ cup finely shredded coconut
1 ½ cups chocolate chips/chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Cut the margarine into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps.

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Transfer the dough clumps to the prepared baking pan and press them evenly across the bottom and ¼ inch up the sides.

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Bake for 17 minutes, until very pale golden.

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Melt the margarine for the filling in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars and salt.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and stir in the oats, coconut and chocolate.

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Pour over the parbaked crust, spreading evenly.

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Bake the bars for 23 more minutes until they are firm and golden and the bars are set.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Normally recipes require softened butter or margarine., however for this one it uses chilled margarine. This allows the crust to have bubbles of margarine melt all around, giving it a flakey texture.

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

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For those who don’t love chocolate… these tart and sweet lemon cheesecake squares will satisfy the craving.  This cheesecake combines the tart with the sweet in a perfect combination.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 eight oz. bricks light cream cheese at room temperature (total 32 oz), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe Lemon Curd, warm or at room temperature

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until it resembles wet sand.  Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

In the cleaned food processor bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping halfway to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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Add the eggs and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about another 20 seconds.

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Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.

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Fill a small glass bowl with boiling water and place in the oven beside the baking pan (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking). Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch, about 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 minutes before removing the cake.

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To finish:  When cheesecake comes out of the oven, gently pour all of the curd onto the cheesecake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

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Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  You can refrigerate it uncovered, as no detectable skin forms on the curd.  When slicing into squares, wipe the knife blade with a damp paper towel between each slice.

Science Fact of the Week:

Using light cream cheese in these cheesecakes lightens them up and gives in a smooth and fluffy texture. However, using light cream cheese in a frosting completely changes the texture. It causes it to be more liquidly and not form peaks.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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For those who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this is a great alternative and easy to slice when chilled.  Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, this square is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Ingredients

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2 sticks unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ cups creamy peanut butter (Skippy or natural)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups raspberry/strawberry jam
2/3 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray a 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan with cooking spray.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.

 

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

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Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread the jam evenly over the dough.

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Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

IMG_3018.jpgCool and cut into 24 squares.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Although peanuts are high in calories and fat, in moderation they confer many health benefits. Their anti-oxidants even help protect against heart disease!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This carrot cake is an old recipe from Ina Garten that will be sure to impress a crowd. I made this as an addition to the shavout festival of cheesecakes and it was a huge hit.

The cake is best if you bake the layers the night before and let sit over night in the fridge.

Before starting make sure to prep the ingredients. I used a food processor to grate the carrots, chopped the walnuts and diced the pineapple.

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Ingredients:

 

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature (if you forget to bring them to room temperature, allow the eggs to sit in warm-hot water for 5 minutes)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the Frosting:

1.5 bricks of cream cheese (3/4 pound), room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 or 3 circular pans with parchment and spray with canola oil spray.

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Beat sugar, oil and eggs in an electric mixer. Add vanilla and mix again.

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Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and mix well.

In another bowl toss raisins and walnuts with 1 tbsp flour. Add carrots and pineapple to this mixture. Add to the batter and fold in.

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Divide batter equally between circular pans and bake for 40-45 mins if 3 layers or 55-60 mins if 2 layers.

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For the Frosting:

Cream butter and cream cheese in stand mixer.

Add vanilla and mix again.

Add sugar in 3 parts. Mixing after each to combine.

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To ice:

Place a little bit of icing on the bottom of your cake plate and smooth out. This will help the cake stick in place.

Place first layer with flat side down and spread icing on top. Put second layer and repeat). If using three layers repeat and ensure that flat side is facing up.

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Evenly coat in a layer of thin frosting and refrigerate for 15 minutes to seal in the crumbs.

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Add more frosting on top and smooth out.

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Top with pieces of fresh pineapple.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This cake has plenty of carrots which are a high source of antioxidants and can decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Maple Cheesecake

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For this special edition post we are sharing one of our favourites. Maple Cheesecake. This weekend is the Jewish Holiday of Shavout. On this holiday it is traditional to eat dairy, so we’ve deemed this the cheesecake holiday. I love to make cheesecakes for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. We hope you enjoy this one.

This uniquely Canadian cheesecake gets most of its sweet flavour from reduced pure maple syrup.  To make a reduction, place 2 ¼ cups pure maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 ½ cups.  Allow to cool to room temperature before using in batter.

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 ½ eight oz. bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature (36 oz. total)
¾ cup brown sugar
4 ½ tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups reduced maple syrup (see above)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (not fat-free)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and combine well.
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Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

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Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-x13-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

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Cube the cream cheese and place in the cleaned food processor bowl.  Process until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Add the sugar, flour, and salt and blend until smooth.  IMG_2860.jpg

Add the maple syrup, sour cream and vanilla and process again.  IMG_2862.jpg

Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and process just until blended after each addition.

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Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

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Bake in the oven beside a small glass bowl filled with boiling water (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking).

IMG_2864.jpgAfter 55 minutes, turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 more minutes before removing the cake.  Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These chocolate chip cookies are from BuzzFeed and are delicious! I modified them a little to be non-dairy. Follow the instructions carefully and they will turn out perfectly. I recommend using a scale to measure ingredients. If you don’t have one, I recommend scooping and levelling the ingredients to ensure they are measured accurately.

These cookies are delicious and disappear rather quickly. I recommend doubling the batch because they are such a hit.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (300g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup packed LIGHT brown sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (175 g)
1 3/4 sticks of margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of non-dairy chocolate chips
Flakey Sea Salt

Directions

Mix flour, salt and baking soda.

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Whisk sugars and break and large chunks with your fingers
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Add melted margarine and mix for 1 minute. IMG_0049.jpg

Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

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Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix with a spatula. IMG_0052.jpg

Refrigerate the batter for 10 minutes and then scoop into balls using a cookie scoop. IMG_0058.jpg

Place dough balls on a tray and wrap with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. At this point the balls can also be put in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 3 months.

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Preheat oven to 375˚F and sprinkle cookies with flakey sea salt.

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Bake for 12-16 minutes. If baking from frozen, may need an additional couple minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Some people ask: “why do we have to refrigerate the cookies, we just want to eat them immediately?!” This is because the butter needs to solidify. This stops cookies from spreading excessively (although these do spread quite a bit)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

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This easy quick bread can be made with a food processor or mixed by hand. A great use of leftover/ripe bananas that combines the delicious flavours of chocolate and banana. Freezes well when wrapped with one layer of plastic wrap and a second layer of aluminum foil.

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Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large ripe bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)
½ cup liquid coconut oil
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the bananas, oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined.

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Add ¾ cup of the mini chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula.

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Transfer the batter to the lined pan and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup mini chocolate chips over the cake.

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Bake for 60 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

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Science Fact of the Week:

Cocoa powder has many health benefits as it contains flavonoids. These can help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. As well, they have the added effect of being a potential anti-depressive agent.

Green Tea Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Time for another cupcake! This time green tea with cream cheese frosting. The pairing is unique

Ingredients:

For the cupcake

1.5 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp matcha powder (I use vanilla matcha from David’s Tea)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

For the icing

8 oz brick of cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, left out for 30 minutes
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Directions:

For the Cupcake:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Mix first 5 dry ingredients in a mixmaster.

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Add in butter, one cube at a time, until combined and mixture looks like coarse sand.

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Add eggs, one at a time at low speed.

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Add milk and vanilla slowly and beat for 2 minutes.

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Fill liners.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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For the Icing:

With a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.

Add the tsp of vanilla and mix slowly. If it is too thick at 1/2 tsp of milk at a time until you have the right consistency.

Science Fact of the Week:

I often asked what makes cake flour so special? Why do we use it? Now I’ve found the answer! It actually relates to protein! Cake flour has less protein in it, giving it a softer texture.