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

Brownie a la ModeIs 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.

BrowniesThe 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.

Boston Cooking School CookbookThe 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—American Century Cookbookbut 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.

Brownie BatterMost 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.

You can find one of my basic brownie recipes here or purchase a bag of Ebony Dark Chocolate Pastilles or Double Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, made with real chocolate-of course.

Chocolate Doctor on iTunesChoclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor


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. Recipe for Chocolate Macarons.

Choclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor