Thank goodness - brownies. I'm amazed that we've made it this long in TWD without making brownies! Don't worry though - Di did not pick traditional brownies. They have raisins! And rum! And flame! Well, the prep has flame, so that counts, right? Other than the lighting of poor defenseless raisins on fire, these were incredibly easy. Making them was part of a fabulous girl's night in, including the watching of 27 Dresses. Chocolate and chick flicks = my personal heaven. As happened to a lot of people, these puffed up enormously before caving in, leaving a crisp chocolate shell over the intensely fudgy and moist inside. It reminded me of the Almost Fudge Gateau we did a few months ago, actually.
There was some trepidation when it came to bringing these in for coworkers though. Brownies with raisins in them? Umm... no thanks. And then I thought - if nothing else, I could tell all my coworkers that there were rum-soaked raisins in these. Raisins in brownies? Not so much. Add some rum? All of a sudden, they'd be lining up for them!
"Fabulous, but you already knew that, didn't you?"
"If I come back in an hour and there aren't any more left, we're going to have words."
PS - the macro setting on a camera? SUPERAWESOME. I don't know what I did before I had Picasa and a camera that could take macro photos. Take crappy(er) photos, I guess.
PPS - taking a hint from Leigh, I decided that the only way to spruce up these brownies was to put swirly pastel butterfly sprinkles on them. And aren't they adorable?
Last week: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Next week: La Palette's Strawberry Tart
French Chocolate Brownies (from Baking From My Home to Yours)
makes 16 brownies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, I didn't use it)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 1/2 bittersweet 1/2 semisweet)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.