Saturday, May 28, 2005

Espresso Yourself

I've tried so many rich and decadent brownie recipes over the past couple of years that I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite. Formerly, my Fabulous Aunt's honeybear brownies would always win out, but now they face stiff competition from my Grand Marnier brownies, not to mention the lethally wicked concoction I developed a few months ago. And for summer, there's always the "special" brownies with fresh green leaves scattered throughout the batter, thanks to the chocolate mint that grows so profusely in my garden. (What did you think?)

This time, though, I pulled out my cappuccino brownie recipe for something that would satisfy my recent mocha cravings. As most of my favorite brownie recipes do, this version begins with melting unsweetened chocolate together with unsalted butter, but then adds espresso powder and a hefty dose of cinnamon. I also like to add cappuccino chips from the Baker's Catalogue along with regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, just to provoke that reaction of "oh, you shouldn't have!... but I'm glad you did!"

(A note of caution to those who are unaccustomed to such chocolate decadence: these brownies are truly prescription-strength, made specially for a sick friend who needed a serious pick-me-up. And yes, I ran these brownies by my Fabulous Aunt, who also serves as my personal FDA (Food and Delicacies Advisor) in culinary matters. These brownies are potent... don't try them at home unless you have a serious medical need for chocolate!)

Now, I'll confess my deep, dark secret of rich, fudgy, meltingly gooey brownies, and you must remember to use this knowledge only for the good of the world and your immortal chocolate soul:

I like to underbake my brownies ever so slightly, so that the batter is set in the middle, but a little chocolate still clings to a toothpick inserted and removed from the center.

I know, I know, you should always cook eggs (and foods containing eggs) thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness... and with three eggs in this recipe, it's especially important. But I like to walk that fine line between cake-like and fully-cooked brownies and warm, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate danger.

Look, I'm usually a pretty cautious person. I fasten my seatbelt, I don't do drugs, and I don't jump off cliffs. But even with plenty of careful teaching by the Chef Mother on proper food handling, I like to take the occasional risk in the kitchen. (Yes, I eat raw cookie dough, too.)

Life's not worth living if you can't espresso your wild side once in a while!


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