Thursday, November 23, 2006

Recipe Time #3: Coffee Nut Brownies with Cafe Au Lait Ganache Glaze

A wonderful recipe I've adapted from Bon Appetit's Jamaican Coffee Brownie (a magazine I subscribe to and read almost religiously)- it's fairly easy and good enough to make anyone swear off making brownies from a boxed mix - particularly for those who are sticklers about ingredient quality. And a little slice of heaven for me, a combination chocoholic & caffeine addict; the intensity of this treat is like eating a cafe mocha (the version with full-fat milk and real chocolate.)

The below recipe is for a 13x9 pan -- which can be cut into 8 to 16 decent pieces. Of course, for different sized pans, adjust ingredients proportionally and/or the cooking time.

Coffee Nut Brownie Ingredients:
15 tablespoons unsalted butter (chopped into small cubes/pats)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons finely ground coffee (at least espresso fine)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
about 1 cup walnut pieces

Cafe au Lait Ganache Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup bittersweet/semisweet chocolate chips (I used Callebaut's 56% semisweet)
1/3 cup strong, freshly-brewed coffee (or re-heated to simmering)
a splash of heavy cream

Optional toppings:
Walnut halves (1 for every piece of brownie)
Chocolate covered coffee beans (ditto)

First, heat a saucepan of water till simmering, and put butter, cocoa, sugar & coffee in a large bowl. As you can tell from below, my butter cubes aren't particularly small, which meant more elbow grease work later . . .
Stir the ingredients over the saucepan of boiling water ~ a process made much easier with smaller butter pieces and if brought to room temperature. Be sure to also scrape the sides frequently to make sure everything is well-mixed.

Even when properly combined, it should be very thick and gritty.
Remove from heat and let it cool down (so that the eggs they won't instantly cook when mixed in) ~ meanwhile preheat the oven to 350. When the mixture is lukewarm, stir in eggs and vanilla extract. After blending that in, sift the flour into the batter and whisk away.
It should be a thick batter-like consistency by now, so throw in the walnut pieces, give it a few quick whiskings.
Afterwards, spread it on a 13x9 pan and pop it in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes. (Of course, employ the toothpick test to see if it's done ~ poke it in the center of the brownie and see if it comes out pretty clean.)

While the brownies are baking, you can clean up the prep area and also begin making the simple Cafe au Lait ganache glaze. Alternatively, you can make this glaze a day ahead of time.

Simply throw in the semisweet chips, hot coffee & the splash of heavy cream in a small bowl. I advise using a fairly strong brew of coffee so the flavor really comes through.
Then mix until smooth.
Then set aside or chill. You can heat this up (gently, over a saucepan of simmering water) for spreading.
When the brownies are done, remove from oven and let it rest for an hour:
As you can see, not the prettiest baked good on the block -- which is where the glaze comes in! Be liberal, there's plenty to cover the whole thing (and even some extras for you to lick off the spoon.)
Afterwards, put in fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the glaze settle a little, then chop it up. If so desired, add a few decorative & tasting toppings (I opted for a walnut half and a chocolate-covered espresso bean). And of course, everyone's favorite part - eating it all up!

Just like the magazine that inspired this dish - Bon Appetit!


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I'm salivating just looking at these pictures.


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