One of our local speciality markets here in Denver, Urban Pantry, is closing its doors, and everything is on sale. Right now, the discount is only 25%, but I rushed over there anyway, in the hopes of scoring some Valrhona Cocoa powder. I snagged the very last box.
At first, I was sorely tempted to stash it away for future baking. I have been guilty of hording away my favorite baking items and never using them (shameful, I know).
However, I am determined to use this cocoa powder in the best ways possible: hot cocoa, brownies, and chocolate cake. Granted it’s only 8.8 oz of cocoa powder, but such rich cocoa powder goes a long way. I figure I can get 1 chocolate cake, 2 batches of brownies, and hopefully 2 cups of hot cocoa out of it.
Today I made a batch of my favorite brownies. I decided on brownies first because I also have a 2.2 lb. block of Caro 68% bittersweet chocolate. This chocolate is from Aragon, Spain, and is insanely good. It is rich and well rounded in flavor. There are no overly robust or nuanced flavors in this chocolate, unlike Green & Black’s 70% chocolate, which, in my opinion, makes it perfect for baking (Green & Black’s is a VERY good eating chocolate, but its robust and nuanced flavors get lost in baking). Honestly, it’s very difficult to keep myself from sampling too much of this chocolate when I’m chopping it.
These brownies are rich and intense in chocolate. They are also nicely fudgey and chewy without being too dense, which keeps them from being overwhelming. These are perfect served with espresso or a nice cup of Cafe Crema.
I don’t know if there is a brownie recipe like this out there somewhere, but I adapted this recipe from one off the back of a Domino’s Sugar Box some years ago (the original Domino’s recipe can be found on Michael Chu’s site, Cooking for Engineers)...
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
6 oz unsalted butter
1 tsp. espresso powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dutched cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional: 1/2 tsp of ground chipotle powder (the little spicy kick is amazing with chocolate)
3 lg. whole eggs
1.25 cup sugar
.5 cup of all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Prepare an 8x8 or 9x9 pan to your preference ( I use two pieces of parchment paper to create a sling to lift the cooled brownies out of the pan)
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth. Whisk in the espresso powder, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and chile powder if using. Set aside to cool slightly (should still be fluid and about body temperature). Put the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over hot water bath. Whisk eggs and sugar together until eggs are warmed and sugar is dissolved.
Whip the eggs/sugar for about 6 minutes on high speed until thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on medium-low speed slowly add in the chocolate/butter mixture. Once all the chocolate is added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip on high speed for about 1-2 minutes until the mixture is fully blended. Take the bowl off the mixer and sift in the flour over the chocolate mixture. Fold in by hand with a rubber spatula until the batter is well mixed and no streaks of flour remain.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached—about 22-28 minutes. Cool COMPLETELY before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.
Next up is Rose’s Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake. Yum-yum!