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Archive for October 28, 2015

HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Spider Web Brownies

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Brownies for Halloween. If you want to place an edible spider in your web, sandwich two chocolate wafers with icing and add candy eyes and string licorice legs. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

 

Need to bring something to a Halloween party? How about a twist on that party favorite, chocolate brownies?

This recipe for Spider Web Brownies is from King Arthur Flour, the source of everything wonderful for baking. Prep time is 18 to 22 minutes, baking time is 28 to 30 minutes.

RECIPE: SPIDER WEB BROWNIES

Ingredients For 24 Pieces
 
For The Brownies

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups dark cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  •  
    For The Spider Web

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flourr
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon mint flavoring
  •  

    Notes Prior To Preparation

  • The order in which the ingredients are mixed is important.
  • The cream cheese for the web must be soft, so the sugar and flour can be incorporated smoothly.
  • Be sure there are no lumps in the mixture BEFORE adding the egg yolk and flavoring to the web ingredients. If you forget, you can press the mixture through a strainer to get rid of lumps, but it’s a lot of work.
  • Note that the image above shows a round spiderweb, while the directions and step-by-step photos show a 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan. You can make either shape from the same recipe. To make round spider web brownies, divide the batter into two 8″ round cake pans.
  • Here are step by step photos of how the cream cheese web is made.
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the brownie base. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan or two 8″ round cake pans.

    2. CRACK the eggs into a bowl; add the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and vanilla and beat at medium speed for about 4 minutes.

    3. MELT the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot but not bubbling, 110°F to 120°F. It will become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will help produce a shiny top crust on the brownies.

    4. ADD the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth. Add the flour and chips, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the pan(s).

     

    Mummy Brownies

    More Halloween brownies: round, bite-size, wrapped in fondant, by Blissful Brownies. Available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma.

     
    5. MAKE the “spider web.” Combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour in a small bowl, and mix until smooth. Add the egg yolk and optional flavoring, mixing until smooth once again. Transfer the mixture to a disposable pastry bag and cut just the very tip off the end.

    6. PLACE a small pool of the mixture in the center of the brownie batter. Draw concentric circles around the pool, about 1 inch apart, moving out from the center. Once the circles are drawn, take a table knife, wet the tip, and draw it back and forth through the circles. The knife will draw the cream cheese filling into arcs. When the arcs are finished…

    7. USE the remaining filling in the pastry bag to trace the path where the knife traveled, to create the spokes of the web.

    8. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, until the brownies just barely pull away from the edge of the pan. The center will rise while baking, but will sink back level once the brownies are cool. Remove them from the oven and cool before cutting.

    When testing to see if brownies are done, insert a cake tester into the center of the pan, digging around just enough to see the interior. You should see moist crumbs, but no uncooked batter. You’ll be left with a small divot in the center of the brownies; cover it up with a dab of the cream cheese frosting.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Slab Pie

    Apple Cranberry Slab Pie

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    You can use a standard top crust or exercise your creativity. TOP PHOTO: Apple Cherry Slab Pie with a lattice top. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Raspberry Pecan Crumble Slab Pie (here’s the recipe). Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    In the 15 years that we’ve been publishing THE NIBBLE, slab pies have been under the radar. They didn’t even make it into the different types of pies collection in the early editions of our Pie Glossary.

    Slab pies have been getting a bit of play lately, but when did they originate? We found a recipe in our Mom’s recipe box that dated back to the 1950s. Surely, they’re older than that. But try as we might, we could find no history of slab pie online. If you have a reference, please let us know.

    WHAT IS A SLAB PIE?

    A slab pie is a shallow pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. It has a much higher crust-to-filling ratio than a standard pie, so it’s definitely for the crust-loving crowd (or the hand pie-loving crowd).

    But there’s another reason to make a slab pie: It stretches pricey ingredients like fresh fruit and feeds quite a few more people than a standard 9-inch pie: almost as much as two pies.

    Nor do you need to roll out two set of crusts for two pies. Just roll out one crust and make a streusel top if you don’t want to roll out a top crust—although two crusts enable people to eat their slices like a hand pie. Of course, you can plate it like a conventional slice of pie and top it with ice cream or whipped cream.

    You can use any filling in a slab pie; but anticipating the holidays, we have two cranberry recipes below (plus links to other recipes).

    RECIPE: CANDY APPLE SLAB PIE

    In this recipe from McCormick, prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes. The recipe is faster to make using purchased crusts. To make crusts from scratch, see the recipes below.

    This recipe is called “candy apple” because of the red food coloring. Leave it out for a conventional apple slab piel.

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie crusts
    (4 crusts), divided
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 peeled, thinly sliced Fuji apples (substitute McIntosh or any sweet red apple with a bit of acidity)
  • 50 drops red food color
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Bring the crusts to room temperature according to package directions. Unroll pie crusts and press two of them onto the bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Press together the seams of the overlapping crusts in middle of baking dish to seal.

    2. MIX the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in large bowl. Add the apples; toss to coat well. Add the food color; toss to coat well. Spoon into the pie crust and top with the remaining 2 crusts. Pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together to seal. Cut small slits in top crust (you can make them artistic; see this photo and this one).

    3. BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY MERINGUE SLAB PIE

    Another easy McCormick recipe, this pie uses cranberry sauce in the filling instead of having to prepare whole cranberries. A meringue top replaces the top crust. Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes.

     

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 package (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Bring the crusts to room temperature according to package directions. Unroll the pie crusts and press onto the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish. Fold the edges of the crusts under and press together to form a thick crust edge. Press the seams of the overlapping crusts in the middle of the baking dish together to seal. Pierce the crusts with a fork. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

    Meanwhile…

    2. MIX 1 cup of sugar and the cornstarch in large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cranberry juice until well blended. Whisk in the egg yolks and the cranberry sauce until well blended (some lumps may remain). Whisking occasionally, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the orange extract. Pour the hot filling into the baked pie crust. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight until chilled and set. Then…

    4. MAKE the meringue. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Mix the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream of tartar in a small bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg whites, beating until stiff peaks form.

    5. SPREAD the meringue evenly over the cranberry-topped pie, sealing the edges of the crust. Bake 4 to 6 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. For the best results, top and bake with the meringue just before serving.

     

    Candy Apple Slab Pie

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    TOP PHOTO: Candy Apple Slab Pie. Photo courtesy McCormick. BOTTOM PHOTO: Cranberry Meringue Slab Pie (recipe below). Photos courtesy Julie Gransee | Lovely Little Kitchen.

     
     

    MORE SLAB PIE RECIPES

    It turns out that Martha Stewart has been publishing slab pie recipes since 2006. Here are some of them, each with a different crust treatment:

  • Blueberry Slab Pie Recipe
  • Berry Or Stone Fruit Slab Pie Recipe & Video
  • Peach Raspberry Slab Pie Recipe (with a polka dot top crust)
  • Quince & Sauternes Slab Pie Recipe
  • Sour Cherry Slab Pie Recipe
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie Recipe
  • Slab Pie Recipes From Buzzfeed
  • Slab Pie Recipes From Huffington Post
  •   

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