Salted Caramel Brownie

Neat brownies makes me suspicious. For me, brownies should be so fudgy and squidgy that it’s almost impossible to cut neatly. There’s nothing more disappointing than a brownie that’s more like dense cake! The ideal brownie (for me) should have a shiny, crinkly surface, is super chocolatey and squidgy.

There are millions of recipes out there for brownies and trust me, I’ve tried many. Some calls for all cocoa powder and others for just melted chocolate. From my numerous brownie trial and errors I’ve discovered that brownies that’s made mostly with melted chocolate, but with some chocolate chunks and cocoa powder, has the best texture and flavour. Chocolate has a chocolatier (I dunno..) and sweeter flavour compared to cocoa powder, which lends the brownies a nice bit of bitterness, a satisfying chew and a richer brown colour. The quality and cocoa content of the chocolate is also definitely important. For my brownies, I use 70% cocoa Belgian chocolate.

Then, there’s the technique. Most recipes have the butter and chocolate melted together but a few follow the usual creaming method. I prefer to use the latter method, the important part is to keep beating the eggs, sugar, and butter mixture for a long time until it’s airy, silky and light. This helps to develop the crinkly top and somehow I just find brownies made this way to be fudgier. Maybe because the brownies rise in the oven from all that trapped air but collapse when you remove it from the oven and all the yummy gooeyness condense into a thick, squidgy layer.

I don’t mind nuts in brownies but most of the times I omit them, mainly because I’m indifferent either way so why waste nuts? For the last few batches I’ve drizzled some salted caramel on before baking. The caramel bubbles and semi-dissolves into the brownie batter leaving extra chewy craters. It doesn’t add too much in terms of flavour but I like the chewy gooey texture it lends.

 

Pierre Hermé’s Carrément Chocolat

This entremét by Pierre Hermé is the ultimate chocolate dessert: dense chocolate cake, smooth chocolate cream, crunchy praline feuilletine and soft chocolate mousse enrobed in chocolate glaze and topped with a brittle chocolate sheet, which I’ve omitted and replaced with tempered chocolate deco instead.

It’s very straighforward to make, it’s mainly just making and freezing the layers one by one. There’s hardly any baking involved actually- just the “brownie” base; the rest is all done on the stovetop and freezer.

I halved the recipe and made it in a 5.5″ square cake ring instead. It didn’t reach the top of the cake ring but it turned out fine, it was just the right height for individual portions. Some points to remember when attempting this recipe is to not over-bake the base and to freeze the entire cake solid before glazing it, it’s much easier and less messy that way.

The recipe is from Best of Pierre Hermé which is French but there are lots of beautiful photographs for guidance. Or you can do a quick google search, it’s not hard to find the recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Reese’s Birthday Cake

Two layers of moist chocolate cake filled and covered with a super creamy peanut butter cream cheese frosting and decorated with Reese’s peanut butter cups, crushed salted peanuts and dark chocolate swirls. This cake was made for an order from a friend for another friend who obviously loves his peanut butter!

Whisky & Brown Butter Truffles

Another recipe inspired by the ever talented Lily Vanilli- only boozier! Basically a firm ganache spiked with lots of whisky and brown butter enrobed in tempered chocolate and decorated with chopped pistachios (I chose the greenest so the colours would really pop against the dark chocolate), gold leaf and dried rose petals. What caught my eye was actually the brown butter, I love brown butter with its fragrant nuttiness and toasty warmth. It paired well with the whisky but perhaps its distinctive flavour was slightly overwhelmed by the dark chocolate. Maybe I’ll use 60% instead of 70% chocolate for next time, the whisky provided quite enough bitterness to the truffles already. These truffles are great gifts- everyone likes a little bit of chocolate, right? And booze.

 

Learning

Bonjour!

I’ve been studying French since January, in anticipation of my future travels (or perhaps a short stay?) to Paris, so to stay motivated and to improve my grasp of the language, I’m going to blog a few short sentences in French, and hopefully will be able to write full paragraphs soon. So here goes! I’ll start with the famous French dessert, moelleux au chocolat. 

Bien que je n’aime pas mange les desserts au chocolat, je suis complètement obsédée par ce moelleux au chocolat avec coeur de thé matcha. Le recette est de mon école, LCB, mais j’ai fait une modification- le coeur de thé matcha. C’est juste chocolat blanc et poudre de thé matcha. 

“Although I don’t like chocolate desserts, I’m obsessed with this chocolate fondant with a matcha centre. The base recipe is from LCB, but I’ve made one modification- the matcha heart, which is just white chocolate and matcha powder.”

We made plated desserts in class this week, and one of the desserts was chocolate fondants. Because the fondants had to be baked à la minute we only made 2 each in class and took the rest of the batter home. I wasn’t quite pleased with the chocolate fondants on it’s own, so I made little matcha centres which I popped into the middle of the batter then baked.. it was DELICIOUS. Ooey, gooey, warm and sticky, and the tops crinkly and shiny like a good brownie. Oh, yes.

I suppose you could use any chocolate fondant recipe and insert a matcha heart in the middle; I made the matcha middles quite simply: I melted some white chocolate, stirred in some matcha powder then piped them in small silicone moulds and refrigerated them until they hardened. If you don’t have silicone moulds, just pour it into a small cake tin and cut them into pieces once chilled. When I was about to bake the cake, I just piped the fondant batter halfway up the moulds, pressed a matcha centre into the middle then piped more batter on top, then baked them off.

C’est tout! Miam!