How to avoid doing what? Well, I got the October issue of the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog and it is full of things to make and do for the upcoming autumn holiday. One thing that I couldn't help noticing was the plethora of mixes that it contained. Now if I were going to buy mixes, it would be a bit more time-consuming to order them and wait until they arrive. But another considerable advantage of online shopping is the comfort of shopping at home, without using gas or searching for parking spaces in mall parking lots. I got used to it long ago and the pre-planning involved is now second nature to me.
But another thing that I noticed was the redundancy of items. Let's just look at one thing: pumpkin. I am not going to write a list of every item in the catalog, but here is an idea of what they are selling: pumpkin spice pancake mix, pumpkin spice muffin mix, pumpkin cheesecake bar mix, pumpkin streusel cake mix, harvest pumpkin scone mix and pumpkin doughnut holes. Do you see the pattern?
The same thing goes for gingerbread; there is a whole selection of gingerbread mixes as well. And I wouldn't assume that everyone is going to start mixing up and serving each and every one of these products, but it is always possible that some misguided host or hostess will go overboard and do to his or her family what I did to myself when I overdosed on Snickerdoodles. I still can't stand them, and it entirely my fault.
So I must caution my readers not to go overboard on the pumpkin and gingerbread, even though I have a great Pumpkin Gingerbread recipe that I will share as the season goes on. Having said that, I also emphasize that I consider King Arthur is my first choice for mixes, hands down. I don't use mixes, but theirs are the best that I know of. I was miserably disappointed when I read that so-called health food brands in the supermarkets of Tucson contained such things as high-fructose corn syrup, and I stopped even considering mixes about that time.
But King Arthur doesn't just sell mixes and ingredients; they share recipes from their kitchen. If you are looking for the most special of all brownie recipes that stands up to becoming a signature dish, consider their cheesecake brownies and make this recipe up.
KING ARTHUR SIGNATURE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose Flour
2 cups (12 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Cream cheese batter:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
To make the brownie batter: In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, cooking until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.
Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, stirring until smooth.
To make the cream cheese batter: Beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain. Mix in the sugar and flour, then the vanilla, cream, and eggs.
Fold the chocolate chips into the brownie batter.
Spoon half the brownie batter into the prepared pan, then top with the cream cheese batter.
Dollop the remaining brownie batter onto the cream cheese, swirling the two together.
Bake the brownies for 35 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the edges are set.
Remove them from the oven, and loosen the edges with a table knife. Cool completely before cutting.
These are the King Arthur directions; I would use an electric mixer and the softened butter that would be about the same consistency as the cream-cheese batter and go from there. Either way, these will be sensational and since everybody loves brownies, you are about to recruit some serious fans when you present them to your guests this fall.