Suzi's Blog

Killer Brownies from Marc Forgione

wc-IMG_6048

 

Yesterday I posted a Coffee Nutella Ice Cream to be paired with this Killer Brownie. It’s dense and chocolaty. The crust, you can see from the picture, is thin and fragile. You could not frost these brownies, so ice cream is a sound way to “complete” the dish, although honestly it does not need anything in addition.

If you don’t want ice cream, then some whipped cream will tone down the intensity of this dessert. Or, you can go the other way. A glass of deep and dark red wine is a complement readily enjoyed.

Unlike most people, I can truthfully claim I have eaten more brownies than Oreos. Suzen and I have a shelf devoted to brownie books. Not cookie books. Brownie books. It is an American dessert, perhaps as much “the” American dessert as apple pie. The wife of the owner of the premiere Chicago Palmer House Hotel requested that her chef create a dessert for ladies attending the World Fair in Chicago 1893. The idea was to have something small, a cross between cake and cookie.

Bertha Palmer was married to Potter Palmer. He had founded a department store and sold it off — before it evolved into Marshall Field’s. He founded the Palmer House, only to lose it in the Great Chicago Fire. But he rebuilt and the Palmers were formidable and gracious members of Chicago society.

Bertha is forgotten now. But her desire, the brownie, is an institution as grand as any hotel or department store.


Killer Brownies

Yield: 8 really large ones

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup cake or all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl and melt and mix until creamed and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour, and salt into a bowl. Add half the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined, scraping down the bowl continuously. Repeat with the remaining half.

Grease and flour an 8-inch square cake pan. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out dry but with a crumb or two. The top should look dry, crater like, and crackly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Trim off the edges first [you can save for a great ice cream topping] and cut into even squares.

Source: Cooking by the Book Staff with info from Wikipedia

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2500

 

 

 

Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Loaf

wc-2013_07_26_1552

Grandsons often possess special powers. For example, if I want a marble cake, and I ask for it, Suzen is going to reply, “You have to watch your sugar intake! How many times ….”

On the other hand, our grandson Reid was visiting from Austin. “Can I have a marble cake?” he asked.

“Brian, find the best possible recipe,” Susan commanded me.

“Okay,” I acknowledged and backed away. I bowed slightly so Suzen could not see the smile on my face. Reid was stone-faced, not showing one hint of conspiracy. I want the kid to be a lawyer, with his acting skills, but maybe with such skills he should just be an actor. Well, not just an actor. He’s bound to get an Oscar, Emmy, Tony or probably all three. He convinced me at that moment of his angelic innocence.

I waited a reasonable amount of time, then reentered the kitchen with the recipe Reid and I had found the night before. Like I said: conspiracy.

In such a situation, where you may have only one shot before discovery, you make the shot count. There is a marvelous book, Cooking with Chocolate edited by Frédéric Bau, the Director of the École du Grand Chocolate Valrhona. This book was released in English in 2011. If you are a chocolate lover and have not yet discovered Cooking with Chocolate, it is time for an Amazon visit. I’ll post a full review in a few days. But, in the meantime, …

The book, of course, is impeccable. You know that every recipe has run the gauntlet from a battery of the world’s best chefs. There is a small picture on the recipe page for this cake, just a simple little snapshot of a slice of cake. Dark chocolate waves are embedded in a dough so richly yellow you just have to pause. What would this taste like?

Really good, actually. Moist with distinct chocolate and vanilla layers. The vanilla batter has 8 egg yolks [just like a good ice cream base!], so every bite is the definition of satisfaction. Extravagant satisfaction.

For something this good, the recipe is simple with a preparation time of just 20 minutes. It takes 50 minutes to an hour to bake and is dense, so after about 45 minutes you need to start checking for doneness with a long toothpick or, better, a skewer.

Quite honestly, this cake does not require frosting, sauce, whipped cream, ice cream or even just powdered sugar. It doesn’t. But, in the interest of continuing the conspiracy, I will supply a few ideas for accompaniment over the next few days. Decadence, like conspiracy, is not a sin. Well, not if it’s for a good cause. At least that’s what I told my grandson.

For this coming weekend, here is a family-pleasing dessert. If you have young children, giving them a spoon or fork with order to "make the marblilng" is a moment they will always remember.


Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Loaf

Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

For the vanilla batter:

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 ½ tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

For the chocolate batter:

  • 2 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, 70 percent cocoa
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup [2 ¾ ounces or 80 grams] cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grape-seed oil
  • A little melted butter to dip the spatula [optional]

 

Preparation:

Prepare the vanilla batter.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the cream. Slit the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder and incorporate them into the batter, then stir in the melted butter. Set aside.

Prepare the chocolate batter.

Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain-marie or in the microwave oven.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with the sugar, then stir in the cream. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together into the mixture and stir in. Then stir in the melted chocolate and grape-seed oil until just blended.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line the loaf pan with parchment paper. For a really attractive marbled pattern (see p. 132), pipe out one-third of the vanilla batter over the bottom of the pan. Then pipe out half of the chocolate batter lengthways through the center. Cover this with one-third of the vanilla batter and pipe out the remaining half of the chocolate batter lengthways through the center. Cover it with the remaining vanilla batter. Dip a spatula into a little melted butter and run it lengthways along the batter, making an incision about ½ inch deep so that the cake rises nicely.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the tip of a knife or cake tester comes out clean.

Turn the cake out onto a cake rack and leave it for about 10 minutes on its sides so that it retains its shape.

Source: Cooking with Chocolate edited by Frédéric Bau

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/15th second at ISO‑3200


wc-2013_07_26_1548