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Cookbook Corner: Baked Explorations - Review

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 Posted by Rita A

I have a new cookbook title to share with you. Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Matt and Renato had a dream to own a bakery. Taking the idea they made the leap from the world of advertising to open Baked in Brooklyn, NY. At Baked, the menu features American desserts going beyond just cupcakes. Baked is now a well known, nationally recognized award winning bakery. The baking talents of Matt and Renato appeared in their first cookbook - Baked published in 2008. Baked Explorations is their second book.

Baked Explorations is a beautifully composed cookbook. The classic feel is apparent in the theme. The many full color photos are enticing, and will have you drooling. The chapters include Breakfast, Tarts and Pies, Cookies and Bars, Cakes and Confections and Pastry. Each turn of the page brought another mmmmmmm. As I was exploring all the fabulous recipes, I must say I was a little intimidated by some of the ingredients. Some of the recipes do contain ingredients I would not have in my kitchen all the time, but surprisingly most of the recipes can be made in the average kitchen.

What I enjoyed about Baked Explorations is the wonderful warm stories about each recipe. Matt and Renato share their memory of that particular recipe. It adds a personal touch. On to the recipes!

A sampling of the recipes inside Baked Explorations:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
New York-Style Crumb Cake
Double Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread
Almond Joy Tart
Whiskey Pear Tart
Heartland Turtle Bars
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
and many more mouthwatering recipes.

Here is a recipe you can try:

sweet & salty brownie
yield: 12 large brownies or 24 small brownies

for the filling
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

for the brownie
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into
1-inch cubes
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the assembly
1 ½ teaspoons fleur de sel
1 teaspoon coarse sugar

make the caramel
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with . cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in color (keep a close eye on the caramel at all times, as it goes from golden brown to black and burnt very quickly), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove for the heat, and slowly add the cream (careful, it will bubble up) and then the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

make the brownie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

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

Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

assemble the sweet & salty brownie
Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3⁄4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and coarse sugar.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

The brownies can be stored, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Recipe courtesy of Baked Explorations and Abrams Books.

As soon as I get my hands on the fleur de sel, I will be making these scrumptious brownies. I have a bunch of recipes bookmarked for my fall baking.

I really enjoyed Baked Explorations from cover to cover. It truly is a collection of great American classic desserts. A wonderful representation of flavors. For more information about Baked visit the website.

Stay Connected with Baked

You can purchase Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented from Abrams Books, Amazon or check with your local bookseller. Books make great gifts!

Authors: By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito; photographs by Tina Rupp
Imprint: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 1-58479-850-5
EAN: 9781584798507

Many thanks to Abrams Books for providing the review copy.

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy for this review. No monetary compensation was offered or accepted for this post. The opinions above are my own. Others experience may vary.

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