Monday, February 15, 2010

In a Pierre Herme Frame of Mind

When I woke up this morning the fog was so thick I thought the clouds had fallen from the sky. It took what seemed like hours to drive to work and at every turn I kept feeling like I would fall off the end of the planet. It was very quiet except for the symphony of the foghorns. By noon the sun had burned off most of the fog and sunny blue skies looked down on Seattle.

My mood was so uplifted I thought what could I do in my kitchen today? I have been trying to translate Pierre Herme's Macaron book, and trust me it's a challenge since I am by no means fluent in French. But I feel as though I'm accomplishing 2 things, learning French and learning the Pierre Herme method for Macarons!

Yes I know we have been inundated with macarons but I love them and I have always been afraid of trying the complicated process but I'm throwing aside my fears and I'm going to try my first attempt at baking them this week. Why you ask the delay, why not today? Because the egg whites must age-sounds crazy doesn't it, but it has to do with the chemistry, I’m not even going to try and explain.

Anyway while the egg whites are aging I must find something else to bake and since I'm in a Pierre Herme frame of mind what better then some delicious brownies from his Chocolate Desserts book, written by Dorie Greenspan.

First of all I began with my mise en place:
I followed the recipe except I was out of Valhrona chocolate so I used the Green & Black's Dark Dark chocolate. I used pecans which I roasted as PH recommends.

Can I tell you the brownies almost didn't get baked -the batter was so incredibly delicious I couldn't stop testing and tasting it!! Step away from the mixing bowl!!

I couldn't wait for these to cool but I was very well behaved and waited about 45 minutes before I sliced them. They are absolutely heavenly, so light, so moist and so tasty. Will they make it to the office tomorrow? Or will they disappear tonight? Check back later and find out!

Here is the recipe, which has been published on the Internet. I do recommend you buy the book if you don't have it in your baker's library-there are so many fabulous recipes. Enjoy!

"So that the flavor of the nuts really stands out, I toast them and cut them into big pieces. And while I often use walnuts, the traditional nut for this bar cookie, I am just as likely to make brownies with pecans. I like the way the pecans' sweetness blends with the chocolate." Pierre Hermé

5 ounces  bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraïbe, finely chopped)
2-1/4 sticks  unsalted butter (at room temperature)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups  sugar (I use Baker's Sugar which is superfine
1-cup  all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1-1/4 cups pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted , coarsely chopped


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F . Butter a 9 x 12-inch baking pan, fit the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, butter the paper, and then dust the inside of the pan with flour; tap out the excess and set the pan aside.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over — not touching — simmering water or in the microwave oven. Be very careful if using the microwave that you don't burn the chocolate. Use 20seconds spurts of power and stir to ensure it has your full attention. Remove the chocolate from the heat and leave it on the counter to cool slightly. The chocolate should be warm to the touch (no more than 115°F , as measured on an instant-read thermometer when you mix it with the other ingredients.

Working in a bowl with a flexible rubber spatula (or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy but not fluffy or airy. Stir in the chocolate. Gradually add the eggs, and then add the sugar, followed by the flour and nuts, stirring only until each ingredient is incorporated. (If the mixture separates when you add the eggs, use a whisk to blend the batter and continue with the whisk when you add the sugar; go back to the spatula or paddle for the flour and nuts.) This is not a batter to be beaten or aerated.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 19 to 22 minutes; at this point, the top of the cake will be dry, but a knife inserted in the center will come out wet. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the brownies to cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan and unmold the brownies; remove the parchment paper and turn the brownies over to cool to room temperature right side up. When you are ready to serve, cut the brownies into 18 pieces.

Yield: Makes 18 brownies

Keeping: The brownies can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

1 comment:

Sandra Austoni said...

Your brownies look very good and you cannot go wrong with Pierre Herme. Thank you so much for adding my blog (L'esprit Sud Magazine) to your list, that's very sweet of you. I wish you a very pleasant day in Seattle!