TWD: French Chocolate Brownies
This week’s TWD recipe, French Chocolate Brownies, comes to us from Di’s Kitchen Notebook. Thanks Di!!
Let me tell you how excited I was to be making brownies this weekend. It’s been at least a few months since I’ve made brownies and with the exception of my past two TWD recipes, the house has been completely devoid of sweets. And.It.Sucks. So anyway, Kyle and I had plans to go visit his twin brothers this weekend for their birthday and I knew Dorie’s French Chocolate Brownies would be making an appearance.
A little background…Kyle’s brothers, M and B, are 8 months younger than Kyle. They were born 3 months premature and way back in the mid-70s, prematurity didn’t bode well for babies. Unfortunately, there were complications during birth and both M and B have Cerebral Palsy. M’s diagnosis has always been pretty severe where he has been wheelchair-bound and fed through a feeding tube for years, and is severely cognitively and developmentally impaired. While B also uses a wheelchair, he is also able to walk with some assistance, doesn’t speak but communicates with his own form of sign language, and feeds himself. They have been living in a group home with a 5 other [now] men and are receiving some of the best care in the state of CT. They just turned 32 this weekend and have well-surpassed the life expectancy any doctor predicted when they were first diagnosed as toddlers. Though it might seem like a tough situation on the outside, they are thriving better than could be expected considering the severity level of their CP diagnoses.
So needless to say, when we go to visit, we bring food – both for Bryan and for the wonderful staff in the home. Bryan is about as big of an eater as Kyle is so I can always count on him to gobble up whatever I make for him. We figured out over the years that his favorite food combination is chocolate and peanut butter – he certainly knows his food!! So with Dorie’s brownies on the baking menu this weekend, I decided to change them up a little. I omitted the raisins and added 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp water and a bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips. I liked them. Kyle liked them. Bryan didn’t want anything to do with them. He smelled it and handed it back to me. I do hope he at least tried it again after we left because they were pretty good. Not the best. Not Ina’s. But pretty good…and the peanut butter chips were such a treat! They turned out a little crumbly but fairly moist nonetheless, which isn’t what I had heard from quite a few of the other TWDers.
Thanks again to Di for choosing this recipe. To see how the other TWDers fared this week, check out Tuesdays with Dorie.
Next week’s TWD recipe: Fresh Strawberry Tart as chosen by Marie of A Year from Oak Cottage
French Chocolate Brownies
source: adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
- 6 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 12oz bag Reese’s peanut butter chips
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you’re using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, peanut butter and water until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan peanut butter chips.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.