Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I *Heart* Brownies

Since the days of the Aztecs chocolate has been used as a gift. Today a box of luxurious quality chocolate says a thousand “thank you’s”, “good luck”, or “I love you”. Chocolate can be given as a way of saying “congratulations”, “I am sorry” or “get well soon”. On Valentine’s Day chocolate clearly says “I LOVE YOU!”

Chocolate is heavenly, mellow, sensual, deep, dark, sumptuous, gratifying, potent, dense, creamy, seductive, suggestive, rich, excessive, silky, smooth, luxurious, celestial. Chocolate is downfall, happiness, pleasure, love, ecstasy, fantasy … chocolate makes us wicked, guilty, sinful, healthy, chic, happy. What more could you want to say to your loved one on Valentines Day? Even the scientific name for the tree from which chocolate is derived, Theobroma cacao, translated from Greek, means “food of the gods."

As a Valentine treat this year, I decided to create chocolate heart brownies. 

One of my favorite brownie recipes comes from the "Baked" bakery in New York City.  The Baked brownie is a little bit cakey, and very fudge like. The recipe calls for the addition of instant espresso powder,  which creates an incredible depth of chocolate flavor. 

When making any chocolate confection, it's important to use the very best chocolate possible.  I use Valrohna chocolate in most all my chocolate recipes.

Instead of baking the brownies in a traditional 9x13 pan, I decided to bake them on a 1/4 sheet rimmed baking sheet.  I had to watch the baking time closely to not overbake the brownies.  The recipe called for a 30 minute baking time; the 1/4 sheet pan took only 22 minutes. 

Once cooled, I whipped up a silky chocolate ganache.  Making a delicious ganache is easy:  8oz of the very best semi sweet chocolate, and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Melt them together in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until smooth.  Allow the ganache to cool approximately 30 minutes then spread over the entire pan of brownies. 

I placed the brownies in the freezer until the ganache hardened.  Once removed from the freezer, use a small heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the chocolate heart brownies.  Be careful!  Excessive crumb build up on the cutter will not allow for a clean cut.  I cleaned the cutter after every third or fourth brownie. 

The rich explosion of chocolate flavor will not only melt in your mouth, it will melt your heart. 


Elaine said...

Mmmm....I would love one of those! My family calls Matt's brownies, "Best Ever Brownies." I have not made them with the ganache - it looks sinfully delicious!

Anonymous said...

Oh Kenn! These look so good. I am always tempted to buy the Valrhona chocolate - but the price puts me off - does it make much difference?
I will take your advice on all chocolate matters after seeing those chocolate hearts!


mike said...

Exquisite! What a great gift idea! Everyone loves brownies - even with that gawd-awful valrohna! :)

Carol said...

Wow, your brownies look extremely rich and wonderful!I have never used Valrohna chocolate. I'm going to have to try it now.

Kenn said...

Valrohna (in my opinion) is the very best chocolate for your money. It is a bit pricey, but the result is far superior in taste to some of the other commercial brands. There is this depth to the chocolate that I've only found with Valrohna.
Even if you substitute another favorite chocolate, make sure you add a teaspoon or so of instant espresso powder. The espresso just does something to the chocolate. It's a taste explosion!