Day Four: The Baked Jalapeño Brownie

After an easy day three, I was a little nervous for day four. I love brownies. I love chocolate. (who doesn’t?) But I’m not particularly a spicy person. My spicy threshold is quite low and whenever I go to a restaurant and order a dish where I can choose the spiciness level, I go with mild. Every single time. Call me a wimp, but my tongue doesn’t exactly enjoy the feeling of being burned alive. And how spicy are five jalapeño peppers? I had no idea what to expect.

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Turns out, five jalapeño peppers are nothing. I could barely taste the jalapeños and the brownies were most definitely not spicy. I’m pretty sure, however, I did something wrong. I removed the seeds for fear that the brownies would turn out deathly spicy, and it turns out, unsurprisingly, that I’m not a very good judge of spiciness levels of a jalapeño. So, if you want your brownies to actually turn out spicy instead of just having a mild jalapeño-y flavor, keep the seeds in when mincing the jalapeños. 

Plus, having heard about the amazing thing that is the Baked Brownie (from the Baked bakeshop), I decided to use that as the base recipe, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s good stuff.

Rating: 10/10

Jalapeño Brownies (Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Makes 24 brownies

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces dark chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly pressed brown sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

5 large jalapeños, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease or line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa

3. Melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (a bain-marie). Turn off the heat, and add the in the sugar. Whisk until completely combined, and remove bowl from pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Do not overbeat to prevent the brownie from becoming cakey. 

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold it in using a spatula (not a whisk). 

6. After all the flour has been added with a little flour still visible, fold in the jalapeños. 

7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. The toothpick should come out mostly clean. 

8. Let brownie cool and cut. This is optional, but sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. 

 

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La Maison du Chocolat’s Glace au Chocolat (Chocolate Ice Cream)

When I first visited one of the La Maison du Chocolat locations in Paris, I naturally went straight for their chocolate, as the name suggests. I almost skipped past their ice cream selection at the front of the store, but thank goodness I didn’t because that would have been devastating. Served in a terrific waffle cone, the chocolate ice cream was as good as, if not better than, the chocolate. Maybe I thought so because it was burning hot that day and I was dying for something cold, but I almost went back and got another just so I could have one in both hands at the same time. Yes, it was that good.

As I flipped through the La Maison du Chocolat cookbook, I saw a  recipe for chocolate ice cream, so obviously that was where I started. Obviously. Sadly, I don’t have an ice cream maker at home and was a little hesitant to butcher the recipe, knowing how horribly homemade ice creams made without a machine can turn out – rock hard and icy. However, this was not the case whatsoever. It’s consistency straight out of the freezer resembled that of Haagen-Dazs and the chocolate flavor was phenomenal. One bite  took me straight back to Paris. It was awesome.

Glace au Chocolat (Chocolate Ice Cream) by Robert Linxe/La Maison du Chocolat

Makes 2 quarts

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona 61%)

4 cups whole milk

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

7 egg yolks

1 whole egg

3/4 cup heavy cream

1. Finely chop the chocolate and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Stir to blend, then warm over low heat.

3. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, whole egg, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until frothy and lemon-colored.

4. Pour a little bit of hot chocolate milk onto the egg mixture and stir well. Transfer the milk-egg mixture back to the saucepan of milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon; do not boil.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until completely melted. Stir in the heavy cream.

6. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. If, like me, you do not own an ice cream machine, place bowl into the freezer, and vigorously stir every 30 minutes. Repeat this 4-5 times. You want to break up the frozen parts near the edges of the bowl each time to prevent ice from forming. Don’t hesitate to put some muscle behind it, because you’re going to want to. After you’ve mixed it evenly the fifth time, the ice cream should have reached the consistency of soft serve. At this point, just leave it in the freezer.

To serve at just the right consistency, move the ice cream to the refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Curd Filling and Ganache Glaze

Sometimes, making rich foods is fun. However, sometimes I want to actually be able to eat what I make without the fear of getting diabetes if I take another bite. So, when I had an urge to eat cupcakes today, I knew I couldn’t just make your standard chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

I call this recipe healthy, because it really gives you health benefits (or so I tell myself when I’m on my third one). The whole wheat is good for you. The fresh raspberries, although made into a curd, has vitamins and other good stuff. And chocolate has antioxidants… right? But the best thing is that it’s not as bad for you as some of the other cupcakes out there coughsprinklescough. Which means you can eat without the guilt.

The entire process is quite simple. Make your standard healthy cupcakes. Cut out a hole, fill with raspberry curd, pop the top back on, and glaze with some dark chocolate ganache. Despite it being pretty heavy with chocolate, the sourness of the raspberry provides the contrast it needs to keep this light.

Chocolate Cupcakes 

Inspired by Chef John’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 11-12 cupcakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup pastry whole wheat flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Preheat oven at 350 F.

1. Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl (from the flour to the salt). Set aside.

2. In a large bowl or in a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Slowly beat in all the sugar until the butter is light and fluffy.

3. Slowly beat in the eggs, not at the same time. Making sure your eggs are room temperature will lessen the chance of the butter curdling on you (trust me, it’s no fun when that happens). The butter/egg mixture should be smooth and still somewhat hold a shape.

3. Slowly mix in the milk and vinegar. This mixture may look quite wet, but go ahead and all of the milk, please.

4. Using a whisk (using the mixer at this stage might overwork the batter), gently mix in the dry mixture to wet. Make sure the batter is mixed thoroughly, but don’t mix it more than necessary. Nobody like tough cupcakes.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes or so. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature before filling or glazing.

Raspberry Filling 

12 ounces fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch

1. Blend all the ingredients together.

2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, to remove all the seeds. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until desired consistency. If you run a finger on the back of a covered spoon, the trail should remain clear.

3. Pour mixture into a bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze 

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or a large piece cut into small chunks)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a sauce pan, heat the heavy cream until it reaches a boil.

2. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute.

3. Stir the chocolate/heavy cream until ganache comes together and is smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more chocolate and vice versa. Use the chocolate immediately.

Using a paring knife, cut a cone from the top of the cupcake. Fill the hole with raspberry curd. Cut the pointy tip off of the cone, so you’re just left with a flat cap. Place the cap back onto cupcake. Dip the top of the chocolate into the ganache, to cover it. My caps didn’t fall off, but if yours do, spoon the ganache on instead. Grate some dark chocolate on top while the ganache is still wet, if you want. But of course you do, it’s more chocolate.