Not Just Cupcakes

My dabblings in food photography and cooking...

The Best Light Walnut Brownie

(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tbsp low fat sour cream
  • 1 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

1.  Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.  Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for 1 to 3 minutes, stirring every 1 minute.  Let it cool slightly.

3.  Add sugar, sour cream, chocolate syrup, egg, egg white and vanilla to melted chocolate mixture.  Fold in flour mixture with rubber spatula in 3 additions until just incorporated.

4.  Spread batter into prepared pan (batter will be thick) and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached (For a truly fudgy consistency, do not overbake).  Cool completely in pan set on wire rack for about 2 hours.  Cut into 2 inch squares.

Mini Pecan Tarts

Inspired by Flo Braker’s Sweet Miniatures:

Tart Pastry:

  • 2-1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Pecan Filling:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups of finely chopped pecans

For Tarts:  Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor or stand mixer with flat beater attachment.  Mix to just blend ingredients.  Add butter and mix until mixture has the consistency of cornmeal.

Mix egg and vanilla together and add to flour/butter mixture.  Mix until it forms a ball.  Remove the dough and hand press dough together until smooth.

For pecan filling:  Beat butter and sugar together until creamy.  Add egg and mix until incorporated then stir in pecans.

Preheat over to 350 F.

Using a non-stick 24 mini muffin pan, drop 1 heaping teaspoon of dough into each muffin tin.  Roll each into a ball.  This helps to shape the tart more evenly. Press the dough into the tins:  press center of dough ball into the tin and then press dough up the sides to distribute evenly. Add pecan filling to each tart and bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden.  Remove from oven to rack to cool.

Christmas Spritz Cookies


  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Equipment needed: cookie press

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Preheat oven to 400F and load cookie press with dough.  Press cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment.  If using, add sprinkles, raw sugar, or other decorations.  Bake 8 minutes or until bottom of cookies start to brown. Cool on baking rack.