Before you preheat your oven, let me take a moment to apologize/defend for my absence. I got the opportunity to spend the year in an incredible kitchen, elbow-deep in whole wheat pastry flour and chocolate chips as the pastry/salad chef at the award-winning Ravens' Restaurant.
The Ravens' is attached to the eco-friendly Stanford Inn by the Sea. Along with included breakfasts, guests can enjoy a complimentary dessert every afternoon during what we referred to as "Tea Time". Skeptics, believe me when I say that dreams come true: I got to live on the scenic Mendocino coast in Northern California and bake something new each day with the fresh, organic, vegan ingredients
When I had a free moment (which wasn't very often), I got to photograph some of the lovely desserts:
|Carob Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting|
|Strawberry Basil Mini Layer Cake|
|S'mores Bar with Cocoa-Dusted Banana Slices|
|Trio of Macaroons: Almond, Toasted Coconut, Strawberry|
|Mexican Hot Cocoa Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream|
|Strawberry Shortcake with Peanut Butter Mousse and Chocolate Ganache|
Some Tea Times were just too good to be served once and made an appearance every month or so. The favorites included Double Fudge Brownies (a la mode) (keep scrolling for recipe!), Huckleberry Orange Bundt Cake, Chocolate Marble Banana Bread, Tiramisu (which made it to the dessert menu for a month), Lavender Lemon Bars, Italian-Style Cheesecake with Pomegranate Sauce (for the holidays)...
|Old-Fashioned Ginger Molasses Cookies|
Speaking of holidays, what better way to spend December than having a Christmas Cookie of the Day? Pfeffernusse, my dear-to-heart Italian Anisette Cookies, Gingerbread, Walnut Apricot Jam Dots, Mint Chocolate Chocolate-Chip, there was room for all to be enjoyed alongside a cozy fireplace and Christmas tree at the Inn. I taught a Christmas cookie baking class (along with a couple healthier classes too). I can only hope Cookie Season 2013 will be half as whimsical.
As I promised, here is the recipe for the Brownies. There are many variations with this recipe. Pecan Brownies are always a favorite, a bit more indulgent than walnuts, (but many times I went nut-free and threw in some orange zest and cinnamon for a Mexican kick). I made these for my family and they went so fast, I was lucky to get one to take a picture.
Note: For extra fudgy brownies, underbake slightly - remove from oven when top crust has formed but insides are still soft, about 30 minutes of baking.
Yields 1 8"x8" pan, about 16 servings
1/4 cup coconut milk (or other nondairy milk)
2 tablespoons flaxmeal
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup nondairy chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 8"x8" square baking pan.
In a small bowl whisk coconut milk and flaxmeal until thick. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add sugar, melted buttery spread, and vanilla.
In a small bowl mix chocolate chips with salt. Pour hot coffee over, stirring until chocolate has melted.
Add to wet ingredients and mix well.
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add wet ingredients into dry mix and stir until no flour lumps remain. Use a rubber spatula to even spread brownie mix into prepared pan. Bake for 30-3 minutes, until top crust has formed and edges have browned. Let cool in pan before cutting.