Have you ever wondered where time goes ? I was out walking my sweet little Hailey during a recent sun break this week and as we followed our familiar path I could hear sounds of the kitchen coming from various houses we passed. You know those sounds, pots clanging when you pull out the one that is on the very bottom, silverware chiming and tinkling as you gather it for the table, the gentle clatter of the dinner plates. And then I realized , Winter is gone and Spring has arrived. Everyone has thrown open their doors to allow the fresh air of Spring easy entry into their lives. We were buttoned up and wrapped in sweaters for so many months just waiting for the snow to come and it didn't. Mother Nature was easy on us this Winter and she is now treating us to so much greenness and so many flowers . It's as if she can't wait and doesn't want to pace herself over 2 or 3 months so she is pushing all her little tulips and daffodils and hyacinths out into the world all at once .
I am trying to teach myself to savor each and every moment. Sometimes it seems as though those moments can disappear -poof like a little wisp of fog,gone but never really forgotten. Do you remember when you were 12 or 13years old and thought that turning 21 was a century away and would never happen ? Sometimes I long for those days when time seemed to move much slower.
I decided that since this was such a lovely week I didn't need chocolate to alleviate my stress but I was longing for something from another time-when time moved much slower. I remembered brownies, and the surprise of finding them in my lunchbox along with newspaper clippings about the high school baseball pitcher I had a crush on-thanks mom-those were always special little surprises and it took the passing of time for me to realize how special. So in honor of those moments I give you brownies . You can make these according to the recipe, and they are incredible, or you can make them a little more special to bring back the sweetness of that moment in time that is gone but always in your heart.
Heart of Darkness Brownies
adapted from a Maeda Heater recipe
These are dense with a crackly crust, they have a little tang from the sour cream which also adds the moisture. The dusting of sugar helps a nice crackly crust to form. I planned on icing these with ganache so I eliminated the dusting of sugar.
Note: It is very important to use good quality, bittersweet chocolate, with 60 to 72% cocoa solids. Don’t be tempted to substitute Nestle’s or Baker’s chocolate in this recipe. You are going to all the trouble of making your own brownies, go the extra step and buy the better chocolate-you won’t be sorry. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive higher end brand of chocolate -just keep an eye on the percentage of cocoa solids.
12 oz / 340g bittersweet chocolate, at room temperature, chopped into small chunks
12 oz / 340g unsalted butter (plus about 2 tsp for greasing pan)
1-1/4 cups / 238g white sugar
2 Tbl / 24g (approx) additional sugar for dusting
3/4 cup / 100g all-purpose flour
1/4 cup / 24g cocoa powder (plus about 2TB for dusting pan)
1 tsp / 6g salt
4 large eggs /200g
2/3 cup / 140g sour cream
1 Tbl / 14g vanilla extract
Optional: chopped nuts or chocolate chunks
-Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat
-Whisk in sugar until smooth and thick
-Sift and thoroughly stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt
-Whisk into the butter/sugar mixture until smooth.
-Turn heat as low as possible, and stir chocolate into butter/sugar/cocoa mixture until mostly melted. --- -Remove from heat, and continue stirring until smooth. allow to cool until just above room temperature; about 80 degrees F. it should become fairly thick. you can speed the cooling process by putting the pan in a water bath and stirring.
-While mixture is cooling, preheat oven to 300° with rack in center.
-Grease baking pan and lightly dust with cocoa powder. optionally, line the bottom with a greased/dusted with cocoa sheet of parchment, to make serving easier.
-Shortly before chocolate mixture is cooled, combine eggs and sour cream in a medium bowl. whisk until well mixed, pale, and a bit frothy. do not try to incorporate enough air to increase the volume. stir in the vanilla.
-Stir egg mixture into the other ingredients (if the saucepan is big enough, just do it in the pan). If mixture gets thick and lumpy, it means the chocolate has cooled too much--return it to the stove, and stir over low heat. mixture should get fairly smooth.
-If you're incorporating any chopped nuts or chocolate chunks, stir them in.
-Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. dust a light, even coating of sugar over the top .
-Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on oven and batch size. batter should rise evenly from center to edge. the top surface should look uniform. a tester should come out of the center dirty, but without any large chunks of batter attached. better undercooked than overcooked.
-Allow to cool on cooling rack. they can be served room temperature, warm (very soft), or chilled (like fudge). they keep a long time at room temperature or refrigerated, but crust will soften quickly.
These brownies are delicate; be careful cutting and serving. they should be cooled to room temperature (or ideally chilled) before slicing.
And because I love chocolate so much and these were being prepared for my Chocoholic Friday I made them a little fancier by baking them in a 9" round tart pan. After they cooled and I removed them from the pan, I sliced the tart into 16 delicate slivers. I then prepared chocolate ganache and coated the brownies with the ganache. Once coated I chilled the ganache. After the chilling I whipped the ganache and used a pastry bag to pipe little rosettes on the ganache coated brownies . I then dusted them with a grating of fresh nutmeg.
8 ounces /227g bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup /180 ml heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.
Voila-my brownies, dressed to the nines !