Sunday, January 31, 2010

Double-Chocolate Brownies

I got one of those brownie pans that I am constantly seeing the commercials for on TV. Have you seen it? You pour the brownie batter into the pan, then you place a grid-like metal insert into the pan, which separates the batter into individual brownie rectangles. Once the brownies are done baking, you simply remove the grid, and the sides of the pan (by lifting out the brownies, which are on a little metal platform, and you have perfectly cut, perfectly portioned brownies!
Anyway, my mom had gotten this for me for Christmas, but I hadn't had an opportunity yet to try it. We've just eaten up all our Christmas goodies! So I found this recipe for reduced-fat brownies that I wanted to try, written by my favorite healthy-cooking chef, Ellie Krieger.

I really should be posting more recipes on here that we've tried by Ellie, because there are a lot of them and they pretty much always turn out fabulous. I'll have to make a point of it in the future. In the meantime, the link for Ellie's brownies is here.

Although Ellie's recipes always taste good, I will say this about these brownies: you can tell they're reduced-fat. Now, they aren't low fat; they come in at about 7 or 8 grams of fat per brownie, depending on whether or not you use the optional walnuts. But they are definitely lower in fat than your everyday, ooey gooey brownie. And if you're looking for ooey gooey, you won't find that here. The taste is great: rich, chocolatey, dense. They're perfectly moist. But the texture just screams "diet food." What can you expect, really, when you cut out most of the butter? Anyway, they are great for satisfying those chocolate cravings, but you won't be fooled into thinking these are true-blue brownies. I'd give them 4 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

Time flies when you're neglecting your blog. I really can't believe it is the last week of January already, and a month after Christmas. I feel like this whole month has been a blur. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the kids and I were sick for a while and we're still just barely getting back into the swing of things after the long winter break. Plus, we're trying our best to eat healthier in the new year, which means that sweets and treats will be made fewer and farther between.
But that won't stop me completely! We celebrated my father-in-law's birthday this past week. I know that my in-laws love Oreo cookies, so I thought I would use that as an excuse to finally dig into my Martha Stewart Cupcakes cookbook. I'd been eyeing this recipe for a while, and it was time to bust it out.
Well, I sure am glad I did! The method for these little cuties, titled Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes, is simple enough. To assemble the cupcake-sized cheesecakes, you simply drop an Oreo cookie into each cupcake paper liner, and that becomes your crust. Then you mix together just a few ingredients, and voila! Just 22 minutes in the oven, and you get a perfect little cheesecake that tastes like a cross between cheesecake and cookies and cream ice cream. Plus, when you flip the cupcake over, you can see the Oreo cookie peeking through the wrapper. Heavenly, and adorable!
The pictures hardly do these justice, but take my word for it: they're awesome. I've posted the recipe below because I couldn't find it anywhere on Martha Stewart's website. I highly recommend making these. The recipe can be easily cut in half; that's what I did.

Cookes and Cream Cheesecakes
makes 30 cupcakes

42 Oreo cookies (30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped)
2 pounds (4 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.
4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-filled cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely.
5. Refrigerate (in tins) at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.