Friday, November 11, 2011

Emerald City Brownies

As many of you know, my other persona is that of a paper artist and I've written two books on creating 3-dimensional flowers, using craft punches, that can be used to adorn cards, boxes, frames, etc.  Definitely the best thing about this "job" is the wonderful, creative people in the craft world that I meet and collaborate with on projects.  One of those special people is Eileen Hull, whom I met at the 2011 Winter CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) trade show.  She is a designer and artist and is licensed by Ellison/Sizzix with her own line of die cuts.  In September, she sent me one of her newest die cuts--a suitcase and I was immediately inspired to create a project that exemplifies the last year and a half of my life after Kelly's passing and the friends who have helped me through it.
I've entitled this project "The Journey" and just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it epitomizes the friends we meet along the way in life to help us through the good, but also the bad times we may encounter.  I know, without doubt, my friends have shown me courage to look forward again,  knowledge that memories of our loved ones will sustain us, and most of all, love that has truly warmed my heart where the void of loss once was.

In addition to Eileen's unique suitcase, I used a paper collection called The Magic of Oz by Graphic 45--their perfect gingham paper for Dorothy's suitcase and the colorful character cards that surround the sides of the box adds to the story.  However, I bet, like me, your eye is drawn to the most perfect ruby slipper at the very top that acts as a vessel to hold my paper poppies.  Another dear friend I've met in this business and who happens to also live here in the Pacific Northwest is Ellen Hutson.  She has an online craft store, but is also a designer and when I showed her my drawing of what I wanted to do, she painstakingly came up with a ruby slipper done in a canvas self-adhesive paper and glitz up with an ultra fine red glitter.  I wish you could see this in person because after viewing The Wizard of Oz last Saturday evening on TBS, I can tell you this miniature version is very accurate...but then, Ellen wouldn't have done anything less!

The brownies, I've come up with to accompany this project, have a bright green center to symbolize The Emerald City, where Dorothy and her friends go to seek the help of The Wizard and happens to be the nickname of Seattle, where I live.  I've added a little bit of peppermint oil that makes you think you're eating either a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie or an Andes Mint, then, topped it off with a bittersweet glaze to seal this scrumptious dessert that makes any rainy day bearable!

Emerald City Brownies
Cake Brownies:
3/4 cup (12T) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
6 large eggs, separate the yolks and whites
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 T Vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 1T Queen Guinevere cake flour
1/2 cup +1T Dutch-processed 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  13" x 9" baking pan--line with aluminum foil, brushed with melted butter.  If you happen to have a springform 13" x 9" baking pan, like me, I brushed it with melted butter, lined the bottom with parchment paper, then, buttered again.
In a medium sauce pan, on med/low heat, melt the unsalted butter.  Remove from the heat and add the 6 oz of bittersweet chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Separate the eggs--place whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and use a whisk attachment to beat.  Lightly whisk the yolks, then add to the chocolate/butter mixture.  Add 3/4 cup sugar and the vanilla extract, beat to combine.
In a medium bowl, measure the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Stir to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until completely combined.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks forms.  Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar.  Continue to beat until stiff and glossy.
Stir in one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to "lighten" it.  Scrape the lightened chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites and fold to completely combine.  Try not to stir and deflate the egg whites.

I know this seems strange to separate the eggs, but here's my reasoning.  I prefer fudgy brownies, but sometimes, when I want a brownie that I'm going to top with other layers, I need a good foundation that a cake brownie provides.  However, I still want a moist, light brownie, and this step gives me that!
Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes...mine took 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the peppermint white chocolate ganache.

Peppermint White Chocolate Ganache
2 (8.82 oz) bars Valrhona Blanc, chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. peppermint oil
2 drops of blue and yellow food color
3 drops of green
3 T unsalted butter, soften to room temperature

In a "make-shift" double boiler, mix the white chocolate and heavy cream.  Heat over med/low heat, whisking to combine completely.  Remove from the heat and add the peppermint oil.  Stir to combine.
Using the whisk, add the unsalted butter, one-tablespoon at a time. 

Pour the ganache over the brownies and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze:
2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips
2 T Light Karo syrup

In a double boiler, mix the chocolate chips and Karo syrup.  Once the chocolate melts completely, remove brownies from the refrigerator and pour the glaze on top.  Use an off-set spatula to spread over the ganache.  Return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cutting.

The brownies are scrumptious and are the perfect finish to my project.

Count your life by smiles,
not tears.
Count your age by friends,
not years.

Tomorrow is my birthday and This Journey has made me realize how blessed I am to have friends.  Love to all.  Enjoy!


  1. Wow.... love your creations! Both of them!
    Happy Birthday to you also!

  2. I am happy to call you my friend, too!
    You are a wonderful person and artist.
    The cake would accompany my second visit to see "Wicked" just perfectly. I am still waiting for the tickets to be released. Can't wait.

  3. Kirsten~I've seen Wicked twice and thought it was one of the best plays ever! You'll love it...and you're right, these brownies would go great for an "after performance" treat.
    Wish I was near by to go with you. XOXO

  4. Happy Birthday, Susan!!!! I'm a huge, huge fan of Wizard of Oz (I really could go on...). Few know that I have a collection of the cutest little miniature versions of all the characters as mice (fabric arts). Enjoy your special day!! Hugs! :)

  5. Ellen...I bet you could easily add Creme de Menthe to the white ganache--tee hee!

  6. Hi Susan, I liked your story about the suitcase project. It is excellent. You know me and if you remember I'm not much of a chocolate eater but do like the idea of mint.
    stamping sue

  7. OH...those look sinful - you should have called them the "Wicked Witch" brownies - HE HE HE! Beautiful project and Hap Pei Birthday to My Peep!

  8. Akkk!!! Forgive me but I just found out that your blog was back open! Your sister Barb did NOT tell me. Now I have some catching up to do. Thank you ever so much for red devil moon pies. Were they ever a treat! And skyping with you while we were stitching and eating was cool. I'm proud to share my Scorpio birthday with you and wish you the best! Mary from Waynesboro & the S&Bs

  9. Happy Belated Birthday!

    Now those are awesome looking!

    And Susan, I am requesting you add a search tab to your blog so I can go back and search for some of your wonderful recipes that I know you posted and I didn't print when I read them the first time :)

  10. Allison~It's in the works with the "Label Cloud". I've gone back a year, but I have a lot more to do. Whew! I've posted a lot. LOL!!

  11. Susan, this dessert looks wickedly delicious! :-) I saw Wicked in NYC a year ago with my mom and stepdad and we had such a great time. Good memories! Thanks for making my dies so beautiful :-)

  12. I just found you via Eileen Hull and I have to say this project you made with the Graphic 45 papers is the best one I have seen. You really took this idea to the next level and its fabulous.

  13. We tasted those brownies and can say with certainly - THEYYYYYRRRRREEEE GREAT!

  14. These are beautiful! Great job!