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.
xo


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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