So clearly it’s been awhile since our last post. I have no excuses except for work, school, life, and a DVR full of West Wings. And here it is almost Christmas – that wonderful food-filled holiday – and this blog has been silent. As an early New Years resolution I resolve to do better – to post more, to take more pictures, to experiment more in the kitchen. There is holiday baking to be tackled and Dorie Greenspan’s Brownie Bites are the perfect place to start.
When I was growing up, one of my good friends got a chocolate orange every Christmas. At the time I was more entranced by the fact that orange would magically split into perfect sections once opened rather than the combination of orange and chocolate. Truthfully, I’ve never been one to like fruit flavors with my chocolate – usually I think it messes up the perfect balance of chocolate. But chocolate and orange seem to go together around Christmas; when I saw that Dorie’s recipe for Brownie Bites called for orange zest it seemed to be a sign that this could be a new option to add to the cookie tray.
The batter was easy to put together. You just melt the chocolate, brown sugar and butter; once this mixture is off the heat you add vanilla, an egg, some sugary orange zest and flour. It’s a basic brownie recipe – the thing that makes this cute and Christmasy is that fact that they are cooked in mini muffin pans. Once popped out of the pans and cooled, the brownies really do look like buttons.
But what really makes these special is the white chocolate glaze. Simply melt white chocolate chips then dip the tops of the brownie buttons in the melted chocolate and twist your wrist as you pull them out. If you do it right it looks like the brownies have a cute little white hat on – just right for a Christmas cookie tray.
from “Baking, from my Home to Yours” By Dorie Greenspan
Grated Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Stick (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, Cut into 4 Pieces
2 1/2 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped
1/3 Cup (Packed) Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg
For the optional Glaze:
2 Ounces White Chocolate, Finely Chopped
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet.
If you’re using the orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend: set aside. Whisk together the flour and salt.
Melt the butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so that nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two. Stir the vanilla, egg and the zest into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.
Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup 3/4 full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.
To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stir constantly and don’t leave the chocolate for even one minute- white chocolate scorches easily. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, remove from the heat.
One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the center of each one and the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Refrigerate the buttons for 15 minutes to set the glaze.