By Angela Huston
Special to The Gazette
Brownies. Fudge. Tortes. Caramel candy enrobed in chocolate.
The recent Red Cross of Medina County Chocolate Festival, held Feb. 7, might make it seem as though we tout its delectable goodness more during the month of love, but for many, no day is complete without chocolate, no occasion necessary to indulge.
Its universal appeal keeps creative minds constantly seeking new and scrumptious ways to present this one-of-a-kind elixir, as evidenced in the festivalâ€™s prize-winning recipes guaranteed to tempt your taste buds.
Here are the 2009 winning recipes in the high school, adult professional and adult hobby categories:
Highland High School student pairs chocolate, coffee in recipe
The Gazette took Highland High School student Katie Stupeckiâ€™s recipe for a taste-test drive after shooting our final result. (Shirley Ware | Photo editor)
Highland High School freshman Katie Stupecki found a way to amp up the chocolate in her 2009 chocolate festival prize-winning recipe, â€œDouble Mocha Almond Brownies.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re VERY chocolatey,â€ Stupecki said via e-mail. â€œI really like the brownies, but then again, Iâ€™m a HUGE chocolate and coffee fan. I think they (the brownies) define what mocha desserts are supposed to be. Iâ€™ve never served them to anyone before, but I would have to say Iâ€™d serve them with a nice, tall glass of milk!â€
Although the 14-year-old said the recipe doesnâ€™t carry any personal connection, it still earns top honors.
â€œSadly, I really donâ€™t have that much history with the recipe,â€ said Stupecki, a Hinckley Township resident. â€œI adapted it from a Sandra Lee semi-homemade recipe.â€
Stupecki said she does not cook that often, but enjoys it very much when she does.
â€œI especially like making anything sweet but what I mostly like about it is the art and the way itâ€™s displayed.â€
Double Mocha Almond Brownies
Â½ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 large egg
Â¼ cup water
Â½ teaspoon Amaretto
1 cup chopped almonds
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
Â½ cup chocolate syrup
1Â½ teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
For brownies, in a large mixing bowl combine butter, brown sugar and coffee crystals. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cake mix, egg, water and Amaretto and beat until smooth. Stir in almonds.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread to edges. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack.
For icing, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. While beating, add powdered sugar one cup at a time. If not incorporating well, add milk. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in chocolate syrup and coffee crystals until smooth.
Let brownies cool. Once cooled, spread brownies with icing and cut into squares.
Medinaâ€™s Just Desserts owner bases her recipe from a favorite novel
A few months ago, Medina resident Peggy Barry, owner of Just Desserts, was reading a novel in which the characters were tasting cakes for a wedding.
â€œThey went into such detail, and it sounded so delicious I had to try to recreate it,â€ Barry said. â€œI played with it a bit, did a trial run for my co-workers, and their unanimous reaction was, â€˜Ohmigod, yes, MORE!â€™â€
Barry, a state-licensed professional, is the winner of four first-place titles in the chocolate festival.
Here is the recipe for her prize-winning entry in the Adult Professional category, â€œChocolate Toffee Torte.â€
Chocolate Toffee Torte
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 jar caramel topping
1 small carton heavy whipping cream
1 – 1Â½ cups dark chocolate chips
2 tubs chocolate frosting
4 toffee bars crushed
Prepare cake mix per package directions.
To make ganache, line cake pan (same size) with plastic wrap. Heat whipping cream and chocolate until thick and smooth. Pour into plastic lined pan and chill two hours.
After cakes are completely cooled, put a thin layer of frosting on the cake. Place ganache layer next. Add the caramel topping. Place the next cake layer. Completely frost. Add crushed toffee pieces to the sides of the frosted cake.
Brownies are â€˜killerâ€™
Oddly, Westfield Center resident Brenda Novak is not a dessert person, but she enjoys baking for others who are.
â€œMy cousin gave me this recipe,â€ Novak said. â€œUnfortunately, she passed away two months ago and didnâ€™t get to see it win this prize. Itâ€™s unique because itâ€™s not really a brownie. Itâ€™s different, and takes a lot of work because it has to be done in layers.â€
She added, â€œIâ€™ve always liked to bake, itâ€™s fun, and my husband likes desserts so I bake for him.â€
The prize-winning entry in the adult hobby category, â€œBrendaâ€™s Triple Layer Brownies,â€ which she calls â€œKiller Brownies,â€ are rich and keep well, although their popularity seems to make them disappear rather quickly.
Triple Layer Brownies
Makes: 48 1-inch squares
4 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Vanilla Cream Topping:
1 cup butter, melted
1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar
Â¼ cup half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Brownie Glaze (makes Â½ cup):
4 (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
Â¼ cup butter
For brownies, microwave chocolate and butter in a 2-quart glass bowl on HIGH for 1Â½ minutes or until melted, stirring twice. Add sugar, eggs, stirring until blended. Stir in flour and chopped pecans. Pour into a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 23 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.
To make Vanilla Cream Topping, stir together butter, powdered sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread cooled brownies with Vanilla Cream Topping; chill for 45 minutes.
To make Brownie Glaze, microwave chocolate squares and butter in a one-quart glass bowl on HIGH for 1Â½ minutes or until melted, stirring twice.
Pour Brownie Glaze over Vanilla Cream Topping and spread evenly. Chill for 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes; cut into 1-inch squares.