Friday, January 18, 2013

(Ferro rocher) Cocoa brownies

Cocoa brownies with a "birthday" ferro rocher baked into one square.
   These cocoa brownies are what we call a win-win. Win for you because they're easy to make. Win for the people that you make these for (if you decide to share) because they're such a great brownie- they're dense, almost fudge-like, and concentrated in rich chocolate flavor. It's been said that they've made grown men cry but... I just might be making that up.

I was given these lovely silicone measuring bowls and a bunch of baking goodies by a
wonderful friend and comrade baker of mine, the one and only J-Stew! 
     The je ne sais quoi of this recipe, or what my lovely Uzbek friends refer to as the tsimmis- is black cocoa. David Lebovitz has a wonderful blog, and the answers to the differences between alkalized and non-alkalized cocoas. Black cocoa is an extra alkalized, which gives it a much darker color, and more mellow and chocolaty flavor (for this reason it's only used as an accent). The folks at King Arthur Flour recommend you substitute up to two tablespoons of what your recipe calls for with black cocoa.
One of the other reasons that I love this recipe so much is that it's made with ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen already. As this recipe is so straightforward, you can be enjoying brownies in under an hour- a potentially dangerous situation!

Adapted from 
yields 16 or 25 brownies

10 tbl. unsalted butter
1 1/4 Cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
2 tbs black cocoa (you can omit and use regular cocoa powder) 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Ferro rochers, or any other deliciousness you might have on hand 


Preheat oven to 325F. Take a square 8x8 baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper or foil. The batter only goes halfway up the sides of the pan, but make sure the foil goes all the way to the top as it will be easier to remove. It's ok if it doesn't look perfect, I snipped the parchment paper at the corners to make it fit better.

Put the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt into a heatproof bowl over a gently simmering pot, and stir until the mixture is completely melted. 

When the mixture is melted, it will look grainy- don't worry! Remove the bowl from the heat, and let cool for a minute or two. This way when we add the eggs you won't curdle them! Add one egg at a time, fully incorporating each into the batter. It should start to look smooth and rich and chocolately now. Mix in the vanilla extract. At this point you can fold in any mix-ins.  

With a spatula, pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for about twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it. 
Place pan on a cooling rack until room temperature. I may or may not have tasted it at at this point. But if I had, it would probably would have been really good. Pop them into the freezer for fifteen minutes,,which makes them much easier to cut cleanly..They are good cold, warm, hot, with ice cream and dinosaur sprinkles... you see where I'm going with this.

I  got these fun sprinkles and superb vanilla extract  from my other good friend, T-rizzle. It made me realize that brightly colored dinosaur sprinkles do make everything better. Highly recommend. 

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