Everyday Food (December 2012)
This is our kind of holiday dessert: chocolate, vaguely impressive looking, but also a bit imperfect.
This Peppermint-Meringue Brownie Cake is a home run on all three of those counts.
The chocolate, well, that's self-explanatory. The bottom half of this cake is a fudgy, rich brownie base. We'll wager that will be a hit with most of you, unless brownies have somehow done you wrong in a past life (if so, you have our condolences).
Vaguely impressive? It is, isn't it? Doesn't it look complicated? Like we spent hours toiling away at this cake? Like we needed some special skill to pull it off? We definitely didn't. (We did, however, need an electric mixer. So we suppose our superpower is "owns a mixer.")
But this cake is also imperfect, in the very best way possible. The holidays, while lovely, can also be tough. There's a lot going on. Families are messy. You, dear Bitten, need not also arrive at the dinner table with "perfect" dishes. We don't subscribe to "perfect" -- imperfect is the name of our game. And here's why it applies to this cake.
The top layer of this cake is meringue. It cracks during baking. And the best news? It's supposed to! And when you cut into it, it cracks even more. Worried about making perfect slices? Impossible with this cake! It will look a bit messy on the plate. And no one will care, because it is incredibly delicious.
We found this cake extremely easy to make. You start by making brownies; while the brownies bake, you make the meringue. Once the brownies are finished, you just spread the meringue on top and put the whole thing back in the oven. Sure, it takes an hour and more than a few dirty bowls, but it's incredibly easy.
This meringue -- delicious peppermint-flavored meringue -- is white, cracked and craggy. It looks like the surface of the moon. It's crisp and lightly crunchy. Where the meringue meets the brownie, the meringue is slightly gooey in a really great way.
If you're not a peppermint fan, beware the amount of extract you use. The recipe only calls for a quarter teaspoon, but that goes a long way. If you're averse to peppermint, you could leave it out altogether.
Before we wrap up this post, we should note that this is likely the last recipe we'll be posting from the final "regular" issue of Everyday Food. The magazine will return, just not in its current form. We've really loved reading the notes and comments all of you have sent us about the magazine. It's obvious than many readers had the same experience we did: They learned to cook in part thanks to Everyday Food. We're glad that this recipe is the final one we're sharing with you from the magazine because it's a great example of what the magazine was at its very best: straightforward recipes with impressive results.
Now let's all go make some cake.
Peppermint-Meringue Brownie Cake
Everyday Food (December 2012)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour + cooling
Yield: Serves 10 to 12
1 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large egg whites
Cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
DirectionsMake cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Place butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir frequently until almost melted.
Remove bowl from heat and stir until completely melted. Whisk in granulated sugar and salt, then eggs. Gently whisk in flour until smooth (do not overmix). Spread batter in pan and bake 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make meringue: Combine chocolate and cornstarch. In a large bowl, using a mixer, whisk egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar on high until frothy. With mixer running, slowly add superfine sugar and continue whisking on high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture and peppermint extract.
Spread meringue on top of cake with an offset spatula. Bake until meringue is lightly browned and cracked on top, 25 to 27 minutes more. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge and remove ring. Let cool completely.