This week’s selection was chosen by Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook: French Chocolate Brownies. I decided to stick pretty close to Dorie on this one. First, these brownies sounded good just from reading the recipe. Secondly, I had significantly altered several of the recent recipes (no sticky buns at all, altered quintuple brownies instead of madeleines, Florida “tart” instead of pie sans coconut, etc.). This week, I was ready to just sit back and let Dorie lead the way.
I was also without my usual sous chefs. Summer finally came to KC and we spent a LOT of time outdoors and in the water over the weekend. They were worn thin by the time I got into the kitchen. Frankly, that was fine this week. As I suspect is true of many of us, I often use my kitchen — especially time spent with sugar, flour, butter and eggs — as therapy. Sunday was a melancholy day and I was happy to be in my kitchen alone without directing traffic. It was, however, a lonely bowl with no eager taste testers in sight.
I love raisins but wasn’t sure how they would fit into this recipe. I was too curious not to fire ’em up. And I am glad I did. I thought they added a nice surprise. My mom (of the infamous sweet tooth) loved the addition without even realizing they were raisins. I did get a little flame but was not clearly quick enough with the camera.
I topped them with some whipped cream and put them into little glasses inherited from my Great Aunt Adeline. I love having pieces in my kitchen that remind me of loved ones and these brought a smile to my face. The brownies were so good I took the left overs to work…way too dangerous to leave around the house. They were so easy to make; they could easily become a regular in the brownie rotation.
Next week: La Palette’s Strawberry Tart. I love fresh berries! For an overdose of chocolate brownie goodness check out the other posts here.
French Chocolate Brownies
– makes 16 brownies –
Adapted from 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 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4oz bittersweet and 2 oz semi-sweet cuz that is what I had)
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
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 and sugar 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.
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.