Monday, October 16, 2017

Coconut Bounty Bar Brownies

As a kid (and even as a teenager), I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house (Nonna's and Nonno's).

They had 11 grandchildren and man, we must've drove them crazy. We destroyed the backyard making pies out of mud and dug up her rose bushes... We flooded the yard with our tiny blow-up pool and pretty much ruined their tiny lawn. Despite all of that her magical roses flourished every year.

Once in a while Nonna would give us a couple of dollars each and sent us to the convenience store around the corner. She said we could buy whatever we wanted and I always, I mean ALWAYS, bought Bounty Bar. I guess now looking back this seems kind of strange for a kid... coconut is polarizing to some people and most kids go for colourful Smarties, Kit Kat or gummy bears... I love those things too (except the Smarties - gross. M&M's for life!)

But I just loved the soft chewy coconut covered in chocolate. I still do, except now I make them at home. That's not to say I'd turn down a Bounty Bar if you offered one. So please don't stop offering...

These brownies re-create that candy bar in square form. Imagine dipping these entirely in dark chocolate? Whoa.

I have other plans (re: chocolate sauce) but a hard chocolate shell sounds pretty incredible too.

The best thing about this recipe, like most recipes, is that it is easy and extremely rewarding. The brownie base comes together in a few easy steps with unsweetened chocolate. They are dark and rich to balance the extra sweetness we need to make that chewy coconut filling.

Normally when I use unsweetened chocolate to make brownies I increase the granulated sugar in the recipe to account for the lack of sugar in the chocolate. For example, my standard go-to fudge brownie recipe uses 1 cup of sugar with dark or bittersweet chocolate that has between 60 and 70% cocoa solids. That means the remaining 30-40% is sugar. So this brownie batter will a bit on the darker side, but still plenty sweet enough to be delicious (I mean, it's still 1 cup of sugar!).

The main reason why I often advise people not to reduce sugar in a recipe for the simple sake of sweetness is that sugar plays a very important function - it keeps things moist.

To make fudgy brownies you need a certain amount of sugar, otherwise they can turn out cakey and dry. In this recipe the added layer of coconut cream cheese custard batter helps to weigh down and almost insulate the brownie batter so that there is less chance of it drying out and provides a bit more insurance.

Wait. Let's roll back a second. Coconut cream cheese custard batter. Yes! So dang good.

Think of this as brownie meets macaroon - and then imagine macaroon flirts with cheesecake. Too many good things going on! It's almost hard to handle, but I'm sure we can manage.

I used unsweetened coconut for this recipe, but for an extra sticky chewy layer you can use sweetened coconut if that's what you have on hand.

Then I made chocolate sauce to pour over top because, look right down below:

Those drips. That's why.

Big Love
xo Christina.

Coconut Bounty Bar Brownies
makes 16 squares

For the brownie mixture:
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
3 oz (85g) unsweetened chocolate
½ tsp salt
½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour

For the filling:
4 oz (113g) cream cheese
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ cup (40g) unsweetened shredded coconut

For the topping:
2 oz (56g) milk chocolate
2 tbsp (30ml) 10% cream
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the brownies, first beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until slightly pale and thick. Let stand while you work on the chocolate. 

Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth. Add this warm mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend evenly. Add flour and stir in until combined. Spread half of the batter evenly into prepared pan and place in the freezer.

For the filling, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Stir in egg until will combined and then stir in coconut. Pour this mixture over the firm brownie layer and spread it out evenly. Drizzle remaining brownie batter over top and spread it out just a bit to cover.

Bake for 20 minutes until puffed and the surfaces look shiny Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

To make the topping, combine chopped chocolate, cream, cocoa and salt in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 second bursts, stirring between, until the mixture bubbles up. Stir until smooth and then chill until thick. Pour over brownies just before serving.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

All-Butter Raspberry Peach Pie

Making this pie is my ode to Summer with its peaches and raspberries, and simultaneous welcome to Fall with it just being pie.
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chocolate-Coated Raisin Fudge Brownies!

Chocolate-covered raisins have been part of my life for a while.

Nonna always had a stash in the drawer below the microwave. She saved them just for me and I knew just where to find them.

A walk passed the self-service snack section at the University Center cafeteria meant a bag-full for study motivation. Dangerous yet delicious motivation.

And any run to Bulk Barn for some corn nuts, brown sugar or cocoa meant I'd also be buying chocolate-covered raisins. Inevitable is the right word here. 

I am particular too - I don't like Glosettes. What? I know. How contrary.

I prefer the no-name unbranded type. Glosettes have a sugary coating between the raisin and the chocolate that provides an unappealing and unnecessary grittiness. That shiny shellac interferes with the smooth melting quality of chocolate. The unbranded ones melt better and are texturally superior.

Then the supermarket by my old University started selling "Big Daddy's" in their bulk section and it was over! They were jumbo raisins (like the size of your thump tip). Plump, juicy and with a thick layer of chocolate. Studying was no longer an issue but fitting into jeans was. Freshman 15 was all over me.

I really love this combination and I have no idea why I never thought to pair them in my favourite chocolate dessert (BROWNIES!) until today.

If you like soft, if you like chewy then these are the BEST fudge brownies for you!

First up, soak the raisins. Feel free to add a splash of vermouth or whiskey.

Next, make the luscious dark chocolate batter and scatter the raisins on top.

These brownies are the perfect balance between soft and chewy. They have some of the softness that you would expect from boxed brownies but with an indulgent chew from solid dark chocolate. Please do not make boxed brownies to verify - just trust me since I used to create them for a living. I developed this one, and they are great. But trust no one else.

How do you make soft and chewy brownies?

You might find recipes that call for vegetable oil since oil is liquid at room temperature, therefore liquid = soft, and butter = firm. NO! Don't do this. Although it is technically true, using oil to make brownies is a disgrace and leads to oily, often rancid-tasting brownies. Oil is for deep-frying. Butter is for baking.

To get that texture, we want to use a good mix of chocolate and cocoa powder. I have made many (MANY) brownies in my time and often use a good dose of dark chocolate. Solid chocolate contains cocoa butter which is super hard at room temperature. That means it will make firm and chewy brownies. Replacing some of that chocolate with cocoa powder (but keeping the butter the same and making up for the sugar content) lends a softer texture. The beauty is that the softness comes at room temperature, but these babies are still sticky and fudgy from the fridge. The kind that you really sink your teeth into! It's the best of both worlds.

How to make silky ganache without cream?

Use a blend of butter and milk. Also, use chocolate (or a blend of chocolates) that have a moderate sugar content. I would avoid strictly bittersweet chocolate for this because the high cocoa content means that it is more tempermental. Here I use a blend of bittersweet and milk chocolate to provide sugar (and added milk solids) to help bind water from the milk and stabilize the liquid phase.

How to recover broken or separated ganache?

Ganache splits or looks oily because the cocoa butter separates out of the emulsion. It usually occurs when the fat phase is too grand. To bring it back, whisk in some cold milk a bit at a time until it tightens up and appears glossy and smooth. The gradual addition of milk provides room for the fat to suspend into.

Go ahead and add 1/2 cup of raisins. I thought 1/3 cup was just enough to add that juicy burst and intense dried fruit, almost fermenty/winey flavour without interfering with the texture or taste of the chocolate.

Everyone I shared these with enjoyed them so much more than you would expect since raisins tend to get an old-people rap. They asked "why haven't you put raisins in brownies before?"

I asked myself the same question. I'll be doing it again and again.

Big love.

Chocolate-Coated Raisin Fudge Brownies
makes 12-16 squares

For the raisins:
1/3 cup (50g) sultana raisins
2 tbsp (30ml) boiling water
1 tbsp rum

For the brownie layer:
3 ½ oz (100g) bittersweetchocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or rum
3 tbsp (18g) cocoa powder
½ cup (71g) all-purpose flour

For the ganache layer:
3 oz (85g) bittersweetchocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
2 oz (56g) milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp (30ml) milk
Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 8x8” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each side.

First place raisins in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Cover and let stand for a few minutes.

To make the brownie base, melt chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth.

Whisk eggs with both sugars until thick and lightened by a shade. Add hot melted chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined and glossy. Whisk in salt and vanilla. Whisk in cocoa powder until incorporated. Then sprinkle flour over mixture and fold it through. Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Drain liquid from raisins and scatter over the batter, poking them in slightly.

Bake until puffed and the surface looks matte, about 20-23 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. To make the chocolate layer, combine chopped dark and milk chocolate in a bowl with butter and milk. Microwave on medium power in 30 second bursts, stirring until smooth and glossy. Stir in salt. If the mixture looks oily and separated, add a few drops of cold milk and whisk until it tightens up to a homogeneous silky ganache. Spread evenly over cooled brownies and refrigerate until set before slicing.

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