Travel Report: New York & Food Network Studios

Guest Recipe:  Dark Chocolate Espresso Kissed Brownies with Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting

Can you imagine:  fifty-four hours of non-stop talking about food, eating food, shopping for food items, and touring Food Network studios while your friend is taping a segment for the Cooking Channel?  Too much!  And that’s exactly what happened earlier this year.  My friend, Teri, who I met at the Cooking Light Ultimate Readers Recipe Contest a few years ago, won a brownie recipe contest with her Dark Chocolate Espresso Kissed Brownies with Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting and was one of thirteen home cooks selected to be showcased on Kelsey Nixon’s TV show The Perfect 3.  Teri graciously invited me to be her “+1″ on her winning trip, so off to New York City I flew.

Now Mr. Darcy is a good man, but usually 4.25 minutes into any food-only conversation he’s nodding his head and looking in my general direction, but his eyes are glazed over and I just know he’s thinking about what the river levels might be on the Skykomish or dreaming up a new fly pattern to land a Stilly steelhead.  So heading to New York to be a part of Teri’s adventure was a special treat for sure.  Fifty-four fun-filled hours of all things food in New York City.

So becasue I was coming in from the West Coast, I arrived the night before Teri did. By the time I got to my hotel, it was late and I didn’t venture out. But in the morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin from a street vendor and headed up to Rockefeller Center for a trip to the Top of the Rock. It was a foggy (smoggy?) morning, but the views were still spectacular. I never get tired of this city.

One of the first things I noticed about the Big Apple is how absolutely friendly everyone was.  New Yorkers have such a reputation of being aggressive and direct.  I just didn’t see that side of the city at all.  Everyone we came into contact with was helpful and nice.  I wonder, is this an after-effect of 9/11?  Are New Yorkers kinder now?  Did I just happen to cross paths with only friendly people in my short time in the city, from every taxi driver to merchant to people on the street?  Or do New Yorkers feign that reputation of abruptness like we in Seattle tell people it rains all of the time so that more people won’t move here?  Oh wait, I’m not supposed to say that.  It’s against the Seattle code.  Shhh, OK?  Don’t tell.  It rains all the time here in Seattle, I swear.

By the time I got back to my hotel, Teri was in the city and I met her at her hotel and the food fun began!  Our first stop was the original Shake Shack location in Madison Square Park – you know I can’t pass up a good burger!  We arrived just before Noon and the line wasn’t as long as I’ve seen on their shack-cams before. 

I ordered the single Shake Shack burger and was pleasantly impressed.  While not a fancy burger, it’s a really good basic burger – way above your average “fast food” burger.  The sauce is tasty and the meat just melts in your mouth.  And I love crinkle cut fries. L.O.V.E.

Next up was a trip to the New York Cakes & Baking Supply store.  This place is amazing.  And while I’m not a baker, I was easily entertained for the hour or so we spent in the shop.  Not only did I find some silicone molds for the new Jelly Shot Test Kitchen cookbook I recently acquired for my cookbook collection, but I also found a tiny, 4-inch spring form pan perfect for appetizer cheesecakes.  Teri, who is a baker extraordinaire, found a bunch of unique items too, for her many baking projects. 

We then hit Fish Eddy’s where they have tons of interesting and retro inspired housewares – plates, glassware, serving dishes, flatware and more.  We walked through shops with gorgeous rugs and home decor items, and then found ourselves at Eataly – an absolutely giant marketplace with restaurants and specialty foods, beverages and items representing all regions of Italy.  It was a bustling and busy place with a great vibe.  We sat at a counter to enjoy a light snack to fuel us on our foodie trek.

From there we jumped on the subway and headed uptown to Dylan’s Candy Bar for some sweets.  Since we were close to Central Park, we took a short walk through it to the Plaza Hotel where we stopped in just to take in the grandeur of the lobby.  Just gorgeous.

Our last stop before walking back to Chelsea (yes, we walked 12.5 miles that day – I had my pedometer on), was to Momofuku Milk Bar for cookies and milk.  We tried the Compost Cookie – chock full of crushed potato chips, coffee beans, rolled oats, pretzels and more – and the Cornflake-Marshmallow.  The cookies were thin, crispy/chewy and packed with brown sugary goodness.  I liked the Cornflake-Marshmallow best.

The next morning was THE BIG DAY.  We headed over to Chelsea Market and up to the Food Network studios via a very unassuming and unmarked elevator (sneaky!).  Here Teri and I are in the test kitchens where Teri got to view her brownies that had been prepped for her in advance by the Food Network test kitchen staff.

We were escorted to the green room where Teri got her makeup done and we met the production staff and the hostess and cook of The Perfect Three, Kelsey Nixon.  She is a doll, by the way.  Kelsey spent some time with us, answering our questions and telling us about what it’s been like for her going from a Next Food Network Star contestant who didn’t win, to a Cooking Channel show hostess with her own show.

While I wasn’t allowed into the studio during Teri’s taping (Studio B, Rachael Ray was taping something in Studio A at the time), they had a monitor set up in the green room so that I could watch the segment being recorded.  And can I tell you, Teri was great!  She didn’t need any retakes for her speaking portions.  She is a natural on camera and I can’t wait to see the brownie episode when it airs on October 16 at 8:30am Eastern (check the Cooking Channel episode info here).

But you don’t have to wait two weeks to see Teri’s video for her brownies.  You can watch it here (scroll through the videos below the player to select her webisode) and you can get her recipe for her contest winning, super moist and fudgy Dark Chocolate Espresso Kissed Brownies with Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting here and below.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Kissed Brownies with Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Teri Ralston
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 24 mins
Total time: 44 mins
Serves: 9
These brownies are a dark chocolate ooey, gooey delight enhanced by a kiss of espresso powder and finished with creamy mascarpone frosting.
  • Brownie:
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (recommended: Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup), melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (scant)
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch by 8-inch pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray parchment with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and stir until the mixture is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Stir in cocoa, espresso powder, vanilla, salt, and baking powder until well mixed. Stir in eggs until blended. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, 20 to 24 minutes.
  3. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting: Beat the butter and mascarpone together in a large mixing bowl until smooth and well combined. Add in the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat well. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat until smooth. If the mixture looks curdled, keep beating until it becomes thick and smooth. Spread the frosting over the brownies, cut into 9 squares and serve.

Teri’s Recipe Notes: The key steps to making this dish unique and successful is the use of the highest quality ingredients, especially the chocolate; heating the butter and sugar together in the first part of the recipe; a light hand when stirring in the flour; a pinch of sea salt in the frosting, and finally not over baking the brownies.
Make sure the mascarpone is at room temperature otherwise it might “break” (look curdled) when making the frosting. If that happens, just add in the sugar and beat it together.
If you don’t absolutely love dark chocolate, add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to the brownie batter for a slightly sweeter taste.


Teri and I celebrated her taping success by eating dinner at Bar American (yes, Bobby Flay was there!) and catching a Broadway show.  It was such a fabulous fifty-four hour adventure and I am forever grateful to Teri for inviting me.

Congratulations Teri, on just one of your many recipe contest wins and thank you for letting me be a part of it!!

Yum, don’t those look great?!

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8 Responses to Travel Report: New York & Food Network Studios

  1. Teri says:

    Great recap of a fabulous trip with a wonderful friend! I am thrilled we were able to share such a memorable time together!!! Can’t wait for our next adventure!

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun! Love all the pics especially the one of the brownies! Yum! We need to get Teri blogging and join us for a blogging conference…. :)

  3. Tracy says:

    Great recap and pictures. You ladies look as gorgeous as ever. I’m not at all surprised Teri was great on camera. Can’t wait to see the episode! I’ve got to get back into cooking contest mode. Haven’t entered anything in ages.

    • Lizzie says:

      Tracy, I’m with you. I only have one entry floating out there right now. I want to get back into contesting, but haven’t been inspired as of late….

  4. Angela FRS says:

    How much fun is this? With two of my most-favorite people, no less. I have to comment on your burger fixation, however….

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