Monday, February 29, 2016

A Month-of-Eggs: Spicy Nutella Nut Brownies and Natillas

We have an extra day of February this year. That means an extra recipe this year! Actually, we have two extras because I met the most wonderful culinary mystery writers at Left Coast Crime last week. This post is up later today than usual because I shifted gears. More on Ellie Alexander and her recipe later.

I take personal responsibility for boosting egg sales this month. Not just because of the many, many dozens I have gone through, but you, Loyal Reader, have also bought more eggs than you might have normally.

To celebrate the end of this month and this year’s cycle of recipes in February, I have two wonderful and easy recipes, both desserts, to present to you. The first is the easiest brownie recipe you will EVER make. It’s egg-heavy so it’s very light (odd how that works, eh?). This brownie kinda melts in your mouth.

Spicy Nutella Nut Brownies
Spicy Nutella Nut Brownies (serves 9)
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup Nutella, warmed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ cup nuts (small or rough chopped)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8x8” pan heavily with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat eggs with your mixer for 7 or more minutes. The eggs will be foamy and tripled in size. Don’t beat longer than 10 minutes.

Warm the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds. If not thinned out, heat in 15 second increments until you have a heavy syrupy texture.

Slowly add the Nutella to the egg mixture. Mix with the mixer until no egg is visible. Add in cinnamon and stir to blend in.

Pour the brownie batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the nuts on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. To check doneness, the sides will be pulling away from the pan and a toothpick will be mostly clean when inserted in the middle.

Let cool. Slice into 9 pieces and collect the compliments.

DH’s Rating: 5 Tongues Up  “This is really tasty. So you just come home from a conference and make a dessert!”

The second recipe is directly tied to said conference. I had the pleasure of serving on a panel with four extraordinary culinary mystery writers at Left Coast Crime this past weekend. There are many yummy recipes or food descriptions in all their books, but given my current egg-obsession, Ellie Alexander’s “Natillas” recipe caught my attention. I am printing this exactly as Ellie lists it in Meet the Baker, a book you should read if you like culinary mysteries as I do. 

I will be sharing more information here in upcoming posts about some of my learning at Left Coast Crime. But here is a delectable vanilla pudding, just as written in the book, that would be a luscious and easy-to-do recipe to serve your pickiest guests. You might even tuck some into some of those cream puff shells you have left. 

4 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 cup of granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 whole vanilla bean
1whole cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon

Pour milk into a saucepan and place the cinnamon stick in the pan, heat on low, stirring occasionally. Separate eggs. Save whites in bowl for later. Whisk egg yolks with sugar and add cornstarch. Remove the cinnamon stick from the warm milk. Add the egg mixture to the warm milk and heat until it boils and thickens, stirring frequently. Slice vanilla bean, add seeds to the mixture, and add the teaspoon of Mexican vanilla. Remove from heat. In a large bowl beat egg whites until stiff and fluffy. Fold these into the mixture. Chill in parfait glasses. Garnish with fresh nutmeg and ground cinnamon.

*Carlos places a day-old biscuit in the bottom of his parfait glass before filling it with the pudding. The biscuit will absorb moisture as the custard chills. He calls this Spanish trifle.”

NOTE:  In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I didn’t have Mexican vanilla. I only use vanilla bean paste instead of the more liquid extract. I don’t think that changed either the texture or taste.

This is a very eggy-tasting pudding, so it is quite different than people expect. And the vanilla and cinnamon layers of flavor really enrich the dish.

DH’s Rating: 5 Tongues Up  “This is good! It’s lighter than I thought it would be.”  I am calling his reaction “the meringue effect”. We’ve done a lot of recipes using meringue this month. Meringue really lightens up a dish.

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