Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beer Bread, Brownies, and Puffins oh my?

What's a Puffin you may ask? And you know we're not talking birds, right?

Pizza + Muffin. AKA Pizza Puff.

Picture it. Work party. Me, furiously baking up delicious confections only moments earlier, packing them into my gym bag (the irony was NOT lost on me) and lugging them into work.

As we have established my Wednesday is my Friday and I'd much rather eat and chat on my Friday than do much work. And what's better than bringing one food to work? Two. Or Three. Or just whatever can fit into your gym bag. I have a problem.

Puffins or Pizza Puffs, if you will
(adapted from this website, makes 24 mini-muffins)

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mini turkey pepperonis
3/4 cup marinara (no judgement if it happens to be store-bought)

Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni; Preheat oven to 350 and let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Serve with warm marinara on the side.

Let's talk about Trader Joe's. If I had to rate the top 5 things I miss most about living in California (a constantly changing list, often rehashed with much heavy sighing) then Trader Joe's would occupy two or three of those spots.

They had a boxed beer bread mix (I know, I know) that I wake up nights thinking about. But! I finally found an even better (if possible) recipe that doesn't call for any boxed mixes just in case you were going to start thinking that I was cutting corners.

Corners intact, here you go. Bring several copies of this recipe with you if you decide to feed it to your coworkers.

Beer Bread
(adapted from allrecipes, makes 1 loaf or 9x13'' pan)

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 (12 fl oz) bottle beer (I used Yuengling)
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf or (I prefer) 9x13'' pan. Whisk together dry ingredients.

Stir in the beer until combined. Spread the dough out in the pan. It will be sticky and a little difficult. Do your best, it's really forgiving. It will look thin. Don't be scared.

Pour the melted butter on top of the dough. All of it. All over the dough. Just do it.

Bake on center rack for about 20-25 minute or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan, cut, and serve.

Seriously, the beer bread? So good. So easy. You can sub 3 cups self rising flour for the flour, salt, baking powder, but it's cheaper this way. You can use whatever beer you want. I like to use whatever sad little misfit beer reject got left in the fridge for weeks. It's like giving that lonely beer a second chance. He gets to be super popular for a day.

You can throw cheese on top, add italian seasoning... No matter what you do, you will love it and it will love you. That's kind of love is hard to come by in life.

Did you seriously think I was going to show up to a party without dessert? Like that would ever happen. Don't be ridiculous. Here's my new favorite brownies recipe. Yes, better than those oreo stuffed brownies in my opinion.

A quick word about brownies in general. I know I end up making cookies all the time, but brownies are great. They're unassuming, dense, fudgy... so many great qualities. I really don't give them enough credit. That delicious paper thing crackling top that they get? Oh buddy, game over. Grab a glass of milk.

Baked Brownies
(from baked and brown eyed baker)

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (I used ghirardelli's 60%), coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.

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

3. Melt the chocolate, butter and instant coffee in a large bowl over a double boiler, stirring occasionally, until it is completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the last two eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter.

5. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

Okay, hope you enjoy those. Now I'm exhausted. I need to get better about blogging during the week so that I don't explode a hundred recipes all over the place every Wednesday. Oh well.

Last side note, did you notice that my pictures this time (except the brownies, oops) didn't have the typical woods in the background? Ha! I finally set up a little food photo set. I'll explain later.

Go forth and bake.


  1. Thanks for the recipes! :) I'm making dinner for one of my newly single guy friends who has been neglecting his stomach with canned soup and healthy choice meals. Poor I think I'll use your beer bread and pizza puff recipes for appetizers and I'll be making pot roast for dinner! I was thinking your amazing Andes mint cookies for desert, but we will see. You have so many choices for me!!! :D

  2. Haha, I hope he likes it. Boys go a little nutso for the beer bread in my experience. I'm glad you're enjoying the recipes, we should hang out again sometime soon!

  3. Is this like Julie Julia where comments from your Mom don't count? So sorry but.....The almond slices that you gave me for my b-day...I'm rationing them and hiding them from Phee. Oh, and also, I accidentally didn't get the lid all the way on and they got decidedly crunchy, now they are more the consistency of Nan's, Hmmmmm. (Have I mentioned I have the worlds smallest kitchen with zero counter space?) As for the brownies....I tried to make The Barefoot Contessa's recipe last night only to realize I was down to one egg after my chocolate was melted. So, per the norm, I made Phee go to the store (he is secretly plotting to disconnect our internet and cable so I stop watching the food channel : )) Upon his return, I was frantically perched on my step stool on tippy toes searching for the elusive can of baking powder that wasn't expired. Have you ever noticed you can always find the one that is a year old but not the one you just purchased? After a 20 minute search by Phee and I, I found it tucked behind a spice. (have I told you I have the smallest kitchen in the world, seriously?). Anyway, all of this was an omen to stop, turn off the oven and look away....but, no, wasn't going to happen. The timer went off after 30 minutes and as I go to pull the brownies out, the entire center is wiggling. Things went down hill from there. Cut to the end, I have a 9x13 pan of burnt coffee flavored sawdust bars. My point, is, and there is a point, I don't see any baking powder or soda in your recipe, is it because there are so many eggs?


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