September is indeed a month filled with lots of birthdays and celebrations. I just baked a birthday swiss roll for my sis. Today, I made another birthday cake for my sis-in-law. However, all of us in the family are on very strict calorie-watch diet this few days, trying to look our best for my sis-in-law's wedding in less than a week's time, so I have to bake a cake that is low in calorie and almost sugar-free cos most of us in the family dislike sweet stuffs. It isn't easy deciding on a cake to bake, considering that it still has to taste and looks great, but sans the calorie and sugar. I finally settled for a brownie, the chocolate would render it the sweetness even without any sugar added. The other reason that I chose brownie is because it's quite an easy recipe, like Martha Stewart once said, just dump everything in a bowl, mix and bake. I love fail-proof recipes. I have chosen this recipe by Ree Drummond, cos I am keen to join the blog hop event, Cook like a Star, organized by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.
Honestly, I have not heard of Ree Drummond prior to this, forgive me for my ignorance. For sweets and desserts, Martha Stewart is usually my foremost consideration cos I have done plenty of her recipes and they were almost fail-proof. But like what Zoe mentioned, the purpose of joining this Cook like a Star blog hop event, is to challenge ourselves to bake and cook with different techniques, learnt from different chefs.
Ree Drummond is a 'country' housewife chef and her recipes are quite the 'ranch' type (haha.. my definition of ranch is - uses lots of bacon, chops, cream, potato, farm vege for their recipes). Honestly speaking, if it wasn't for this bake along, I wouldn't have used her recipe. But I'm glad I did. I actually learnt two of her recipes in a span of 24 hours.
Here is the link for Ree's original recipe. I have twisted it quite a bit to make it a slimmed-down version. Omitted the mocha icing, due to the amount of butter and sugar needed. Instead, I replaced it with a healthier kind of topping, raw cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds, chopped but not toasted, cos the brownies-baking process would roast the nuts and seeds anyway. I don't want them to get too roasted or burnt. I have also halved the recipe to make a brownie cake that fits in my 10cmx10cmx3cm square ramekin dish.
Here's my recipe (adapted from The Pioneer Women Cooks by Ree Drummond)
*60g chocolate (the ori recipe calls for unsweetened choc, I couldn't find unsweetened chocolate, so I omitted the sugar in this recipe)
*60g butter, in room temperature
*pinch of salt
*2 whole egg, medium size
*1tsp vanilla extract
*70g cake flour (ori recipe calls for A.P. flour, I used cake flour, so it rises a little, I guessed either is okay)
*2 tbsp raw organic cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds, chopped, for use as topping, seasoned with pinch of salt
Makes 8 small slices of brownies
Preheat the oven to 170 degreeC. Butter a 10cmx10cm square baking pan/ ramekin dish with butter.
For the brownie batter: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, being careful not to let it burn. Set it aside to cool slightly.
(I never like melting butter or chocolate in microwave, I always have this assumption that it may tamper or alter the property, so I melted the chocolate in a bowl seated above a pan of boiling water)
In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and pinch of salt. Beat in the eggs. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the flour to the bowl and mix just until combined; do not over mix.
Pour the batter in the baking pan/ramekin dish. Spread it to even out the surface. Top with chopped and salted nuts and seeds. Bake until the center is no longer soft, about 30minutes for my halved recipe. Cool.
1. Bake brownies in a bigger size pan if you want them a little thinner. Mine turned out quite thick because of the small ramekin dish I have.
2. Add about 1/2cup of brown sugar into this recipe, if you want your brownies to taste sweeter. My slimmed down version is quite bland, but it suits the entire family on calorie-watch.
I am linking this post to Cook like a Star, organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Yen from Eat your heart out and Mich from Piece of Cake. Wanna cook or bake like Ree Drummond? To join, simply cook or bake any recipe from The Pioneer Woman or her cookbooks and link with us at this Zoe's, this Yen's or this Mich's post for the whole month of September 2013.