Saturday, December 18, 2010

Monkey Bubble Bread - Leave Your Link

Ginger Monkey Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Monkey bread is a popular dessert or breakfast pastry, coated in cinnamon and sugar. The origin of the name “monkey bread” is a great mystery with many theories. Some believe that the  chef who invented the dish named it because it looked to him like the lumpy hands of a monkey.  Its direct ancestor appears to be a German pastry known as Affenbrot, or ape-bread.

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The first recipe for monkey bread appeared in ladies magazines and cookbooks around the 1950s and became popular in the 1980s when served in the White House by then First Lady Nancy Reagan. The origin of the monkey bread recipe is unknown though food historians believe that it could be a Middle Eastern recipe since they were the first to make sweet rolls with butter and cinnamon. Some historians think that the term monkey bread came from the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). Some believe that the name came about because the golden brown pieces look like monkeys seated and bunched close together. I found an interview with Ann King from Texas who has been identified as one of the creators of monkey bread.  She developed the formula with the help of a silent film actress- Zasu Pitts.  You can read more about the history at this link-Barry

Zasu Pitts-the girl with the ginger snap name 
I don't care where it really originated, I'm just glad it did ! And isn't this just perfect for your out of town visitors over the Holidays ?  And I agree with Matt and Renato-this is addictive stuff.
For the Monkey Bubble Bread
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Make the Monkey Bubble Bread
Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with non stick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, warm your milk to slightly above room temperature, then remove it from the heat, add the yeast, and whisk to dissolve. ( Do not warm it beyond 110 degrees F or you will kill the yeast).
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, and salt until combined.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients.  Mix on low speed until combined.
Keeping the mixer on low, slowly stream in the milk until combined.  Add the melted butter and mix until the dough comes together.  Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment.  Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky,but not sticky, 8-10 minutes.  The dough should mound together and easily come off the bottom of the mixing bowl.  ( If the dough is too wet, add some flour.  If it is too dry, add a tiny bit of water. )
Spray the bottom and sides of a large bowl with cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to make sure it is completely covered in oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Remove it from the bowl and pat it into a rough circle approximately 8 inches diameter.  Use a bench knife or serrated knife to cut dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces ( about 1/2 oz each )- alternatively, use your hands to pinch apart the dough.  Roll the pieces into balls ( they don't have to be perfectly round).  Place the balls on the sheet pan ( you will get about 60 pieces in all).  Cover the balls lightly with plastic wrap.
Make the Cinnamon Sugar Coating
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Place the melted butter in a separate bowl.
Assemble the Bread
Remove the plastic wrap from the dough balls and dip one ball in the melted butter.  Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan.  Continue this process with each ball, until you have several layers, arranging them as if you are building a brick wall.
Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap.  Set it in a warm area of the house for about 1 hour, or until the dough balls have doubled in size and appear puffy.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the plastic and bake the Bundt until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.
Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm.  Should you have any leftovers ( this is rare), simply reheat them in a 300 degree oven until warm to the touch.
Baked Notes
You do not need an icing or topping for this bread-too sweet.  Second, you can make the dough ahead of time.  Once the dipped dough has been placed in the pan, wrap it tightly, refrigerate it, and bring it back to room temperature to "proof" the dough before baking.  Lastly, this is one of those breads that exists to be eaten warm straight from the oven.  Once the caramel begins to cool, reheat the bread in the oven before serving. Enjoy !
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sweet and Salty Brownies -Leave Your Link

Here we go with the 2nd recipe in our schedule-BROWNIES.  Not just any brownie-a Sweet and Salty Brownie,oozing  with caramel sweet stickiness. Brownies are delicious plain but dress them up with caramel and Fleur de sel-you get that ohhhh and ahhh taste explosion in your mouth. Dark decadent chocolate, buttery caramel and the taste of salt-add an ice cold milk chaser -perfection.
Brownies have been around for quite some time,however there is some debate about the origin. One thing for certain-they were as THE BOSS would sing " Born in the USA".  I'll bet he would love these.  I found some information at the web site "The Nibble"  and what they concluded was: "Culinary historians have traced the first cake “brownie” to the 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, edited by Fannie Merritt Farmer. This recipe contains two squares of melted Baker’s Chocolate and is a less rich and less chocolaty version of the brownie we know today. According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, the proportions are similar to Farmer’s 1896 chocolate cookie recipe, but with far less flour and baked in a “7-inch square pan"

And did you know that Sears is credited with publishing the first known recipe in the 1897 Sears, Roebuck catalog.  Most sources say that recipe was actually for molasses candy. The candy was  called brownies. And that name "brownies" honored the elfin characters featured in popular books at the time by Palmer Cox.  The Eastman Kodak Brownie camera was also named after the elves. Somewhere along the line the "brownie" name became associated with these tasty morsels of chocolate.

Thumbnail for version as of 00:38, 5 March 2007
Palmer Cox Brownie Illustration
courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

 So the delicious morsels you are baking today were named after little elves-appropriate for the holiday season , don't you think ?

Sweet & Salty Brownie
Yield: 12 large brownies or 24 small brownies


For the caramel filling
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

For the Brownie
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60 to 72 %), coarsely chopped
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Assembly
1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 teaspoon coarse sugar

Make the Caramel
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.  Cook over high heat until and instant read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color (keep a close eye on the caramel at all times, as it goes from golden brown to black and burnt very quickly), 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream ( careful, it will bubble up ) and then the fleur de sel.  Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

Make the Brownie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9 by 13 inch pan.  Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl,whisk together the flour,salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined.  Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars.   Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan.  The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.  Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until combined.  Do not over beat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate.  Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

Assemble the Sweet & Salty Brownie

Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn.  Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer.  In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer.  Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan.  The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with fleur de sel and coarse sugar.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

The brownies can be stored, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Baked Note
Don't be tempted to add more than the amount of caramel called for in the recipe.  If you build too much of a caramel layer, it more than likely will seep out and burn during baking.  You can drizzle your leftover caramel on the brownie post baking if you are a caramel addict.
The Sweet & Salty Brownie is Baked's most requested recipe owing to the brownie's featured moment on the Food Network, where it was lauded with praise as one of the best salty  foods in the United States.
Brownies freeze well-allow the brownies to cool to room temperature.  Wrap them in two layers of plastic wrap-wrap the brownies directly as opposed to wrapping a pan of brownies. Place them in the freezer.

When you are ready to defrost, remove them from the freezer and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.  Then remove them from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Unwrap and eat your brownies.

They should keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.