Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate Desserts’

Chocolate Brownies

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Is there actually anyone out there that doesn’t love a great brownie? The key word there is “great.” There are so many brownie mixes on the market that many people have gone away from even trying to make them from scratch. A really great brownie—usually nothing more than melted chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and some cocoa, all lightly mixed together with a bit of flour—is a decadent, luscious, yet simple treat. And… the brownie is one of America’s favorite desserts.

The brownie was born right here in the U.S. of A. We just aren’t quite sure when or where, although evidence points to somewhere in New England in the first few years of the 20th century. Although it is baked in a cake pan, the brownie is classified as a bar rather than a cake. There are literally thousands of recipes, both “cake” and “fudge” types. Both are perfectly correct—and delicious.

The brownie got its name from its dark brown color. But as with most foods, the origin of the brownie is shrouded in myth, even though it is a relatively recent entry to the food pantheon, first appearing in print in the early 20th century. The legends are told variously: a chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of biscuits…a cook was making a cake but didn’t have enough flour. One tells of a housewife in Maine who was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add the leavening. When her cake didn’t rise properly, instead of tossing it out, she cut and served the flat bars. That theory, however, relies on a cookbook published in 1912, six years after the first chocolate brownie recipe was published by America’s most famous cookbook author of the time, Fannie Farmer, in 1906.

The actual “inventor” will most likely never be known, but here’s what we do know: The first-known recipe for brownies I found was in the 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue, but this was a recipe for a molasses confection merely called brownies. Larousse Gastronomique, regarded by many as the ultimate cooking reference, writes that a recipe for brownies first appeared in the 1896 The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, written by Fannie Farmer—but that recipe was for a cookie-type confection that was also colored and flavored with molasses and made in fluted marguerite molds. However, as verified by Jean Anderson in The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes Of The 20th Century, the two earliest published recipes for chocolate brownies appeared in Boston-based cookbooks—the first in a second edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.

Most boxed brownies mixes will never be able to compare or even come close to a homemade brownie, made from quality ingredients and most importantly real melted chocolate. I don’t know about you, but when I read the list of ingredients for my brownies (or any other foods), I would much rather read a list like bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, butter, vanilla, salt, and flour than something that includes any words that I can’t even pronounce, let alone have a clue to what they are. I don’t believe in better living through chemistry.

Choclatique Double Dark Chocolate Brownie MixA great brownie doesn’t even have to involve having a mixer. If you have a couple of bowls, a whisk, a rubber spatula and a little bit of time, homemade brownies can be yours in minutes. You don’t have to be a professional baker or have a mix to prepare basic, delicious, baked goods.

BrowniesThe real keys to successful baking from scratch are simple and finite—use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on and follow the directions.

Try one of my basic brownie recipes.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

This is such an easy recipe to make you don’t have to overdo anything. Don’t keep the chocolate and butter in the microwave too long, don’t beat the eggs in too much and don’t over-mix the flour. The result will be a rich chocolaty brownie with a moist, fudge-like texture.

Makes 24 small brownies
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 40 minutes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Choclatique Red Cocoa Powder, unsweetened and alkalized
1 tablespoon Choclatique Black Onyx Cocoa Powder, unsweetened and ultra-alkalized
11 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), coarsely chopped
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa powders.
  3. Place the chocolate and butter a glass bowl and melt using your microwave oven in short bursts at 50% power. Set the time for 30 seconds and heat until melted. Stir between microwave bursts. Once they are starting to melt, the heat from the chocolate and butter that is already melting will help to melt the rest of the mixture.
  4. Add the sugars whisking until completely combined.
  5. Let the mixture come to room temperature before adding the eggs so that you don’t cook them into your batter.
  6. Add three eggs to the chocolate and butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined.
  7. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over-beat the batter or your brownies will be cakey instead of fudgy.
  8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Use a rubber spatula (not a whisk!) to fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture. Fold the ingredients together until there is just some of the white of the flour mixture visible so that you don’t overwork the batter.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula.
  10. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotating the pan half-way through baking process) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a cake tester (or toothpick) into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  11. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.
  12. Frost only if you must!

ChefSecret: Check your brownies often while they are baking to make sure you don’t over-bake them or you won’t have the fudge-like consistency.

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Fly the Haughty Skies of “Air Chance”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I travel to Europe at least once a month. No matter how hard I try to avoid Air France the connections through Charles De Gaulle just outside of Paris seem to always be the best. Paris is, well, just so French, if you know what I mean. Something (everything) always seems to go wrong travelling through Paris adding hours to the trip.

One trip it was lost luggage; another had the baggage workers on strike delaying the flight for hours. There was a flight controllers “work to rule,” which did nothing more than delay hundreds of flights over a three day period. A general strike last month closed the airport down for two days. It’s more like flying “Air Chance” than Air France.

Last month was no different—the cabin cleaners staged a one hour strike causing a 2-hour delay. The airline caterer must have been upset about something because the duck used in making my canard a la orange died in vain after being mutilated by a very untalented cook. The questionable chocolate desserts were also a waste of calories… now you know that it’s bad if I don’t eat the chocolate.

So this month I got smart and made a few purchases at the gourmet store at the airport before heading for home. I got a very freshly-baked baguette… still warm to the touch; a tin of pâté de foie gras kissed with Cognac; a jar of marinated white truffles and a small wedge of Camembert cheese. I already knew the airline had an ample supply of good French Champagne and a bottle of 6 year-old Portuguese Port.

I saw nothing of interest for dessert and besides I do need to lose a few pounds. I was very content with my airplane picnic and thought I was ready to go until I spotted a small kiosk selling Ladurée macarons. Ladurée is a luxury cake and pastry boutique brand based in Paris, France. It is known as the inventor of the double-decker macaroon where fifteen thousand are sold every day. They are considered the best macaron shop in the world. When I speak of macarons, I am not referring to macaroons, those mounds of coconut and almond kosher cookies sold during Passover in Jewish sections of the supermarket which can be mistaken for damp paper weights. I am talking about a beautiful meringue-based confection made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectioners’ sugar.

While Ladurée is highly esteemed for making exceptional quality macarons in traditional and creative flavors, other French patisseries such as Pierre Hermé and Fauchon are also well known for their macarons as well. Outside of Europe, the pastry has attracted itself to mostly cosmopolitan cities, notably New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. New York has recently witnessed a surge in macaron shops.

The confection is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference and flat base. Connoisseurs in general and Ed Engoron in particular prize the delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The macaron can be filled and held together with a buttercream frosting or jam filling sandwiched between two macaron cookies. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, vanilla) to the exotic (truffle, matcha tea) to my favorate—chocolate.

You might think something that beautiful is difficult to make. To the contrary they are quite easy.

Chocolate Macarons

MacaronsMakes about 24 to 30 sandwich cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Assembly Time 10 minutes
Level: ***

fine sieve or strainer
electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment
3 baking sheets
parchment paper
wire cooling rack

1 1/3 cups (5 ounces) blanched almond meal or flour, finely ground
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8.5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened *Choclatique Rouge Cocoa Powder, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup (3 to 4 large) egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup filling of your choice


  1. Force the almond meal or flour, along with the powdered sugar and cocoa, through a strainer or sieve into a large bowl and whisk to blend.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment whip the egg whites on low to medium speed until foamy, then increase the speed and continue just until they hold glossy, firm peaks, about 5 minutes.
  3. Using a rubber spatula gently fold in the dry ingredients in 4 additions. When the dry ingredients are all incorporated, the mixture will be runny and look like a wet cake batter.
  4. Spoon half the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round tip and, keeping the bag vertical and 1 to 2 inches above the baking sheet, pipe rounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refill the bag and pipe macarons onto the second baking sheet. Set the rounds aside in a cool, dry place for 30 minutes to rest.
  5. While waiting, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat heat it to 425ºF.
  6. Work with one baking sheet at a time. Dust the tops of the macarons lightly with sifted cocoa powder and put the baking sheet on top of a spare sheet in the oven. Slide the set-up into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350ºF. Prop the door open slightly using a wooden spoon (to reduce the heat as the macarons continue to rise and dry). The heat of every oven will vary; if the oven cools too quickly, do not prop open the door and instead quickly open and close the oven door every few minutes to gently release excess heat.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the macarons are smooth and just firm to the touch. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.
  8. Bring the oven temperature back to 425ºF and repeat with the second baking sheet of macarons.
  9. As soon as the oven has been reset, and leaving the macarons on the parchment, lift the paper at one corner and pour a little hot water onto the baking sheet underneath the paper. Tilt the sheet to evenly dampen the parchment and leave the macarons on the paper for 15 seconds. Peel them off the parchment and place them on a cooling rack. Match them up for sandwiching.
  10. To fill the macaroons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling of your choice. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  11. Pack the sandwiched cookies in a container and refrigerate for 24 hours (or for up to 4 days) before serving. This is how you achieve the wonderful texture.
  12. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

ChefsNote: The almond meal (or flour) should be finely ground. If the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar are a bit coarse, process them in a food processor for a finer texture before running through a strainer or sifter. Additionally, if the almond meal feels a bit moist, spread it out on a lined baking sheet and place in a 325-degree oven to dry out, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Choclatique ProductNotes: *Choclatique Rouge Cocoa Powder is our unsweetened lightly alkalized cocoa powder.

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