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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cast Iron Skillet Brownies...

61 degrees - 10:08 pm - quiet night...

Just curious...how many of you out there cook with cast iron? 

I didn’t until recently.  Can I just say that I now love cooking with cast iron.  Not because it’s fancy and super duper high tech.  It’s quite the opposite.  It’s a heavy duty, mean, rustic, non-stick multi-purpose machine!

Whether it be enchiladas, cornbread, frito beef skillet, or brownies, I know I can count on my cast iron skillet to deliver the goods.

Here are some helpful facts about cast iron that you should know:

Bare Cast Iron – Types of bare cast-iron cookware include dutch ovens, frying pans, deep fryers, tetsubin, woks, potjies, flattop grills and griddles.  Bare cast-iron vessles have been used for cooking for hundreds of years.  Cast iron’s ability to withstand and maintain very high cooking temperatures make it a common choice for searing or frying, and its excellent heat diffusion and retention makes it a good option for long-cooking stews or braised dishes.  Because cast iron skillets can develop an extremely “non-stick” surface, they are also a good choice for egg dishes, particularly scrambled eggs.  Other uses of cast iron pans include making cornbread, peach cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake.

Health Effects – Cast iron cookware leaches small amounts of iron into the food.  Anemics, and those with iron deficiencies, may benefit from this effect, thought those with excess iron issues (for example, people with hemochromatosis) may suffer negative effects.

Seasoning – A seasoned pan has a stick-resistant coating created by polymerized oils and fats.

How To Season Your Cast Iron – 1.Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position one rack in the top third of the oven.  Position another rack in the bottom third of the oven and place an empty foil lined baking sheet on the bottom rack.  This sheet will catch any drippings from the cast iron. 
2.Open your windows or turn on your stove hood fan.  There may be a bit of smoke. 
3.Over a medium flame, rub a thin layer (about 1 Tablespoon) of vegetable shortening (like Crisco), oil, or bacon grease works great too, all over the inner bottom and sides of the pan with a paper towel and tongs. 
4.Place the oiled pan upside down in the heated oven over the foil lined baking sheet. 
5.Bake the cast iron for 1 hour.  Turn the oven off and allow the cast iron to cool to room temperature in the oven.  Repeat this process 3 or 4 times for best results.
When the pan is perfectly seasoned, the inside will be smooth and shiny.

Cleaning – Because ordinary cookware cleaning techniques like scouring or washing in a dishwasher can remove or damage the seasoning on a bare cast iron pan, these pans should not be cleaned like most other cookware.  Some cast iron aficionados advocate never cleaning cast iron pans at all, simply wiping them out after use, or washing them with hot water and a stiff brush.  Others advocate washing with mild soap and water, and then re-applying a thin layer of fat or oil.  A third approach, advocated by chef Alton Brown, is to scrub with coarse salt and paper towel or clean rag.

Now that you got a little lesson on how hard this pan can work...here is a recipe to indulge in, after your hard day at work!


~Cast Iron Skillet Brownies~
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons (half stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs.  In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.

In a medium cast iron skillet, bring butter and cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Add chocolate; reduce to medium-low.  Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate has melted, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and let cool 5 mintues.

Add chocolate mixture to sugar mixture, whisking until blended (reserve skillet).  Fold in flour mixture.  Pour batter into skillet.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  {Note: for a gooeyer brownie bake for about 35 minutes}

For an even more decadent treat, serve with ice cream and strawberries!

This is the perfect reward after a loooong day of being super mom/wife/daughter/sister/chauffeur/housekeeper/chef/etc...

---Enjoy!

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